"What To" Truths for Parents

You love a good “how to” article, don’t you Mom and Dad?  You really want to know how to do this Christian parenting thing.  In your honest moments, like all of us, you would confess feelings of inadequacy, fears, worries, and even failures.  If parenting as a Christ follower was easy, then we would not need Christ.  Jesus makes up the difference when we fall short.  And God's Word guides us when we don't know where to turn next.

As a Christ following parent you probably know of Deuteronomy 6:4-7.  It provides a “how to” model for us.  It says, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up

You heard it in a sermon.   You read it in a magazine.  You spent some time thinking about it.  You considered teachable moments.  You live it when you remember it.  You may have it memorized.   You may be practicing it.

And you may have stopped right there.

Right there in Deuteronomy chapter six, I mean.  Be honest.  You lose interest right from the whole "binding them on your hands and forehead" part.  Interesting fashion accessories those would be.  And you are a bit concerned with "writing them on your door-posts and gates" too.  I mean, what reputable decorating magazine would recommend that?

So, you stop with verse seven.  And that is not a bad place to stop.  Not bad at all.  If you can love God with all you have got.  If you can keep His Word in your heart.  If you can pass that sort of honest-to-goodness faith to your kids.  Wow!  You are doing great!  So, what's the fuss?

Well, no fuss.  Just a call to look further.

You have the “how to” above.  How about a model for the “what to”?

Practicing good biblical hermeneutics, we read the context.  The chapters and verses before and after the a given passage.  In the case of Deuteronomy Six, just as clearly as the “how-to” of teachable moments in verse 4-7, we see a template for the “what-to” in verses 20-25.  Let’s take a look: 

20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, 23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ 

“When your son asks,” states verse 20.  Not if.  God made us in His image.  Creative and inquisitive.  Our children ask and experiment to learn.  What truths about God should we teach them.

There are four “what to” teach topics in Deuteronomy 6:21-24:

  • Experiences with God. Verse 21 teaches that you should be ready to share stories of lives impacted by an intersection with God.  Scripture stories.  Your own stories.  The stories of others you know.  We must “always be ready” to speak of the hope within us commands 1 Peter 3:15.  These stories should illustrate the greatness of God to meet our needs.
  • Judgment of God.  Verse 22 shows that God is just and will judge sin.  This is essential truth. In order to call Christ our Lord and be saved, we must first recognize our own, personal sinfulness as in Romans 6:23.  Sometimes, these are conversations in the midst of administering discipline.  More importantly, like Moses in Deuteronomy, these are conversations during the good times to set boundaries as warnings to the consequences of judgment during the rebellion that will come.
  • Purposes of God.  Verse 23 points to God’s leadership in all circumstances.  When our own faith is challenged we must rely upon the sovereignty of God in all of life.  Good or bad.  Anything that touches our lives has either been caused or allowed to work His good purpose within us we learn throughout Deuteronomy and from Philippians 2:13.
  • Obedience to God.  Verse 24 is clear that God’s Word is not for our convenience, but our obedience.  And that obedience leads to the blessings only God can provide.  John 14:21 teaches that our obedience is a love issue.  If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.  We must make sure we know God’s Word.  And obey it.  And teach our children to follow us as we follow the Lord.

And what will be the hallmark of the life following God as these verses teach?  Righteousness.  A state of right being and living that can only be fully powered by God’s Holy Spirit and can only be fully reward by God’s amazing graciousness.  Stories.  Boundaries.  Sovereignty.  Obedience.  These four foundational teachings are the “what to” truths we build our children’s lives on.  Now stop reading and go parent with these truths in mind, Christ follower.


I tend to ask lots of questions.  And, yes, if you know me, you know that I have lots of answers as well.  In general, I talk plenty.  A lot.

But you also know that I am thoughtful.  I'm always trying to figure things out.  And, as a Christ follower, I wish that I could understand many things much better than I do.  I'd love to be able to live better, live different, more sin free, more pain free for me & others.

If I could only understand, then I could fix it.

Or at least try my best.

If I could only understand it, then I could accept it.

Well, maybe accept it better.

I look at the world around me.  Pain.  Injustice.  Problems. So much I wish I could change.

And more than just the nameless, faceless masses I look at the lives of those I love.  I see their distress.  I hear their pain. I feel their struggle.  I grieve their questions.

How.  How did this happen?  We'd like to know.  In order to understand.  To keep from making the same mistake again.  If that is possible.  Or simply to be satisfied with an answer.  Even if it still hurts.  At least we know how it happened.  We can understand.  Or we can assign blame.  The knowledge of how gives a small sense of control.

Why.  Why did this happen?  We always want to know.  It helps to have an explanation.  But sometimes there is not  one.  Or the one we get just seems so wrong.  Unjust.  Difficult.  Painful.  There is nothing wrong with the question why.  But - when faced with something that seems unanswerable or terribly difficult - it is not always the most productive question.

What.  For a Christ follower in the midst of difficulty the best question may be what.  Trusting God's sovereignty - that He either causes or allows all things that touch my life - I can ask how & why, but what may be the best question to move ahead. Specifically: What can I learn from this circumstance?  

It's a humble posture.  A learning posture.  A trusting posture.  A mind that is settled on the sovereignty of God. A heart that rests in the love of God.  A spirit that says something like this:

God, I believe you control all things.  Anything affecting my life you have either caused or allowed into my life.  Everything affecting my life you can use for your glory & my growth.  So, God, while I'm here, in the midst of this difficult circumstance, what would you have me learn?

Questions are many.  Answers may be few.  God is One.  Seek Him.

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29

Who.  That's one more question.  And this who - the Ultimate Who - can provide an answer to every question.  If from there.  Wherever your there is.  Whatever circumstance.  Whatever trouble.  Seek Him.