Have you ever had to confess to your child? I’m not talking about airing all of your dirty laundry of past sins, grave mistakes, and idolatrous living before you had your child. That likely has an appropriate place and time for discussion with your children, but that’s not what I’m referring to.
I’m referring to confessing to your child that you have sinned recently, and specifically I’m referring to telling your child that you have sinned against them.
Perhaps I’m simply more sinful than you are, but I’ve had to do this many times. Allow me to give yesterday as an example; around 7:30 p.m. my two-year-old son was laying on the couch and our 45 pound puppy came flying into the house, leapt into the air, and landed with his feet and tongue right on my sons face. Obviously this is a time to intervene — to correct the puppy, to comfort your child. But my intervening sounded like angry yelling at the dog. It is no secret that I am not a fan of pets, and in this moment stress of the day, discouragement in my heart, and irritation with myself met my dislike of pets and I did not control my anger with our puppy. I didn’t abuse him (relax animal activists) and I did need to correct him, but in that moment I didn’t have self-control. In that moment, I taught my son how to release his frustration and anger and I taught him wrongly. I even scared him. So I had to sit down with my son and tell him that daddy was wrong. I had to confess to him that daddy didn’t control his anger, and I asked for his forgiveness. There we sat, trading stories of my anger and Bob’s (our puppy) landing on Asa’s face. You should ask Asa about it sometime. He tells the story with much enthusiasm.
You would think that this would be the end of my story, but it isn’t (remember, I’m simply more sinful than you are). An hour later, my daughter came into the living room to play with Bob and he went out of control again. My frustration with him came flooding back but instead of simply correcting Bob, I scolded my daughter. She had not corrected him for his misbehavior, and instead of using the opportunity to teach her how to correct him, I scolded her for not correcting him. It crushed her, and rightly so. I found myself having to confess again, to another child, of my sinful lack of self-control.
Parents, you will sin. You will speak or act out of sinful pride in front of your children. You can never remove the effect of those actions, but you can teach your children what it looks like to realize your sin, to confess your sin, and to reconcile relationships.
My prayer for each of us today is that we would ever-increasingly grow in godliness so that sin would spill out less each day. Secondly, my prayer is that we would be humble enough to confess our sins before our children so that we (and they) may be healed. (James 5:16)
The Laws in Leviticus we looked at this Sunday can even speak to parenting. Paul Tripp helps us navigate punishment and grace for our children. Follow the link below to watch the short video.
As a parent, I am always looking for ways to engage my children with the gospel. In a recent sermon we explained to parents that Deuteronomy purposes parents to be teaching our children the ways of God as we sit, as we go, as we lie down and as we rise. In other words, as you do what you already do, look for ways to teach your children about God and the gospel.
As spring rolls around in Kansas City, parents are always looking for new outings for their families. I want to encourage you that as you go out, lie down, get up, explore new places – look for opportunities to have gospel conversations with your children.
- Kansas City Zoo – if your children love the zoo, then I’d encourage you to spring for the season pass. We think it’s completely worth it because then a 1 hour trip to the zoo is worthwhile. Last year we took Asa to the zoo dozens of times. While at the zoo, have intentional conversations with your child. You could discuss which animal is their favorite and why, bringing the focus back to their worship of God for his creation of that animal. You could discuss about God creating man different than animals in that as majectic as the elephant is, man is who was created in God’s image and therefore we hold a special value and we can know God in a different way through Jesus.
- Urban Air – this trampoline park is superior to others in my opinion because they also have the largest indoor playground I have ever seen. Our son costs $5 for endless play on the playground and my wife and I get to play for free with him! Take your children there, let them jump, play, run, and laugh and then talk about the joy that God gives us in enjoying life. It is a common grace that we get to enjoy life in this way. Discuss this and remind them that when they really enjoy something in life, it is because God has given them that gift and teach them to worship God for that joy.
- Red Barn Farm in Weston – Red Barn is famous for it’s October Pumpkin Patch and fall festivals, but you can also go there in the spring and pick peaches and berries! It’s a fun activity to get your kids out of the city, take in some fresh air and see a different way of life. As you pick berries and peaches, talk about how every bite of food we put into our mouths is provided by God; he grew the plant, he gave us the resources to get the food and he gave us taste buds to enjoy it! Talk about the fruit in the garden and how Adam and Eve could have any fruit they wanted but one tree. Teach your children about sin and how it always makes us crave what we are told we shouldn’t have, despite God giving us so much more. Teach them about God’s promise to send Jesus to destroy the deceiver and free us of our sin.
This spring, I hope you have great opportunities to teach your children about the gospel in everyday life.
I recently went for a walk on some property that my sister and her husband purchased outside of Branson. If you know that terrain, you know it’s hilly, rocky and very full of trees. As our family walked through the land and dreamed of a few years from now when they would build a home, I found myself awestruck at my son’s enjoyment of the woods. You know you live in a city when your son sees a pile of leaves and loses his mind in joy!
He ran and jumped and dove and dug. He was messy and covered in dirt, just like little boys should be. We captured a lot of good photos from that day and made a lot of memories. But one photo that my father captured stole my heart and sealed a lesson into my soul. The picture below is one of my son, following in my footsteps. If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see that he is looking where I’m looking and he is stepping with the same foot I am stepping with, walking the same way that I am walking. The words saturated my soul, “Walk carefully, little feet follow”. It was true on that mountain side as we walked over leaves, rocks and sticks. But it is even more true in life as my son looks to me to see how to walk through life.
Parents, today watch how you walk. Take careful steps. Make wise decisions. Walk closely with Jesus. Step humbly and run with perseverance; little feet follow.
Pastor Ronni recently preached a sermon at Emmaus where he talked about God’s common grace in creation. Each of us experience God’s common grace every day; we eat delicious food that we don’t deserve to enjoy, we feel warm sun that we don’t deserve to feel, we see beautiful colors that we don’t deserve to see, we have relationships that we don’t deserve to have.
Ronni pointed out that if all we as parents tell our children about God is that God will see us if we are bad, that our actions would disappoint God, that we are being disobedient to God, then we are missing the gracious, generous, gift-giving God who saves us.
God generously gifted us with so much pleasure in creation, and despite our rebellion towards him, he graciously continues to gift us with pleasure every day. All of these gracious and generous gifts point to the most gracious and most generous gift he’s ever given, his son, Jesus.
So parents, our challenge for you this week is twofold:
Be gracious and generous gift givers to your children and tell them why: Jesus
“But Joshua, we don’t have much money, I can’t give much”. I understand that. Notice that I didn’t say you had to give extravagant, but gracious and generous. Also notice that this does not merely imply giving things. You can (and should) graciously and generously give your time to your children, give memories to your children, give laughter to your children, give energy to your children, give your listening ear to your children, give you securing hugs to your children. As you give, remind your children that we give graciously and generously because God gives graciously and generously to us and that the greatest gift he’s given us is Jesus.
Know what your children value, celebrate, and enjoy so you can remind them that it is a gift from God.
If they can’t wait to wake up and eat cereal, remind them that it’s a gift from God. If they love to play with a certain toy, it is a gift from God. If they revel in their mother and fathers attention, it is a gift from God and so on. If you know your children, you know what they love and when you see them loving it, remind them that God is gracious and generous to give them such a wonderful gift to enjoy.
Psalms 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Do you think of your child as a reward? I know that most of you do most of the time, or at least part of the time. But do you see them as a reward all of the time? I’ll admit, there are times when my teen daughter is simply a teen girl or when my son is so defiant (he is a 2 year old after all) that I do not see them as rewards. There are moments I just want a break. I want my son to sleep longer, I want my teen daughter to not be as complicated as teen girls are.
These are just moments. They are ever so small in length of time and they hardly dominate my thinking and feeling. However, there is danger in these moments because in these moments I am not believing what God said about children. In these moments, my feelings and my thoughts have told God that his word about children is wrong and my experience is right. It’s in these moments that I see my sinfulness clear and shining brightly.
I encourage you, parent, to join me in a war for our thoughts about our children. May our thoughts be captivated by the truth of God’s word. May we believe with every thought that we have and every feeling that we feel that our children are a reward, a blessing, a heritage, fruit of the womb, arrows to a warrior and a blessing to our names. I pray that today you would be encouraged to look at your children and to smile at the blessing God has given you in them.