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March 12, 2006

Heart of Discipline

A lot of this comes down to how the Gospel is viewed, and the position of Children in the Church and how the Gospel applies to Children.


I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross not only for me, but also for my children. I believe that the Gospel applies to them as much as it does to me. I believe the Bible teaches this--and even Christ does. We all know the passage where Jesus says, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them. . ."


I believe Christ paid the penalty for my children's sins on the cross. When my children sin--I want to point them to the One who has already been punished for their sin. When my children sin (and they do--I do not have a weak view of sin)--I come alongside them, confront them with the ugly reality of sin in their lives, and help them repent. I pray that the Holy Spirit softens their hearts and enables them to truly repent. We pray together. We ask for God's grace to do the right thing.

I do discipline. I help them form habits of right behaviour. I teach them right from wrong. I correct them. One of the most powerful passages on child discipline in the Bible is Duet 6:4-7:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.


That constant presence is the heart of discipleship, the heart of discipline.


See also:
The Heart of Grace

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Comments

I think that when it comes to our children, we throw the gospel out the window. Teaching is moralistic not gospel driven and discipline is judgment not grace. Our desires are commendable (we don't want them to grow up committing the same sins that we did, we want them to be close to the Lord). But if we aren't careful, we will raise Pharisees, they will be going through the motions but their faith will not be real since it will be based on the law and not on the gospel.

I think that we would all be wise to follow your discipline technique since it is biblical:

Galatians 5:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I think it's the gentleness that we are usually lacking when we discipline. If our children are believers, then they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we should treat them as such and keep verses like this one in mind. When we discipline, we should also restore them to fellowship (with us and the Lord) just as you mentioned in your article.

Deut. 6:4-7 should be the passage that we live by as we teach our children about the Lord so that we strengthen their faith with knowledge. This is what Israel forgot and think that we are following in their path.

Thank you for reminding us of the place of the gospel as we discipline. I think it's a message that is very much needed and one that we all should heed.

Posted by: Michele at March 13, 2006 06:53 AM

Thank you fro your encouragement, Michele. *hug* The Lord has really shown me my daily-daily reliance upon Him, my need for the Gospel. And I needed to internalize that more before I could really reflect that in my parenting of my boys.

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 13, 2006 06:57 AM

Thanks for the reminder- it's good to keep this in mind at all times. I'm glad to have discovered grace-based discipline.

I'm especially convinced that this is the way for us to go when my daughter is having her physical/emotional struggles act up. I can't imagine "switching" her into submission anymore!! UGH!!!!

Posted by: Anne at March 13, 2006 08:08 AM

Everything you say is Biblical in some way, yet you clearly are avoiding the fact that God the Father does discipline His children when they fall into sin. God's love is unconditional for His elect in one sense, but in another sense, it is conditioned on our obedience. I would you point you to Ex. 20:6, John 15:9 and Jude 21 as examples of this conditioned love. I know God loves me as His child, but I know that I cannot continue in sin and receive God's favor without experiencing discipline, rebuke, correction, etc. If I embrace the discipline like David did in the Psalms and confess my sin and guilt to the Lord, yes He will forgive, but that does not negate any consequences that my sin might have incurred. Again, I point you to David's life as one example.

Posted by: Heather at March 13, 2006 09:42 AM

After having a diffcult parenting time with my fourteen year old daughter, I appreciated reading this post!

I admit, in my anger I sinned against her as much as she sinned against me. Even if I'm the parent that doesn't give me the authority to sin!

I agree with you, In order for my parenting to be gospel-driven, I need to receive the grace of the gospel for myself. In order for my parenting to be grace-filled, I needed a filling of grace in which to dispense.

I admit, I grow weary with the conflicts in raising children, two teens and a 1st grader, but my Heavenly Father uses these trials to continue my growth in sanctification as well as my children.

It's comforting to know we aren't alone in our struggles. Thanks for a great post.

Posted by: Susie at March 13, 2006 02:22 PM

Heather, the love of God for the elect is unconditional because the condition was met in Christ and the heart of the gospel is this:
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
His love is so unconditional that there is no condition that could separate us from it (Romans 8:38-39).

And far from advocating for "shall we continue sinning so that grace may abound," tulipgirl is advocating for grace (gospel) motivated discipline. I've been thinking about this most of the day and keeping it in mind as I disciplined my daughters today, there is much biblical wisdom in this approach.

Posted by: Michele at March 13, 2006 07:33 PM

". . .yet you clearly are avoiding the fact that God the Father does discipline His children when they fall into sin."

No, I am not avoiding anything. Much less how God disciplines us, His children.

Just wanted to pipe up, so it doesn't appear like I'm avoiding anything. *eg* However, I have just started the crazy part of my week, and so an answer will likely be slow in coming forth.

"In order for my parenting to be gospel-driven, I need to receive the grace of the gospel for myself. In order for my parenting to be grace-filled, I needed a filling of grace in which to dispense."

Susie, beautifully said. And that succintly says what I've experienced.

Posted by: TulipGirl at March 13, 2006 07:52 PM

Lovely post.

I believe Christ paid the penalty for my children's sins on the cross. When my children sin--I want to point them to the One who has already been punished for their sin. When my children sin (and they do--I do not have a weak view of sin)--I come alongside them, confront them with the ugly reality of sin in their lives, and help them repent. I pray that the Holy Spirit softens their hearts and enables them to truly repent. We pray together. We ask for God's grace to do the right thing.

I'm coming to the ever-increasing realization that the biggest problem in my parenting is not my kids' sin but my own. Sometimes I respond to my kids' sin so sinfully that I totally blow any opportunity to extend grace.

I remember a long time ago you mentioned that studying theology has helped more than anything in your parenting (or something like that). I didn't fully understand then, but I'm understanding it more and more. I can read all the parenting books in the world, but my sinful reactions to my kids can only be addressed through the Gospel. As I study more and remind myself of my need for the Gospel, I can extend that grace to my kids.

OT: I met Dawn Brady and Jill Devere yesterday at our church's missions conference. *grin*

Posted by: Missy at March 13, 2006 11:49 PM

Heather, the love of God for the elect is unconditional because the condition was met in Christ and the heart of the gospel is this: Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. His love is so unconditional that there is no condition that could separate us from it (Romans 8:38-39).

Yes, God's love for us in a salvific manner is unconditional, but he does command obedience. And in that sense, his love for us(not our salvation) is hinged on our obedience. Thus when we are not obedient and unrepentant, we can and should expect to be disciplined. His love is not withdrawn, but the fellowship is broken until restoration occurs.
I don't believe that Tulipgirl is advocating that we abuse our grace by sinning. What I'm continually searching for in her writing and not finding is the Biblical idea of Divine Discipline. For in that concept is rooted parental discipline.
I don't want to take anything away from her encouraging thoughts, so perhaps I should refrain from posting any further detracting comments.

Posted by: Heather at March 14, 2006 12:41 PM

Great post. I hope I can put it to use one day! (no kids yet, but trying!)

Incidentally, I think you're right on one particular count: We ought to presume our children are in covenant with God; such is the grace he affords us in baptism. Only time will tell whether or not they take this gift seriously.

Also, I'm not sure why the moment someone accentuates the astounding and bottomless grace of God someone else feels the need to remind us that God gets angry. Of course he does! Grace wouldn't make sense without it!

Thanks again for this post,
Chris

Posted by: CJD at March 16, 2006 12:27 PM

The problem is FEMINISM. Everything is going downhill since Martin Luther King wrote the Feminist Mystique. Since then, aint nobody can deny the end times speedin' up!

Posted by: Baptist Superman at March 16, 2006 02:23 PM

Could you, if you have time, explain a little about grace parenting. I mean how do you deal with disobedience, specifically. I am still so worried about what attitudes and actions will form if I don't spank regularly. I am not sure what I think of all of this, I am definately against Ezzo and Pearl and can't believe I was so niave to listen to them. I want to be gracious, there is so much with little ones that isn't black and white. I pray that I will conform to His word in my parenting.. I am struggling to see what His word clearly teaches.

Posted by: Mist at March 17, 2006 06:48 PM

You inspire me, TulipGirl. I like your style. I'm thanking God right now for you commenting on my blog the other day so I could find you.

Posted by: Shelley at March 18, 2006 10:10 PM


 
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