Pastor Daniel Montgomery’s Sermon on Children

Proverbs has much to say about raising children skillfully, and this was the topic of this past Sunday’s sermon at Sojourn.  Though this message is about parenting, it isn’t just for parents.  Raising children is all about passing on wisdom – and we all need more wisdom so the principles are definitely universal. Listen in as Pastor Daniel Montgomery explores raising children according to the Scriptures – why we discipline our kids, how we discipline our kids, and 5 key lessons all kids (and all people) must learn to live skillfully.  Grab the notes here.

Thursday Book Club: The Proverbs Driven Life: The “how” of discipline.

A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and RelationshipsAnthony Selvaggio. A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships, “Chapter 12, Still Sinners, A Parents’ Need for the Grace of God.” (Shepherd Press, 2008)

In Proverbs, “discipline” means education and training in a broad sense.  Moreover, Proverbs does not prescribe one single method of discipline but an array of methods (179-80).  In his second chapter on parenting, Selvaggio looks at two broad categories–verbal discipline and corporal discipline:

Speak the Truth in Love: Verbal Discipline

While corporal discipline can be justified in the book of Proverbs,  the overwhelming biblical emphasis is on training children by speaking to them.  “In fact, Proverbs teaches that parents should seek to become so effective at verbal discipline that corporal discipline eventually becomes unnecessary” (180).  Verbal discipline involves encouragements and warnings. Continue Reading…

Thursday Book Club: ApParent Privelege

ApParent Privilege. Steve Wright with Chris Graves.  Inquest Ministries: Wake Forest, NC.  175 pages.  $14.99.

Steve Wright, as a follow-up to his book on the new reality in youth ministry, ReThink, spoke directly to parents in his book, ApParent Privilege. Steve, pastor of student ministries at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, along with his wife, Tina, have 3 teenagers under their roof.  In this book, they give practical and theological advice to other parents who are, with God’s help, trying to raise sons and daughters in the 21st Century.  His premise is that the parents hold the biblical mandate to be the primary spiritual shapers (disciplers) of their own children.

From the outset, I would highly recommend (and or give) this book to everyone who is expecting a baby, has a baby, toddler, child, or teenager.  No matter what age, it is never to late to start training your children in the ways of God.  Over the past 2 ½ years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Steve and Tina, and know they practice what they preach. Continue Reading…

Faith over Formula: Why the Best Parenting Techniques Don’t Produce Chrisitan Children

This article,  “The Myth of the Perfect Parent: Why the Best Parenting Techniques Don’t Produce Christian Children” by Leslie Leyland Fields, Christianity Today (January 8, 2010), is perhaps the most profound article on parenting that I’ve ever read.  It is straight-forward, convicting, and true.  I hope that every parent at Sojourn can read and re-read it.  Here is one of the best sections:

“Whether they listen or fail to listen … they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2:5).

This was Ezekiel’s responsibility: to speak and embody God’s words before the people in such a way that they might know who he was, a righteous prophet of God, and that they might know who God was. Ezekiel wanted more than this, of course. He desperately wanted to turn the people back to the living God and prevent the impending and appalling judgment and death. The record does not tell us if anyone repented as a result of his words, but Ezekiel was never accountable for the repentance of others. He was accountable only for his steadfast obedience.

It is likely that we are asking the wrong questions as parents. We are so focused on ourselves—on our own need for success and the success of our children—that we have come to view parenting as a performance or a test. It appears we are failing the test, as large numbers of our youth leave the church when they leave our nests. And now genetic research tells us the test may even be rigged.

We cannot pass this test, I’m afraid, nor could we ever. If we are graded on a curve, we will always find parents and children who are more obedient, more joyful, and more peaceful than we are. We will find parents whose children turned out better than ours, parents with a higher percentage of “spiritual champions” than we can claim for our efforts.

If we are graded instead on an absolute scale—as I believe we are—we fail even more miserably. But this is why a Savior was provided, and gifted to us through grace, through faith—”and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). If even our ability to believe in God is given to us by God, then how much of parenting can we perform on our own? We must proceed, then, on our knees first, beggars before the throne, if we are to parent well.

The Children of Poverty

In the United States, distinguished by its extraordinary wealth, there are six million poor individuals known to few others but their own families.  They cannot vote.  They cannot work.  Most do not even go to school. They are America’s youngest poor–children under six (Statistic from Tim Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 6).

In the Louisville Metro area, almost 43% of households with children under the age of 5 without a dad at home fell below the poverty line in 2007 (U. S. Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey).

In 2007, 23% of all homeless people were members of families with children (National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet #12, June 2008).

Estimates of the number of homeless children range from 800,00 to 1.2 million, and in 1995, 4.2% of children under the age of one year were homeless (Urban Institute, 2000; Culhande & Metraux, 1999).

At least half of homeless children are under the age of 5 (National Center on Family Homelessness, 1999).

Homeless families are most commonly headed by single mothers in their late 20s with approximately two children (Rog & Buckner, 2007).

How will the church step in with Word and deed?