Good News For Bad Kids

It’s that time of year I used to dread as a child (maybe even more as a parent), the time for end-of-year school reports when teachers issue reports on the progress of their students in various subjects.

The last couple of days we’ve been looking at Jesus’ report card in Luke 2 verses 40-52. There, we find the heavenly Father’s assessment of His Son in the most important subjects of life. No, not Algebra, English, History, etc., but obedience, teachability, and love.

Maybe, like some others, you felt convicted and condemned by such a profile. “I wasn’t a godly child….I’m not even a godly adult….I still fail in all these areas.”

Or perhaps your parents gave you the articles to read and you said, “Right, I’m going to try much harder today. I’m going to obey perfectly, learn perfectly, and even love my brother.”

Hmm, how’s that working out for you? Didn’t last long, did it? You probably feel more ungodly than ever don’t you?

I have a bit of good news for you. Four bits, to be precise.

Christ’s life for us: I used to dream that maybe one day the teachers would get mixed up and mistakenly send me home with the class genius’s report card. With Christ’s coming, that dream has come true and is even better than I could have imagined. Jesus lived the perfect childhood, the perfect life, that we did not, are not, and cannot. He then puts our name on the top and says, “Take it to Father.” And that’s not a mistake.

Christ’s death for us: But what about all my tardies, demerits, suspensions, lines, expulsions, etc? You can’t just kid on they never happened, can you. No, Jesus doesn’t whitewash our sins; He bloodwashes them. He died a death that covers our failed attempts to be godly children.

Christ’s sympathy for us: “No one understands me. …No one listens to me…Mom and Dad just don’t get it…” Well, whether Mom and Dad remember what it’s like to be a teenager in a world full of temptations, Jesus does. Yes, God, knows what it is like to be a child – a baby, a toddler, an infant, a teenager, etc. He remembers perfectly, understands perfectly, and sympathizes perfectly. He gets it.

Christ’s life in us: And what about going forward? The exams, trials, tests, and temptations never stop. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could rent a really big brain now and again? But we can have even better, because Christ promises to live permanently inside us if we build our whole lives on His life, His death, and His sympathy.

Obedience, teachability, and love don’t look so scary now, do they?


Check out

Website hosting (1&1) crashed yesterday. Blog reader (Feedly) was hacked. My digital archive (Evernote) had a denial of service attack. I knew I shouldn’t have started reading The Snowden Files. So, quick links today as I try to recover my world.

5 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches

Pastoral Care, Confidentiality, and Sexual Abuse

Why I’m Thankful For The Freedom To Disagree

10 Lessons from 10 Years of Public Schooling

The Joy Of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Free eBook)

Melinda Gates: Abortion Is Not Women’s Healthcare

Towards A Christian Perspective on Mental Illness


The Best Big Brother Ever

The Christian should try to be as popular as possible without compromising biblical doctrine and morals.

Some Christians measure faithfulness by how much other people hate them; others put friendliness above faithfulness.

However the Christian should aim for maximum faithfulness and maximum friendliness, just as the teenage Jesus grew in favor with God AND man (Lk. 2:52). His heavenly relationship developed and deepened in tandem with his earthly relationships. His spiritual growth coincided with his social growth, and the latter did not compromise the former but rather revealed and strengthened it.

And where did Jesus learn, practice, and mature His social skills? Primarily in His family home, His family relationships, and the family business.

The home and family continues to be the primary place our children learn to “grow in favor with man;” to love their neighbors; the hardest neighbors of all to love; the ones nearest to us; yes, our brothers and sisters.

But how do we measure that? How can we help our children to grow in favor with their brothers and sisters? Here are five loving actions I want to see my kids developing in their relationships with each other.

Communication: Yes, simply sitting down and talking to one another, even just for a few minutes. “What did you do today? How’s school going?, etc.”

Congratulation: Rejoicing when her brother rejoices. Enjoying his sister’s victories and successes. “Well done, I’m so happy for you.”

Commiseration: Weeping with those who weep. Expressing sympathy and sorrow when things don’t turn out so well. “I’m so so sorry, where does it hurt? Can I do anything to make it better?”

Contribution: Blessing them with generous presents and gifts. “Here, I’d like you to have the last piece of cheesecake.”

Collaboration: Working together rather than fighting together.”Can I help you…Would you help me, please?”

Or to put int simply: Speak, Rejoice, Weep, Give, Help.

It’s stunning to think of Jesus growing perfectly in all these areas in His family life as He prepared for wider social life and ministry.

The perfect combination of maximum friendliness and maximum faithfulness.

The best big brother ever.


Check out

The Hateful Practice Of Redefinition
How much do you have to hate someone to tell them that sin is good?

10 Lessons I Learned In A Year Of Productivity Experiments
Valuable advice here. Watch the video on the importance of overlapping time, attention, and energy.

Church of Scotland Approves Gay Ministers While Ministers Head for The Exits
Not only are congregations and ministers leaving the Church of Scotland over their approval of gay ministers, but fewer than ever are entering the ministry. No wonder, when there’s no Gospel left to minister. One advocate of a gay ministry said: “A quarter of our charges do not have an inducted minister and we only have two ministers under the age of 30: when I was inducted, there were seven of us in my presbytery. Four times the number of ministers will retire in the next six years than we are likely to recruit in the same time-frame.”

Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming The Psalms for Christian Worship
Benjamin Shaw says this book is “a useful guide for bringing the Book of Psalms more fully into the life of the church and the Christian.”

Should You Get Engaged?
If it’s not too late for you, here’s a wonderful piece of work, centered around 12 F’s.

Just What Exactly Is A Scheme Anyway?
Answers the most common question asked about the ministry of 20 Schemes.


Discipline: Waste or Profit?

Yesterday we looked at the most fundamental and foundational duty of children – obedience.

But what happens when they disobey? That’s when discipline may be appropriate. I’ve written before for parents about how not to discipline. Here now for kids are five ways to waste good discipline followed by five ways to benefit from it.

How to Waste Discipline

  • Refuse it: Fight against it, don’t take it, resist it, refuse to comply.
  • Resent it: ”I don’t deserve that…How dare she speak to me like that…treat me like that.”
  • Minimize it: ”Huh, call that a spanking? You think that fine hurts me? That’s just nothing.”
  • Despair under it: “What’s the point in even trying…I can’t do anything right.”
  • Retaliate against it: “I’ll get my own back. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

How to Profit From Discipline

  • Expect it: “I’m a sinner and I’m going to err. I should therefore anticipate and even prepare for chastisement.”
  • Accept it: “I deserve this…and more. This is just and appropriate.”
  • Repent for it: “Lord God/Dad and Mom, I’ve done wrong, I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
  • Pray about it: “Lord help me to learn my lesson and use this discipline to produce good fruit in my life.”
  • Thank for it: “Dad and Mom, thank you for loving me enough to confront my sin and correct me through discipline when I don’t listen to your instruction.”

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).


Check out

6 Steps To Wise Decision Making About Psychotropic Medications
Brad Hambrick continues to help us think in a balanced way about mental health issues.

Former Bergdahl Pastor Calls For Mercy For Prodigal Son
When the media is in full cry in one direction, it’s always good to find and think about an opposing viewpoint.

Iain Murray On Together for The Gospel
I share Iain’s optimistic take on this.

What Our Boys Need In This Economy Their Dads Work In
There are some priceless lines in this piece by Ann Voskamp. How about these for starters:

  • You’ve arrived at wealth when you’re happy with a life that has a wealth of things that money can’t buy.
  • Don’t ever confuse these two things: how you make a living and how you make a life.
  • No one is really good at their work —  if their work is all they are.
  • Get a life — by giving away the one you have.

9 Fascinating Facts About People Who Attend Megachurches (HT: Ed Stetzer)
And some of these facts are simply fascinating. Main attractor to megachurches? See #5, the worship style. But there’s some good news in there too.

When Love Becomes An Instinct