Prayer of Confession of Sin

Before the practice of  confessing our sins to God in worship fell out of favor and practice in the church, God’s people regularly used the ten commandments as a guide for their time of confession. Here is a simple prayer that guides you through the second table of the law of God found in Exodus 20:12-17 or Deuteronomy 5:16-21.

God, our heavenly Father, we beseech Your mercy and forgiveness…

  • For not making every effort to show our family, friends and especially our parents, all the love, consideration and respect that we can.
  • For thinking unkindly of others and harboring ill-will and bitterness in our hearts towards them.
  • For allowed our eyes to wander and our minds to indulge in desires for intimacy with those to whom we are not married.
  • For taking time, services, money, and goods from others to which we have no right.
  • For causing offense by hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid and for not pursuing a lifestyle of radical honesty.
  • And for not contentedly loving and serving You in the station in which You have placed us in Your good providence.

Thank you that Jesus our Savior perfectly obeyed you for us, and He died a sacrificial death to pay the debt of our disobedience. Now, empower us by Your Spirit so that we delight to do what You command. For we make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.

 

Family Discipleship – Commending What We Cherish

Here’s a brief outline with a few questions that I put together as a resource for our young parents. Click on the link below that contains a pdf file on:

Commending What We Cherish – Psalm 145

 

With what would you be satisfied?

Here’s a question I have asked myself on occasion while raising my children in terms of my desires, hopes and dreams for them. It comes from Susan Hunt in her book Your Home: A Place of Grace:

“Would you be satisfied with children who are well behaved, who avoid drugs, who graduate from college, marry well, and make you proud? Or is the passion of your hearts to see your children love and serve Jesus with all their hearts?” (p.80)

Like C.S. Lewis said, all of us parents at times “are far too easily pleased.” There are three Scriptures that I pray through on occasion for each of my children that remind me what God desires for them.

First of all, the Apostle Paul writes to the churches in Galatia and sets forth a graphic analogy that reflects how he views his role as a discipler and also his ultimate objective and hope for those whom he has invested his life. He says in 4:19, “my dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”

The Apostle John writes to his disciples in 3 John 6 that “I have no greater joy that to see my children walking in the truth.” This ought to serve as a bullet point for prayer for our children… that they might conduct their lives in the truth of the gospel… that nothing else would be more beautiful, engaging, and inspiring that “God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6).

Lastly, I pray for our children “to serve the purpose of God in their generation” just like King David did according to Acts 13:36. By the Lord’s empowering grace, may they find and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. Nothing else will satisfy and give life meaning and true joy.

May the Lord use this short post to stimulate your thinking about what you most desire for your children… whether they be your physical children or spiritual children in whom you are investing. Also, may these short Scriptures provide specific prayer requests for you to pray on your children’s behalf.

Help Teenagers Form Their Identity in Christ

Conformity and peer pressure threaten to squeeze the individuality right out of teenag-ers. As they’re confronted with choices and expectations, kids are often terrified to be identified as different. Discouragement and hopelessness can leave teenagers even more vulnerable to unhealthy, unsafe pressures.

In The Religious Life of Young Americans, George Gallup Jr. and Robert Bezilla offer these six things teenagers need when facing challenges and pressures:

1. The belief that life is meaningful and has a purpose. For Christians, the ultimate meaning and purpose are found in a relationship with Jesus.
2. A sense of community. “Radical individualism” leads to loneliness. Kids need deep relationships with positive, supportive role models and peers.
3. To be appreciated and loved. The closer people feel to God, say the authors, the better they feel about themselves. They also have a happier outlook.
4. To be listened to and heard.
5. To feel like one is growing in faith. Young people need support as they pass through various “faith passages.”
6. Practical help in developing a mature faith. By partnering with your church and youth director along with ministries like Young Life, you can guide teenagers into owning their faith.

Grace to Fulfill Our Parental Calling #4

  • Parents worthy of honor pass on to their children a legacy of the faithfulness of God in their family’s life and pilgrimage.

Example of Joshua and his memorial stones.  Joshua 4:7 declares God’s intent in having Joshua make this memorial:  “So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

We must make known to our children our family’s history – “the details of (our) experience in the midst of all that had happened and all that God has done for (us)” (Edith Schaeffer, p.107).

Edith Schaeffer underscores that, if this type of Deuteronomy 6 communication takes place (vv.4-7; 10-12), love and respect will follow very naturally in the parent-child relationship. (Along the way – not just sitting in your house.)

  • Parents worthy of honor place their older children into some lawful calling whereby they may serve the purpose of God in their generation (Example of King David and serving the purpose of God in his generation —  Acts 13:36)

Wisdom from the past regarding this practice: Thomas Watson explains:  “It is good to consult the natural genius and inclination of a child… To let a child be out of a calling, is to expose him to temptation.  Philip Melanchthon says, Otium balneum diaboli [Idleness is the devils’s pleasure resort].  A child out of a calling is like fallow ground; and what can you expect should grow up but weeds of disobedience” (Watson, p.135).

Present crisis.

Contemporary Practice:  In the past, the largest denomination in the United States saw over 90% of its students leave the church during their first two years of attending  university.  Of course, many of these students return to the faith later in life, but what incredible damage is done to the souls of young people who have lots of financial resources and free time without any sense of a divine calling from God about their life’s work.  Think also of the many lost opportunities for making an eternal impact on others for Christ that have been lost by these young people who are aimless and without purpose in life.

Contemporary Perspective:  We must work to overcome the false dichotomy of  sacred vs. secular. For we believe that all of life is sacred and that all callings are sacred and important and help us fulfill the creation mandate.

Imitating the Mormons: The Mormons are head and shoulders above the evangelical church in this area by requiring their young people to have a two-year missionary stint before going off to college.

Important Note:  I do not believe we can legislate this type of activity, but parents need to rise up in this area by studying their children, their talents, bents, spiritual gifts, and desires, and be proactive in giving them guidance in terms of pursuing God’s calling on their lives.  This study has prompted me to become more proactive in this area of parenting my own children.

  • What are the benefits of becoming a parent worthy of honor.

Rest for your soul and the favor of your Father.  Jeremiah 6:16.  You minimize feelings of guilt, remorse, and regret about what you failed to do.

It enhances the quality of life of our families and our nation. “The quality of a person’s life in every nation and every age is connected with the way individuals respond to parents and then to all who are in authority” (Walter Kaiser Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics, 158).

Honorable parents, teaching their children God’s grace and God’s truth, and in return being honored by their children, would mean close-knit families, biblically-defined family roles, a warm, loving, and mutually supportive family and home environment where children could grow up secure, being nurtured and taught the things of Christ.

It serves as an antidote for all that disintegrates families and nations. Since the family is the very building block of civilization, the cornerstone of society, obedience to this commandment launches an offensive against a monstrous amount of sin and evil in our culture such as:  Divorce, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, teenage drug abuse, venereal disease, illegitimacy, and runaways.

It provides an example for the next generation to follow.  Therefore, your family heritage is strengthened.

By God’s grace, it will enable you to have a wonderful friendship with your children when they become adults.  There is a tendency in our culture to reverse this order.  The only way for you to enjoy a friendship with your adult children is to serve well as their parents now.

Let us all heed Socrates’ call to take care how we nurture and train our children because one day we “must relinquish all” to them.  May the generations that come behind us find that we have been faithful to God in fulfilling our parental calling “to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Let us then, move forward in the power of His Spirit taking God at His Word that He is “the faithful God, who keeps his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Grace to Fulfill Our Parental Calling #1

The purpose of this post is crystallized in the last verse of the Old TestamentMalachi 4:6, reminds us that one of the purposes of the forerunner to the Messiah, was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…” The only other alternative set forth is that “God would come and strike the land with a curse.”

If the positive outcome of Malachi 4:6 did not occur, the prophets says that the negative result would be that God would bring a  curse on the land.  What does that look like in our contemporary culture?  Today we see in our media the oft-repeated and serious consequences of the disintegration of the family.  The devastation and fallout are tremendous.  Teens are killing themselves and each other at triple the rate they were twenty years ago.  Teen pregnancy rates in the United States are the highest for any Western nation.  Fourth-grade girls are dieting in record numbers.  Millions of children are medicated daily to make them more manageable in school and at home.  There is great confusion regarding the roles of the sexes.  In fact, new research indicates that anguish over sexuality is playing a significant role in teenage suicide.  Initial research tends to show that gay and bisexual teens have a higher risk of ending their lives (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Article on “Teen Suicide,” October 12, 1998)

Advice from an Unlikely Source:  Four hundred years before Christ, Socrates cried out to the culture of his day:  “Could I climb the highest place in Athens, I would lift up my voice and proclaim:  ‘Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children to whom you must one day relinquish all?’” (Quoted in A Mother’s Heart, Jean Fleming, p.57).

The Biblical Extremes:  It is said of the virtuous mother of Proverbs 31 that “she smiles at the future… She looks well to the ways of her household, her children rise up and bless her…”  However, Proverbs 30:11 claims that: “There is a generation who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers.”  (See also Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2)

Why is there a “generation who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers?”  Because, honor is a two-sided coin.  Our children can become willful, disobedience, and rebellious and walk away from everything we hold dear, but also we can and oftentimes fail in our parental task.

All of us parents will have regrets, but how do we work to minimize those regrets and become parents worthy of honor that live gracious and godly lives before the watching eyes of our children.

What does it look like to become a parent worthy of honor?  Why should we be exercised about becoming a parent worthy of honor? These distinguishing marks of a parent worthy of honor have been compiled mainly from my study of Scripture with additional help from the following resources:

The Westminister Larger Catechism, The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson, and “The Duties of Parents” by J.C. Ryle in his book The Upper Room, and Ten Things Parents Must Teach Their Children (And Learn for Themselves by Edith Schaeffer.