Am I Good Enough?

parentGod has entrusted the discipleship of our children to us. What an awesome responsibility! When we consider the high calling and standards that is placed on Christian parents, it can be overwhelming. I know this from experience. There are times that I feel as though I have outright failed as a parent. I haven’t taught them enough. I haven’t been consistent enough. I’ve missed teaching opportunities ….and so on.  Am I good enough?

The truth is that we are the ones God has chosen to parent our children. You see, it doesn’t take long to recognize the source of discouragement and despair. It is the enemy that wants us to lose heart. So when I feel this way, I run to God’s Word and let the light of His truth shine bright.

Have you ever been discouraged? It takes a lot to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let me remind you that God is on your side!  No one has a more vested interest in your children than the Lord. Be encouraged! Turn to Him. Trust in His leading and be pointed to His Holy Word.

Do you want to learn more about discipleship? Join me over at The Homeschool Leadercast as I talk about:

  • Discipleship in the home

  • Why home discipleship is so important

  • What home discipleship should look like

  • If we don’t disciple our children, they are going to learn from others

  • The biblical mandate to disciple our children

  • The foundation for Home Discipleship

  • Marriage as the framework for home discipleship

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BOOK TRAILER: Home Discipleship

Over the past two months Home Discipleship has gotten into the hands of parents across the country. The response from those reading it has been great.

Take a look at the newly released book trailer:

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Thanks friends!

The Importance of Teaching Ephesians 6:1-3

eph 6Driving home with a friend the other day, we were talking about all the expectations placed on homeschool families. My friend, who is in the beginning stages of homeschooling, stated that she felt as though she had to prove something. This thought is normal. Often the world will look into our home and our choice of education and place lofty standards on us and our children. Sometimes, due to the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), we raise the expectations ourselves. But if we could just lay the world’s standards and our own pride aside, we would find such freedom.

Homeschooling should be simple. It should be a lifestyle that creates in our children a love for God and learning along with a mindset of always pursuing knowledge. I have never wanted school to take place from 8 to 3 on Monday through Friday. I don’t want their education to just be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I want my children learning every day of their life. Following the world’s standards will often lead to filling their minds with useless information. I don’t want to fill their minds; I want to shape their hearts and point them to God. I want to create in my children a desire to learn all they can for God’s glory. I want them to excel in reading good literature, to chase after truth in science, to discover the world through God’s eyes (HisStory), and I want them to use their writing and communication skills to change the world.

Simple right?

The concept of lifestyle teaching for God’s glory is certainly simple. It’s just hard at times. But isn’t all of parenting? A parent’s role in teaching their children is crucial. This is true whether or not we are homeschooling. So, with all the teaching we do, there is one imperative lesson that needs to be taught. This one lesson needs to be given first and foremost. It is found in Ephesians 6:1-3.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

This commandment is the foundation upon which successful teaching is built. Ephesians 6 gives two commands for children. They are to obey and honor. Obedience is an action. Honour is an attitude. It is to our children’s detriment if we fail to teach them this fundamental lesson. A child who does not learn to consistently obey their parents will struggle in life. It will not go well with them (Ephesians 6:3). They will also struggle in their academic studies if obedience is a problem. But even more important than that, if we fail to teach our children to honor and obey us, they will not learn how to honor and obey God. A lack of proper respect and obedience for those in authority will transcend into a lack of proper respect and obedience for the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

But society in general rebels against authority, doesn’t it? But like it or not, authority is a large part of life. We are always under some type of authority. Children must learn to submit to the authority of their parents. Christian wives must learn to submit to the authority of their own husbands. Husbands must learn to submit to the authority in the workplace. We all should submit to church and governmental authority. All believers must submit to God’s authority. Even unbelievers will one day submit. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God,” Romans 14:11. (Sadly, by the time an unbeliever learns to submit to God’s absolute authority it will be too late for them.) Submission to authority is a reality of life. And it is one that has been under attack since the beginning of time.

Today we see unnecessary heartache because of the lack of understanding biblical authority. There are miserable parents who have failed to teach this truth to their children and who are reaping the consequences. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Proverbs 29:15. There are husbands and wives who are struggling in their marriage because they have never been taught proper authority or have simply chosen to ignore it. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Ephesians 5:24-25. There are churches that are spiritually dying due to sin in the camp and a refusal to lovingly establish the authority of church discipline. “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened,” 1 Corinthians 5:6-7a. Untold numbers of boys and girls live in daily turmoil at home and with society because no one taught them the truth of authority. Thousands of men and women are in prison today because they did not submit to proper authority. Do you see the importance of authority?

The first four commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20 were between man and God, the next six between man and mankind. “Honour thy father and mother” was the first commandment that relates to our relationship with others. It was also the first commandment with promise – “thou mayest live long on the earth.” God saw this commandment as important. Don’t let your children disobey or dishonor you. It fabricates a weakness in their life that will be hard to overcome. Love them enough to teach them the importance of authority, honor, and obedience. In doing so, you will be pointing them to the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

Matters of the Heart

We have been doing an interesting study through Deuteronomy on Sunday mornings during class. It is interesting to note that Jesus quoted from this book more than any other.  A few weeks ago we looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in conjunction with passages from Deuteronomy.  Our lesson was about the Spirit of the Law.

There are a lot of misconceptions about God’s Law.   I have seen an attitude of indifference towards it that is often fostered by easy believism and the prosperity gospel.  Its faulty thinking goes like this: “The law does not matter, we live under grace.”  This is often followed by: “Don’t be so legalistic.  We’re not under the law.”  Or, “Jesus did away with the law.”  This thought is wrong for several reasons.  First, Jesus did not do away with the law; He fulfilled it.  Also, obedience is not the definition of legalism.  In addition, God’s moral law still exists.   It reveals our sin.  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom 7:7)

In fact, the biblical definition of sin is transgression (or breaking) of the law.  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1Jn 3:4) And it only takes the breaking of one law to be guilty.  The book of James states that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jas 2:10)

 Paul tells us that the unregenerate are still under the law and that by the law they become guilty before God.  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom 3:19)  But thanks be to God that the saved have been made free from the law of sin and death!  (Romans 8:2)

 So where does the spirit of the law come in?  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount not only elevates the standards of the law, but it shows the spirit of the law.  In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said that He has come to fulfill the law.  In verse 20 He said that unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (the law keepers and most religious of the time) that we would not enter into heaven.  Further down He quotes the law from Deuteronomy and contrasts the Old Testament interpretation of the law with the spirit of the law.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mat 5:21-22)

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28)

Why would Christ put the thought of murder or adultery equivalent to the act?  The answer is simple.  It is because God is concerned with our heart.  Sometimes we live as though we forget that there are internal sins as well as external.  There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission.  Our hearts are important.  Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (Mat 15:19-20)

In our prideful state we think that if we look good on the outside and don’t commit those “acts” that it doesn’t matter what’s in our heart or our thoughts.  Oh, how easy it is to fool others.   How foolish it is to think that we can fool God.  He (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. (Mar 7:6)

As a parent I desire nothing more than for my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  My standards for my children are high, because God’s standards for His children are high.  (Matthew 5:48)  But, I have to be careful in my endeavor to raise godly children that I don’t create little Pharisees.  (Those who keep the law but whose hearts are far from God.)  In truth, it is easier to teach children to obey “laws” than to teach them to follow the “spirit of the law.”  But really it’s the heart that matters.

Several years ago I found online a list of family rules that I want to share.  (I’m not sure of the source, so if anyone knows where they came from let me know.  I will be happy to give credit due.)  These family rules have been posted on our refrigerator and referred to often.  What I love about these rules is that they are not just a list of do’s and don’ts.  The focus of each is on the heart, the spirit of the law.  I hope they can be a blessing to you and your family.

 1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another’s interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

State Testing, Standardization, and Godly Standards

With state testing approaching, I’ve had a lot of questions from homeschooling parents about how to prepare and the overall process.  I must say that I am hardly an expert on the subject.  My 15 year old took the Arkansas state test when he was in 3rd grade. After that we moved to a state that did not require state testing.  Now that we have moved back to Arkansas, my children are required to take the standardized tests.  So, we picked up some practice booklets this week.  We got them mostly so the children could practice.  After all, Abigail and Andrew have never “filled in bubbles”.   

When we talk about standardized testing, here is what I want Christian homeschooling parents to know.  If being “standardized” is conformity to a standard, then we need to decide as parents what standard we want our children conformed to.  I wrote an article for Homeschool Enrichment a couple of years ago called Whose Standards Do We Follow.  It is posted below.  I hope that as you are preparing your children for testing this year that it is done with much prayer and with God’s standards in mind.  Blessings!

Whose Standards Do We Follow?

“Mom, who is Oprah Winfrey?” my son asked one day sitting at the kitchen table.  The state we lived in required standardized testing for 3rd through 9th grade.  My son, then 8 years old, was reviewing a practice booklet when he asked the question.  After explaining to him that she was a TV celebrity he asked, “Why do I need to know that?”  With a smile in my heart I replied, “You don’t.”  Later that evening I showed the book to my husband and pointed out several points of concern.  We had come to the conclusion that since the tests were from a secular, humanist, and evolutionary point-of-view, our son would simply be at a disadvantage in taking them.   “Sweetheart, don’t worry about it.”  He said.  “After all, do we really want our children to be standardized?”

It is that very question that we have asked every year since.  As Christian parents do we want our children to be like the rest of the world?  Unfortunately, it is a very easy trap to fall into.  We have a vested interest in our children and want the best for them.  The question is, “What is best?”  Many would agree that if children excel in academics, are well rounded in their social development, are active in sports, can play a musical instrument, are learning a foreign language, score high on the ACT, get a scholarship into a good college, and go on to make a high-paying career for themselves that they are successful.  While the world would unquestionably view this as success, as a believer in Christ, these are not necessarily my standards.  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17 to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”  If we are not careful, our families will indulge in and love the things of this world. This kind of love is to our detriment, for there is a world system that we are not to love or cling to.  The world will pass away therefore the way we live and the standards we set for our children need to be with eternity in mind.  Otherwise, we have sold our children short, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”(Luke 9:25)

Is it wrong to want our children to excel in academics?  Absolutely not!  But if academic excellence is the goal without the foundation of God and His Word then our priorities are misplaced.  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1- 2)  While I want my children to do well in their educational pursuit, I want to measure their success by God’s standards and not the worlds.  Everything that is passed through their minds need to be filtered by the Word of God.  When I taught my 5 year old subtraction my goal was not that he learned the simple mathematic fact of ten minus one equals nine.  My goal was much higher.  Instead, I took him to Luke Chapter 17 and showed him the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers.  He learned that nine went away and one came back giving thanks to Christ and glory to God.  When we teach with a Biblical mindset, math becomes more than just a lesson.  It becomes an exercise in godliness.

My most important goal as a parent is to teach my children to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, first and foremost!  Secondly, would be to love their neighbor as their self.   Jesus said that on these two commandments hang all the law and prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)  I also want to teach them to work hard (Colossians 3:23), not to impress others with their intelligence or for self-centered achievements, but because in working hard we give God glory.  Everything we teach our children can point to God and His glory.  While these goals soar above all others and I fail miserably at times, in truth they are the only ones worth pursuing.  To see how this is practically applied let us look at a few of the core subjects that most children are taught.

Language   –   Whether your child is just learning phonics and how to read or he is diagramming sentences and writing papers, you can easily teach with an eternal perspective.  What is the goal in teaching my child to read?  The most obvious would be that he can read the Bible.  The Creator of the universe and of all that is seen and unseen has given His Word in written form so that we can know Him.  What better motive for teaching my child to read than that?  Why teach my child how to write, speak, and spell properly?  The main reason would be so that he can communicate the glorious gospel to those around him.   Any other achievement would be secondary.  Perhaps, in pursuing the English language your child wins a spelling bee or scores high on a test.  If so, give God the glory.  But do not let those things be your motivation.   The mastering of additional languages can point others to Christ as well.  Perhaps your family is learning Spanish for this reason alone.  Many hearts have been changed and lives given to Christ in foreign lands.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)  “Whatsoever ye do” includes phonics, handwriting, spelling, speech, debate, foreign languages, and language composition.

Math  –  What does a Biblical standard verses a worldly standard look like in teaching mathematics?  We have already looked at teaching a small child using Bible stories.  What other incentives do we have for teaching our children math?  One very practical reason is so that our children will be good financial stewards.  My children might not use higher math such as calculus or trigonometry on a daily basis but they will need basic math skills to be able to balance a check book, pay bills, go to the grocery store, or run a business.  All of these things when well done lend to a good testimony for our Lord.   But it could be that our children have a natural gift for mathematics and are able to go on to use their advanced knowledge for the glory of God.  Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician and physicist, would be a wonderful example of this very thing.

Science  –  Biology, ecology, meteorology, geology, and all the other “ologies” are good things to learn.  It is good to know the periodic table and about the laws of the universe but does my child know the Maker of the universe?  Does my child look at a blade of grass or an animal and see God’s handiwork?  Have I taught my child to stand back and look at all of creation in awe and wonder?   Or am I teaching mere facts in order to pass a test and proceed onto the next course of study?  True science will always point us to God.  Louis Pasteur, Father of Microbiology, said it like this, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.  Science brings men nearer to God.”

History  –  It would be impossible to teach all there is to know about history.  There is simply too much information.  If we are not careful this subject can become dull names, tedious dates, and boring facts.  However, if we look at history through the sovereignty of God it becomes His Story.    When we realize that nations rise and fall and that the hearts of kings are stirred by God Almighty our perspective on history changes.  What better opportunity to teach our children Biblical morals and values than to have them read about and study godly characters from the past like George Washington?  In studying history we can also teach the mistakes that mankind has made in the past so that our children and future generations are not doomed to repeat them.   We can learn about important moments in history like when Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought” taken from the Scriptures.  Or perhaps, in our studies of Italy, as we discover the Leaning Tower of Pisa we can use the opportunity to teach our children spiritual truths about building upon a solid foundation.

Bible  –  While most Christian home school families use a Bible curriculum, it is important to remember that even in studying Scripture we can have a worldly mindset.  Every motive should be examined.  If we only teach parables from the Bible without practical application, if we only teach the law of God without the grace and love of God, and if we only teach Scripture memorization without meditation, we come dangerously close to creating little Pharisees.  It is more important to me that my child loves the Word of God than that my child is able to give a dissertation on the missionary journeys of Paul.  While studying the Apostle’s life is important, if my child truly loves the Word of God he will enthusiastically learn as much as he can about the Bible.  If we develop a love for the Word of God in our children and teach them to diligently seek Him we have given our children a precious gift that can never be taken away.

Learning should be an everyday occurrence and it should not be divided up between secular and spiritual.  As a believer everything should be spiritual.  This happens when we incorporate the things of God into our daily studies and activities.  In doing so it changes not only how we teach but why we teach.  We are no longer just concerned with the outcome but now with the process and the application.  Let’s look at an example of teaching my daughter home economics.  Perhaps by the world’s standard she should learn how to cook, sew and take care of a baby.  But is that enough?  In addition to teaching her the fundamentals, by God’s standards I would teach her from Titus 2:4-5 to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”  By the world’s standards it is good for boys to take a shop or woodworking class.  But the application of that would be that my sons learn “to study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”(1Thessalonians 4:11-12)  I should teach them not only how to work with their hands but also how to be the sole-provider for their families (I Timothy 5:8).

So the question is, “By what standards will we choose to live by?”  As Christian parents we must keep in mind that we will be accountable for the education of our children not based on the world but on God and His Word.  In that knowledge there is great responsibility but also great peace.  Responsibility in that we will answer to God alone for how we teach and train our children.  Peace in that we are not bound by the world’s standards for our children.  Remember that academic excellence is a commendable goal but it must be properly laid with the correct foundation.   “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (1Co 3:11-14)  The builder (the Christian parent) needs to seek out the Architect himself (God) and use His own blueprints (the Scriptures).  The sure foundation is Jesus Christ and the gold, silver, and precious stones are those things that are of eternal value.  In the end nothing else will matter.  When the fiery trials of life come and when all our works are manifested, we want to know that what we have built into our children will last.  It is those things that we must pursue and by those standards that we must live by.

 Whose Standards Do We Follow by Kimberly Williams, Originally published in Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, Issue #44 March/April 2010