Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
Romans 12:12

When Homeschool Heroes Fail: What’s A Dad To Do?

When  Homeschool Heroes Fail: What’s A Father To Do?

I won’t name him. If you follow evangelical news, you know who I’m talking about. This past week, he left his wife and his faith.

If you’ve been homeschooling any length of time, you probably have his books on your shelf. He was there at the beginning of the modern homeschool movement, tagging alongside his conference speaking father. He went on to lead his own conferences, write bestsellers, and become a pastor. He was a model for others. Hero might be too strong (it worked for the title of this article), but he was certainly a leading figure in some homeschool circles.

The news shocked many. How does a person process such news? He grew up in the church. He wrote books dealing with theological issues, books well received by other leading evangelicals. He pastored a large church. Then….he changed his mind.

I went through one of his books with my older children. We studied it together and it encouraged us in our faith. His change of mind caused me to toss and turn, to lose sleep. What should I do? Pull his books from our shelves and throw them away?

As I processed the news, my concern became acute. My mind focused on one thing. How can I be sure of my children’s salvation? If this man who grew up in a prominent homeschooling family could leave the faith, how can I be sure my children will continue in the faith?

Various teachings exist concerning the doctrine of salvation. I won’t argue my position here. Whatever view one holds, the news of a leading evangelical figure leaving the faith is disturbing. It should cause fathers to think about how they are doing with regard to teaching their children the things of God.

As shocking as such news can be, we shouldn’t be completely surprised. Scripture clearly teaches that some people will be among the saints on earth who don’t actually belong to Christ.

Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. Some will do things in His name but He will tell them that He never knew them. (See Matthew 13:21-23.) Jude verse 4 says that some people have crept into the church unnoticed. These are ungodly people who pervert the grace of God. They must have looked like true believers, but they didn’t know God. Actually, He didn’t know them. The authors of Scripture warned the early church about false teachers. Not teachers from false religions, but teachers in the churches they attended. These teachers sat among the believers, sang songs with them, prayed with them, then took center stage to teach falsehood. They looked like Christians, they smelled like Christians, but they didn’t have true saving faith.

So, what am I to do? My children are being raised in the church, in a homeschool which teaches all things from a Biblical worldview. They memorize Scripture and we read through Christian books together. My children can explain salvation, justification, and sanctification. They can describe the nature of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ as fully God and fully man. Although none of us can completely grasp such things, we can apprehend them in the text and state them in confessions and creeds. My children know a lot of things about God, but do they know God? More importantly, does God know them?

In light of this recent news, I’ve determined three things.

First, I will pray more earnestly. God desires that all men (and women) be saved. I will plead with Him to save my children. Although I’ve prayed this prayer continually since the birth of my first child, I will pray more often and more earnestly. God works through prayer. No magic formula can be found. I can’t pray words that will make God do anything. But I will stand before Him and plead with Him in light of His character. I will beg Him to show mercy to my children, to display His graciousness, to move by His Spirit upon their hearts.

Second, I will proclaim Christ clearly. My children need to hear Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection proclaimed clearly and persuasively. My children know all the major Bible stories, but that’s not enough. They need to hear preaching and teaching which shows them Christ in all His glory and pleads with them to come. Come and follow! Leave behind your sins, your doubts, your fear of man. Count the cost and come to Christ. I praise God that we attend a church where Christ is faithfully preached. My children hear the Gospel in Sunday School and from the pulpit. I will make certain they continue to hear. Alongside church leaders, I will plead with my children to trust in Christ. I won’t take their faith for granted but will continue to share Christ clearly and trust Him to work by His Spirit in their hearts.

Third, I will trust God completely. Many homeschool parents have seen their children leave the faith. It grieves parents who worked diligently to teach their children about God. It tears at their soul. At the end of the day, we must all trust that God is in control. We can’t blame ourselves. Each person is responsible before God for their own sins and their own faith. Our children grow up in Christian homes and churches but that doesn’t make them Christian. Each must repent and follow Christ as the Holy Spirit convicts them. I pray that God does this work in my children, I plead with Him to do it, but whatever happens, I must trust in Him. Job said of God, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” (See Job 13:15.) Placing my children’s eternity into God’s hands is comforting. He created them, He placed them into my home, and He has good plans for them. 

Homeschool heroes come and go. Most are good role models. Some will fall and discourage us. But God is always faithful. He is on the throne in heaven no matter who on earth claims Him as their own. 

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 

-Psalm 73:25-26

Dad, Let’s Have A Conversation

From the back seat my 7 year old said, “Dad let’s have a conversation.” I’m not often with one child alone, so this was a unique experience for Naomi – just her and her daddy out on a date. The occasion was her seventh birthday date with dad. I’ve been doing these birthday dates for many years and always try to keep them simple and inexpensive. The main purpose is time alone with one child and the opportunity to engage them in conversation.

Naomi didn’t wait for me to start the conversation, she was ready. “What do you want to talk about,” I said. We talked about the trees we were passing and then about what she was learning in her school work. Nothing profound.

At the frozen yogurt shop she chose chocolate yogurt, with chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce. Yep, I took a picture. I didn’t have anything planned after yogurt so we ran an errand. We were enjoying the time together – just being together. These are the best of times, the times with no agenda. The mundane moments of life are the soil which grows the best memories.

I didn’t want our time to end even after the errands, so we found a place to sit together and enjoy a soda (a rare treat for her). Finally, the conversation turned interesting. My 7 year old started asking about God, she said she believed in God even though she couldn’t see Him. She said, “I know why some people don’t believe in God. Because they can’t see Him. But I believe in Him.”

With that as a starting point I was able to share with Naomi. I told her that people have enough knowledge to believe God exists but they suppress that truth (see Romans 1). I told her how God opens the eyes of our hearts to enable us to see what we don’t want to see. I told her that my earnest desire and prayer is for her to know God, not just about God, but to know and be known by God.

Sometimes we need to slow down, to take enough time to let our children start talking, to close our mouths and listen. Once they start talking, God will open up avenues for us to share His truth to the next generation. “Dad, can we have a conversation.” What a blessing to hear those words.

Take The Wheel by David West

My second child is learning how to drive. She’s doing well, but there are those moments. You know what I mean if you’ve ever had a teen driver. Those times when my foot almost goes through the passenger floorboard as I slam a brake pedal which doesn’t exist. Those times when I gently say, “Next time you approach a blind intersection, ease off the gas and slow down long beforehand. You never know what, or who, might be around the corner.” While my mouth utters those words softly, my mind screams, “Stop the car! Let me take the wheel. I want out of here!”

Driving a long stretch of freeway the other night, my daughter kept letting the vehicle drift onto the white line. The little reflective bumps sounded, thump, thump under the wheels. After a few of these drifting incidents she said, “I’m trying to let the car go straight, but it keeps moving over to the right.”

Ah, I thought to myself. Here’s a teachable moment. “Honey, you can’t expect the car to just go straight by itself. Your in charge of the car; you tell it where to go. That’s why you have a steering wheel. You must constantly make small adjustments to keep it between the white lines. Every car is different and you can’t expect the car to do the work. You must do the work of driving and directing the car.”

Isn’t that they way it is with our parenting also? It would be nice if our children, once pointed in a direction, continued straight toward that destination. Train up a child in the way he should go and all that.

But the training part takes times and energy. Training isn’t a one-time pointing toward an object; training is constantly making course corrections, some tiny ones, some large one, but all important to keep things between the lines.

When our parenting job is complete, our children’s trajectory will still need adjustments. We can continue to pray for them and give advice. But it’s at this point, the point when they are grown and not departing from the way they have been trained, that we will realize they still aren’t driving straight on their own accord. No one does. Our children, and we ourselves, only drive straight because Jesus has taken control of the steering wheel of our lives.

So, even though the words come from a song about something else, it’s okay to pray, “Jesus take the wheel. Take the wheel of my children’s life. Steer them toward you; steer them away from temptation and danger. Lord Jesus, make the course corrections necessary for my children to drive straight into your arms every day.”

Toward Peace In The Home by David West

Bearing with one another, being kind to one another, forgiving one another, and doing so with humility, gentleness, and patience – these are commanded in Scripture.

Christ prayed for unity among believers, and every one of Paul’s letters speak about peace, love, and unity among those who claim the name of Christ.

Unity is easy to agree with but hard to put into practice. It’s difficult to love others when we want our own way, when we feel maligned, misunderstood, and taken advantage of. But difficult as it is, this is what God demands of us.

As a father of six, my household has it’s share of disagreements. Lack of love and peace often find their way in. Or, is it, that a lack of love and peace already exist inside the walls of my house and find expression from time to time? This is more likely.

My family (and I include myself) are sinners saved by grace. We are being transformed into the image of Christ, we are being sanctified, but we are far from perfect.

Fathers, you might find it helpful to study what the Scriptures say about unity among believers and teach and apply it in your home.

Here are a few points to ponder as you study the topic:

First – our Christian witness depends on Christian unity. Jesus said in John chapter 13, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Do you see the connection between loving others and your Christian witness? People will know you belong to Christ when you show love for others. This love is to be expressed to more than your biological family, but not less.

Even more important than people knowing you belong to Christ, is that people see a model and example of Christ sacrificial love when they observe your love for others. There is no greater love than laying down your own life for another (John 15:13). Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).

When we give up our own demands and desires, and sacrifice the things we hold dear in order to serve others, we are modeling the work of Christ on our behalf. As dad and mom learn to love each other this way, children will see the love of Christ being modeled in the home.

We can display an image of Christ truly or falsely by how we love one another. You may claim to be a Christian, but if you hold onto bitterness and anger toward another Christian, you proclaim a false view of God and your actions preach a false gospel.

Second, we must beware of the enemy of unity. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).

Satan is on the prowl around your home. He’s watching and waiting for the best moment to pounce. The enemy of your soul desires to create strife, jealousy, and bitterness within one family member toward the others.

Slick as a Wall Street marketer, Satan works by appealing to your baser instincts. He knows your hot buttons and he knows your weak spots. He not only knows your kids; he know you and your wife. And he’s ready to take advantages wherever he can.

Fathers need to be watchful of their own hearts first, then they can help guard their children’s hearts. The way to do this is to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6).

Don’t blame all strife on Satan; our hearts are wicked enough on their own. But neither should we be caught unaware and think Satan is no longer active and striving to find a way to break apart the love and unity we should exhibit toward one another.

Striving brings me to my third point.

Third, peace, love, and unity demand diligent effort. After three chapters of doctrinal truth regarding our salvation by grace through faith, Paul delivers practical admonitions to the church at Ephesus. He speaks to them about master and slave relationships, parent and child relationships, husband and wife relationships, and many other practical matters. But he begins chapter four with a call to bear with one another in love. This is of primary importance for believers. It is important in a local church and no less important in our homes.

Read Ephesians 4:3 in several translations and you will see the thrust of the Greek word. The idea is: striving eagerly, earnestly, and diligently – like a gladiator in training.

A half-hearted effort won’t cut it; God demands more from us. He commands us to work diligently to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

As fathers seek to create homes where peace, love, and unity are prominent they must remember where the motivation to love one another comes from. Love for each other can’t be generated ex nihilo; love flows like water from a source. The source of our love for one another is found at Calvary. Jesus said to love one another “just as I have love you.” How did Jesus love you? By the sacrifice of Himself in your place. This is the Gospel, the Good News, it’s the well from which we draw our own supply of love for each other.

The One Sentence Essay by David West

As I arrived home from work, my wife said to me, “Calvin has a writing project he needs help with.”

To write is to die a slow painful death. At least, my son thinks so. He would rather do almost anything else. To read the text and fill in the answer blanks is no problem; that isn’t writing. Writing paragraphs, or even sentences, requires a different kind of work for him. It requires creativity and answers that aren’t in the Score Key. I don’t blame my son, many people don’t like to write. It’s an important skill, but it doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

The other night I was given the opportunity to help my son learn to write. He had been learning about various careers  in his Social Studies text and needed to write about how a person in one of those careers influenced him. He was stumped.

“I don’t know what to write.”

Days earlier I had suggested a tweak. “Instead of writing about how you have been influenced by someone, you can write about how you would influence others if you were in one of those careers.” He decided to write about being a chef. Here is his essay in full and the reason my wife said he needed help:

A chef can cook meals for sick people.

That was it; a one sentence essay. I had to admire his ability to get to the point, to cut out unnecessary words, to be clear and concise. I also recognized an opportunity to teach him a few things. We talked for a minute about the assignment and I made suggestions. He asked if five sentences would be sufficient.

“Calvin, when you have a project to do, don’t try to get away with doing as little as possible. That’s not the kind of person you want to be. You should be the kind of person who works hard to do your best when you have an assignment.”

He just stared at me, maybe listening, but probably wondering how painful this lecture was going to be.

“Don’t ask how little you can do and still complete the project. Take time and put in the effort to do the job well.”

Former experience with him told me I would need to do more than lecture. He really didn’t know what to write, or how to write it. The dilemma for me was to decide how much I could help. This was his project, not mine. It didn’t take long to decide. The project wasn’t as important as the process. I would use this opportunity to model for him. I would develop an outline, then write a rough draft, and have him copy my work. Observation is a learning tool; my son would learn by watching me.

I turned in his PACE to the section about chefs and started reading aloud. From the text I developed a list of bullet points that formed a loose outline. I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t develop the outline into proper form. I took a blank sheet of binder paper and handed one to my son.

“Now, I’m going to write from this outline and I want you to copy me. First, we need an introduction.”

Calvin asked, “What’s an introduction?”

I explained introductions and how they function, then we started writing.

“Write this sentence,” I said. “Chefs do their work in a variety of places. They work in restaurants, cafeterias, and homes.”

We continued on. The process from beginning to end was almost two hours. After he wrote the final draft neatly, I gave him a hug.

“Calvin, if I didn’t care about you, I would let that one sentence essay fly. But I care too much about you to do that. I want you to be a person who knows how to write and communicate effectively. It’s an important skill for life. This one session isn’t enough to teach you everything about writing. It’s only one lesson of many. You will be stuck again and again with writing and you will struggle. When you do, I will help. Eventually you will know how to write an essay from start to finish on your own.”

I tried to keep an encouraging tone throughout. He was frustrated enough; he didn’t need me frustrated as well.  I could have been upset that my evening was spent writing an essay about chefs. It would have been easy to be grumpy and complain that I had better things to do. The truth, of course, is that I didn’t have better things to do. What could be better than two hours teaching my son important lessons for life?

I teased him today, “Maybe you’ll grow up to be a writer.”

“No, I’m going to be a farmer.”

“Well,” I said, “Maybe you’ll write about farming.”

He gave me a look I could write about.

Planting Convictions – by David West

My wife and oldest son enjoy gardening. For the past few years they have dedicated a corner of our backyard to growing tomatoes, zucchini, peas, sunflowers, and a few other things. It’s a small garden project, but one that brings them much pleasure.

They started a compost pile and get excited to see the black soil formed from their efforts. My wife had a friend from church over for a composting party. They turned the compost, filtered the soil, and prepared the garden area. I didn’t know such “parties” existed. But they seemed delighted.

Today I was looking for Calvin inside the house. I didn’t find him, so I looked in the yard. He wasn’t in sight. I called out for him and he answered from around the corner of the house. He was in the garden.

“What are you doing? Oh, I see. You’re weeding.”

He nodded.

“It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?”

He nodded again.

“Tell me what you are growing here,” I said.

My son proceeded to tell me about the different varieties of tomatoes and other plants he was raising. I saw a sign for lettuce but nothing had sprouted there.

“The slugs ate the lettuce,” he told me.

I don’t know much about gardening but I’m happy my son and wife enjoy it. I like to listen as they discuss what to plant and where to plant it. They are happy when a plant does well. And I am happy when they are happy.

Although I don’t know how to plant a pumpkin, I do know its important to plant things. One of the things I want to plant is not something which gets put into the soil in a garden. I want to plant convictions into my children.

I suppose there is an analogy to gardening which might work. In order to plant conviction successfully, one needs to consider many factors.

First, what is the condition of the soil. Before attempting to form convictions in my children, it’s necessary for the soil of their souls to be prepared. Salvation, regeneration, the new birth, this is the first and most important factor. My children are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2) until the Lord works by His Spirit to give them life. Once they have this life, they will be able to hear and understand Biblical teaching leading to proper convictions in a way they could not prior to salvation. My first priority in the formation of convictions is to proclaim the Gospel, to tell them of their need of a Savior, to press upon them the necessity of coming to Christ.

Second, water, sun, and food are important. Plants need food and water and so do the souls of my children. Photosynthesis takes place inside plants and turns light energy into chemical energy. Without water, and without sunlight, plants will die. My children, made alive in Christ, will shrivel inside if not constantly fed from the Word (I Peter 2:2). God has promised to sanctify those who belong to Him. In this work, He uses a variety of means.. One of the things God uses to cause young people to grow and mature is the instruction of parents. It’s my job to give them water from the work, to feed them daily from Scripture, and to put them in the path of life giving light. The light they need is light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (I Corinthians 4:1-6).

Third, planting isn’t enough. Gardens take maintenance and continuous weed management. The work isn’t done when my children profess faith and I’ve taught them a few things from God’s Word. There will always be work to do, things to teach, prayers to pray.

The analogy breaks down at some point. Gardens die and are replanted, but not children. They continue to grow spiritually. They will continue to need God’s Word, our advice, and our prayers as long as they live on earth. The Apostle Paul preached in order to present everyone mature in Christ. For this same purpose I desire to plant Biblical convictions in my children.

Baseball Pictures On Sunday Morning: No, My Son Won’t Be There

My 10 year old son is playing youth baseball this spring. The team’s regular practice day and time is Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. After church our family heads home and eats lunch together. Then I take my son to his practice. It’s a relaxing time for me. I sit with book in hand, looking up once in awhile to watch my son field a ball or swing as the coach pitches to him. The sound of balls being hit, boys running bases, and balls popping into gloves, provide background noise for my reading.

I catch enough of the coaches lessons to reinforce them to my son on our way back home.

“When you’re playing second base, and the ball is hit to third base with no runners on, what are you to do?”

“Make sure to watch the third base coach for signs when you reach first base.”

There are other lessons, much more important, which the coach isn’t teaching my son. Reinforcing the baseball lessons is fun for me to do, and hopefully helpful for my son, but not urgent or necessary. Other lessons I teach my son are urgent and necessary. An opportunity to teach one such lesson came recently when I read an email from his coach.

The baseball league scheduled team pictures to be taken on a Sunday. The assigned time slot for our team was 10 a.m. Our church service starts at 10:15 a.m. and is on the other side of town. Besides, we attend the Sunday School hour which starts at 9 a.m. Joining the team for pictures at 10 a.m. would mean my son would miss church. He wouldn’t just be late to church, it would mean missing the church service altogether that day.

I read the email and paused for a moment, but only for a moment. That’s all it took. My decision was made. If I skipped church and took my son to have his picture taken, what lesson would I be teaching him? The lesson wouldn’t be good. I would be saying that youth sports are more important than fellowship with the saints. I’d be teaching my son to weigh sport’s pictures against listening to the preaching of God’s Word.

That wasn’t going to happen in my home.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s a sin to take a day off from church on a Sunday morning. We all need rest and Sunday afternoon is often a good time for it. But it’s not a command we need to keep under the new covenant.

So then, what’s wrong with sports activities which cause one to miss church once in awhile? Maybe nothing. Then again, maybe everything. After all, we are commanded not to neglect meeting together with the local church (Hebrews 10:25). This is a command we should not ignore.

Dads need to take the lead in teaching the importance of the local church in the life of the believer. How can we teach our sons and daughters to love the church, the bride of Christ, if any other trivial event takes precedence on our calendars?

The league actually did me a favor by scheduling pictures on a Sunday morning. They gave me an opportunity to stand on my convictions and to let my son see me do it. They gave me an opportunity to teach my son a lesson more important that anything his coach is teaching him about baseball. I was given the chance to teach the importance of the local church, the bride of Christ.

I didn’t give my son a long lecture on the importance of the church. I didn’t complain about the league scheduling pictures on Sunday morning. I kept the lesson simple, “Lincoln, church is more important the team photos. I’m sorry you won’t be able to participate but we are not going to miss church in order to take pictures. I hope you understand.”

He didn’t say much and didn’t seem disappointed. Our habit of attending church had created an expectation for him. He’s learning about the importance of the local church by our actions as a family.

Maybe thirty years from now he will be looking back at old photos. And maybe he’ll find a picture of his baseball team in a shoe box and his own son will ask, “Dad, where are you in this picture?”

That’s the day I’m looking forward to. That’s the day the lesson I’m teaching my son today about the importance of the church will be passed on to his children. That’s the day when my son will tell my grandson, “I didn’t join the team for pictures that morning. Let me tell you why?”

In Case of Emergency: Oxygen Masks and a Biblical World View

If you’ve ever traveled by airplane you have heard this announcement:

“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child.”

At first, this advice seems backward. A child in the midst of an emergency is vulnerable. A child in an emergency would be scared and disoriented and would need attention. A concerned parent would need to fight their natural inclinations in order to follow this emergency protocol.

But tending to the child’s needs first could be disastrous.

Why? Why would our natural instincts be wrong in a case like this? Why would taking care of the child first do harm to the child?

The answer is this: if the adult becomes disoriented, or loses consciousness, the child is left to tend to themselves. The adult must be alert, breathing, thinking, and acting, in order to properly tend to the child through the duration of the emergency. If the mask is given to the child first, all might seem well for a short time. But all’s not well. The responsible person in the child’s life is left gasping for air like a fish on dry land. If no oxygen is given to the adult, in the end both the adult and the child will suffer the consequences.

How does this apply to our homeschooling?

Parents must tend to ourselves in order to best serve and care for our children. Unlike the airplane announcement, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. It’s better to implement this protocol before an emergency rather than during one of life’s emergencies. There are things we need to do in order to care for ourselves that will ultimately benefit our children.

What things? What do I mean when I speak of caring for ourselves so that we can better care for our children? What air must we breath before we can put the oxygen mask on our children?

I’m not speaking about healthy eating or habits of exercise (although healthy parents are certainly a benefit to their children). And I’m not thinking of caring for our intellect by means of academia (although this can benefit our children also).

When I speak of caring for ourselves first I mean to say that we need to care for our souls. The oxygen we need, before we are able to care for our children, is the life giving power of God’s Word.

As Christian homeschool parents we desire to give our children a Biblical worldview. But do we have one ourselves? If not, what are we doing to grow in this area? How can we raise the next generation to think Biblically if we aren’t continually breathing in the air of Biblical thinking ourselves? Have we created the habits in our own lives that we desire to see in our children’s lives?

  • Are we reading God’s Word daily?
  • Are we meditating on God’s Word constantly?
  • Are we in fellowship with other believers who encourage and exhort us?
  • Are we sitting under godly leadership, Biblical teaching, and faithful preaching?

We need to be filled with the Spirit, filled with the Word, and filled with the knowledge of Christ. It will be difficult to put our children in a place to receive these things if we aren’t filled with them first.

Just as the child and the adult in an airplane both need oxygen, so the parent and the student both need the same life giving Spirit. Both are desperate for God; both are like fish on dry land. And both need to gasp for more of God’s Word, drinking it in like it was life itself. The wise parent will recognize the situation and make certain they tend to their own souls as the best means of also tending to the souls of the next generation.

Male and Female

Boys and girls are different. They are not different in the way one child is shy and another outgoing, and not like one child has mom’s eyes and the other has dad’s eyes. Boys and girls are different like a table is different from a chair. They share some common attributes but they serve different functions. Men and women are both created in God’s image, they both have equal worth, but God designed them to be different. The distinctions between male and female are grounded in God’s act of creation recorded for us in Genesis chapter one.

We have a responsibility as Christian parents to train our children according to God’s good design for men and women. We need to teach our boys what it means to be male and not female. And we need to teach our girls what it means to be female and not male. Our efforts to do this will be in direct opposition to the ruling philosophy of the age.

Over eighteen years ago my wife was pregnant with our first baby. I told a coworker she was pregnant and he surprised me with his response.

“You’re not going to genderize your kids are you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, honestly not understanding.

“You know; are you going to let your girls play with trucks and your boys play with dolls?”

I don’t recall my answer; I’m sure it was gracious but probably not what he wanted to hear.

That was almost two decades ago. It struck me as odd at the time. But today I would not be surprised if someone said this to me. In fact people are saying it to me all the time. They are saying it to you as well. It may not be said directly to your face, but the world around you is sending a clear message – gender should not defined biologically and children should be free to make their own choices related to gender.

We can’t keep our children protected from these ideas forever. If they haven’t already encountered these strange ideas regarding gender – the time is coming when they will. You may have family, friends, or neighbors that are confused about gender. In fact, you might even run into this confusion among homeschoolers. Confusion about God’s good design doesn’t have boundaries, it crosses all ethnic, social, economic, political, and philosophical lines. People are people and the devil is at work wherever people exist.

Mom and dad, you have a tough job ahead as you help your children navigate these things. Let me suggest three lines of defense as you seek to train your children Biblically about gender.

First, study the topic deeply yourself. Read the relevant Bible passages related to manhood and womanhood in Scripture. Seek knowledge of the subject from your pastors. Read books on the topic and let your study transform you. Our homes should be the training ground for a Biblically informed view of manhood and womanhood. We should joyfully embrace and display God given roles in our homes. Our children will learn more from watching us than from anything else.

Second, teach your children. Don’t let your children leave your home without a Biblical understanding of male and female roles. The stakes are high, the battle lines have been drawn. Prepare your children for the world they will face when they are grown and leave your house.

Wisdom will be needed as you do this. You will need to teach these things at appropriate ages and in appropriate ways. Ask God to help you. But however you do it don’t neglect to teach these things.

Third, teach compassion for the gender confused. In I Corinthians 6 the Apostle Paul gives a list of sins people commit who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The church in Corinth had some people among them who were once in this excluded group. But they were washed, they were sanctified, they were justified. God’s grace extends to places where our love, at first, may not. God’s grace can take a gender confused person and turn them into a man or woman totally changed and in love with the Savior. Teach your children God’ truth about gender but also teach them God’s mercy for sinners.

Gender distinctions are being blurred by the world – but Christians must not have fuzzy thinking about these issues. The lines of gender must not be blurry in our homes.  We must be willing to stand on the truth of Scripture even when others don’t. And we must be willing to be different from those who don’t think Biblically about these issues. But we already are different. We’re used to being different- we’re homeschoolers.

*The inset picture is my two boys and their cousins acting silly at a family event

On Fatherhood

 

I am a father.

I have six children and love every one of them.

Being president of the United States couldn’t be a better job than this. The next generation has been entrusted to my care. They need protection, provision, and love. They need discipline and training. I’m happy to do these things.

I am a father.

God has given me the duty and privilege of telling my children about Him. I love to share the Scriptures with them, to tell them about the Creator. I love sharing with them about what Christ has done for them.

Ephesians six explains my job description – raise my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. That’s it – simple, yet glorious.

I love my job. My greatest joy is telling my children about the Lord. What greater joy, and what greater job could there be?

I am a father.

Being a father is difficult at times. It’s filled with joy, but I can’t deny the truth. There are times when I’m exhausted and find it difficult to love my children the way I should. But, it’s my job and I keep at it.

Life would be easier if my wife and I lived alone. But, it wouldn’t be filled with little feet, tiny hugs, and small wonders. These moments make the job worthwhile. They make me smile. My children light up my life.

I am a father.

Some nights are restless. My two little ones crawl into my bed and squeeze me to the edge. I cling, half asleep, to the little space they assign to me. If I move too fast I’ll likely fall to the carpet.

My back hurts when I wake for work. But I look at those little ones in bed with my wife, all three sleeping peacefully, and I am again filled with joy.

But my back hurts. And I’m tired. I have a full day of work ahead of me. After work I have other duties. I don’t have time to do all the things I need to do. Do I have time to spend with the kids?

I must find the time. The job isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. God helps me each day.

I am a father.

I really don’t know what I’m doing. Not that I’ve just discovered this, but the reality if fresh. How is any father to know what to do? The job description is wonderful, but it doesn’t come with a manual. Lord, help me.

What am I to do when my children reach driving age, working age, dating age? Is there a dating age? What passage of Scripture can help me with this question?

I know Scripture is sufficient and gives me all I need to accomplish what God has called me to do, but the answers aren’t sitting on the surface. Lord, teach me your Word, teach me to be a good father.

This job is difficult. My kids have questions I can’t answer, they have needs I can’t meet, they have problems I can’t solve.

They wear me out.

I am a father.

The good news about this job is that I don’t do it alone. I am a father, but I also have a Father. God is my Father and my help. He gave me the job, He gave me the kids, and He gives me the strength each day to succeed.

The thing my children need most isn’t me, their father. They need God the Father to be their Father.

Part of my job, the most important part, is to point them toward God, to proclaim to them the excellencies of Christ. Union with Christ will answer their deepest questions, it will meet their greatest needs, it will solve their greatest problems.

I have a Father. The thing my children need most is the thing I also need most – to draw close to their Father.

My job description comes from Him. My job description is Him. My job is to be like Christ. And it’s impossible. Without God I cannot be the father I need to be. But with God’s help, I can be a good father to my children. With God’s help, I can rise each day with joy and energy. With God’s help I can succeed.

I have a Father. My Father is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My Father is Creator of the universe. My Father knows what I need and what my children need each moment of each day. Because of this I can be a good father. He is my comfort, my strength, my joy.

I have a Father.

I have the best job description in the world. I love what I do. I wake each day with purpose.

What a joy! What a job!

I am a father.

 

by David West