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Starting Families Right | Family Commitment | Family Planning | Husband & Wife Roles | Family Health Plan | Preparations for Childbirth | Tender Newborn Care | Challenge of Child Training | Disciplining & Training Small Children | Setting up Godly Routines
Making a commitment to raising a godly family in this evil generation is not an option. Raising a godly family requires utmost consistency which is only received from wholehearted commitment to raising children for the Lord. This is part #1 of the Godly Beginnings for the Family book.
Parents expecting their first child commonly follow a familiar pattern. We are not speaking of the common physical symptoms and associated inconveniences. They are unavoidable. We are speaking of something far less tangible and far less noticed.
First-time parents often are full of expectations that having a child will make their lives so much nicer. And perhaps as a bonus they hope having a child might solve some of their marital problems.
The wife thinks the husband will pay more attention to the affairs of the home if they have a child. The husband meanwhile hopes the wife will stop nagging him for more time because she will be busy with the child! And so the hopes go.
They should know better. Didn't they have the same kind of expectations for their marriage? Don't all married couples know that the engagement period radically differs from marriage? But the engaged couple believes their relationship is different. They won't have the problems other couples have. The same pattern occurs with parenting.
The parents look expectantly at the joys and love their child will bring. Down deep they believe that the child will bring healing to their marriage's sore spots and reunite them. And to a degree it works, at least for a short while.
Special joys of life, however, do not solve problems but only delay or modify the context in which the old problems re-surface. Those old problems are not solved but instead further aggravated! Sleep deprivation does wonders for bringing out problems.
The heightened expectations are good and do help parents overcome some fears that would otherwise immobilize them. As others around them pour out encouragement and excitement, they are encouraged and bravely face the new situations with less apprehension.
On the other hand, we see that wrong expectations lead to many frustrations. Note how the line on the graph suddenly declines. When the new parents encounter more difficult situations than expected, they can easily fall into disappointment. Their dreams are popped. Reality sets in. The key to stability does not rest in the hope it will all work out well, but whether they parent God's way.
Click to order download (pdf) with study questions, footnotes, etc. or get the powerpoints and handouts.
This is the snag that catches many Christians off guard. Sometimes they just hope but do not abide by God's ways. Good parenting just doesn't happen; it is a deliberate plan to obey God's program for parenting.
The effectiveness of parenting depends on to what degree the parents conduct themselves by God's design. Living by God's design means first learning the instruction from God's Word and then applying the scriptural principles to our personal and family lives. The wellbeing of our children is at stake. Our hope is that you will avoid the pitfalls that are so easy to fall into.
Why do people want to have children?
Fewer and fewer parents want children so that the welfare of ancient societies like Japan and Europe are being threatened. Most parents, though, still want children. They might want fewer children, but they still want them.
Traditional answers to this question are: 'Carry on the family name' or "It just happens!" Others answers show that parents want children to fulfill their personal dreams or because of surrounding parental and societal pressures. Of course, some just love children. They love them and want children around them. Why do you want children?
Most couples forget or ignore God's purpose in designing us to have children. Each wife has a large number of eggs that enable her to be fertile for around thirty years of her life. God has even extended this period through miracles for some like Sarah. For others, He regulates or limits their childbearing ability.
But even though God might hold back children in certain situations, He is definitely pro-life. He has commanded His people, "Be fruitful and multiply." In other words, couples are to focus on having lots of children. God clearly could have made things differently.
"As to this lower world, it was doubtless created to be a stage upon which this great and wonderful work of redemption should be transacted...."
by Jonathan Edwards in History of Redemption, p. 534.
So what is God's purpose for us to have children? Why did He make us so that we would want children? When we look at the scriptures, we discover that parents are doing a special job for God. In the following verses we see how everyone is connected through their families to God.
"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name" (Ephesians 3:14-15).
This doesn't mean that every person is a child of God. That is a mistaken notion. Though each person is made in His image. Each family gets its name from God. The phrase 'children of God' is purposely used to refer to those godly people who live like their Heavenly Father. "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
God's purpose for us having a multitude of children is to cultivate a great number of people to participate in His mission to establish His kingdom on earth. These great numbers of people will share in the great many blessings that God wants to pour out on them throughout eternity. God simply wants to share His blessings with us and show forth His wonderful generosity.
We need to ask ourselves to what degree are we committed to having our children involved in God's great program. Having children alone does not accomplish God's purpose. Many children are being carried away with materialistic impulses even from Christian families. God is looking for a greater work to be done in the hearts of children through their parents' efforts. Malachi 4 records the first sign of revival: the restoration of the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to the fathers.
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6).
God is so serious about the family that it is one of the first changes that occur when His Spirit is mightily at work. Why is the relationship between the fathers and children so important?
If children do not respect their earthly fathers, then it will not be easy to learn to respect the Heavenly Father. When fathers do not pay close attention to the training necessary for their children, their children will usually develop problems that will build up over time. Children easily get embittered from a father's wrong word or action. Paul warns against this.
"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
Any distance between them greatly influences the way the child will relate to God the Father. Even if he does become a Christian, he will live at a distance from Him.
When God works in the life of his people, then they are able to see their bitterness in their own earthly relationships and seek to restore those relationships.
Renewal always works itself back to the father-child relationship. When John Newton came to know the Lord, he sought out to be restored to his father. This is just one of many examples of how important spiritual nurturing is for the child.
When we have children, parents are right to pass on lots of love, care and attention to them. Our possessions and affection have been given to us by God to rightly prepare our children for Him. Your children will always have a special relationship with you, but it is critical that our purposes for our children always rise beyond our own needs and desires.
We must prepare them to be responsive to God. Parents are God's stewards. Our job is to properly prepare our children for a life before God. All of our hopes, feelings and attention for our children must come under this understanding. We are accountable to God for how well we do the job.
Let me give you an example. A mother loves dancing. And yet, she never could dance the way she really wanted because she lacked proper training.
She greatly desired that her daughter would have those opportunities she didn't have. This is fine. If she is careful to notice, however, as a Christian mother she will detect a silent tension within her.
She will see the potential conflict. One the one hand, she has a desire for her child to have certain opportunities she missed in life. On the other hand, she will see how the pursuit of this will lead to a conflict with the need to know, love and serve God. Like each person, she and her daughter only have so much time.
Eventually however, the conflict of priority will be revealed. What happens when that one class or competition happens to be on Sunday, the Lord's Day? Suddenly the battle will rage within their hearts. Will she take her child to church as always or will she try to convince her husband of the importance of that dance class? These decisions highlight the need for us to remember that God's ways always take a priority.
Parents are on a mission to train children to be fit members of His kingdom. God wants children who love His ways and have learned to prioritize what He wants over against their own wants or desires.
These situations will occur time after time. We are either teaching our children to fear the Lord and love His ways or we teach them to seek their own quests and the pleasures of life.
As parents, however, we will be held accountable not to our neighbor but to God. Would it not be our greatest earthly reward for a Mom to have her children, "rise up and bless her" (Proverbs 31:28) or thank their Dads for training them in godly ways?! Parenting is lifestyle discipleship training.
Food, clothes and education are important, but we would wholly shirk our responsibility if we did not train our children spiritually. They would not be able to join God in His great program nor would they be able to share in the wonderful benefits of His eternal kingdom.
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul" (Mark 8:36)?
So what are your hopes and goals for your children? Many parents have not outwardly expressed these hopes and aspirations for their children. In many cases parents haven't even concretely thought about them. The ideas are there. They influence the parent's decision-making process but often elude critical thinking.
The more we can catch a glimpse of what our goals are for our children and compare them to what God wants, the easier it will be to rightly handle areas of potential conflict.
The more clearly we understand what God wants to do through our lives in our children, the easier it is for us to make the needed sacrifices and ignore the worldly pressures surrounding us. This is the way God's kingdom is established through the family. We identify His truths. We prioritize his truths. We live by His truths. We pass on His truth to the next generation.
"Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation." (Psalm 33:8-11)
God has His great purposes, but they have been clearly challenged. Some cultures are more supportive of God's truths and the family than others, but no culture has eluded the war on the family.
Families everywhere have been captured by the god of this world. Fortunately, God reveals enough in the scriptures for us to see how the enemy works. By better understanding the attack on the family, we can better protect our own.
From Genesis onward we find the revealing of God's great purposes and plans. God readies everything in chapters one and two. Man and woman were created. Marriage was established. God's charge to establish God's kingdom and rule on earth was given to man.
Even the garden where man is to branch out this rule is beautifully planted. In chapter three, however, war on earth breaks out. It already took place in heaven. The casualties could already be counted. The family that was set up to establish God's kingdom went wayward. How was God going to carry out His plan?
The fortunate thing with God is that His wise plan had incorporated all that would befall the first couple and His great solution into His original plans. God had a way of establishing a godly people in a world where darkness ruled. The battle would be severe and always have eternal consequences.
Let us take a closer look at its beginning. The more we can understand this, the easier it is to understand how the battle is fought in our own generation. First, let's look at the two sides.
All the scriptures portray the two sides: the godly and the ungodly. We are not speaking of fallen man. All men have sinned. We are speaking of the men and women that are dedicated to God's purpose-the godly(the righteous, the faithful) and the people that are not dedicated to God's purpose-the ungodly (the wicked, the unrighteous).
The ungodly seed has rejected God's ways. They pass their religions, cultures and philosophies like secularism on to their children. Note how this ungodly seed spread out in the first part of our civilization (read from the left).
God could have destroyed this world but instead still planned to accomplish His objectives. He is completing His original goals by establishing a godly seed within the dark world. It is these same individuals that God communicates with, empowers and reveals His will to. We see this all the way through the scriptures. Jonathan Edwards summarizes this by stating,
"God's design was perfectly to restore all the ruins of the fall, so far as concerns the elect part of the world, by his Son; and therefore we read of the restitution of all things, Acts 3:21."
God initiated His special work by a promise and has continued to implant these "spoken words" throughout history to God's people. These promises are the Word of God bringing. They bring special grace into the needy world to create and preserve the godly ones. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise issuing great grace to a fallen race. No person deserved this special work of God.
This process can be more easily seen by the chart below. Again we note how the biblical record preserves the key men by which God preserved His godly purpose.
This chart continues. It will continue right until the end of the world, as we know it. God used the family to preserve and extend the revelation of His grace. No wonder He told His people to be fruitful and multiply.
The world still tugs and pulls against our families. The media in all of its formats makes it extremely easy for the world to connect itself to our children. Let us continue a bit further by looking at one particular scene.
Genesis 6 unmistakably reveals to us the reason for the collapse of society and the ensuing judgment of the world. The sons of God compromised themselves and their distinct purpose. In this case it was because the sons of God allowed their desires to rule over God's principles.
"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose" (Genesis 6:1-2).
When God's people do not sustain their purity, then God's principles and truths are corrupted and not passed on. The salt has simply lost its taste and is good for nothing. There is nothing left to do but eliminate and start over. This is what God did through the flood. What concerns us the most is not that it happened long ago but that Jesus said that in the last days the situation would parallel Noah's day.
"And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:26-27).
The battle has been tough from the beginning. God has accomplished a great deal through a faithful few. God's kingdom is pretty much spread throughout the world. We need to be wise about how the culture is seducing our children. The key is for parents to live passionate and godly lives.
Like the men of old we must live by faith rather than being intimidated by the world. We need to be committed to raising up godly children, not just happy or prosperous children.
We need to be wise. Time is short. The lives of our children are at stake. The way we train our children has to do with the principles that can be stored in them. Will you take that commitment? You need to be decisive.
Satan's temptations are too clever for us. Only if we are clearly following the Lord, will we be delivered. We need brave people like Moses' father and mother who by faith risked their lives because they sensed God wanted to use their son (Hebrews 11:23).
God will deliver our children if we sincerely seek out His ways. Notice below how God preserved a people for Himself in a very dark age. Again read from left to right.
Preservation of God's People
Intermingled by marriage
Destroyed the wicked
Noah and the Ark
Strong power of the world
Weakened that power by isolation
Created a multilingual world
Swallowed up in pagan culture
Separated a nation from others
Called Abraham from Ur
Dependent on world power
In Egypt but separated from
Carefully placed Joseph/ Goshen
How does God pass on the truth? The most obvious way is through our children. If our children aren't impacted by the truth of God from our lives, then not many others will be either. This is the reason the Apostle Paul made one of the qualifications for leadership the ability to manage our children/household well.
"He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
The way we bring up our children clearly reflects what we believe and how we live out God's truth. A man can be disqualified from ministry for not managing his household well! Some might consider this unfair, but it is not. It is common sense. If you cannot train your own children, then you cannot train others. It just won't happen. There will not be a good result. We have examples of both the good and bad side of this all around us.
We need to make a commitment to faithfully serve God through our families. This does not mean we ignore other ways of service, but it does mean that we need to sufficiently prioritize our time that God's purposes are lived out at home.
The BFF Parenting Library has both the Biblical Parenting Principles for Toddlers materials as well Godly Beginnings for the Family. It includes Powerpoint slides and handouts for each session. Click the Library for more information. The many practical training materials supplied on this one Library can't be found elsewhere. More info.
Next =>Family Planning & Birth Control
God says much more about so-called family planning than the Christian believes.