We have the joy of hosting Gary Thomas, author and speaker, here at Providence for 2 days. It will be challenging. I pray that this live blog will be a blessing to you, especially if you are unable to be here for the sessions. You can get the audio or video at pray dot org resources. FYI – I haven’t included all the personal stories and jokes – so please get all those from the audio.
Sacred Parenting Session 1 – Gary Thomas
Providence Baptist Church
September 26, 2010
Mike Passaro led us in worship to begin the evening. We sang “Oh, To See the Dawn” by Keith and Kristyn Getty. What a powerful reminder that we can’t do parenting without the hope of the gospel and the power of the cross. There will be no successful, treasuring-Christ, parenting without the death of Jesus on the cross and the hope of the empty tomb.
How God Uses Parenting to Shape a Parent’s SoulThe main text for the first session this evening is
2 Corinthians 7.1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”
When you are in the midst of raising kids, the days are long but the years are short. It is a season. Can we go back and be more focused on that season? Be more ruthless on that vocation of being a parent?
The Bible has just a few verses about how to raise a kid. Yet, the Christian publishing industry has thousands of books from men and women on how to raise kids. Is there a problem? I realize the desire of the how-to, it is valuable, but we can also step back and look on parenting as God’s providence. God urges parents to grow as parents and disciples. Parenting grows the parents. God uses this whole relationship to mature the parent.
Most of us will be challenged more on a cross-state trip with 3 kids and our spouse more than a personal retreat. Sanctification. We can’t divorce real life from personal, spiritual growth. God uses marriage and parenting to shape us as much as He uses anything else. These are fundamental relationships.
I had to grow as a person to be a parent. That’s what I want to help you see in the next two days – that God is using parenting to not only shape your children, but also using it to shape you. In marriage, you get to pick your troubles, but with parenting – they come ready-made. God has this way of knowing exactly what children you need to get those certain challenges met in your life.
In context, this verse is not related to parenting, but when we relate it to parenting, it becomes powerful to our stage of life. Scripture can stab us in the heart. Paul has the nerve, as Christians, our focus should be to purify ourselves. We are to purify ourselves. The reason this is so important is because God is brilliant at taking us through the parenting process. We are secure in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Sanctification (through our kids) allows us to take our growth seriously. When you become a parent, you need to get closer to God than you ever have been before. We live in a culture that doesn’t take spiritual growth very seriously. For most of us, our spiritual growth isn’t driving us, we don’t take it as seriously as Paul did in the above verse. This type of spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. It must be intentional.
Parenting gives us new motivation to do it. Parenting puts a spotlight on our weaknesses like nothing else can do. Our children study us. Do we want them to Xerox ourselves – our kids are modeling themselves after us. They never stop watching us. It is 24 hours a day.
Dads – we must treat our wives exactly how we want our daughters to be treated by their future husbands. Wives…the way you talk about and treat your husband, will in large part determine what kind of wife your son marries. (Insert by kd: read Sacred Influence). Are you a better wife or a mother? The best mom should say she is a better wife. How are daughters going to learn to put the husband at the head of the home if they don’t see their mom making that priority (Titus 2). Does our Christianity make a difference in our marriage relationships and our parenting techniques? Does it really affect how we live? We do not want to be a stumbling block to our own kids in their coming to know Christ as personal Savior. That is why Paul challenges us with 2 Corinthians 7.1 – if we don’t purify ourselves, we will be a stumbling block.
1 Tim 4.15-16 – Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.Our kids need to see we are all growing in godliness, becoming more like Christ. Perfecting holiness (2 Cor 7.1) is pointing us toward a process. Our kids help in this process. “While people judge us by our children’s actions, God judges us by our reactions to them.” – Dr. Cathy Carpenter. If we are concerned with perfecting holiness and purifying ourselves, these parenting years will be used to modify us.
Besides this point of parenting shaping us, but also a question is why we become parents? Why have children? Why do you want to have children and become parents? Motivation is everything when it comes to parenting. Why do people stop parenting – active parenting? Why we become a parent will determine whether we keep parenting or not. Selfishness will not sustain active parenting. 2 Cor 7.1 heads us in the right direction: out of reverence for God. Are you a God-centered parent or a child-centered parent? God-centered parents parent out of reverence for God. And this reverence needs to, and should, happen all the time.
Malachi 2.14-15: “But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” Why is God angry at marriages breaking up? Because He is seeking godly offspring. If marriages break up, the chance of the children become godly offspring goes way down. God’s desire is this: I’ve redeemed you. Will you give a good part of your effort in raising Godly kids out of reverence for me?
As families, as parents, as husband and wife, we are able to present to the world a picture of the gospel. As much as it depends upon me, how am I presenting to the world a godly offspring? Even through our mistakes and sin, through the hope of the gospel, we can be a tool God uses to show our dying world a gospel-driven family.