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).


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.

Politics, Fatherhood, Education, Money, Church Leadership, Evangelism, Missions…

My friends at Clearnote Church in Bloomington recorded the following videos last week. I don’t know Pastor Walker, but I was deeply encouraged and challenged by his faith. Set aside an hour and watch the two videos below…

Matthew Walker Part 1 from Clearnote Church.

Matthew Walker Part 2 from Clearnote Church.

Released-Time Bible Education

IMG_1245 For the past four Wednesdays Trinity has been hosting 27 fifth-graders from the elementary school just up the road from our building. The students are released to us during their lunch and activity period, which gives us a full hour to teach them the curriculum. In the five hour-long sessions we will work through the entire Bible, hitting creation, fall, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the period of the judges, Saul, David, Solomon, Israel’s exile and return, Jesus’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and return. It is a whirlwind tour of Scripture’s teaching on God’s redemption of mankind.

IMG_0044The students have done excellently in paying attention through the whole hour and the mounds of material. Several local restaurants have donated meals for the students (Chick-fil-A, Fuddrucker’s, Pepperoni Express, and Zaxby’s). Trinity’s volunteers have done excellent and faithful work—thank you Fran, Gary, Joyce, Judy, Donna, Sarah, and the SCBEST leadership team.

I’m thankful for the constitutionally protected right of released time…which allows us to use a portion of the State’s time for teaching God’s Word.

Please pray that these students would be “the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil” (Mark 4:20).

You are worthy of praise!

IMG_0072Our daughter Anna (tallest in the picture) was given an assignment this morning from her mother: “Go outside and write a psalm to your Creator.” She climbed up onto her favorite branch in her favorite tree and wrote this…

Oh, Lord, was I there when You created the earth, or set the stars in the sky?

Was I there when You anchored the sea to the ground or thought the birds to fly?

No, Lord, because only You are omnipresent.

You are worthy of praise! You change the full moon to crescent!

You are worthy of praise! You gave us our eternal present!

You are worthy of praise! You take pleasure away or make the world pleasant!

Oh, Lord, You alone are worthy of praise!

Wifely Wednesday: Better Late…

IMG_0003Well here it is, 12:30 in the afternoon and I only just now realized it’s Wednesday! I’ve been busy all morning cleaning out the homeschool cupboard. Finished text books are put on the bookshelf or cycled down to the younger sibling for next year, finished workbooks are filed away in case the great state of South Carolina should ever decide to check up on what I’m teaching my children, mini pencils and those without erasers have been thrown away, new pencils are sharpened and put in the basket, craft supplies were weeded out and reorganized. And, of course, all this cleaning had the delightful effect of making my children suddenly struck with a passion to use all the craft supplies we own. Which means I’ll get to clean it all again this afternoon.

Does this happen in your house? A newly cleaned room becomes the one room that everybody wants to play in? My attitude on this was changed radically after I read a post by Rachel Jankovic on the Femina blog. In it she said,

Imagine you spent the day rearranging and cleaning up the living space in your home. You have flowers and clean curtains and fresh throw pillows and maybe a candle. You are pleased. The right lights are on. Things are good. And then, like the wolf on the fold, the people in your life descend upon your work. They peel off socks and put their feet on the coffee table. They come from afar bringing baskets of craftiness to spread out upon the couch. They pop popcorn and carelessly munch. Someone goes so far as to get out the puzzles. In such a moment, it would be easy (don’t ask me how I know) to become shrill. It is easy to see each chin-glancing popcorn shrapnel as an insult. “Don’t you value the work I do?!” “Don’t you care how long this took me?!” “Why can’t you just not do this??” Even if you don’t say it, you may feel a little despair, a little resentment, and a little “why do I even try?”.

But the truth is, we need a new perspective. It is moments like this that should give us a lot of job satisfaction. These people are enjoying you. They are enjoying your work. But, like a great dinner all laid out on the table, you don’t enjoy it without touching it. A chef would not look at dishes coming back to the kitchen untouched as a sign of success. It would not mean great things about your work. Yet this is what we want from the work we do in our homes.

I’m sure most of you have noticed the magnetic power of what you clean. Clean the bookshelf up, and everyone wants to read. Organize the little toys, and everyone wants to play with the things they have been callously walking on for days. This is a sign that you are succeeding, that your people love your work. Think of it like food, because that is how it is getting used.

So as summer vacation takes off and our children are gathered around us, let’s take satisfaction in the pleasure they take from us and from our work. It may not come in the form of adoring praise or maintaining the pristine cleanliness of our homes. More likely it will be sticky faces from the lunch we made or elaborate forts built after we read a book that inspired their inner architect. Hooray for messy, happy summer!

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: Wars and the Men Who Fought Them…

We are counting down on our fingers now the remaining days of school as required by the state of South Carolina. We finished our textbooks (every last page of them) last week, so we have been doing lessons on various topics that might otherwise not be covered. Rather than take a day of vacation on Memorial Day and delay the end of school a little more into the summer, we focused on topics that were appropriate to the holiday. One of the most poignant exercises of the day was making a bar graph depicting the number of American casualties in the major wars we have fought. In comparison to all the others, the Civil War exploded right off our graph paper and required us to tape on a few more inches (a whopping 625,000 casualties as compared to its closest competitor, WWII at about 405,000).

Along the subject of wars and the men who fought them, this is a great blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Anne. Anne is a friend from long ago, who has wisely raised a brood of children and whose words can be trusted. One of the reasons I trust her is that she doesn’t blog too frequently. Whenever a mother with children still in the home has time to educate the rest of the world via a steady stream of blogging activity, I question how much of her own words she is actually taking the time to put into practice. Not so with Anne. While I would dearly love to read multiple blog posts from her every day, I am happy to know that she is too busy being the keeper of her own home. I hope you enjoy her post, especially if you have sons.


Trusting God's Spirit to bring our children through to salvation…

This morning I cracked open my copy of Out of My Mind: The Best of Joe Bayly and happened upon an article titled “The Teaching We Have Neglected.” I found Joe Bayly’s thoughts an encouragement in the shepherding work I do with my own children. I also sent a copy to a few of our excellent Sunday school teachers to encourage them in their work of teaching all of Scripture…not just that one singular message. Here’s an extended excerpt (and after you are done reading it, you’d do well to buy the whole book):

Why have children grown up in the Church and in Christian homes without a solid foundation in the biblical doctrines of law and sin?

At the risk of being misunderstood, may I suggest that it has been because of our obsession during the past thirty or forty years with the immediacy of salvation. We have had one continual message for children: “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Every Sunday school lesson has been turned into a salvation lesson; decisions have been the response constantly sought.

We have not taught the Bible with integrity: John’s Gospel as John’s Gospel; Proverbs as Proverbs; Judges as Judges; Exodus 20 as Exodus 20. Instead we have taught John’s Gospel as John’s Gospel; Proverbs as John’s Gospel; Judges as John’s Gospel; Exodus 20 as John’s Gospel…if we have taught the latter at all.

Recently I had a letter from a woman who related her experience teaching Ruth to junior highs the Sunday before. “Suddenly it came to me that what my girls needed wasn’t that they should love Christ as Ruth loved Naomi, but that they should be the sort of women when they grow up that Naomi was to stir such a response of love in her daughter-in-law. Ruth was profitable as Scripture itself, not just as a type of Christ—valid though that might be.”

What our children (and we ourselves) need is exposure to the whole Bible in its integrity, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Presbyterian Church taught children those doctrines it considered necessary to glorify and enjoy God. The doctrines were arranged according to the pattern of biblical revelation. Thus the sweep and scope of God’s revelation in history became the sweep and scope of God’s revelation to the child.

A few year’s ago, Dr. J. C. Macaulay, president of London (Ontario) Bible College, told of an incident when he visited the Scottish islands of the Hebrides, where revival had been endemic for some time. Dr. Macaulay was on his way to a church service and heard a low wailing noise from a cottage.

In response to the visitor’s question, a man with whom he was walking replied, “That’s William, finding his way to God. He’ll come through.”

If we trust God’s Spirit to bring our children through to salvation…in His time…we will with patience teach law and depravity and sin and providence and all the other doctrines of Scripture, as the foundation of salvation that means something in moral living, and of an exalted view of Christ.

If, on the other hand, we seek above all else the security of knowing that our children have made a decision, on the basis of which we can reassure them of their salvation from a very early age, we shall probably continue to have spiritual mediocrity and a-nomianism (if not antinomianism) in the Church.

I believe that some children will be saved early in life. But others—even in the same family—will come later. In God’s providence, all fruit does not ripen at the same time.

Two new ministries at Trinity…


I’m praising God for the new efforts of my dear brothers and sisters at Trinity. I’ve only hinted about these new ministries up to this point, so here’s a bit more information…

Trinity Schoolhouse

Beginning this summer, Trinity Schoolhouse will offer two courses primarily to homeschool families (or anyone else, for that matter) who wish to supplement the education of their children in areas where they may lack time or sufficient understanding. In June we’ll be offering two week-long courses in the area of music. The first, for children in grades 2 through 6, will be a class in music appreciation. The second, for young men and women in grades 7 through 12, will be a class in church music history. All of our efforts at the Trinity Schoolhouse will be focused on God’s Word and the discipleship of our children.

If these initial courses go well, we hope to offer another round of courses in the late summer—something home economics oriented for the young women; something shop economics oriented for the young men.

If you are interested or know of someone who might be interested in these classes, please contact me.

Follow us: @TSchoolhouse

Trinity Child RescueTrinity-Child-Rescue-Ministry-4

R.C. Sproul Jr.’s post from yesterday had me thinking… With the blood of abortion applauded in these Unites States, the church must do more in her opposition to this bloodshed than writing blog posts and sharing links on Facebook. I’m ashamed that that is about the sum total of the work I’ve done opposing abortion. I am also ashamed to say that in many circles it is becoming orthodox not to protest at abortion clinics. After doing a little research I can safely say that the PCA churches in Greenville (where two local doctors are making money killing babies at their abortuary) are doing nothing to protest abortion. With Bob Jones University in the same city one would expect that a few fundamentalist churches might be engaged in this work. A well-connected brother at BJU told me he was not aware of any churches in his circle who protested. I would also safely assume that all of these churches send their money to local pro-life pregnancy centers. That is good so far as it goes, but it is also faithless. It is the same lack of faith demonstrated by all those missionary-minded churches whose members never do any evangelism, only throwing their money at missionaries. I know this temptation…I’ve spent more time writing checks than speaking to some of my neighbors.

We hope to challenge our faith by standing outside the abortuary in Greenville, taking the brief time we have with the mothers who are moments away from ending the life of their child to tell them we will do everything we can to adopt their baby. The other reason to be there is to protest, to be a visible witness against this genocide. The third reason to be there is to pray for the closing of this particular abortuary and for the repentance of our nation. There is a lot that goes into such an effort (money, time, prayer, wisdom—both legal and spiritual) but above all we will need faith. This effort will take the energy of the whole body here at Trinity, but I hope God will use this work to rescue children (even one child!) from being sacrificed on the altar of the god of convenience and choice. May God bless us in this effort to be fathers to the neediest among us…

“Because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth” (Job 29:12-17).

Wifely Wednesday: Could've Been So Beautiful

I have a “could’ve been” story. It goes like this: I could’ve been an opera singer, living in Germany or some other glamorous location. That’s what I was educated for, anyway. But here I am, driving my 12 passenger van and homeschooling my small brood of children! That’s my “could’ve been” story. Do you have one?

Now I will be the first person to tell you that I thank God for my educational history, since it put me in the right place to meet my husband and to sit under our pastor’s transforming preaching. God was very kind to lead me down that path. Yet there are pitfalls in whipping out my “could’ve been” story, or in sharing other women’s “could’ve been” stories.

I often hear conservative, Christian women pointing out the wives and mothers in our communities who could have been brilliant scientists, concert pianists, or lawyers. We like to say, “See So & So over there? She has a PhD, but now she stays home with 8 children!” Now, to be fair, I believe that we do this with good intentions. I think our goal is to bring honor to our calling as wives and mothers in a world where these jobs are often seen as undesirable. Our logic is that if a woman is capable of doing something else well, but gives it up to be a wife and mother, then being a wife and mother must really be glorious. But the fact is, doing what God calls us to do is good and glorious without the need for comparing it to what the world values. To use the world’s ideas of success as a benchmark for the value of being a helpmate and a mother is like gilding the proverbial lily.

Brushing Crayola poster paint over the Mona Lisa.

Squirting Cheese Whiz on herbed havarti.

Hanging fuzzy dice in a Jaguar.

~Sarah Dionne