Teach Them Diligently: Eight Principles to Help You Teach Your Children According to Deuteronomy 6

picture of familyLast weekend my wife was at a Women’s Retreat and I watched our three young children on Friday night, and the two oldest again on Saturday.  I made several plans of things to do with them, but those plans quickly became a trip to the store and a trip to the park between changing diapers, cleaning up meals, hugging away boo-boos and realizing that pig tails are way harder to make than they look–in fact, impossible for me.  Having this concentrated time with the kids and without my wife not only reminded me afresh of all of the ways she works so hard as a mom for our family, but it also made me contemplate the importance of knowing our parenting goals.

We don’t want to wake up 18 years from now and realize that we changed diapers, cleaned up meals, and shuttled kids to sports but missed the most important thing.  More than anything, my wife and I want our kids to know and love Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Sometimes we simply need to be reminded of some of the basics towards that eternally significant goal.  Deuteronomy 6:4-15 clearly lays out 8 things God expects us to be teaching our children.  We teach these things not only when we read a Children’s Bible before bedtime, but also when we are going to the store or enjoying God’s creation at the park:  “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

  • Teach your children that your family is part of the larger body of Christ (Deut. 6:4).  Deuteronomy 6 is given to Israel corporately, even though the parents have to apply it individually.
  • Teach your children about God (Deut. 6:4)  You hear theology in this verse; children are sponges, soaking in information about not only the world but also about God.
  • Teach your children to love God (Deut. 6:5)  Jesus said this was the greatest commandment.
  • Teach your children to obey God from the heart (Deut. 6:6-7)  If it comes from their heart because they love God, they will want to obey Him even when you’re not looking.
  • Teach your children to follow your example (Deut. 6:6-7)  This implies that you are believing the gospel and following hard after Christ yourself.
  • Teach your children at every God-given moment during the day (Deut. 6:6-7)  Every day, all day.  God gives a countless number of teachable moments each day.  Teach them diligently!
  • Teach your children the Bible and how it interacts with their lives (Deut. 6:7-9)  If you’re giving them a solid foundation of God’s Word, you will be able to pull from it as situations come up each day and they will see that the Bible applies to them.
  • Teach your children to love God, not the world (Deut. 6:10-15)  Everything can become an idol.  Teach them to be in the world but not of it.

How Do You “Shelter” Your Young Children From Current Events?

picture 20We happened to be staying in a hotel the same day that the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon happened.  The next morning, my wife and I helped our 5 year old and 21 month old get their food from the breakfast dining area, then got our own food while one of us was holding our infant.  We were all excited for the breakfast spread at the hotel and were just starting to enjoy it when a morning news program began blaring in the dining area.  All eyes were on the TV, trying to hear the latest news about the explosions.  We couldn’t turn it off.  Getting down there and getting back upstairs was no easy task–impossible to imagine going in reverse with food in our hands–so we sat there for a few minutes trying to distract our 5 year old, until he asked if there were any kids hurt in the explosion.  We gathered them up quickly and headed back upstairs with our food, little ones and food both in our hands.

Because of the ages of our children, we don’t listen to the news while they’re awake at home, or in the car anymore.  But this week my 5 year old and 21 month old saw images of explosions while out in public, and last week my son asked me why men can’t marry other men because he saw two men once that “looked married.”  This is where Deuteronomy 6:6-7 comes into play while also asking the Lord for wisdom:  “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Sometimes as you walk through life your young kids will ask you questions that you are not prepared to answer, and that they may not be ready to hear a full answer to.  I won’t pretend to be able to do this perfectly, but we can balance giving them an appropriate answer that brings God’s Word to the issue while also not telling them things that are too much for them right now.  For example, I was able to give my son a concise answer about marriage that seemed appropriate for his age, by simply telling him that God made marriage for a man and a woman only.  He asked more about it, but I told him that was all he needed to know right now.  As he gets older, we will have longer discussions about relevant issues like marriage and explosions.

Corrie Ten Boom illustrates this well (from The Hiding Place) with a story of how her father answered a question she asked when she was young:

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.

Don’t you love how parenting makes you beg God for wisdom?  Lord, give us wisdom to teach our children biblical principles when they come across hard issues in this world, while also knowing what their young minds can and cannot handle.

How Do I Live Out Radical Discipleship with a Wife and 3 Kids?

radical pictureOur Pastor has been preaching on Mark 8:34-38 over the last two Sundays, and it sounds so radical to our comfortable American Christian ears.  I have had plenty of time to think through what the implications of Jesus’ words are for my life, and to realize that Jesus’ “radical” call to discipleship may not be so radical after all, but rather simply counter-cultural.  So, how do I live out radical discipleship with a wife and 3 kids?

Listen to what Christ calls us all to:  “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Christ bids me come and die.  This is not new.  “I am crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)  It won’t always be flashy.  It might be putting my 19 month old daughter to bed and singing “Jesus Loves Me” with her.  It might be talking with my 5 year old about Jesus and why He died for us as we read a Bible bed time story.  It might be letting my 5 month old boy know that He is a blessing and loved by changing his diaper with joy.  It might be putting on a towel and pulling out a basin and serving my wife when I get home from a long day at work instead of serving myself, however that looks at any point in our marriage.  This is impossible in my flesh, but easy in the Spirit.

I may not be a foreign missionary.  I may not be a martyr.  I may or may not ever be put in jail for preaching the Gospel.  I may even own a home someday.  But I can still be a radical disciple for Jesus Christ.  If my life is poured out for Christ, if my family knows that I love God, love them, and love our neighbors and the nations more than I love myself, that is radical discipleship.  I do this so imperfectly, but  I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

Jesus, draw me nearer to the cross.  Help me to pour out myself and my family in losing our lives for Your sake and the Gospel’s.

Jesus Loves the Little Children

The recent 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, bringing with it the realization that over 50 million children have been aborted in America since 1973, has made me consider again how God views children.  Why did I tell the Children’s Ministry volunteers at our church recently that if they are involved in Family Ministry, they are involved in a ministry that is close to the heart of God?  How do you think about your own children?  Is it true that God has a soft spot of affection for little children?

I could give you verse after verse right now that affirms this truth.  Every verse about little children in the Bible is positive.  But to see what God thinks about children, we simply need to look to Jesus who is God incarnate.picture 14

I used to wonder if the paintings that we often see of Jesus holding children on his lap were true.  Does it really say that in the text?  “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God … And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-14, 16)

“They were bringing” has the idea of a habitual action.  This often happened in Jesus’ earthly ministry.  But how did the Lord punctuate his rebuke to the disciples?  He “took [the children] in his arms,” which could also be translated, “hugged” or “embraced” them.  When Jesus wanted to show what God thinks about children, he hugged them.  This is a picture of Jesus that we need to remember whether we’re thinking of the unborn, Family Ministry, or our own children.

Christian Parenting Reminders from Jason Helopolous

I needed to read this today and I hope that it is an encouragement in your parenting as well.  Click here for the entire excellent blog post from Jason Helopolous at the Gospel Coalition.

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Some of my greatest joys in life stem from being a parent to two delightful children. However, some of my greatest struggles in life also stem from being a parent to these same two children. There are days that I cannot imagine anything more rewarding and other days that I want to get into the fetal position and remain there for a week. Here are a few reminders for me and all the other Christian parents out there:

Affection and Love: We can never show our children too much love. I have yet to meet the adult who tells me, “My parents just showed me too much love!” But sadly, I have often heard the reverse. Shower your children with affection. May they know our warm embraces and messy kisses!

Have the Right Goal in View: As Christian parents, our goal in raising our children is not primarily to prepare them for going out into the world as fully functioning adults. Our goal, as Christian parents, is to prepare our children for eternity! This should shape all that we do in our homes.

Focus on My Responsibility: But having said that, we can’t “force” our children to be faithful, less sinful, or more righteous. That isn’t our responsibility. Our responsibility is to be faithful in our own charge as parents. In that regard, I can surely hinder or help their sensitivity to Christ, growth in sanctification, understanding of grace, and maturing in character, but I can’t guarantee it, secure it, or determine it. Let’s be faithful in what we do have responsibility for and spend less energy trying to control that which we don’t have responsibility for.

Keep Your Eyes Forward: We can be prone to look over our shoulders. What will OUR parents think? What will others at church think? What will my pastor think? Our children are disobedient and we find ourselves cringing inside and looking to see if anyone else was watching. And when we see others looking on, immediate concern grips our minds. Will they think my children are disobedient or bad? Will they think I am a terrible parent? Stop! We aren’t parenting for others’ approval. We are parenting for the good of our children to the glory of God. Let’s keep our eyes looking forward and heavenward for the good of our children and the glory of God.

Don’t Get Too High nor Too Low: Children change, so let’s not get too high or too low by what we see in our child’s character, actions, or soul in any given day or during any given period. Let’s rejoice some. Let’s mourn some. But let’s do so with restraint.

Run the Right Direction: God knows a thing or two about wayward children, so let’s seek Him who has an understanding ear. What grace we need in parenting and what grace is given in Christ. May we run to Him with our frustrations, struggles, trials, and failures. He should be our first counselor and comforter.

Christianity not Morality: Morals are good, but not in and of themselves. Let’s teach our children and pray for a morality that flows from a heart changed by God’s grace. For many of us, our default is to slip into morality parenting, rather than Christian parenting. The former is focused solely upon outward behavior, the latter is focused upon inward change which will manifest fruit  in moral outward behavior.

Lastly and Most Importantly, Count the Blessings: Let’s thank God everyday for our children. Even on those hard days, find the blessings amidst the chaos! Count every blessing that comes as a parent. Let it fill us with wonder that the Lord of the Universe has given us the privilege of having these little souls under our care. What a blessing. Thinking on that may even help us get out of that fetal position.

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[HT: Jason Helopolous]

Mary: An Example of a Teenager Who Loves God

picture 13We often think of Mary as a mature woman, especially when you read her “Magnificat” or “Song of Praise” in Luke 2:46-55.  However, Jewish traditions at the time of Jesus’ birth point to the fact that Mary was probably about 14 years old when she was told by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Savior of the world.

In an age in which not much is expected even out of Christian teenagers, Mary is a wonderful reminder that Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers are capable of a deep relationship with God.  If you are a teenager, I pray that this will be a reminder to you to “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)  If you are a parent or grandparent, remember that much of Mary’s love for and knowledge of God was taught to her in the home, which was the Jewish (Deut. 6:4-9) and is the Christian (Eph. 6:4) God-ordained place of every day discipleship.

As a teenager, Mary put God’s desires for her life above her own desires (Luke 1:26-38).  Being surprised one day by the angel Gabriel and being told that she would be pregnant with the Messiah was not in Mary’s plan for her life.  This was unimaginably “inconvenient.”  Rather than complaining, Mary’s response was, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)  God’s will was more important to her than her will.  She not only was submissive to God’s will, she joyfully embraced being used to bring God glory (Luke 1:46-55)!  God’s will was good news to her.

As a teenager, Mary knew God’s Word and “theology” (Luke 1:46-55).  Mary’s spontaneous Song of Praise in response to giving birth to the Messiah is dripping with Scripture references and a deep understanding of God’s plan for redemptive history.  She knew and loved both Old Testament Scripture and great truths about God.  Mary’s Bible knowledge at the age of 14 reminds us that teenagers who can ace a pre-calculus class can understand and get excited about knowing God better through His living and active Word.

As a teenager, Mary knew she needed God’s grace in Christ (Luke 1:47, 1:50).  I don’t put Mary out as an example to make you simply feel bad as a teenager or as a parent.  Mary is a stunning example of a teenager who loves God, but she also knew she was a sinner who needed God to save her.  “…My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”  The long-awaited Messiah that she now knew she would raise from infancy would show her and other believers God’s grace (Luke 1:54-55).  Mary spoke of the same grace that is offered to you today, if you will turn to Jesus and say, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Give Your Teenager a Gift that Can Have an Eternal Impact

If you are the parent of a teenager or are a grandparent of a teenager, I encourage you to consider giving them one of these Bibles or books that can have an eternal impact in their life.  Just as the Apostle John had “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” (3 John 4) speaking of his spiritual children, if you are a Christian parent I know that you will have no greater joy than to know that your children are walking in the truth of God’s Word.  These resources can help.  I have written a brief review of two study Bibles for teens and four carefully chosen books.

I simply ask you to consider something before you choose one of these Bibles:  think deeply about where your child or grandchild is in his or her walk with the Lord before choosing a new Bible.  Which would be the most helpful to him or her?

I have purposefully chosen books that stand alone if a teenager is motivated to read them, but that could also be easily used for parent-teenager discipleship.  Any one of these four books would be perfect for planning a time to discuss a chapter after each of you have read it.  If you have never done this, start with once a month–for example, if you chose Growing Up Christian, it has twelve chapters, so you could plan to meet with your teen the first Saturday morning of every month for one year.  Feel free to comment below if you have ever done something like this with your teenager before!

The ESV Student Study Bible is a great Study Bible for a teenager.  I love my own ESV Study Bible, and the difference between a normal Study Bible and a “Student” version is that it explains things more clearly at times for those who have not studied the Bible for as many years.  For example, at Genesis 1:26 my ESV Study Bible and the ESV Student Study Bible have essentially the same study note.  But the ESV Student Study Bible also has a graphically appealing “Did You Know?” box that explains God’s plural use of “us” in that verse.  See a video here that explains the idea behind the ESV Student Study Bible and if you’re thinking of purchasing it check out the different cover color options available.  I also recommend The MacArthur Student Bible for the same reasons as above, but it only comes in the NKJV.  If your teen is not currently reading and understanding the NKJV well, then I would stick with the ESV (if you have an older teenager, the regular MacArthur Study Bible is available in ESV and has an appealing layout with excellent study notes).

The book Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein is the best book I have seen for teenagers who have grown up in the church.  Joshua Harris explains, “[the author] wants to see them transformed by Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross–not merely living off the religion of their dads and moms.”  It is easy to read but has great depth and includes questions that you could use for a friendly discipleship discussion with your teen.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper is a life-changing book that challenges young people to live solely for the glory of God.  He begins by writing, “The Bible says, ‘You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body’ (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  I have written this book to help you taste those words as sweet instead of bitter or boring.”  I can’t recommend this book more for the teens and twenty-somethings in your life.  It was influential in my own call to ministry.

Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris is subtitled, “A teenage rebellion against low expectations.”  They assault the “myth of adolescence” by challenging fellow teens to live for God now rather than later.  Here is a helpful review of this book by my friend Jesse Johnson.  This is the only book recommended here that I have not read yet myself, but it strikes me as being in the same vein as Don’t Waste Your Life but maybe better for younger teens.

Bitesize Theology: an ABC of the Christian Faith by Peter Jeffery is the perfect book for your teen if you know that what they need right now more than a challenge to live fully for Christ,  is a better understanding of the basics of God’s Word.  I have never seen another book that can explain terms like “justification” and “sanctification” in 3 easy to understand pages.  Unless you have a highly motivated teen, this would definitely be one to do together with them (there are also study questions at the end of each chapter) and it would be well worth your time!

A Gift that Really Will Last All Year: Children’s Bibles


One of the best gifts that a parent or grandparent can give a child is a good Children’s Bible.  We have found that there is no better time than Christmas to give our son a new Children’s Bible that we can read together all year.  I have given a few questions to consider before choosing one, and a brief review of four excellent Children’s Bibles.  What Children’s Bibles have been helpful to your family?

Questions to consider before choosing a Children’s Bible:

  • Does it contain enough Bible stories to read together for most of the year?  Some only have about 20 stories, but think long-term with reading this with your child every night.
  • Does it have enough pictures, and are they age-appropriate?  Children love to be read to, and you don’t want your child to dread reading their Bible with you as opposed to the other books with exciting pictures that you read together.
  • Is it biblically and theologically accurate?  Read a couple of the entire stories to get a feel for how they have explained the Bible stories.  The last thing you want to do as you read Bible stories together is teach your child incorrect facts about the Bible and God.  It is worth taking the time to look it over closely!
  • Will I commit to reading this Children’s Bible with my child regularly?  One of the most consistent ways that you can disciple your children (Eph. 6:4) is to read Bible stories with them as part of your night-time routine or other set time daily.  I am always amazed at the questions my 4 year old son asks when we read his Children’s Bible together.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and pictures by Jago is my favorite Children’s Bible.  It ties the stories of both the Old and New Testaments into the hope of Jesus as our Savior.  We read this Bible to our son during the year that he was 3, and he loved the pictures and the way the stories are written–and so did I.  After one year of reading this, I was ready for something different that would teach him even more of the Bible, but you won’t regret getting this Bible for your child or grandchild about ages 3-10.

The One Year Bible for Children by V Gilbert Beers has been an excellent way to bring our son through some new Bible stories this year.  There really are 365 Bible stories including Psalms or Proverbs for the weekend!  My son loves the “classic” Bible story pictures.  It may have been too much for him as a 4 year old though–every other page has no pictures, so I would often google the Bible story as he would request a picture.  I would highly recommend it for ages 5-9.

What do you read to your toddler (or younger) to begin to teach them about God and His Word?  A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor has been perfect.  I would recommend it for infants up to age 3.  Even our 16 month old enjoys a couple of brief stories out of this at night.  For now I paraphrase the story in a couple of sentences and point at the pictures in an excited voice as I talk about God.  She likes looking at the animals in the pictures too.  When she is closer to 2 and above we will systematically go through this whole Children’s Bible and read the text which is simple but faithful.

I am excited to begin reading The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski to my son who will be 5 this year.  It has all of the elements that I listed above:  enough Bible stories to last for much of the year, a picture for each story, and biblical and theological accuracy (It has excellent reviews and I enjoyed reading several stories–it was hard to put down!).  The subtitle, “Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments” reminds me of The Jesus Storybook Bible but for kids who are a touch older.  I think the sometimes abstract but colorful pictures may be too much for a child younger than age 5.

Parenting is Hard for a Reason

Christina Fox has a post at The Gospel Coalition blog that encouraged me in my own parenting this week.  I read it yesterday afternoon and then I was tried in it last night.  I love how Fox applies the gospel–as displayed in the cross–to parenting.  I need forgiveness when I see that I sinned in how I parented.  I can teach my children about the gospel and their need for forgiveness in Christ even as I ask for their forgiveness.  As Fox says, parenting is hard for a reason.  It is another reminder of our need for Christ.  Read some excerpts below or click here for the full article.

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It had been a long and trying day where nothing went the way it should.  I must have corrected the kids every five minutes.  After refereeing fights and cleaning up messes all day, I was exhausted, irritated, and impatient.

Sitting at the dinner table that evening, it was my oldest son’s turn to give thanks.  When I heard him say, “And God, could you please help mommy to be patient with us?” I realized I wasn’t the only one affected by our difficult day.  I was part of the problem.

Before I had children, I considered myself a patient person.  Having worked with children professionally, I felt confident in my ability to interact with them.  I assumed that working with troubled children would automatically qualify me for parenting.  It was soon after I had my first child that I realized just how wrong I was.

When my kids were small, I couldn’t understand why things weren’t going as they should.  I read all the books.  I followed each method and step listed on the pages.  I did everything I was told to do.  But my children didn’t always sleep the way the experts said they would.  They didn’t potty train in a day.  I’m not convinced they’ve learned their manners.  And they didn’t (and still don’t) do what I say the first time.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it all.  When parents seek to raise their children in a godly way, how can parenting still be so hard?  But if I believe that God is sovereign, then I must believe he is sovereign even over all the challenges I have with my children.  If they have a rough day, whine, complain, and don’t get along, it is not outside his control.

While I used to despair over my children’s imperfect sleep patterns, rambunctious behavior, and failure to say please and thank you, I now realize there is a greater purpose—my refinement. Each struggle, each exhausting day, each behavioral problem, is an opportunity for me to grow in my faith. God uses my children as mirrors to reflect to me the sin I didn’t realize resides in my heart. He is in fact using my own kids to refine and transform me.

Parenthood is tilling the soil in my heart, weeding out the sins that keep me from growing in faith. Some of the roots run deep and have entangled themselves around my heart. Before having children, I didn’t realize how deeply rooted sins like impatience, selfishness, and irritability grew in the sin-fertilized soil of my heart. It took the challenges of raising children to reveal them to me.

But even as God reveals my sins of impatience, irritability, and selfishness, he also reveals his grace. When my children are easily distracted and I respond with impatience, not only does the Spirit reveal that sin to me, he also points out to me all the ways God is patient with my own distracted heart. When struggles in parenting reveal my sin of irritability, it also shows me God’s endless forbearance. When the weeds of selfishness become apparent in my heart, I also see how selfless Christ was for me at the cross.

Time and again, the gospel of grace covers my sin, bringing me back to the cross of Christ. Jesus knew I could never be a perfect mom. He knew I couldn’t respond to my children with love and grace at every moment. He knew I’d have days where I would fail. And that’s why he came. At the cross he suffered for every time I am impatient, for every time I fail to teach and train my children, and for every time I don’t love them as he loves them.

That day when I came face to face with my sins at the dinner table, I count it as grace. For it is God’s gracious love that desires to rid me of the sins that keep me from him. And after my son prayed, I asked him for grace and forgiveness for my impatience that day. Reminding him that I am sinner just as he is, I used the opportunity to point him to the grace of Christ who bore all our sins on the cross.


HT: Christina Fox

Biblical Parenting Books

There is a plethora of resources available to Christian parents today, which is both a blessing and a problem.  How do you know which are the most biblical and which may steer you in the wrong direction?  After all, you want to be right on track with what the Bible says about parenting!  You don’t want to realize that you missed the target when your children are leaving the house, but you want to “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)  I encourage you to make it your goal to read at least one of these books this fall!  Here are my current Top 10 Biblical Parenting Books…

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp has become a classic biblical parenting book.  If you are only going to read one parenting book this year, or if you have never read this, I can’t urge you more strongly to start with this one.  There is also an excellent Study Guide available that really expands upon the book in a simple manner, written by Tedd Tripp 10 years after the original publication, and will help you to practically work through some of the topics in your own family.

“Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman is my wife’s favorite parenting book.  It takes the biblical principles in Shepherding a Child’s Heart and makes them extremely tangible.  My favorite quote is from the Foreword, “I’ve heard many ‘experts’ proclaim that the Bible has very little to say about raising children.  Perhaps they have spent too much time earning their degrees and too little time learning the Scriptures.  God’s Word has plenty to say to parents if we diligently read it, apply it, and reap its fruits.” (pp. 16-17)

If you are looking for a “theology” of Christian parenting, this is your book: What the Bible Says About Parenting.  John MacArthur faithfully and clearly explains the Scriptures that God has given us regarding parenting.  Don’t let “theology of Christian parenting” turn you away though–in my opinion, this is one of John MacArthur’s best books.  He is practical and passionate when he talks about the family and raising children God’s way, and it shows in his own family.

Your Family God’s Way by Wayne Mack.  If you are having communication struggles within your family, whether in your marriage, with your children, or teens, this is the book for you.  The subtitle, “Developing & Sustaining Relationships in the Home” belies that it deals with more, but the way that Wayne Mack practically explains the biblical principles of communication is worth this book’s weight in gold.

If you are struggling with being pessimistic about your family or your role as a parent, Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes is biblically joyful and positive.  It is chock full of ideas for enjoying your family, learning and growing together, and living for the Lord.  It is not as much of a parenting manual as some of the other books, but I highly recommend it if you need to move beyond a foundation, or if you need hope or ideas.

See my earlier blog post regarding The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle.  It is available in a free download as a PDF here!  It is an excellent booklet and is only 38 pages.  The only caution I give is that Ryle sees Proverbs 22:6 as an absolute promise from God rather than as a divinely inspired proverb that explains how things generally work.  If it were a promise, however, there would be no faithful parents with unfaithful children.  It is well worth reading though and it will be helpful with your parenting.

The title of Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William Farley intrigued me enough to get it on my bookshelf.  I am confident commending it heartily as my Pastor, Mike Pohlman, recommends it.  See his blog post here.  Farley says in his Introduction, “In my experience, the most effective parents have a clear grasp of the cross and its implications for daily life.”

The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace and Stuart Scott is written by the same author  that I have trusted enough (Scott) to read The Exemplary Husband three times!  In an interview about this book Scott remarked that it is written from a “different yet biblical perspective: God’s and the parent’s faithfulness rather than the ‘product’ or the outcome.”

In Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Paul David Tripp hopefully titles the first chapter, “Age of Opportunity or Season for Survival?”  Certainly it is the former.  Ken Sande explains that this book “…provides a superb road map for raising teenage children…[and] experiencing with them the challenges, victories, and joys of our journey to maturity in Christ.”

Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein is not a parenting book.  It is actually written to teens who have grown up in the church and subtitled, “Have you taken ownership of your relationship with God?”  It is well written and a book that would be perfect for a parent of a teenager to read simultaneously with their teen and discuss over coffee or a meal together.  It would be a great way to shepherd your child’s [teen’s] heart!