Paul’s entire first letter to Timothy focuses on the family of God. And chapter 5 is perhaps the most relevant for disciples of Christ and how we care for our own families.
On Sunday we began to look at this practical and challenging chapter—what it says to pastors and their churches and to adult children and their aging parents. In short, Paul teaches us God is not just concerned about getting people to heaven, he also cares about the way his people care for one another on the journey.
I am thankful to be at a church that loves our children and encourages me to spend time with them. I have members who ask about the time I am spending with them and have never received a complaint for the time I take with them or the times I bring them with me to ministry activities.
On that subject, the need for churches to care well for their pastor’s children, Chap Bettis has provided seven important exhortations for the way churches can shepherd their pastor’s children. Let me share them with you:
Give grace to the pastor’s children on Sunday.
If you have a concern, talk to your pastor about behavior that characterizes the children. But do so with an attitude of loving acceptance.
Be generous in your praise.
Limit church criticism and complaint to private conversations among adults.
Be brave and rebuke the critics. Unfortunately, not everyone in the congregation will follow this suggestion. When grumbling and faultfinding spill over in front of you, speak up.
Give your pastors room to deal with their children’s hearts. Older children will go through some spiritual ups and downs. How will you think about those bumps? With care and affection? Or self-righteous judgment?
Give your pastors margin to minister to their families. Children need their father. . . . Even as a church member, you can encourage your pastors to care for their families.
These seven guidelines and the explanations Chap provide come from twenty-five years of ministry with, by God’s grace, children who are not embittered towards the church.
May God multiply Chap’s testimony, and give pastors church families that shepherd their children well, even as they shepherd their church.
For Your Edification is a bi-weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life. Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.
BIBLE & THEOLOGY
Training Parrots or Making Disciples?In his pastoral epistles to Timothy, Paul says that his son in the faith should rightly divide the word of truth (1 Tim 2:15). Later, Timothy is exhorted to pass on all that he learned from Paul to the next generation of teachers and Christian leaders (2 Tim 2:2). To say it another way, in order for maturing disciples to pass on the faith to future generations, they must learn how to handle God’s Word and not just parrot answers from other talking heads.
To this end, author, pastor, and professor, Jim Hamilton, has given a concise definition of three keys terms that relate to rightly handling the Word of God.. These terms—exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology—are a good place to begin understanding how biblical interpretation relates to theological understanding.
Here are Hamilton’s one sentence definitions to each.
Exegesis is the careful analysis of the meaning of a particular passage.
Biblical theology is canonical exegesis. That is, biblical theology seeks to correlate the meaning of relevant texts from across the pages of Scripture.
Systematic theology then seeks to bring everything together for a full statement of what the whole Bible teaches on particular topics.
If these terms are unfamiliar to you, or, alternately, if you have read numerous books on the subject, Hamilton’s short piece is helpful for defining and relating exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology. Check out the whole thing to see why biblical interpretation is so important for Bible reading and teaching.
The Rose. Southern Baptist Pastor, Matt Chandler, exposes the hypocrisy of many Christian preachers when he recalls an incident where a preacher uses fear as the primary weapon against sin. By contrast, he states (screams!) that “Jesus wants the dirty rose!” because he has died to make us righteous.
Summer Family Activity Book. Summer is a great time for rest, relaxation, and recalibration. But, it is also a time for families to take extra time together and to use the summer as a time to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But where should a family begin?
Enter the Village Church, who has come up with an excellent children’s activity book for your summer. This book is filled with ideas for instructing children in the gospel and having lots of fun at the same time. Here is the outline of the chapters:
SET A RHYTHM: Activities to help your family set a rhythm [of Bible intake] as you spend time this summer
AT HOME: Activities to help you be intentional with time you spend at home
OUT AND ABOUT: Outings and adventures you can take as a family
Childhood Conversion. While we are on the subject of children, you should be aware of helpful article by Jim Elliff on the subject of children’s conversion. Elliff, a pastor of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City, examines the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of children and how conviction of sin, biblical revelation, and spiritual regeneration are necessary for true conversions.
Elliff points to the ways that many churches, pastors, and child evangelists have misled children and their parents by giving false assurance for salvation based on a prayer, a service, or some other outward act instead of the powerful inner-working of the Holy Spirit. For ministers and church members, Elliff’s article is worth reading to have a better understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and how to share the gospel with children.
For Your Edification is a weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life. Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.
A Smoking Fire Pot and a Flaming Torch. Matthew Barrett, editor behind Credo Magazine, has given a brief overview of Genesis 15 and the significance of the covenant made by God with Abraham. He argues that the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant are fulfilled by God himself, thus making the covenant (un)conditional. For more on the (un)conditional nature of the Old Testament covenants see the forthcoming book, Kingdom Through Covenantby two Southern Seminary professors, Stephen Wellum and Peter Gentry.
‘Covenant’ or ‘Will’ in Hebrews 9. For the aspiring biblical interpreter (with a little Greek knowledge), Bill Mounce has provided a helpful commentary on Hebrews 9:16-17, and why it should be translated “covenant” (NASB, KJV) and not “will” (ESV, NIV, etc). He questions,
The standard argument is that the author is arguing by analogy. Having mentioned an inheritance, he talks about human wills not being valid until there was a death. “For where there is a covenant, it is required that the death of the one who made it be established. For a will takes effect only when a person has died; it cannot possibly be valid so long as the one who made it is still alive” (vv 16-17, NIV). The will belongs to “the one who made it.” Hence, the translation “will” and not “covenant.” (There are of course other reasons, but you can read the commentaries for yourself.)
The problem, though, is that it is hard to see how an analogy of a will helps the argument. The overall argument is certainly about the covenants. And just as importantly, the next verse draws a conclusion from vv 16-17. “Therefore (ὅθεν) not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood” (v 18, NIV). So are we still are talking about covenants?
Are Mormons Christian? Joe Carter has taken the time to answer a few important questions that distinguish Christians and Mormons. Since public religious figures (I don’t want to use the word pastor) like Joel Osteen have dropped the ball on rightly answering this question, we need to be better equipped to offer insight into what Mormon’s believe–after all, in a few months our country will probably be voting for or against a Mormon. So here is a fast and friendly guide to understanding some of the main teachings about Mormons, and the false views they hold. I would encourage you to print this out and keep it near the front door for the next time they come by.
Chuck Colson (1931-2012). In the NY Times, Michael Gerson has provided a warm, personal, and Christ-honoring reflection of the passing away of his mentor and friend, Chuck Colson. Chuck Colson was indicted in 1974 in his role in Watergate. In prison he was converted, and over the last three and half decades, he has powerfully witnessed to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. For a list of his important books, see Tom Gilson’s article on Colson’s life.
The Ugly American – Sex Trafficking and Our National Humiliation. In light of the recent Secret Service scandal in Colombia, Albert Mohler writes an eye-opening piece on something that most Americans are willfully or ignorantly blind to–sex trafficking! He cites two recent reports in USA Today and the NY Times that chronicle the sex trafficking America (not just Americans) finances. Mohler’s articles displays how far sin has taken us, and how sexual sin has an insatiable appetite for more and more perversion. For a ministry that fights sex trafficking and promotes purity, see PureHOPE website.
May God use these resources to help you walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.
One of our favorite things to listen to at our house is Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame’s Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies. Recently, I discovered that they have been making clever music videos and sticking them up on YouTube. Here is a sampling. The first two have solid Christian teachings for kids; the last two are plain silly. All four are great to share with your kids.
If you are not familiar with Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame, make sure you check them out. AP’s Christmas album Behold The Lamb ranks in my top ten of all albums of all time. It is biblical theology in song. And Randall Goodgame has written numerous songs played by other artists. Perhaps my favorite its “Mystery of Mercy.”
[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribuneunder the title “Mother’s Lessons Key in Founding of Church.” For clarification: This article is for parents and especially mothers, encouraging them to redeem the time wisely and to invest their lives in eternal things. Its main point is not meant to be about the founding of the Methodist Church, even though that is an important point.]
In the eighteenth-century, Susanna Wesley, a mother of ten, spent Thursday evenings with her son, John. As she did with all her children, she spent time reading the Bible, praying, and introducing John to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What must have seemed at times like a mundane routine would, in time, have global significance and eternal impact.
You see, John Wesley grew to become the fiery evangelist and founder of the Methodist Church. Converted as an adult, Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” when the kindling of God’s word, which Susanna had stockpiled into his heart on Thursday nights, was set ablaze by the Holy Spirit. Under God, Susanna’s commitment to planting seeds each week was rewarded with an everlasting orchard.
So what are you doing this Thursday evening? Will you spend your time in something as significant as Susanna Wesley? Or will it just be another evening of work, play, or online chatting?
Considering Susanna’s model makes us think differently about how we spend our time.
First, Susanna was a Christian who made it her business to work with the most valuable (and eternal) commodities in the world—namely God’s Word and the souls of men and women. Second, as a mother, Susanna spent ample time with her children—shaping their character, interpreting life from a Christian worldview, and speaking grace into their lives. Third, she established a weekly pattern to discuss the gospel of Jesus Christ with her children. Not knowing the results of her labors, but praying and persisting, she relentlessly kept Christ in front of her children, believing that God would honor her evangelistic efforts.
At 35, John Wesley was converted, and from there this evangelist led countless souls to Christ, men and women who will give eternal praise to God for the fact that Susanna Wesley took Thursday nights to meet with her son.
May we consider Susanna’s life and imitate her faithfulness.
In preparation for the new Young Married class we are starting at our church (Calvary BC), I started reading The Gospel-Centred Familyby Tim Chester and Ed Moll. Though, I am only two chapters in, I already have a great appreciation for the book, and am excited about wading into the content with some of the young families in our church.
In their second chapter, “Gospel-Centred Hopes,” Tim and Ed address a common problem among American evangelicals–namely, placing primary importance on things other than Christ and the gospel. Yes, Jesus is good for Sunday, but real life starts on Monday and finishes Saturday night.
In a biblical exhortation to parents, they challenge parents to rethink the hopes they have for their children. In short, they call families to live for Christ by re-orienting their lives around Christ Monday-Sunday. They point us Jesus’s call to pick up our cross and follow him, and in so doing, they make their case that Gospel-centred families must eschew the venerable idols of education, success, and respectable living. They write,
I’ve often heard people say they would consider living in the city, but they’re concerned about their children’s influences and education. But that begs the question: what do you want for your children? If you want them to be middle-class, prosperous and respectable, then live in a leafy suburb, send to a good school, and keep them away from messed-up people. But if you want them to serve Christ in a radical, whole-hearted way, then model that for them in the way you live. That won’t necessarily mean moving to the inner city. But it does mean exposing them to costly ministry. Teach them that following Jesus, denying yourself and taking up the cross is what matter (Mark 8:34)…
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with education, career, marriage or prosperity. But when we make these things more important than knowing and serving God, then they’ve become idols. The problem is they are respectable idols! It can easily become okay, even in churches, to make an idol of education or career or respectability.
May our minds be renewed by this counter-cultural word (cf Mark 8:34). May the Spirit of God show us the innumerable ways we crave these vain idols. And may we commit ourselves, by God’s grace, to lead our families to put Christ and his cross at the center of our lives, so that our children will live for more than what they can taste, touch, feel, or get in this world. After all, that is what Scripture instructs us to want for our children.
Thinking about ministry and concerned about your ‘theological’ preparation?
Consider that some of the greatest “pastor-theologians” (biblical authors) were entrenched in mundane occupations and the plain things of life for decades before God opened the door to ministry. For instance, consider Jeffery Niehaus’s words that remind us of Moses’ calling and equipping:
When Moses flees to Midian, he learns to be a husband (Ex 2:2), a father (v. 22), and a shepherd (3:1). These [plain things] are theologically important facts for him, because he now encounters the God who chooses to become a husband (Jer. 31:32; Eze 16:1ff–both reflecting the Exodus events), a father (Dt 1:31), and a shepherd (Ge 49:24) to his people (God at Sinai: Covenant & Theophany in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, 185).
For 40 years, Moses learned the plain things of life–caring for a wife, leading a family, and tending a flock. Each of these prepared him for his ministry to Israel, and his ability to record God’s Word. Likewise, for us, marriage and work, the common but significant lot which all humans enjoy (or despise), prepare us greater Christian service. In fact, 1 Timothy 3 disqualifies ministers who fail at home. Thus marriage (which pictures Christ’s love for the church), fatherhood (which reflects God’s love for his adopted children), and vocation (which requires thoughtful creativity, organization, and physical strength, resemble God’s work in the world), all demonstrate aspects about God and his gospel. And thus, all of these “plain things” prepare you and I for more fruitful service.
Moses example teaches us to stop fearing insufficient training and to recall the fact that for those who God has called, he will use all of life to prepare us for our “received” ministry (cf. John 3:27; Col. 4:17). So, while we ought to look for ways to further our knowledge of god (cf. Ps 111:2; 2 Pet 3:18), we should at the same time realize that all of life points to God, and prepares us for useful service–with or without “theological training.”
In the plain things are hidden the main things, if we look at them with eyes of faith and minds renewed by God’s Word. In this way, God reminds us that he is the one who uniquely prepares us for his service, and that our plans are accomplished according to his steps (Prov 16:9). May we seek God and see him in all of life, so that we may better communicate the divine truths of God’s word as we encounter the daily regimen of life.
Under the Lordship of Christ, a family of God living for the Kingdom: savoring the Scriptures; walking in the Spirit; speaking the truth in love; proclaiming the gospel to the nations.
It is a whole new day in the life of the Schrock household. With the addition of Titus, priorities change, schedules change; jobs change; logistics change, sleep patterns change. There is much change. But one thing remains the same–living by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, praying and working for the glory of His name to be exalted in all aspects of our lives–in our home, in our church, across the street, and around the globe.
One of the most exciting prospects of parenting is introducing our son to Jesus and the Bible’s message of salvation. At the same time, this privilege is accompanied by monumental challenges. Besides the day to day challenge of living out a model of Christian character (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1); the tireless work of teaching, explaining, and speaking the things of God (cf Deut 6), the societal dangers and systematic evils that threaten the shalom of family life; there is the reality that Satan would love to kill, steal, and destroy this home–like all homes. Left to ourselves, we cannot stand under the outward attacks and inner decay–in fact no one can (cf. John 15:5).
Yet, we aspire to contend against these cosmic forces. Why? So that we can come up short, failing ourselves, damaging our son, disappointing our God? No, instead we trust in a greater reality, a better hope, and surer promise; we trust in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With zero confidence in ourselves, we embark with confidence in Him who saved us, who called us to the task of parenting, and who calls us to train our child to fear the LORD. We entrust ourselves to Jesus, who gave us his Spirit to enable us to do things that we on our own could never do. With that rock solid foundation, we boldly approach the task of parenting with hope in one unwavering thing– the grace of God in the person and work of Jesus. Without this we have no hope for survival or success. This is the gospel we believe.
The gospel alone can cover our mistakes–and there will be many; it alone can atone for our sins–which lie underneath every ‘mistake’; it alone can equip us with love, forgiveness, wisdom, and patience to disciple Titus; and it alone can comfort our souls when our plans have been rerouted by the roadblocks of this world and the sovereign wisdom of our God. So, with unchanging commitment to the gospel and trust in its singular message of good news, we embark on this adventure of parenting.
Despite the uncertainty of our days ahead in this age, I offer this humble pledge and desperate prayer, that the family unit that God has established in our home will shine for the glory of Christ. To that aim we work and we pray, and we ask that Under the Lordship of Christ, we as a family of God would live for the Kingdom by savoring the Scriptures; walking in the Spirit; speaking the truth in love; and going to the nations.
May our home like your home; and your home like our home, bow the knee to the one who sanctioned all families (Eph. 3:14), who is able to do abudantly more than we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20), and pray for the gospel to pervade every aspect of our family life.
With a sober pledge and a hopeful prayer, we ask that God would get the glory in our home.