A Father’s Resolutions by Cotton Mather

Cotton_MatherCotton Mather, Puritan pastor in New England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, formed some resolutions regarding fatherhood. Here is the beginning of those challenging and faithful resolutions, followed by a link to a PDF of the whole…

PARENTS, Oh! how much ought you to be continually devising for the good of your children! Often device how to make them “wise children”; how to give them a desirable education, an education that may render them desirable; how to render them lovely and polite, and serviceable in their generation. Often devise how to enrich their minds with valuable knowledge; how to instill generous, gracious, and heavenly principles into their minds; how to restrain and rescue them from the paths of the destroyer, and fortify them against their peculiar temptations. There is a world of good that you have to do for them. You are without the natural feelings of humanity if you are not in a continual agony to do for them all the good that ever you can. It was no mistake of an ancient writer to say, “Nature teaches us to love our children as ourselves.”

RESOLVED— 1. At the birth of my children, I will resolve to do all I can that they may be the Lord’s. I will now actually give them up by faith to God; entreating that each child may be a child of God the Father, a subject of God the Son, a temple of God the Spirit—and be rescued from the condition of a child of wrath, and be possessed and employed by the Lord as an everlasting instrument of His glory.

2. As soon as my children are capable of minding my admonitions, I will often, often admonish them, saying, “Child, God has sent His son to die, to save sinners from death and hell. You must not sin against Him. You must every day cry to God that He would be your Father, and your Saviour, and your Leader. You must renounce the service of Satan, you must not follow the vanities of this world, you must lead a life of serious religion.

Read them all here (pdf).


Man's duty to protect woman…

I stumbled onto our government’s Selective Service website this morning. When I was 18 years old I was required to register for selective service (the draft). Registration is still required for all young men in the US, but it is only a matter of time before women are included in the same requirement. Why is this? Read this page of the Selective Services website and the trajectory and sentiment of the armed forces should be obvious to you.

When these issues were debated in the 1990s, the stated reason women were not required to register for the draft was that they were restricted from serving in positions in the military that involved “direct ground combat.” In 2013, a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff called upon all military branches to “eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” This work is intended to be completed by January 1, 2016 and will result in the removal of any barrier to women being conscripted into combat positions in the military.

This direction is a shameful abdication of man’s calling to cultivate and to keep (Gen. 2:15) those weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7) entrusted to his care… Continue reading

Raising our children to be those of whom the world was not worthy…

The church must get serious about training the next generation—our five year-old sons and daughters—to suffer for the faith. Gone are going to be the days when Christian parents can cover their worldly ambitions for their children with a thin veneer of Christian conservatism and go happily on their way. The new pagan orthodoxy won’t allow such softness. For many parents this will be to die the worst kind of death. Their sons and (especially) daughters won’t be permitted to matriculate at an Ivy League college. They won’t be able to become Christian-ish investment bankers and Christian-ish lawyers and Christian-ish professors and Christian-ish Senators.

And the wheat will begin to be separated from the chaff… Continue reading

The Devil, bless his heart, and his cute little flaming arrows…

A pastor takes thirty minutes or–if due to strength and an heartlessness unwilling to yield to the influence of ovens filled with perfectly cooked pot roasts–forty-five minutes each week to develop the hearts and minds, the affections and attitudes, of all the members of the church through the preaching of God’s Word.

Of course, there should be other times for preacher-man to dig and disciple–lunches, office visits, home groups, and invitations to his home for meals. Woe to the church whose shepherd only gives attention when the sheep are all in the pen and he’s got his clean dress robes on. But that’s not today’s point….

Pastors have mere minutes each week to preach God’s Word. As those minutes pass by, a desperate sense of urgency often comes over me. The world, the flesh, and particularly the devil are doing their best to ruin everything at that moment. But, those three enemies don’t really need that moment. They’ve had so much other time to teach. So many are comfortably numb from the 60-hour sermon they’ve already received during the hours preceding Sunday worship… Continue reading

The way boys learn…

Zeke, our eight year-old, got a pocket knife and a whittling book for Christmas. After a few minutes of instruction–how to open and close the knife, cutting away from the body (and siblings)–he promptly took the knife, went outside, and got to work. The result…

IMG_0091He’s undeterred…and we trust he will begin whittling sticks instead of his fingers any day now.

Wifely Wednesday: Remembering the Purpose of Christ's Birth…

photoAll of our children have names taken from Bible characters. It is our family tradition on birthdays to read the Scripture passage from which we chose the birthday child’s name. One unexpected blessing in this is that we have a birthday during the Christmas season, and the passage we read is from Christ’s resurrection. I love the reminder during Advent that Christ did not come to stay a little baby, but to grow up, live a perfect life, and die for us.

John 20:1   Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6 And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11   But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Wifely Wednesday: To Santa or Not To Santa?

A few days ago a young college friend of mine (who is full of great questions and posessing a very teachable heart) sent me the following question on Facebook: “What do you and Andrew do about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?” It was a fun question to answer, and I thought I’d share my slightly edited answer here.

Hi, Gurtrude! (Ok, so that’s totally not her name, but as long as I’m making up a name for her I thought I’d make it an interesting one.) That’s a fun question. The Tooth Fairy we definitely do, but the kids know right away that it’s us and we are just pretending something fun. With a big house full of kids, it’s important to find every possible time to celebrate the children as individuals, and losing a tooth is a great time to make one kid feel special. But, as I said, they know it’s their mom, and that’s just part of the fun. I will add that we only give them a dollar, so they aren’t exactly getting rich off of us.

Santa is another issue, though, because that coincides with the incarnation of our Savior. Our thought is, why on earth would we want to add something fake to a holiday that is already so amazing and TRUE? As I said to the kids just yesterday when they asked why we didn’t do Santa, “It would be like choosing to eat an old hot dog from the floor when someone is offering you a gourmet meal.” In other words, Christmas is so wonderful and so absolutely true that it doesn’t need anything extra. Scripture calls it “the fullness of time,” after all. At best including Santa can confuse a vitally important moment in redemption history, and at worst it could take glory away from our Savior and give it to a fairy tale.

We do have a family tradition that is similar to Santa, but happens earlier in December and is rooted in Church history as well as my Dutch heritage. On December 5 we put out our wooden shoes and on December 6 they are filled with candy and a simple gift from St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas’ Day. As with the Tooth Fairy, the kids know it’s their parents, but it’s still a lot of fun to pretend. We don’t have a problem with this little celebration because it’s not confused with any Biblical observance. And the real St. Nicholas (from whom the Santa figure evolved) was a very interesting and godly character from early Church history. From what we know of him, he was persecuted for his faith and did much good to help the poor. So on top of a little fun celebration we get to give them a dose of education, too.

Whew! That was a long answer to your question. Probably more than you wanted. These are not issues that we would necessarily condemn other parents for making different decisions about, if they made those decisions prayerfully and wisely. However this is what we have come up with for our family, and by God’s grace we hope it is honoring to Him.

Keep those good questions coming!


Wifely Wednesday: Thanksgiving

DSC_0003Today when Andrew came home from work, he immediately settled down to the business at hand: annoying his children. Now just wait! Before you judge him for being one of those wicked fathers who exasperates his children, or chastise me for disrespecting my husband on a public blog, read on. You see, if Andrew did the sorts of things to me that he was doing to the children, I would be GREATLY annoyed. I do not enjoy tickling. Hate it, in fact. Andrew, however, seems to have a pathological need to tickle somebody every day. And before we had children, I was, unfortunately, his only prey. Andrew’s children, on the other hand, love nothing better than having their father annoy, er, I mean tickle them until they have tears streaming down their faces and they about wet their pants.

So here is my simple thanksgiving for the day. I am thankful that my children take my place during the daily rough house routine. I am thankful that the boys love to watch Detroit Tigers games with Andrew so that I don’t have to feign interest. I am thankful that Zeke drinks coffee with Andrew, because I think it’s gross and Andrew loves to have a coffee buddy. I am thankful that Anna likes to scratch backs for hours on end, because Andrew loves to have his back scratched for hours on end.

And I’m sure if Andrew were writing this post, he would probably say something like, “My wife is sitting happily in the den playing board games with her children. I would rather get a root canal than play a board game, but my wife loves them. I have sorely neglected her desire in this area for the better part of our marriage, so I am thankful that her children fill this need of hers. They love to sit and throw dice while they move little pieces around colored squares. That’s weird, but I’m just glad somebody else in the house will play with poor, neglected Sarah!”

Well, ok, maybe he wouldn’t word it quite like that, but you get the point! One of those funny little blessings of large families is that, eventually, somebody in the house is interested in what you are interested in. And that’s just something to be thankful for.

Wifely Wednesday: Bible Memory System…

BibleMemoryWe have always integrated Scripture memory into our homeschool curriculum, but I’ve never been very good at helping the children retain the verses. In other words, we never truly memorized them, since they would leave our minds shortly after we finished them. By God’s good providence I stumbled upon a great little system for memorizing Scripture with the children that not only has us learning new verses each week, but does a great job of reinforcing old verses with constant review. And I can confidently say after about four months of using it that it really works! Even the preschoolers can say many of the longer verses now, simply because they’ve heard them often enough. I love that it is very simple and usually takes less than five minutes a day. Of course it takes longer on the day a new verse is introduced simply explaining and teaching the verse. But after that, a few minutes each morning is all it takes to hide those words in our hearts. While we use it for homeschool, I can imagine that it would fit very well into any time of family devotion, and would benefit the adults as well as the children.

Rather than try to outline all the details of the system, I encourage you go to the Simply Charlotte Mason website and check it out! I used the printable divider cards available on the page, which have worked very well. We did remove the Saturday and Sunday files, since we only use this during the homeschool week. For the actual verses, I usually use the ones that the older children get from their Sunday school teacher. However, the list provided on the webpage would also be a great place to start. Our box is not full yet, but it is great fun to see more and more cards being added each week.