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In this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent, we present a special message from Ed Moore. Drawing from his extensive personal and pastoral experience, Ed shares valuable insights on parenting. He underscores the significance of expressing love to our children frequently and the impact of creating memories through spontaneous, fun, and creative activities.

Ed further highlights the role of faith and grace in parenting, narrating his own journey of learning from failure and defeat.

This episode is full of wisdom about raising children in a godly, impactful, and joyful manner.

Resources From This Podcast

The Cross Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney
Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Ted Tripp

 Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast

02:10 Building blocks for raising a family.

11:28 Use expressive words with obnoxious frequency in order to communicate love.

17:44 Use creative actions with enthusiastic spontaneity in order to create memories

25:33 Use frequent prayer with tenacious persistence to communicate humility.

27:36 Use precious time with tenacious urgency in order to minimize regrets.

34:30 Use sincere thanksgiving with peaceful contentment to teach providence.

37:47 Use joyful hospitality without grumbling in order to demonstrate selflessness.

40:35 Use the chastening rod with faithful consistency in order to eradicate foolishness. (This building block may need some context. Ed only has a short time. For more nuance on this building block see our material Parenting with Confidence.)

46:29 Use the practical gospel with personal applications in order to reproduce disciples

53:08 Conclusion: a grace-driven home, or a performance-driven home

Podcast Transcript

Chap: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to the Disciple-Making Parent Podcast, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children.

Do you want to hear some parenting thoughts from a wise, loving, but no-nonsense pastor? Then stay tuned. Hi, I’m Chap Bettis, author of The Disciple-Making Parent, and I think you’re going to enjoy today’s podcast with Ed Moore. Ed is a fun and eclectic preacher. The first time I heard him preach, he started an illustration in the introduction, but he left it hanging. I thought he might be a little crazy. And then he finished the illustration in the conclusion. It was brilliant. He preaches from handwritten notes in a spiral-bound notebook, but he keeps you enraptured.

I first head this talk a few years ago. It was so good I started recording it, but then . . . my phone died. Afterwards I asked if he had another copy, and that’s what we’ll be listening to today. The Ed on the recording is a little more serious-sounding than the one I heard a few years ago, but don’t let that fool you. He is serious about the gospel, but he has a big heart for people.

Ed Moore has been the pastor of North Shore Baptist Church since 1992. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and Columbia Biblical Seminary. He and his wife Anna have four adult children, and eight grand children, and live in Bayside, New York.

Before we start, though, I want to remind you that we have a second podcast: my audio blog. This is a short-form podcast where I read my blog posts in audio format. So you can consume good content, short content, while on the go or doing chores. Simply search for, and subscribe to, The Disciple-Making Parent Audio Blog. Or you can go to our website and find it there. But for now, let’s think about a godly man’s wisdom on raising children to the glory of God.

Ed Moore: Mark Twain wrote the following: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant that I could hardly stand to be around the old man. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”  Now that’s more than just a humorous quote. There’s a great profound truth behind that, and it’s this: That is that wise parents do not perform to get the applause of their immature, foolish children.  But they do what they do, they know to be right, believing that one day their children will come to the same conclusion.

In Proverbs 22:6 we read the words that if you train up a child in the way that he should go, that when he’s old he will not depart from it.  What we have from Mr. Solomon and from Mr. Clemens is the assumption that fathers and parents know what is good and they know what is right. But I think we can make no such assumption in 21st century America. So with that in mind, what I would like to do this morning is I would like to give you eight actions to consider as you raise your children in the way that they should go.

Now, here’s how it will work. I will speak, and then as you have any questions at the end, you can ask them. Alec will be moderating. If he has any questions, he can ask them. But for the first little while, I’m going to be the one that’s going to be speaking.  And before I do, I want to make a few disclaimers.

First of all, if you didn’t get a paper, you should get one of these white sheets. If you didn’t get one, you’re going to need one of those just to look at.  But the list that you have in front of you is not an exhaustive list. In other words, there are many things that could have been added to this list that are very important. There’s not a word in what I am about to say about how important it is to have a good marriage. That is essential. There’s nothing about sex, there’s nothing about money, there’s nothing about health or sports or education or people skills. There’s nothing about that. Those are all useful things to learn.

In fact, it might even be argued that those things are more important than the things that I am going to say.  Why I say that to say this: they did not make the list today because this list is a limited list, it is a personal list, and it is a very subjective list.  I chose the eight topics that I chose by asking myself, What are some of the fundamental building blocks upon which we raised our family? And so that’s what you’re going to hear today.

Not only is it not an exhaustive and an all-comprehensive list, but I think I’m fairly confident in saying it’s not even the best list. This is just simply my list. Now that is not to say that I am preaching myself. I am not; I am preaching Christ. And it’s not to say that we arrive at truth by experience. We don’t. We arrive at truth through the truth, which is the word of God, the Bible. Sanctify them by thy word, thy word is truth, John 17:17. But it is to say that what I’m going to speak about today is not in theory, and it is not some sort of idealistic speculation. I didn’t come up with a formula in a laboratory. These are subjects which I can address with actual experience. However, by saying that, I do not wish to imply that I have mastered these items or even that I do them very well. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that many of the things that I have learned and that I am going to share with you today have been born out of defeat and sin and failure.

If you don’t believe me, I have two daughters that are in this session who can attest to that. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1984 with a 2.3 grade point average with a degree in speech communications, which is what you take when you just want a piece of paper saying that you went to the school.  I graduated with a 4.0 from the School of Hard Knocks. The tuition is higher, but the education is much better. So, I have learned much from failure, sin, and defeat.

Furthermore, I do not wish to set my children before you as a product of what these eight points will produce. This is not a recipe. I want to tell you something that should both encourage you and something that should humble you. First of all, to humble you, I have observed countless parents who are much better than I am. They have done everything, as far as I can tell, the way that they should do it. I should be going to them for advice. They did everything correctly and in line with the scriptures, and doggone it if their kids didn’t turn out to be weird and ungodly and dishonest and spiritual failures.

On the other hand, I have seen parents who were really horrible parents. They did everything imaginable that was wrong, and at the end of the day, their children turned out to be productive and polite and responsible and godly, Christ-loving citizens.  The reason I say that is, at the end of the day- and listen to me carefully: everything, and I do mean everything, and everything means everything without exception, excluding nothing. Everything that I am about to tell you is 100 percent dependent upon the grace of God. So please don’t think I’m giving you some sort of a formula for a successful family which comes with a money-back guarantee. It does not at all.

And that does not mean that you are not responsible for your actions. You are. It doesn’t mean that you are not going to have an impact upon the success or the failure of your children. You can and you will. But what it does mean is that we are 100% at the mercy of a sovereign God. So, for those of you who are patting yourselves on the back because you are doing such a good job, you need to be warned that God hates that attitude. Proverbs 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. And for those of you today who chose this session because you are so discouraged, and you’re constantly asking yourself, Where did I go wrong, and what can I do, and why am I such a failure? Maybe the answer to that question, not that you were perfect, but maybe overall the answer to that question is, you did nothing wrong.  Ezekiel 18:20 says the soul that sins, it shall surely die. Everyone is responsible for themselves.

So, if today you come into this session with defeat, I want you to take heart at the mercy of God. And even if you are or were a dreadful parent, I want to give you hope that the grace of God can restore the years that the locusts have eaten, Joel 2:25. So it’s not ultimately up to you. You’re simply called to be faithful.

Now again, I remind you that these are personal applications about the more family operates and your family is your family. One of the biggest mistakes I made in parenting is that I would go to those whom I believe to be good parents, I would look at what they did, and I would try to reproduce it one to one into my family. And that does not work. We are the Moores. You are not the Moores. You are unique. Your family is your family. That’s not to say that we can’t learn from one another, but we are the Moores, and you are who you are. You are not the Kardashians or the Mannings or the Kennedys or the Osmonds or the Manson family, you are who you are.

So listen to these points with a discerning ear and apply them by grace as they apply to your situation where God has sovereignly put you. If they relate to you at this time, then apply them.  Also, I would like to say realistically, as I said before, this is not a formula. So don’t take all eight of these and say these are the things that we need to do. My goal is that maybe you will hear one point or subpoint which you can apply which will be helpful for the long haul.

You’re going to notice also as you look at your sheet that each sentence begins with the word “use”. The reason I do that is because we’re going to get immediately to application, James 1:22, to be doers of the word and to not be self-deceived. And so, they are written in such a way that you can make pretty immediate application. You’re also going to notice that the sentences are convoluted, and probably in most cases, grammatically incorrect. But they are that way for a reason. They are thorough and they are descriptive enough that if you just meditate upon the words, you will immediately be able to apply them when you are challenged. So they come in no particular order except to say that number eight is most important. Let’s get right to work.

Number one: Use expressive words with obnoxious frequency in order to communicate love. In other words, talk with your kids all the time about everything and never let there be any doubt in their mind whatsoever what you think of them. Let them know that you love them and that you adore them and use words which are very descriptive and unmistakable to do so. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 that we are to encourage one another and to build one another up. And Paul says do that just as you are doing.

Why is it that we read so many New Testament passages and we say these verses apply to how we relate to the brethren? That is true, they do apply to how we relate to the brethren. But are your children not among the brethren? And so why would you not encourage and build your own children up? Let’s use God the Father as the example of the best parent. In his relationship with his only begotten son, Jesus, he verbally, publicly, unashamedly, with words says on multiple occasions, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Look at him, listen to him, but I want you to know, I love him. And in his relationship with his children, he constantly is communicating his love to us. In the 1189 chapters of the Bible, he makes no doubt to us that he loves us for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us. Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed upon us. And not only does he tell us but he shows us. God demonstrates his own love toward us and over and over and over again we see the love of God.

Now, I can’t tell you the number of times as a pastor people have come to me and they’ve said one of two things. Number one, they will say this, particularly as it relates to fathers: My father loved me. I know that he loved me, but he never actually said it.  Sometimes that’s even said of mothers.  Several years ago, I pulled one of my sons up onto the podium with me as I was preaching a sermon. And I wanted to demonstrate the love that the father had for his son. And just for no reason whatsoever, I stood my seven-year-old son in front of the congregation, and I just said, “Parker, I love you. I adore you. I think you’re wonderful. I am so glad that God has brought you to live with us.” And I just expressed my love to him and said, “This is the love that I have for my son. Well, God has such a love for his son.” Sort of a side point, just a little bit of an icebreaker, an illustration, and after the service was over, there was a lady in her 80s who came up to me with tears in her eyes, and she said, My father lived and he died, and never once did he ever tell me that he loved me. So we ask the question, why?  And the answer that we usually get is, Well, I ‘m old school, or I’m reserved, or That’s not the way that I was raised. To which I say, old school is wrong and bad and hurtful, and being quiet and reserved in such cases is destructive.

The other thing that I will hear people say all the time is this, My life is a quest to please my parents. To get validation from them, to know that I am satisfying them.  If that is the case, you can remove all doubt from your children, whether they are five or whether they are fifty, simply by looking them in the eye and saying, I am pleased with you. Not that I agree with everything that you do, but you need to know that I adore you. I love you. You do not have to perform for me. Use expressive words with obnoxious frequency, and the reason I say obnoxious frequency is because this is not one of those things where you sit the kids down and have the talk of I love you. No, it has to be all the time.

My father did not have a father. My father was born in 1926, and in those days, couples just didn’t break up. When my dad was six months old, his father left him. And he never came back. My father knew nothing about how to be a father.  He was a very good father. What made him a very good father is that he would do this, and he would do it frequently.  Be walking across the room and he’d say, Hey, Mister, get over here, right now. Stand here right in front of me. And he’d hold me by the shoulders and he’d say, I need you to know. Now you listen to me, you look at me, don’t interrupt me. I need you to know that I love you and that I am pleased with you. You are the one that God has given to me.  I am pleased that you are my son. Now, whatever you were doing, go. Off with you. But he would let it be known. It was embarrassing as a teenager that my father would wrap his arms around me and he would kiss me in front of my friends. When I was going to bed, as all my life, but as a teenager, he would always walk in and he would put his hand on my head. Oh God, bless this boy from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. And he would lean down and he would kiss me. Eddie boy, I love you. He communicated it with obnoxious frequency.

And I think that maybe some of you have been working under the assumption that your children know that they love you. And truth being, they do know that you love them.  Oh, it’s going to be awkward.  But it’s going to accomplish a great deal if you say it.

Here’s number two. And I almost left this one out. Number eight is the most important point, but number two is my favorite point.  And that is: Use creative actions with enthusiastic spontaneity in order to create memories.  What I’m basically talking about here is, have fun with your kids. This is not a license to shirk responsibility or hard work. But it is a call for delight and joy and laughter and fun within the context of the family. It says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. If that time is not within the context of the family, where is it? Using the gospel as an example, moving from the spiritual and the eternal to the temporal.  If heaven is our real home, and if heaven is a place of unspeakable joy, should we not model for our children that home is a place that is filled with joy?

The family is a picture of the gospel, and the gospel is a place of joy.  When the emphasis of raising your children is that we need to keep them out of trouble, we need to make sure that they don’t run with a dangerous crowd, we need to prohibit their activities and take a defensive posture. . . That simply will not work. Now, you must prohibit their activities. There are certain places where they should not be and things that they shouldn’t do. And people that they should not be with. I was the least popular dad ever because I would simply say to my kids, “I don’t want you to be with that other person.” “Why not, Dad?” “Because I don’t like them. And that’s the only reason.” Now don’t go to him, especially those of you that are from North Shore Baptist Church, and ask who those children are. Because they’ll give you names and then I could be sued. But I would keep my kids away from certain people.

But the emphasis primarily was not defensive.  You have to have a strategy for delight.  The strategy is this, parents. I want you kids to know I am excited about this family and this is going to be the place to be and so what we are going to do is we are going to form family traditions.  Oh, no parent has ever embarrassed their children more than we have, but we have family traditions. Every year on Father’s Day Anna goes to Old Navy and she buys $5 red, white and blue t-shirts and on the 4th of July we show up like the awkward family photos at Central Park with those shirts and we do it every year. We have family Bible reading traditions every year on Memorial Day. We clean the lawn furniture. We sometimes will just sit and say, Here’s what we’re going to do and it’s going to be really fun. We’re going to pull out construction paper and scissors and crayons and we’re going to do a craft. Or we are going to play miniature golf. I have a tradition with my sons that most days of the week, and they’re both married, they’re both living in other states, I send them a postcard just about every day.

At the end of an event, we gather the family around and we say, Okay, everyone’s going to talk. Tell us the three best things about the day or things about the event. We sometimes will do things spontaneously, and the reason why we will do them is just for fun. We will jump in the car, just the six of us, and we will go out Christmas caroling. We want to make our home a place that is fun. Sometimes we will turn our home into a restaurant, and the mom and the dad will be the customers, someone will be the waiter, someone will be the cook, someone will do the dishes. We want to make our home a place that is fun. We’re going to go for an adventure and I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

You notice in the program that you were given, there were a couple of books there that I recommended by the Tripp brothers. One of the books that I recommended that did not make that list is the Rand McNally Atlas. Just get in the car and go somewhere. Go on an adventure.  I want them to look back with fond memories and say, At least our parents tried to make this a place that is fun. And guess what, parents? Sometimes you’re going to fail miserably. But at least you are trying to make the home a place that is delightful. Now, my father always said, and he was right, that the best times that you will ever have in your life are times which are unplanned and spontaneous. They are simple things that you just stumble upon. And quite often the things that you spend a lot of money on and anticipate end up being a large letdown. So what I want you to do is, I want you to look at the situation that you are in right now and I want you to celebrate the delight and the joy that is your family.

Back in 2005, the Mets were in what was sort of a fake pennant race, meaning they won like three games in a row. But it was late in the season.  And we would frequently go to the games because I knew the ticket taker and he could get us in late. And so we usually would go late, sometimes after the seventh inning, and lo and behold the Mets were down one night and they had a backup catcher, his name was Castro and he hit a three run home run against the Phillies. The Mets won the game that night, after which I took the boys to the Lemon Ice King of Corona and as we are there, I had a moment of clarity. I’m not in AA or anything, but I had a moment of clarity where I realized this is a wonderful night. And so as we were ordering our lemon ice, as a man walked up, he ordered his, and I wanted to demonstrate this to my kids. And I said, No, sir. Pal, no way. Your money’s no good here tonight. This is on me. Because the Mets won the ballgame tonight. That was our World Series. The Mets won the ballgame tonight, and I’m here with my sons, and we’re celebrating. So, I pulled $1.50 out of my pocket and said, Right there, pal. You got 31 flavors to choose from. Get whatever you want.

Why did I do that? I did that in order to communicate to my sons, This is a good night. This is a night to celebrate. And I want it to be marked and I want it to be remembered. See, here’s the point. Mom and Dad, you have to set the pace in your home to make it a place of joy and delight and laughter and tradition and fun and controlled craziness. You will get more mileage out of a family wrestling match on the bed than you will out of a million trips.

Let me just say something as a side note and then we’ll go on.  Somehow the American family has now been designed in such a way that everyone goes into the home and they sequester themselves in the four corners of the house with their electronics. You have to be the one that says no. We are coming together. This is our family. We are spending time together.  The point is, and again, this was not a very spiritual point, and the scriptures that I used, I realized I pulled them out of context. This was not a terribly spiritual point, but it’s a very important point. Your home has to be a place of delight.

Number three, use frequent prayer with tenacious persistence to convey humility. I’ll make it very simple. Humble people pray and proud people don’t. Humble people pray and proud people don’t. You want humble children, then you must be humble. Therefore, you must pray. And so I say to you, pray with them and pray for them. And teach them how to pray. And when a crisis arises, pray. And when you hear someone that is sick, you pray. When you need wisdom, you pray James 1:5. And before you spank them, you pray. And at bedtime, you pray. When you have people over to eat, you turn to the smallest person in the family, and you say, You pray for the meal right now.

When my children were small. I would go in their bedroom every night, and I would lay in the bed with them, and I would pray this: Dear Father in heaven, I pray that you’d save them. I pray that you’d have mercy upon them. I pray, Lord, that they would love people, and the people would love them. I pray, dear Lord, that they would never smoke, or drink, or say bad words, or look at bad pictures, or get a tattoo. You say, well, that’s legalistic. Listen, remember at the beginning? You pray for your family the way that you want to, and I’ll pray for mine, okay? That’s the way we’re doing it. Your family’s yours. Mine’s mine. I would pray that God would give him a good spouse, one that would love him and care for him and protect him and be their friend and be their helper. Pray, pray, pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Pray without ceasing.  James 5:16, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. And it’s not just a matter of demonstrating humility, but prayer is the means by which God has ordained to accomplish his purposes. Cry out to God as though you are desperate because you are, and don’t just make it a matter of going to God as though he were a genie in a bottle, but communicate that prayer is the means by which we draw close to God and commune with the God of the universe. Pray, pray, pray, humble people, pray, pray, pray.

Point number four.  Use precious time with strategic urgency in order to minimize regrets.  For those of you that have ever watched a football game with me, first of all, I would like to say I’m sorry.  Secondly, I would like to say you know that if my team is losing, there is a pet peeve that I have, that I always notice and I always scream at the television because it appears as though coaches and quarterbacks are not aware that it is a timed game.  Precious seconds are passing away and quarterbacks are looking to the sidelines as if they had never been to practice. No! Get on the ball and snap the ball. The time is passing and once the time is gone, it will not be back. Football is a timed game.  Life is a timed game.

Moses writes in Psalm 90:12, So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Now, what Moses is talking about there is the span of one’s entire life.  The time that you have with your kids is much shorter, and the time which you have an influence over your children while they’re at home is microscopic. And so, we homeschool our children. Not because we have anything at all whatsoever against the New York City public school system. We really don’t. And we don’t homeschool our children because we think that they could get a better education at home. They probably can’t because. . . we just don’t do- I graduated with a 2.3. Anything better than that is like, Wow, you gotta see, good for you. No, it’s not, it’s not that we emphasize education that much.

And it’s not because we’re afraid of the influence that their friends will have on them. The reason why we have chosen to homeschool- and not everyone should homeschool, primarily because homeschool people are, for the most part, the weirdest people on the planet. If that, that would be the reason why you would not want to homeschool. But the reason why we homeschool, one main reason, is because we simply like spending time with our kids. And we know that there is so little of it. Psalm 123:3, Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. And the fruit of the womb is a reward.

My son Parker left home when he was 16.  He’s been back to visit, but he was gone then.  My son Charlie had just turned 17, less than a month earlier. He was gone. And if you do not capitalize upon the few moments that you have, one morning, like the main character in Fiddler on the Roof, you’re going to wake up and say, Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they? When did she get to be a beauty? And when did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday that they were small? Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flowed the days.

Again, I go back to my father. He never had a father, but oh, how wise he was. It’s June 1973. We went on a family vacation. Family vacation was a week. We drove from Dubois, Pennsylvania to St. Petersburg, Florida. It took two days to drive there and two days to get back, so the vacation itself was three days. We stayed at the Empress Motel on 4th Street in St. Petersburg, Florida.  One night in the hotel, I’m 12 years old, there’s him and my mother in a bed, and I’m in the other bed, and I say, Dad, would you like to come sleep in the bed with me?  You can still do that when you’re twelve.  Not only did my father say yes, but he said, Eddie boy, I will be glad to come sleep in the bed with you, and let me tell you why. Because soon are coming the days when you will not ask to sleep in the bed with your father. It meant nothing to me at the time, but he got out of bed and got in bed with me.

We spent the night, we got up the next morning, and that was the end of it.  Fade in, fade out, it’s 2002. I’m in Cooperstown, New York, with my oldest son, Parker. He’s 12 years old. And by the way, if you haven’t taken your kids to Cooperstown, they are not properly educated. Take your kids to the Baseball Hall of Fame. We are there in the off season. We get this hotel, if you can call it that, at a very cheap rate. There’s no one in Cooperstown at this time. And as you walk into this hotel, there is a room, and it has a sitting area, and then there’s a bedroom and then there’s another room and then there’s a kitchen and Parker walked in he said, This is great, you can have your room and I’ll have my room. I said Great, Parker, whatever you like. Later that night he says to me, Hey would you sleep in the same room with me? I said, I mean, this is for you, pal. Whatever you would like.  So we read our Bible, we prayed, we turned out the light. I’m in my bed and he’s in his and he says, Hey, Dad, would you  would you come and get in my bed with me? My mind went back to 1973 and I said, Oh, Parker, I’ll be happy to come get in the bed with you. And I said, Let me tell you why, because fast are coming the days when you’re not going to want to have your dad in bed with you.

Now, I realize that this is a sentimental, sappy, puppy getting run over, tear-jerking story that really in and of itself has no value. But it has great value in this sense: you have a limited time whereby you can have an influence upon your children whereby they will want to listen to you. Use precious time so that you have no regrets today. I drive past a park and I see a dad with his son in the park throwing batting practice to the little seven or eight-year-old boys. And I say to myself, I would give the world and everything in it if the clock could be turned back and I could do that again.  You don’t know how much your children look up to you and how much time they want to spend with you and you think that they’re just going to be there forever. They are not. It was just yesterday that we brought them home from the hospital and now they are gone. You don’t have as much time as you think. And so use the time that you have for the glory of God. Regrets of wasted time are bitter, bitter memories, and therefore, as Ephesians 5:16 says, redeem the time or make the best use of the time because the days are evil.

Point number five. Use sincere thanksgiving with peaceful contentment to teach providence.  But what does that mean?  Let me explain it in this way.  The most valuable tool that we own in order to maintain mental health and a proper outlook on life is to have a working knowledge of the sovereignty of God. The way that you keep from going crazy is to realize that everything is happening for a purpose, with a plan, and that God is designing that. And we need to learn to rest in His providence. What is providence? Providence is the doctrine that God limits orders and controls all things for his glory and for our good. And so Romans 8 28 is not just a memory verse. But we need to know and rest in the fact that he is causing all things to work together for the good of those that love him, to those who are the called according to his purpose. We need to say along with Job that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. And whatever my God ordains is right.

And without a firm, fixed, deep seated conviction that God is in control of all things with a purpose, you will lose your mind.  So we are responsible to teach our children theology. They need to know Reformed theology. They need to be Calvinist. They need to unashamedly say that they are Calvinist. They need to understand TULIP. But they also need the practical value of resting in his providence. And the way to do that is to have a thankful heart. And to be content, especially when the ball does not bounce your way.

Now the opposite of that is temper, and anger, and impatience, and complaining, and fault-finding. And James 1:20 says that the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Remember at the outset of this, I said that I learned a lot from my sin. I want to say to you today, with a heart of regret and sadness, that prior to learning about the cross-centered life,  the book that C. J. Mahaney wrote, and the implications of it, prior to learning about the cross-centered life I was a legalistic, angry, impatient man. And I am still susceptible to those sins.  The opposite of that is to rest in what God ordains and to do so with thanksgiving in your heart.  So, parents, who can translate Reformed theology into their demeanor will be effective leaders. Let me say that again, because I think it’s really important. That is, the parents who can translate Reformed theology into their demeanor are effective leaders. You know, we say we believe in the sovereignty of God, but we prove whether or not we actually believe in the sovereignty of God when things do not go our way.

So again, a text in the New Testament, which we interpret for applying to our relationship with the brethren. Philippians 4:5, Let your gentleness be known to all. Why does that not apply to our children as well? Let your reasonableness, your gentleness be known to all.

Number six, we only have three more. Number six.  Use joyful hospitality without grumbling in order to demonstrate selflessness.  1 Peter 4:9 says show hospitality without grumbling.  I just want to say concerning our family, we very selfishly have exposed our kids to hundreds of house guests who have stayed in our home. If you’re in this room right now and you have not yet slept in our home, you are in the minority, okay?  I cannot number the people who have stayed in our house. And I say that we are very selfish in doing that because, actually for the most part it is not a sacrifice for us, it is a delight.  It is a delight until something breaks or until my wife has labored to prepare the meal and there is a large crowd there and no one even bothers to ask If they can help clean up or when people do not know when to go home. The party is over and they stick around. Or people show up uninvited and with your heart you’re saying, How did they get here? and with your mouth you have to say, Oh, please come in. Thank you. Sit down. Or when people stay at your house and they don’t double-check to see that they’ve got all their belongings and you have to mail them back to them.

Or when you know that you’re being used. Listen, if we lived in Des Moines, Iowa, we wouldn’t have so many friends we didn’t even know we have. No, we know that we’re being used. People come stay with us because we live close to New York City. Many other things which are an irritant, and it is times like this that you can teach your children selflessness. There are other ways to do it, but I think that the best way to do it is through hospitality for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel.  Exercising your selfless muscles. It’s a way to teach your children that your food is not your food, and that your things are not your things. And that we are here for a purpose, and our purpose here is to give. Acts 20:35, it is more blessed to give than to receive.  You preach it in your theology, but you really show it with your hospitality. Wasn’t God hospitable? For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.

Number seven.  Use the chastening rod with faithful consistency in order to eradicate foolishness.  I’m not going to read all of the verses that I have here, just a few of them. Proverbs 22:15, Folly or foolishness is found up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. The rod and reproof give wisdom. Proverbs 29:15, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Also, you know the text. Proverbs 13:24. The point is this, and this actually could have, I guess, been a session all its own. But the point is this: We need to discipline our children because God tells us what we should do. Now the particulars of how to spank your children, when not to spank your children, I’m not going to be able to get into all of this today.

But I will say, I know that there are a lot of abuses. And again, every family has to do what is right for them. You say, what is the age at which, one should be spanked and when that should stop? One of our children got a spanking as late as the age of 15. I mean, that wasn’t frequent, but when you act as he did that day, he was deserving of it. But the overall heart is this. I’m grieved when I see unruly children in our society. And my grief is not prompted by how irritating these children are to be around, and let there be no mistake, it is very irritating to be around these children. But my concern stems from the fact that foolishness translates into sadness, and the sadness goes far beyond the years of childhood and being teenagers. Because a child that does not know how to obey his parents will not learn from his teachers, nor will he learn from his coaches. They will not learn from their employer. They will not listen to the civil authorities. They will not listen to their elders and their spiritual leaders. And ultimately, they will say, Who is God that I should listen to Him and what is His word that I should obey it?

Now, I realize that one’s eternal destiny is not contingent upon discipline. But I also realize that the same God that ordained the end ordained the means by which the end should be accomplished. And he tells us to deal with foolishness by means of the rod. That is the consistent use of spanking. Now, I don’t have time, as I said today, to go into the particulars of how to do this, but I do want to say something about when to do it.  Make your request to your child one time in a conversational tone.  If the child declines or resists or delays or disobeys or demonstrates a bad attitude, take them to a private place in your home, speak to them, spank them, pray with them, kiss them, hug them, walk out the door the very best of friends.  Tell them that you will never spank them again if they simply obey.

One of the books I recommended was Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Let me tell you, you are looking at the greatest failure. Prior to getting a hold of that book, I was the greatest failure of a father that ever lived. I was a fool. I would work with my kids. I would try to bargain with them. I would threaten them. I would bribe them. I would negotiate. I would repeat. I would count. I would act as though I was hurt. I would frequently become angry.  And, and, and. It’s so foolish. I mean, you see it every time you go to the beach. The family that goes to the beach, the child that is being bad, they’ve driven miles to be there, they have drug a cooler through the sand, they’ve set up their stupid umbrella, and the mother says something like, If you don’t behave, we’re gonna go home. The kid’s not an idiot. You’re not gonna turn around and go home. That’s an empty threat.

Now, Ted Tripp puts it very well in Shepherding a Child’s Heart. You say it one time, and then you spank them. If they say that they didn’t hear you, you say, Very good. I will spank you for not hearing me. Next time, listen when you hear my voice. I knew that finally I had  done something right when one day we were standing in our driveway. I was in a hurry to go. I walked out. Our oldest son, Parker, was shooting baskets. And I said, Okay, Parker, let’s go. And he pulled the ball up. And you could just see what was going on in his mind. Now, I would not have spanked him had he put up the last shot.  He brought it down, and he rolled it aside.  He’s saying to himself, This guy’s nuts. He might just actually spank me. But what he was saying was, it isn’t worth it to try, and so, I am going to listen. I knew that it finally worked.

And we have four children. They are all different. I have my daughters with me here today, Savannah and Madison. I have an older son. His name is Parker. And then I have a son named Charlie. Charlie, if you take the number of times that I spanked Parker, Savannah, and Madison, and then you double that, it comes to less than half of the times that we spanked Charlie. Every child is different.  And parents, I want to say that you will not see results right away. Listen carefully to this.  You will see negative results from spanking if you do it inconsistently.  For if you do it inconsistently, all you are teaching your children how to do is to play Russian roulette. I don’t know what my dad is going to do.  Do it consistently over time.  And may your kids say, I could always depend upon my dad to discipline me.

Point number eight, most important point, if you’ve listened to nothing, please listen to this. And that is, use the practical gospel with personal applications in order to reproduce disciples. In other words, show them how the grace of God works.  We teach our children how to drive, how to cut the grass, and how to do the laundry. Why should grace be something which is self-taught? Teach them the importance of the gospel, that the gospel is of first importance. 1 Corinthians 15: 3 -4, Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. He was buried, He was raised again on the third day according to the scriptures. Teach them the truth of the gospel. Teach them the story of the gospel. Make sure that they know the gospel.

Do not assume that they know the gospel. We had an intern that worked at our church this summer who got saved when he was about 18. He grew up in the best church that I know of in all of Atlanta, and by his own confession, he did not know the gospel. Please do not assume that your church is responsible to teach your children the gospel. Your church is not responsible for that. Hopefully your church does teach the gospel, but you Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You teach them the gospel. Do not assume that they know the gospel. By nature, they are going to be inclined toward works.  You need to teach them grace. And not only do you need to teach them grace concerning being saved by the gospel, you need to teach them that sanctification is 100 percent by the gospel.

And teach them, here’s where the rubber is really going to get down on the road, you need to teach them your personal need for the gospel. That is to say that when you sin, and when you sin, and you will, when you sin, you need to call for a family meeting.  And you need to announce to the family, Here’s something which I did, which was sinful and I have already asked God to forgive me and he has through the precious blood of Jesus Christ for I know that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I am under no condemnation right now, But I need you to know that I have also sinned against you. And so I’m asking you, my six-year-old son, I am asking you, my 32-year-old daughter, I am asking you to forgive me. And I am making no excuses. I didn’t do this because I was tired or because I was frustrated or because I have old habits that need to be broken or because you provoked me. I was simply wrong and guilty and I am really sorry. And I want to make steps not to repeat this. Bottom line, your father, your mother is a sinner, and I need grace. I need the gospel.

So I ask you, and this is not a rhetorical question, when was the last time that you sinned in the presence of your family? And if you can recall that, do you recall going to them and seeking forgiveness?  One who is broken, contrite, humble, showing your need for Christ.  I need Christ. And I need to teach my children that more than I need to teach them how to drive or how to get a good score on their SAT.  I need to teach them that they need Christ. You see, we are so hypocritical.  We want our children to be honest and contrite and repentant and sorry for their actions.  But yet, are we?

The best way to teach that is to model that.  Less than two weeks ago, I was with my son in Georgia, it was the opening day of the football season. Georgia was playing Clemson.  My son, Parker, asked me a question.  He said, “Are you preaching tomorrow, Dad?” I said, “Well, kind of, but not really. All of the elders are preaching. We’re all doing a seven-minute sermon on an aspect of the life of the Apostle Paul. And so I’m just doing a short.” And he said, “Are you finished?”

Well, I had studied. I knew what I was going to say. I had my outline. I had my illustrations. I had everything. I had much of it written down. And, for crying out loud, it was seven minutes.  So, I said, “It’s Saturday. Of course I’m finished.” I wasn’t finished.  What I had to do at that point, when it was revealed to me that I was a liar, and I am a liar.  The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?  I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing. I am a sinner. I am a liar. I had to go to my son and I needed to say, “I have gone to God and God has forgiven me, but I need you to know that I have lied to you. I did not tell you the truth.”

 Another practical way that we can use the gospel in order to produce or reproduce disciples is to extend mercy.  Even when using the rod, do it with gentleness and under control. You know what it means to be godly? It means to be like God.  So we ask the question, what is God like in his dealings with us?  He’s patient. He’s loving. He’s kind. He restores. And after he disciplines us, he produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness by those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11. He’s not harsh. He’s not demeaning.  So, if we wish to produce righteousness in our children, we need to be gentle. Spank them to the glory of God. Make sure they feel the sting, but make sure they know mercy and love.  You need mercy and love. Show mercy and love. James 2:13, For judgment is without mercy. For the one who shows no mercy, mercy triumphs over judgment.  Again, as one who constantly needs grace, you need to show it.  Now, as you show it, explain the gospel. It’s not just that Dad is a merciful guy. No, Dad serves a merciful God. Teach them the gospel.

Let me land the plane here.  Your kids are either going to grow up in a performance-driven home, or they’re going to grow up in a grace-driven home.  If they grow up in a performance-driven home, they’re either going to be hypocrites who learn what they must do to pretend that they are something that they are not, or they will be rebels who will know that they cannot live up to the standards and so they will just go wild and won’t even try. Or they will be Pharisees who will outwardly conform and they will be proud of it.

The latter is a grace-driven home.  That is one that produces disciples, children that understand grace, children that have been extended grace, children who seek for grace.  Use the practical gospel with personal applications to reproduce disciples. Because what we’re looking at right now is not you having children that are well-behaved so that people can pay you compliments. What you’re looking for, here’s your goal, is that 50 years from now, when you are rotting in a casket somewhere or near dead and someone asks your children, What was your mother like? What was your father like? There’s going to be a lot of things that they can say which will be embarrassing to your legacy, but overall What you want them to say is something like this: My mother, my father was a real Christian. A real genuine Christian who loved Jesus and they obeyed him and they prioritized his kingdom, and they understood the gospel they understood functionally how the gospel worked  They were lovers of Christ, practically speaking, they showed me mercy, they sought mercy, they lived out the gospel.

And that’s not even your bottom line. The bottom line is not what are they going to say about you, but the bottom line is how do they turn out.  And if we really believe that the gospel is the dynamite, that is, the power of God unto salvation, how they turn out is how the gospel is going to get to them. And the most effective way to use that gospel is to communicate it by your life. The most powerful, effective tool of influence that you have concerning the character of your children is the gospel. The gospel spoken, and taught, and lived out, and applied, and emphasized, emphasized, emphasized. The gospel is of first importance. That’s the most important point. Get that point across to your precious children.