Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Parenting Resources (from my limited perspective)

Speaking of parenting, a friend recently asked me the best books or resources I've encountered on this subject. DeYoung's little article is really helpful. But here are the best books I've read and other resources I've encountered:

1. Gospel-Powered Parenting, by William P. Farley
This book is the most foundational practical theology of parenting I've come across. It addresses the issue of needing Dads as leaders, and that the most significant thing a parent can do for their kids is to cultivate a great, Christ-centered marriage. I would want any parent to read this one first!

2. Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Ted Tripp
Yes, I do realize that most young reformed people put this in first place, second place, third place, and every place after that. But I still maintain that Farley's book is more foundational, and a better place to start. Having said that, Tripp offers a great framework for parenting and it is very practical. As soon as you are feeling dejected, though, read and re-read DeYoung's article!

3. Don't Make Me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman
Admittedly, I'm not quite finished this book. But it is amazing. My wife and I love the way it works out many of the nuts and bolts of Tripp's theories into every day life. It's anecdotal content is very welcome to us. I'd be tempted to put it at #2, because I find it a bit more down to earth than Tripp, but I put it here because it is so dependent on his methods. Read them both!

4. God, Marriage, and Family, by Andreas Kostenberger
This is about the opposite of Plowman's book, but that doesn't make it unhelpful. In this book a New Testament scholar outlines a biblical theology of marriage and family through the Old and New Testaments. Like with Plowman, I have not read every word, but I've been helped by all the sections I have read!

5. Watching My Pastors
I've been blessed with great friends and great pastors at my church and elsewhere. I can say that the three pastors of my church are especially worth watching and listening to on this subject. I don't say this to brag about my church (I don't even name it here), but I simply say this to underline a reality: sometimes parenting is more caught than taught. Watching godly examples is invaluable in learning to parent well! Are you at a church whose elders are worth emulating? May their tribe increase!!!

6. Sermons and Messages
Find messages on-line by C.J. Mahaney, Carolyn Mahaney, Kenneth Maresco, John Piper, Tim Keller, etc and devour them.

Now, I know that this is not a complete list. It is a personal list of resources that have most helped me. I'm yet to read Instructing a Child's Heart, but I'm sure it will make the list when I do. But these are a few places that I've been helped as I seek to faithfully shepherd in my own home!

Encouragement to Parents Via Kevin DeYoung

I was extremely encouraged by this Kevin DeYoung article for parents. If you are a non-parent who tisks at all of the imperfect parents you see at church, maybe you should read it and be rebuked. If you are a normal parent who struggles along to be faithful, but who feels dejected at times, you should definitely read and be encouraged. Here is one section to get you wanting more:

There are already scores of books on parenting, many of them quite good. I’ve read several of them and have learned much. I really do believe in gospel-powered parenting and shepherding my child’s heart. I want conversations like this:

: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: Because it will be fun to play with.
Me: Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: Yes.
Me: Would it make him sad to take the toy away?
Child: I guess so.
Me: And do you like to make your brother sad?
Child: No.
Me: You know, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means loving your brother the way he would want to be loved. Since Jesus loves us so much, we have every reason to love others–even your brother. Would you like to love him by letting him play with the toy for awhile?
Child: Yes I would daddy.

I try that. Really I do. But here’s what actually happens:

Me: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What’s going on in your heart when you desire that toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Think about it son. Use your brain. Don’t you know something?
Child: I guess I just want the toy.
Me: Obviously. But why?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Fine. [Mental note: abandon "why" questions and skip straight to leading questions.] Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: No.
Me: Really?! He’s not having fun? Then why does he want that toy in the first place?
Child: Because he’s mean.
Me: Have you ever considered that maybe you are being mean by trying to rip the toy from his quivering little hands?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What do you know?
Child: I don’t know!
Me: Nevermind. [I wonder how my brilliant child can know absolutely nothing at this moment.] Well, I think taking the toy from him will make your brother sad. Do you like to make him sad?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: [Audible sigh.]
Child: He makes me sad all the time!
Me: Well, I’m getting sad right now with your attitude! [Pause, think, what would Paul Tripp do? Thinking . . . .thinking . . . .man, I can't stop thinking of that mustache. This isn't working. Let's just go right to the Jesus part.] You know, Jesus wants us to love each other.
Child: I don’t know.
Me: I didn’t ask you a question!
Child: [Pause.] Can I have some fruit snacks?
: No, you can’t have fruit snacks. We are talking about the gospel. Jesus loves us and died for us. He wants you to love your brother too.
Child: So?
Me: So give him the toy back!

Then I lunge for the toy and the child runs away. I tell him to come back here this instant and threaten to throw the toy in the trash. I recommit myself to turning down speaking engagements on parenting.

Access the whole thing here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, May 2, 2011

Government as Avenger on the Wrongdoer

I appreciated Justin Taylor reminding me of this verse, on this particular day:

“[A governing authority] not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

—Romans 13:4