On July 9, our dear friends Wayne and Margaret Grudem experienced a severe tragedy when their daughter-in-law Rachael—married to their son, Alexander—was killed instantly in a car crash.
A close friend of C.J.‘s, Wayne is the author of Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine and a co-founder and fellow-board member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
C.J. attended the funeral, where he witnessed not only the deep grief and pain of the Grudem and Freeman families, but also their resolute trust in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness.
As our friend Justin Taylor posted yesterday, the funeral service was a deeply moving example of steadfast faith in God in the midst of extreme trial. Dr. Grudem has graciously permitted us to link to the audio of the funeral where you can hear both Dr. Grudem’s eulogy and the funeral sermon preached by Dr. John Piper.
We continue to grieve with and pray for Alexander, Wayne and Margaret, as well as all of Rachael’s family and friends, and we hope you will join us in praying for them as well.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” 1 Thess. 4:13
We are going to take a different approach to Q & A today. We have received a number of questions about raising teenagers…not only from the blog, but personally as well. And while we will continue to attempt to answer these questions, we want to strongly encourage you to take advantange of some helpful resources. These books, articles, and cd’s—if studied and applied—will ultimately be more helpful than any advice we can offer on any one question.
In particular, there is a brand new resource we want to highlight, and that is the latest issue of that most outstanding publication, The Journal of Biblical Counseling. Devoted entirely to topics related to parenting teens, this issue (Vol. 23, No. 3, Summer 2005) includes articles such as:
“Only A Teenager” by David Powlison
“Dazzle your Teen” by Tedd Tripp
“What is ‘Success’ in Parenting Teens?” by Paul Tripp
“Why Do Kids Turn Out the Way They Do?” by Jim Newheiser
“Communicate with Teens” by Tedd Tripp
“Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children” by Mary Somerville
“Counseling Angry, Unmotivated, Self-Centered, Spiritually-indifferent Teens” by Rick Horne
“Yelling at My Kids” by Nina Campagna
Here are some choice excerpts from just one of the articles (“What is ‘Success’ in Parenting Teens?”). But it’s hard not to quote the whole thing!
“Many parents have a simple goal for getting through their child’s teenage years: survival. But this goal focuses simply on getting yourself through a difficult time. In order to get through these years, parents tend to settle for external, behaviorist goals. We try to deal with our kids according to the Nike way, ‘Just do it!’ But parents who just want to regulate and control behavior don’t give teens much to take with them when they leave home….The final years of a child’s life at home are a time of unprecedented opportunity. As a child’s world unfolds before him and he experiences greater freedom, his heart is revealed. This means parents have to take every opportunity to be part of the final stage of preparation. Being involved with our teenagers at a deep level is a critical goal for these years.”
“The most helpful thing to remember is that your teenager is more like you than unlike you….There are very few struggles in the life of my teenager that I don’t recognize in my own life as well. For instance, imagine my child has gotten into trouble because he’s procrastinated on a school assignment, and now he can’t possibly get it done on time. Haven’t I done the same thing? Of course, I have. And if I realize that, I can’t come to him and say, ‘How dare you! How could you? In my day I would have never thought of doing this!’ Instead, I come as a fellow sinner. It’s because of this that my dealings with him become based on the gospel rather than the law. Here’s my opportunity to point him to Christ. So I say: ‘Son, there’s a rescue provided for us in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s hope for both of us. I need it every bit as much as you do. And I stand with you. However, don’t expect me to write a note to the teacher to get you out of the assignment.”
My husband, Steve, who is the pastor of the parent-teen ministry at our church, recently gave this journal to all the parents. And as my dad says, “This issue of the journal deserves broad distribution.” The cost is only $8 and we hope that every parent of a teenager (or soon-to-be teenager) purchases a copy. You can order it by clicking here or contacting the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation at 800-318-2186.
Also, most of you are probably aware of these resources, but if you haven’t read or listened to the following, we believe they will serve you as well…
Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp
“Parents, Teens, and Reasonable Expectations” by Grant Layman
Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood
I was lying awake on the couch the other night, listening to my one-year-old Owen’s raspy respirations. He had a bad cold and I was little anxious about how much trouble he was having breathing. Then, having a few moments to think in between Owie’s labored breaths, my mind cast back to the last five years of motherhood and how often I have been anxious about my children.
There was my concerned call to the doctor about Andrew because I didn’t know that periodic breathing was normal for a newborn. Then there were Andrew’s febrile seizures in the middle of the night which were way-scary. I was relieved to hear that he would soon outgrow them. Then came the two miscarriages which led to constant wondering throughout the next two healthy pregnancies.
When an ultrasound discovered a spot on Liam’s heart while I was still carrying him, the midwife could tell I was very anxious. “You can do more harm to your baby by worrying than any spot,” she told me. It turned out to be nothing but a calcium deposit.
Now there is Liam’s speech, which still isn’t as far along as other two-year-olds. And the fearful thoughts crowd in again: “What if he has a learning disability? What will his life be like if he does?”
So much anxiety in these few short years! Then I thought of the writer who said: “There is nothing easy about good mothering. It can be back breaking, heart wrenching and anxiety producing. And that’s just the morning.”
However, that quote is not entirely accurate. Yes, good mothering is hard! But it hasn’t produced anxiety in me. Rather, it has revealed the anxiety that was already there in my heart. Mothering has revealed my sin of unbelief in God, in who He is and what He’s promised to do. So often I have sought relief from my fears in a doctor’s reassurance that “everything is going to be OK.” Too many times I’ve run to the pediatrician instead of running to God.
But because of the grace of God that has broken through my hard heart, I can…I must now choose to repent and trust God with my children. For He is their Loving Creator. He knit them together in my womb and He planned all their days (Psalm 139:13-16). And if he has allowed them to have seizures or learning disabilities, or even a cold, that is all part of His perfect plan for them.
That’s what’s wonderful about Liam’s slow-developing speech. I can’t run to the doctor and get a “for certain” answer this time. I simply have to wait and trust God for my son. I must believe that God’s plans are for Liam’s good, to give him a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). All is under God’s sovereign hand. And in this truth is rest for a mother’s heart, and eventually for me that night…sleep.
Whether we are grappling with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina this morning, or weighed down by a trial of any kind, we can be tempted to ask: “Why does a good God allow evil?” Having a biblical answer to this question will make all the difference in how we respond to trial and suffering. Once again, Dr. Al Mohler provides a biblical perspective on “The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil.” The following is an excerpt from this outstanding article. You can read it in it’s entirety here.
“We dare not speak on God’s behalf to explain why He allowed these particular acts of evil to happen at this time to these persons and in this manner. Yet, at the same time, we dare not be silent when we should testify to the God of righteousness and love and justice who rules over all in omnipotence. Humility requires that we affirm all that the Bible teaches, and go no further. There is much we do not understand. As Charles Spurgeon explained, when we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.”
As I write, the Gulf Coast is suffering the brutal effects of Hurricane Katrina. Having weathered a hurricane as a child living in Central Florida, I can relate—in a small way—to what the people of these states are going through. Friends of ours from New Orleans have had to evacuate, taking with them only their photo albums and official documents. They don’t yet know what they will return to once the storm passes.
One month ago, when Hurricane Dennis made landfall, Dr. Al Mohler wrote a piece on his blog that helped me to pray biblically about this natural disaster. I am linking to it here so that we all can be freshly encouraged to pray for this situation in such a way that brings glory to God.
This has been an incredibly difficult decision. We had such a great time reading all of the “Friday Funnies” entries. Narrowing this down was next to impossible, but we got it down to four winners. We will be posting one today and the others over the next three Fridays. Ladies, for those of you that won, we will be contacting you for your addresses and you will find your Starbucks in the mail. To everyone else, thanks for making this contest so much fun. I promise that it will not be the last. I hope that you enjoy these as much as we did….
“Our little bro, Jared, is always saying funny things… This story happened one Sunday in his Children’s Ministry class when he was 6 years old. His teacher was talking to the class about Luke. She was telling them that he was a physician, or a doctor. Jared politely raised his hand & said: “Luke wasn’t a doctor… he was a Jedi”!”
-Submitted by Liane & Charis Okada
We have had a huge response to the “funny kid sayings” contest! We were sitting down today to finally narrow it down to a winner and wouldn’t you know, our internet would not work. This led to a long time on the phone with our internet provider which eventually led to someone coming to the house to work on it. By the time it was fixed, we all had to disband for our evening activities. We didn’t want to decide this winner quickly. It’s gonna be a pretty tough call. Can you feel the excitement building?!? So, we have decided to make it “Saturday Funnies” this week. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the big winner…
Mom and Nicole have been contributing a series of articles to Crosswalk.com from their book, also entitled Girl Talk. I thought you might want to read this month’s installment for mothers and teenage daughters (and all women) called “The Language of Biblical Womanhood.” Check it out by clicking here.
Q: I had a query in relation to the concept of biblical womanhood. I am a doctor (graduated from medical school just over a year ago) and work fairly long hours in an ER. I find that I have to be fairly assertive at work and was wondering how does someone who is not married
and in a career be a biblical woman?
A: It’s interesting that you’ve just asked this because I was with a group of single women meeting with Janelle on Sunday at Covenant Life Church and discussing this very topic. Janelle has responsibility for developing the single women’s discipleship course at Covenant Life, and
this is a common question from the women who’ve completed the course in the past.
First, I think we all need to acknowledge that on the job we may be more easily influenced by the world’s values than initially we may be aware. Our mainstream culture assumes that career is the priority and that advancement is everyone’s goal. And some around us assume that single adults are going to be more devoted to the Siren call of success than even their married colleagues would be. But if we look at Scripture, we see a different definition of success. The most concise portrait is the Proverbs 31 epilogue. You may object, because that’s about a married woman. Yes, it is. But it has everything to do with a single woman because it is the wisdom of King Lemuel, based upon what his mother taught him—presumably as a young boy. What’s not clear to us in the English translation is that these 22 verses are a Hebrew acrostic (“a” is for apple, “b” is for boy—that kind of thing). So while this mother was teaching her son his Hebrew alphabet, she was also teaching him the virtues of an excellent wife, or a wife of noble character (depending on your translation). The Hebrew word that is translated there as “wife” actually means “woman,” but it can be understood in terms of a role, too. When his mother was teaching him, King Lemuel was obviously not married. But he was learning by heart the qualities he should be looking for in a godly single woman.
I find this so refreshing because it means that there is not a separate path for single women in the Kingdom. The Proverbs 31 woman shows us a seamless portrait of biblical womanhood that is applicable for every season of life. The Proverbs 31 woman is a savvy investor, a charming hostess, a loving wife, a hard worker, an entrepreneur, a gracious speaker, and a fruitful mother. We see that she is not lopsided. She is capable of making a profit, but she has a purpose in it: to be a blessing in her many relationships. We see that she has in mind her
family, her household, the poor and needy around her, and most importantly, her Lord.
As single women, we have the same reasons for working hard, too. We want to be able to provide for ourselves and our household—including the household of faith, our church—as well as the poor and needy. While we’re not married, the Lord has given us many relationships in which to invest, including the various children in our lives. It’s tempting to work long hours and not maintain our homes or make time to serve others, but that’s not the well-rounded portrait we find in Proverbs 31. Her model helps us to evaluate our career decisions and
the stewardship of our time through the lens of biblical wisdom and what will really matter most in light of eternity.
There’s one particular verse, however, that I think is immediately helpful on the job and addresses one of your specific questions. It is verse 26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” This is where I’m most challenged at work.
Under the pressure of deadlines and other expectations, I can so easily forget the impact of women’s words on men. Whether they are our bosses, peers, or subordinates, we still want to model godliness and Christian womanhood to all men, not just in the the pecking order of the world. Working in an emergency room, you have the added pressure of REAL life-or-death decisions. You are being paid to be assertive about triage care. But wouldn’t you say that those truly dramatic moments don’t make up the bulk of your speech at work? I’m just guessing. Though I’ve spent some time in the emergency room myself, I’ve never observed it to be like television dramas portray. It doesn’t appear that people are barking life-or-death orders to each other every minute.
So for all of us, we have to consider where we are making room on the job for the natural leadership of the men around us. I’ve learned the hard way that sentences that start with, “No, I think…” are probably not helpful or signaling respect to them. It’s not that having a differing opinion is wrong. It’s just that if we speak graciously and offer input in the form of questions, it models the overarching role of women to be counselors and helpers and leaves room for the men to consider our advice and make a decision. This is especially important in relating to men who aren’t our superiors at work: “That’s a good idea. I see where you are going with it. But what would you think if we approached it in such-and-such a way?” Going back to the Proverbs 31 woman, I realize that this is a collection of virtues and not a real woman, but if we put her into the context of her times, she would have traded widely and no doubt interacted with men of varying stations in life. Yet she is characterized by godly wisdom and kind speech. By God’s grace, we can all strive to grow in her example.
I’m so excited because once again we will have the opportunity to hear from Carolyn McCulley today. If you missed yesterday’s post, be sure to read it, as well as my intro to Carolyn so you can get to know her a little better. And enjoy part two of our special Q & A guest post today!