Week 6 - Defining the Boundaries

Homework: Continue thinking about the manner in which your own life serves as a testimony to your child(ren). Continue integrating Scripture and prayer into your relationship with them (and into your own life first, if that needs work at the moment!). These things are the foundation of our discipleship of our children. But this week we will begin setting up the prism through which we evaluate our parenting decisions. We already have the big pieces like God's covenant and God's law. It's time to put them together and actually apply them...and within their application lies your homework! See the "Chew on this..." section below.

Main Idea - God's "boundaries" demonstrate his love (Covenant of Redemption) for us and his faithfulness (Covenant of Works). His law also serves to point us toward his grace (Covenant of Grace).

1) Reflects – the law reflects both God’s perfect righteousness and our failure to meet  the requirements such righteousness demands (Rom 3:20). In short, it functions to          make us aware of our need of Christ (Gal 3:19-24)

2) Restrains – the law keeps us from being as bad as we might be without it. With the  law comes the threat of punishment or consequences (Rom 13:3-4)

3) Reveals – the law shows what would be pleasing to God and guides believers into    the good works he has planned for us (Eph 2:10, Matt 28:20)…the Christian’s                salvation is not determined by adherence to the law. But things might simply go            better if one were to adhere to the law.

God’s law is a gift to us given the manner in which it functions in our lives, assuming one places his/her faith in Christ. God has also established the family to testify to his character and goodness. The law is geared toward preservation of the family (honor your mother and father, do not commit adultery, etc.). Obviously parents are intended to have authority over children. Using, and not abusing, that authority can be a delicate balance (Prov 13:24, Eph 6:4).

Chew on this... 

List some of the boundaries you have established or hope to establish (if your children are still very young). What is your intended purpose in setting each of those boundaries? How does your purpose in setting a particular boundary serve your child's interests?

29_commandments2.gif

Read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and/or Deuteronomy 5). Pick one of the ten and do a "case study" (we'll do a few together in class). Of the boundaries you listed above, which are supported by (or will be supported by) the first commandment? The second? And so on...

...If you find that you have boundaries not supported by any of the Ten Commandments, maybe you don't need those boundaries! But chances are you will not have that problem (after all the 5th commandment is "Honor your father and mother"). The problem you will have is in determining your response if and when your child goes beyond those boundaries. How will you respond in a manner consistent with and pointing your children to God's love, faithfulness, and grace?

Week 5 - Begin at Home

Homework: See "Chew on this..." below.

Main Idea - Discipleship is 1) an intentional endeavor and 2) a relational endeavor.

1) Many parents begin reading to their children almost immediately after they are born. Children are exposed to picture books and then helped forward from there, even before starting school We don't simply drop kids off at school and hope they learn how to read; we take deliberate steps in ensure they learn to read. In the same manner discipleship involves intentional effort. It is by no means adequate to drop kids off at church a couple hours per week and hope they learn to follow Jesus. 

Instilling love for God and neighbor in our children (Matthew 22:37-40) requires an intentional effort (Deuteronomy 6:5-9) characterized by LOVE (John 13:34-35, Covenant of Redemption). 

2) Behavior modification is not goal. Twenty years from now it will not be important to you that your son or daughter had a clean room when he or she was a child. Whether or not he or she is still talking to you and talking to God will be important to you 20 years from now. There are instances in which we need to "lay off" for the sake of our relationships with our children. 

Be FAITHFUL to your word (Covenant of Works), while always prepared to extend GRACE (Ephesians 6:1-4, Colossians 3:21, Covenant of Grace). Remember, you will likely need to ask your children to extend grace to you from time to time as well. 

What is the goal? Spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-33). How do trees grow fruit?

Rooted in Christ, fed by the Word and prayer, and supported by worship, fellowship, and witnessing, the Christian disciple naturally produces fruit as a result of the life flowing out of him/her. 

Rooted in Christ, fed by the Word and prayer, and supported by worship, fellowship, and witnessing, the Christian disciple naturally produces fruit as a result of the life flowing out of him/her. 

The are rooted in good soil (Christ), draw nourishment from healthy roots (Word & prayer), are supported by a strong trunk (worship, fellowship, witness), which branches out (obedience). The branches produce fruit simply as a result of the life that is flowing through the tree.

Don't ever stop doing your homework from Week 2. When you see any of the fruit listed in Galatians 5, affirm it!

Chew on this...

Evaluate yourself as a parent. What parts of the tree would you say are growing strong in your life (if you're married, your life as a couple) and which parts are weaker, perhaps in need of a little fertilizer?

How are your children doing in respect to those aspects of discipleship? Do they even have them on their "radar screens?"

If you’ve never done so before, or if it’s been awhile, turn to John 15: 1-17.  Read through the passage out loud once, then go back through each verse and note which phrases refer to which of the aspects of “The Tree.”

Week 4 - Sacraments: The Means of Grace

Homework: Think about the event(s) or process that led to your becoming a Christian. It may help you to spend a little more time than usual thinking or even writing about this weeks “Chew on This” questions below. Have you ever told your children about how and why you became a Christian? Jesus is the Son of God whose death paid our debt for sin. He was raised to life and by faith in him we are able to be reconciled to God and receive the Holy Spirit. Write out 3-5 ideas of short “testimonies” by which you could explain to your children what these beliefs mean to you and how they impact the way you live.

Main Idea - The church is for kids (Matthew 19:13-15).

Treat your children as if they are under the same covenant you are (i.e. the Covenant of Grace)...because they are (Acts 2:39, I Corinthians 7:12-14 [Colossians 2:11 & 12]).

Baptism is the work of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13), the "sign and seal" of the covenant of grace. God always establishes and confirms his covenant with households, not just individuals: 

            Adam & Eve and all descendants (Genesis 2 & 3)

            Noah and his family were saved through the waters (Genesis 9)

            Abraham and his family received the promises (Genesis 12, 15, & 17)

            Moses and Israel (Exodus 19-24)

            David and Solomon and all successive kings of Israel (2 Samuel 7)

            New Covenant, church (Jeremiah 31)

I’m under the Covenant of Grace (or saved by grace)! Can I do whatever I want?

RLD Wheel.jpg

Yes, but…you can’t really know Jesus without him changing what it is you want to do (Luke 19:1-10, John 8:1-11).

You can raise your kids however you like.

You are here because you’re compelled to raise them a particular way. You are here because you’re compelled to disciple your kids.

Chew on this...

What is the story of your baptism? Perhaps this is the first time you have ever considered that your baptism was the work of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to that of your parents or yourself). How does this impact or change your perspective of baptism?

What role, if any, have your parents played in your own discipleship?

Who have been the most influential people in your life in terms of helping you grow in your faith? What did they do that helped you?

Week 3 - Covenant of Grace

prayer pops.jpg

Home Work: If your family is not in the habit of praying together, start by picking up a pack of craft (a.k.a. popsicle) sticks next time you are at Walmart. Eat dinner or otherwise gather the entire family together one night this week and brainstorm a list of individuals your family can pray for. Ideas would include extended family members, best friends, maybe even enemies, neighbors, teachers, missionaries, etc. In the Habecker family we include pets because we like to thank God for our furry friends as well. Establish some sort of routine (at least weekly, at most daily) where all or most of you can come together and pass around a container of “prayer sticks,” everyone pulling one or several at random and praying for the person(s) written on those sticks. Do you have John 3:16 or I John 4:9 memorized yet?

Main Idea - God’s love is so great that he desires a relationship with his people. God’s holiness and justice are such that he must punish sin. God’s grace is that he sends his own Son as a sacrifice. 

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, 
smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:4-6

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

The Covenant of Grace, that Jesus would die for sin and be raised to life and through faith in him we are reconciled to God, was the plan all along. What better news is there for your family than that?

Chew on this...

Which of the three covenants (Redemption [love], Works [justice], Grace [forgiveness]) do your family relationships most resemble?

God reveals his character and nature in the context of his covenant of grace. What have we learned thus far that you might be able to transfer to your family’s relationships?

Week 2 - Covenant of works

Home Work: Eat dinner or otherwise gather together as a family sometime this week. Have an 8.5x11 piece of posterboard for each person, and markers or crayons. Everyone personalizes a card by decoratively printing his/her own name on it, large enough to see easily but small enough that most of the card is blank. Hang cards in a prominent location in your home and establish the rules:  1) No one may write on his/her own card. 2) Cards are for encouragement and positive comments only; a way to let someone (and everyone else) know you’ve noticed him/her doing something right! As a parent, be emotionally prepared for your card to remain blank. Use your children’s cards as a “log” to record all the good you catch them doing from day to day, including perhaps praying together and memorizing Scripture!

Dusty had a strange fascination with electricity yet failed to recognize its power. Had there not been an intervention it easily could have killed her. Remind you of anyone?

Dusty had a strange fascination with electricity yet failed to recognize its power. Had there not been an intervention it easily could have killed her. Remind you of anyone?

Main Idea - "When God had created man he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death...  Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God" (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Answers 12 & 13).

How can anyone be expected to worship a God who would punish the slightest sin so severely?

"The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation" - Exodus 34:6-7.

"But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" - I Peter 1:15-16. 

The Covenant of Works means God is holy and just. His character therefore requires that holiness be maintained and justice be enforced. Thus the consequences of human sin become readily apparent; separation from God and our status as objects of his wrath (Ephesians 2:3). 

Chew on this...

If God were not faithful to his word (see Exodus 34:6-7) he would be neither holy nor just. Which would be more difficult: to worship a holy God who justly punished Adam's sin as he had promised, or to worship a God who failed to punish sin and was thus unfaithful to his own word?

What can happen in a marriage if a husband (or wife) focuses less on who his wife (husband) is, and more on what she (he) can or cannot do for him (her)?

What can happen if a mother or father focuses less on who their children are, and more on what their children can or cannot do for them?

Who are we in relation to God? God is our Father and we are his ________. Does God love us for who we are or for what we are able to do for him?

Week 1 - Covenant of redemption

Slide2.JPG

Home Work: Begin a weekly or monthly regimen of memorizing Bible verses. Start with an easy passage about God’s love. John 3:16 is a good one, but if you already have that down try Romans 5:8 or I John 4:9. Remember never to expect your kids to memorize anything you are not also memorizing. A little integrity goes a long way. Brainstorm some simple ways to facilitate and encourage Scripture memorization in our families.

Main Idea - The covenant established among the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with regard to God's self-revelation and redemption of his people. 

The Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father "before the foundation of the world" - John 17:24

God love us before he created us - Ephesians 1:4

The Covenant of Redemption means God is love (I John 4:8). God loved us before he created us and we were created in his image (Genesis 1:27) out of the overflow of his love. The unity of mind, heart, and purpose of the Trinity, revealed within the Covenant of Redemption, exemplifies what our families could/would be like were it not for our sinful nature. 

Chew on this...

What are your hopes, dreams, and prayers for your family?

Read John 17:20-26. As Jesus prays what does he desire for those the Father has given him (v. 24)?

How may Jesus’ desire in John 17 and God’s love in general inform the way we think about our marriages, children, and families?