Category Archives: Parenting

“God is smiling” by Martin Luther

“Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason, takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.’

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

It says, ‘O God, because I am certain that Thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with Thy perfect pleasure. I confess to Thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.’

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool—though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith—my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all His angels and creatures, is smiling—not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.”

–Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage” in Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 45; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 39–40.

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“A godly mother” by Charles Spurgeon

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother.

Neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot.

Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother.

Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me.

How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent. Others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me.

How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, ‘Oh, that my son might live before Thee!’

Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,– that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities.

And her smiles have never faded from my recollection,– the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good thing in me towards the Lord God of Israel.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1, 1834-1854 (New York: Fleming Revell Co., 1898), 68-69.

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“What are arrows for but to shoot?” by Jim Elliot

“I do not wonder that you were saddened at the word of my going to South America. This is nothing else than what the Lord Jesus warned us of when He told the disciples that they must become so infatuated with the kingdom and following Him that all other allegiances must become as though they were not.

And He never excluded the family tie. In fact, those loves which we regard as closest, He told us must become as hate in comparison with our desires to uphold His cause. Grieve not, then, if your sons seem to desert you, but rejoice, rather, seeing the will of God done gladly.

Remember how the Psalmist described children? He said that they were as a heritage from the Lord, and that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows?

And what are arrows for but to shoot? So, with the strong arms of prayer, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly–all of them, straight at the Enemy’s hosts.

‘Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious, Give of they wealth to speed them on their way, Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious, And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.'”

–Jim Elliot, in Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1958/2008), 182-183. Elliot wrote these words to his parents after telling them he was going to the mission field. He was martyred in Ecuador on January 8, 1956.

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“This is what it means to be a king” by C.S. Lewis

As was certain to happen sooner or later, King Lune said it was time for young people to be in bed. “And tomorrow, Cor,” he added, “shalt come over all the castle with me and see the estate, and mark all its strength and weakness: for it will be thine to guard when I’m gone.”

“But Corin will be the King then, Father,” said Cor.

“Nay, lad,” said King Lune, “thou art my heir. The crown comes to thee.”

“But I don’t want it,” said Cor. “I’d far rather–”

“‘Tis no question what thou wantest, Cor, nor I either. ‘Tis in the course of law.”

“But if we’re twins we must be the same age.”

“Nay,” said the King with a laugh. “One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by full twenty minutes. And his better too, let’s hope, though that’s no great mastery.” And he looked at Corin with a twinkle in his eyes.

“But, Father, couldn’t you make whichever you like to be the next King?”

“No. The King’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king. Hast no more power to start away from thy crown than any sentry from his post.”

“Oh dear,” said Cor. “I don’t want to at all. And Corin– I am most dreadfully sorry. I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom.”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be king. I shan’t have to be king. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”

“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy in The Chronicles of Narnia (New York: HarperCollins, 1954/1994), 309-310.

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“Show God to your children” by John Piper

“The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation.

The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules the universe.

Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mom her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.

And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the child be able to recognize God for who He really is in His authority and love and justice become mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like?

The chief task of parenting is to know God for who He is in His many attributes—especially as He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus and His cross—and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God. And, of course, that will involve directing them always to the infallible portrait of God in the Bible.”

–John Piper, This Momentary Marriage (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 143-144.

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“God fathers us” by Bruce Ware

“God fathers us by being lavish, generous, even extravagant in His care, love, provision, and protection of His children. ‘He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32). Lavish, generous, extravagant care for His children– this also marks the true heart and action of God, our Father.

In light of this, every dad should ask himself, ‘Do my children know how much I love them? Do they sense deep in their souls, both from words I have spoken to them and also from the time and attention I give them, that I love them? Do they know that, along with my insistence on their respect and obedience, my heart also longs deeply for them to have the very best that I can give them as their dad?’

Fathers can learn much about being human fathers simply by paying close attention to how God, our heavenly Father, fathers us. We can learn what true fatherhood is, then, by looking at the Father over all.”

–Bruce A. Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 62-63.

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“This is the good news” by William P. Farley

“We live in a fallen world. Without the black backdrop of our sinful nature and its consequences (God’s wrath), the gospel is a big yawn. Yet we are indeed in trouble, and the gospel is the solution. To those who believe the bad news, the gospel is the most wonderful news that anyone could hear.

God so loved the world that He sent His Son to save us from the bad news. The gospel is the good news that the Son of God humbled Himself, vacated His throne of glory, descended an infinite distance, and became a slave first to His Father and then to fallen men.

Finally, He submitted to death by slow torture on a Roman cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Why? Love impelled Him. He died in our place. He took the judgment that we deserve… On the third day, He rose from the dead. Forty days later, He ascended into heaven and sat down at His Father’s right hand.

The Father gave Him the Holy Spirit, which He poured out on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes to impress our hearts with the reality of these wonderful truths. This is the good news.

The gospel clothes us in Christ’s righteousness. It initiates us into the experience of the Father’s amazing love. It removes God’s wrath and alienation. It does all of this at God’s infinite personal expense and without causing Him to compromise the perfections of His glory.”

–William P. Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 49-50.

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