Gospel parenting requires that we as parents remember that all of our children’s foolish thoughts, words, and actions flow from the foolishness in their hearts. With God’s help, our task is to help our kids see the sin in their own hearts so that they will trust the wisdom of God.


Intro
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. It aims to equip you and your family to be on mission with God, to the end of the street and the ends of the earth.

Andy Owens
Welcome back to another episode of “Gospel Shaped Home.” I’m Andy Owens, pastor of family discipleship. And today I’m joined by Mark Celoria. Mark, welcome.

Mark Celoria
Thanks, Andy. Hey everybody. How you doing?

Andy
Glad to have you here, brother. Tell us a little about your family real quick just for folks who don’t know.

Mark
Yeah, my name is Mark Celoria. I’m a worship pastor here at Providence, of course, but my wife Tangie, we have been married for 22 wonderful years.

Andy
Praise God.

Mark
We have two daughters, Abigail just graduated high school, going to college in the Fall. So pray for me. And then get to do it all over again. I’ve got a 12-year-old Isabelle. So two beautiful daughters.

Andy
Yes. And we often think of someone in the context through which we primarily know them. And a lot of you all probably know Mark mostly through his role of leading our church in musical worship, and we’re very thankful for that, but I did actually get to see him last summer in a different role, get to see him as dad. We were at student ministry summer camp and there was a talent show one night and Mark happened to be there that night. And his girls were going to sing a song, a duet together, and I don’t know exactly what happened. They stumbled a little bit and had to stop and they were going to try to start over. And there was clearly some just nerves and anxiety and everyone was kind of quiet. And then Mark just walked up there, put his arms around his girls, hugged them close, and he kind of gently just, he whispered something to them. And then he started singing with them and got them over whatever musical hurdle there was at the beginning of the song. And they blew it out. It was a great song and it was just a pretty sweet moment to get to see our brother Mark caring for and loving his daughters in that way, so.

Mark
Yeah, it’s funny the girls don’t remember that with a lot of fondness.

Andy
Really? Well…

Mark
They were embarrassed.

Andy
Maybe just the parents in the room really.

Mark
Years from now, they’ll think back and they’ll probably have more of an appreciation for that moment. It was sweet.

Andy
It was, it was. Well, today we’re talking about chapter nine of Paul Tripp’s book “Parenting,” and it’s about foolishness. Now, when we use the adjective foolish, we typically use it to describe actions or words or choices, which it certainly can and does and should at times. But in this chapter, Paul Tripp is really talking about how foolishness describes our hearts and the reason that’s so important. Proverbs 4:23, it’s one of the places he starts in the chapter, says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” So our heart is, in a sense, the causal core of our personhood, it’s the place from which all of our words and actions and thoughts flow.

And, but that’s not the only truth that we need to say. The other is from Proverbs 22:15, “Folly or foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” So not only are our hearts the causal center from which all of our actions, behaviors flow. It’s also warped and intertwined with sin and foolishness and it goes astray. So Mark, let’s dive into this discussion by asking the question, how does Paul Tripp describe foolishness in this chapter?

Mark
Well, I think he uses Psalm 53. This goes right to the Bible. Psalm 53 says, “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” And of course that passage goes on to say, “They have all fallen away together. They have become corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one.” So really no one escapes this in a sense, there are times where we function as if in our hearts, there is no God. So we disobey.

Andy
He’s not talking about formal atheism as a worldview.

Mark
Right. Probably more like functional atheism. Like when we function in that way, when we step outside of God’s law and outside of his wisdom and try to do things on our own.

Andy
Yeah. He says that it’s the street level, our propensity and our children’s propensity to live as if God doesn’t exist. To deny his authority, his wisdom, his power, and to deny our need for his grace. It’s when we put ourselves at the center of the world. So now he makes several helpful points in this chapter. One of them though, is that there’s a right tendency that we, as parents, have to want to protect our children from destructive influences right out there in the culture. There are a lot of destructive ideas and influences, and we want to guard them, but he gives a warning against what he calls monastic parenting. What’s he talking about?

Mark
So I guess monastic, as in monasteries, obviously the idea that we would cloister big word there, ourselves, that we would separate ourselves from the world and in so doing, we remove temptation and sin and evil, but of course, sin is inside of us. And so we can bring our children into some sort of proverbial wall, but the root problem in all of us dwells within our hearts, our sinful hearts.

Andy
Yeah. So no matter how many barriers we erect, there’s still an enemy within that lies close at hand. And that we, as parents have to help our children recognize and deal with through God’s grace. So he gives a couple of practical applications of this reality on page 126, he says, we’ve really got to first and foremost, remind ourselves again and again, that the heart is where everything stems from. And that when we see our kids refusal to eat vegetables or whatever it is, they won’t eat eggs, sometimes in our family. When we have battles over what to wear or whether or not to clean up and when to clean up and who to spend time with and with telling the truth. All of these things are flowing from a heart that is bound up with folly.

And so he says, we’ve got to remember that real change travels through the pathway of the heart. So he says that he kind of talks multiple times throughout this book about opportunities. How discipline is not just, hey, we want to correct the behavior, but we discipline and pair it with instruction. Every moment of discipline is accompanied with instruction where we try to help our kids see what’s going on in their hearts. Any thoughts, Mark, on how we do that well? How do we help our kids recognize where all this stuff is coming from? Because it doesn’t do a lot of good for us just to know it and then not to ever see it.

Mark
Right. Just something that pops in my mind, something that I think all of us parents have done when we get frustrated with our kids is to ask, really proverbially, “What were you thinking?” And of course the poor kid has no chance if they were to answer honestly, there’s no answer we’re going to be satisfied with. But if we would truly ask that’s really the heart of discipline is to understand, help the kid understand where that action stems from and to drive that conversation back to the gospel and our need for repentance and for Jesus. And so I think that’s just one practical thing that pops in my mind.

Andy
Yeah, that’s good. And he says at the top of page 127 in these moments when you’re disciplining, but you’re also instructing and helping them to recognize where the stuff is coming from. He says, “Ask questions, tell stories, give illustrations, anything you can do to get the child to step out of himself, to quit defending himself and to look into and examine his heart.” And it makes me think of 2 Samuel 12, where David has just committed adultery with Bathsheba. He’s just had her husband Uriah, the Hittite murdered, and the prophet Nathan comes to him, and rather than just saying, “You committed adultery, you committed murder,” he tells him a story. He tells him a story about a poor man who has one lamb, he treats it like his own child. It sleeps in the house with him. A rich man, he has countless lambs, but he has a guest and he doesn’t want to kill one of his own. So he takes this lamb from the poor man and serves it up for dinner.

And David’s incensed, he’s outraged. And he says, “The man who’s done this deserves to die.” And that’s when Nathan says, “You’re the man, you’ve done it.” And so we can be creative and help use stories, use illustrations to help our kids see what’s going on in their own hearts.

Mark
It’s good.

Andy
What should we not do Mark?

Mark
I would say correct without instruction. I mean, really just to assert authority without a love for the child. Like God always disciplines us, the Bible says, “Who I love, I rebuke and chasten.” But it’s always with the purpose of rebuilding.

Andy
Disciplines what he loves.

Mark
Exactly. So discipline with love.

Andy
Yeah. The idea of threatening, manipulating, making our kids feel guilty. These are all, I think we talked about it in another chapter. He called them power tools, earthly power tools. But those are ways we kind of like you’re saying, when we only discipline and don’t instruct and don’t seek to engage them at a heart level, we’re just addressing the behavior. We’re not going after…

Mark
The lasting change.

Andy
…the source. Yeah. So he kind of concludes this chapter with four words that should guide our engagement with our kids in light of these realities. And the first one is glory. What’s he getting at there brother?

Mark
So the idea of glory, just to, not even in corrective moments, but just kind of just dripping that throughout every conversation we have, just to point out God’s glory in creation. And obviously this is something we do a lot with our children when they’re three. We talk about, “Look at that. God created that.” But then somewhere along the way we maybe stop that…

Andy
Standing in awe.

Mark
That’s right. Yeah. Maybe we move into ethical kind of conversations, but just to understand that God is glorious and he’s created all things for the purpose of his glory and that his glory is for our good. I think that’s an important part of laying a foundation for corrective moments.

Andy
Yeah. Ultimately we want them to be blown away by his glory, to be in awe of him, and to see him as stunning and as desirable above everything else. And it’s connected to the essence of who we are. We’re made to be worshipers and we want to help them worship the right thing, namely God. Second word is wisdom. What’s his kind of main idea there?

Mark
Just that God’s wisdom is better than our wisdom. Obviously, somewhere along the way, our children become willful. And we all have that issue where we want to be free and we need to teach our children that there is freedom in God’s law. His law is perfect. And so it’s never restrictive. And so to contrast the destructive behavior of our folly with God’s constructive blessing through his wisdom.

Andy
Yeah. The beauty, the goodness, the protection of God’s wisdom. I mean, I think somewhere early on in the Bible, there was some fruit that was desirable to make one wise, apart from God, the desire to be wise. We all struggle with that. We want to go our own way and we want to help our kids see that no, actually God even puts fences up around things to protect beautiful and precious things, so.

Mark
That’s good.

Andy
Third word is story, he’s talking about the gospel story. What’s his big idea there?

Mark
Yeah. Just to always make that just as a coach, constantly reiterates the importance of tripling or shooting a free throw. The fundamental of the Christian faith is the gospel, the reality that we’re sinners and that God sent a savior in Jesus Christ. And so let’s never tire of going back to that and that’s never assume that our children have it and that that’s not something that they need to continue to hear. All of us need to speak the gospel into our hearts and into our children every day.

Andy
Yeah. So our kids need to hear from us that the death, the resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins in his name is the delight of our heart, is the center of our life. And to see it giving shape to everything. So they need to hear this story and learn to see all the other stories and their story in light of that story. And then finally, welcome. Welcome. Here he’s really getting at more the attitude with which we approach our kids, which you kind of indicated earlier, you kind of addressed a little bit earlier, but if we’re representing a God who’s extending grace, we should be gracious. We don’t just come with a heavy hand. We come with tenderheartedness and gentleness like the savior, who doesn’t snuff out a smoldering wick. He doesn’t crush a bruised reed. He is tender in his invitations to us and we should represent him like that in the way we address our kids’ sin and disobedience.

Mark
Right. If we want the truth to take root, we have to deliver it in such a way that our children trust and believe, “Hey, this is for my good.” And so one thing he says that this is practical and helpful. Don’t yell at your children, lead them to confession. Imagine if every corrective moment was for the purpose of confessing sin and repenting and reconstructing relationship, instead of guilt and manipulation, as you mentioned and threatening, things like that.

Andy
And I don’t know about you, but typically I’m not led to repentance nearly as well by someone getting in my face and raising their volume as I am by a gentle and loving…

Mark
That’s right. His kindness leads to repentance.

Andy
That’s right. So really that brings us to the end of the chapter, which is where every chapter kind of ends, which is, hey, we have the same issue. We also have folly bound up in our hearts and we need the wisdom of God, just like our kids do. And we’re going to give them God’s wisdom more effectively, more faithfully when we recognize how dependent we are ourselves.

Mark
It’s good.

Andy
Mark, any last words for our listeners?

Mark
No, just be in prayer and just remember that it’s all about the gospel. Everything if we would just consider that, I think that we’ll be better parents. That’s what we’re here to do is to instill that into their hearts.

Andy
So we hope that this is an encouragement to you and hope that you are reminded even as we wrap up that that throne of grace is available for you today and every day. He loves for us to come and to ask him to give his mercy and grace to help in time of need. Thanks for joining today.

Outro
Thanks for listening to this episode of the “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast produced by Providence Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information and resources from Providence, visit us online at pray.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.