Archive for January 2010
Last November I posted a quote from John Loftness on parenting with faith in God and his promises for our children. But faith always has legs; “therefore how we act,” as Loftness says. I have three small children. What difference does it make that I know God is at work in them, that he has been at work from the very beginning?
- We teach them ,  to name Jesus as “our Lord” and to confess that “he died for our sins and pleads with God for us.”
- When we pray, we teach them to name God as “our Father” and to look to him for provision and forgiveness. And we rejoice in his forgiveness and provision! God is far more lavish even than Mommy and Daddy in his mercy and blessing.
- We teach and expect them to sing to our savior and king, at home and at church.
- We teach and expect them to walk in the fruit of the Spirit. With every bit of good fruit we see, we rejoice and encourage them that this is God at work in them.
- We teach and expect them to obey cheerfully. Repentance for sin and rejoicing in God’s forgiveness and acceptance are also a key part of this.
- Whether or not they participate in the Lord’s supper, we teach them to thank Jesus for cleansing them from sin with his blood, and for making them a part of God’s family.
Not that we have already obtained this!
Are we training our children to be little hypocrites? Absolutely not! Rather:
- Scripture gives us great confidence that the Holy Spirit is already at work in our children, and our task is one of fanning into flame.
- The Christian life is lifelong repentance and faith. While regeneration is absolutely necessary, it is likely in the case of our children that pinpointing it will be futile. The gardener diligently tends his garden before he can even see the sprouts; and as they grow, he tenderly cares for, trains and prunes them, without knowing whether they will survive, so that they may survive. In the same way, we train our children to walk in daily repentance, faith and obedience.
- Similarly, there is a reason that Proverbs 22:6 does not instruct us to lead our children to the way, but rather train them in the way. Christian nurture is not preparation for a future driver’s exam; it is a continuous going deeper. We love our savior and king; there is absolutely no question that he is our trustworthy savior and the king of the world; and faith, repentance and obedience are simply what it looks like to love him.
My wife and I have a tradition of watching through The Lord of the Rings at Christmastide. We don’t get to it every year, but we’ve just finished the cycle this time.
It’s been awhile since I read the books, so long that I find myself forgetting things. Most of all I don’t sense the loss of nobility from books to movies as much as I used to. So I’ve decided to re-read Tolkien this year. I’ve started with The Silmarillion, which I haven’t read before. I’ve already read Unfinished Tales and I don’t think I’ll read it through again now, but I will reread both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Just today, I was pleased to rediscover The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien on my shelf, one of my wife’s yard sale finds. I think I’ll try to get through that as well. And I’m excited that Mark Horne is working on a Tolkien biography.
Here’s a quote I found while paging through Tolkien’s letters, from a fascinating letter on p. 279 in response to questions about The Lord of the Rings from Miss Rhona Beare:
You cannot press the One Ring too hard, for it is of course a mythical feature, even though the world of the tales is conceived in more or less historical terms. The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical treatments of the placing of one’s life, or power, in some external object, which is thus exposed to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself. If I were to ‘philosophize’ this myth, or at least the Ring of Sauron, I should say it was a mythical way of representing the truth that potency (or perhaps rather potentiality) if it is to be exercised, and produce results, has to be externalized and so as it were passes, to a greater or less degree, out of one’s direct control. A man who wishes to exert ‘power’ must have subjects, who are not himself. But he then depends on them.
There’s a lot of food for thought there, with applicability ranging from the inevitable failure of despotism to everything that is bittersweet about parenthood.