Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: Gospel-Centred Family

Gospel-Centered Family
Image taken from thegoodbook.com

This is an AWESOME book!!! However, there are several really awesome parenting books on the market. So, what sets this one apart? Should you really add another book to your shelf?

  • Concise. - Just five pages per chapter! Twelve chapters. Which brings this book to a little under one hundred pages that pack a punch. Don't believe me? Read on.

  • Gospel-centered. - Yes, that's included in the title, but it really does live up to its name. Check out these quotes:
"Learning to enjoy your parents' authority is the first step towards welcoming God's authority" (pg. 13).

"Your number one aim as a parent is to show how great it is to live under God's reign of love" (pg. 14).

"We're not calling our children to a life of obligation and hardship that they must tough out. We're calling them to treasure! We're calling them to treasure Christ. Sacrifice there may be, but we count it joy because of the treasure that is ours in Christ…(Philippians 3:8). Our job is not to pressure our children into a life of begrudged duty. Our role is to extol the surpassing greatness of Christ. We're to extol Christ so much that everything else feels like rubbish in comparison" (pg. 19-20).
  • Heart-focused.
"…when my heart is undivided in its allegiance to God, I respond with calm and loving discipline. But if my selfish desires are ruling my heart, then I'll respond wrongly. My discipline gets distorted by my selfishness" (pg. 27).

"…more often than not, our anger is a sign that one of these desires (1) matters more to us than God's glory; and (2) is now being thwarted or threatened. If this selfish anger drives our discipline, the fruit will be bad" (pg. 27).

"This is the most important thing I've learnt in my years as a parent. The biggest obstacle to good discipline is my own selfish heart" (pg. 28).
  • Grace-filled.
"Let's face it, you and I are pretty lousy parents. Welcome to guilt! What we do with that guilt tells us what we really believe about the gospel" (pg. 32).

"If we feel condemned, we won't communicate grace, making us fell still more condemned. If we want our families to be gospel-centred, then we must ring the gospel to bear on our own failures. If we can't bring our parenting sins to the cross, then we don't have any good news to celebrate. We can't communicate grace to our children if we're not communicating it to our own hearts" (pg. 33).

"Our children are greatly helped by good parenting. But they're saved by divine grace…But what if you've been a bad witness? God's grace doesn't let us off the hook as parents. Our sin is still sin. It still affect our children and spoils our testimony to the reality and beauty of God's work in us…But it's not unforgiveable. Our parenting sins are addressed by God in the same way as all our sin - by grace" (pg. 34).
Wait! There's more. While this book is a good condensation of books that have gone before (like Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and Everyday Talk by Jay Younts), it also brings at least three  unique and important points to the parenting book table.

  • Encouragement to view children as a gift. The reality is that children "...can sometimes feel more like work than pleasure!" (pg. 55) This book contains many suggestions for creating memories and enjoying your children.

  • Encouragement (and helpful suggestions) to live and pray God's Word with your children.

  • Encouragement (and ideas) to be a mission-centred and serving family.
"…God is to be the cetre of your family's world. And closely linked to that is a commitment to serving others. A gospel-centred family is a family that serves others to the glory of God" (pg. 88).

"…those who have received divine mercy show that same love to others. Those who once served only themselves are freed to serve others in love" (pg. 89).

"A family that's turned inwards is not a gospel-centred family" (pg. 89).
  • Interactive. - Most of the other parenting books that I own have application questions at the end of each chapter, but this book goes even further.  It has more of a workbook flavor. The beginning of each chapter has a Bible background box with a passage to read and questions to answer. The end of each chapter has a "Questions for reflection" box and a paragraph of "Ideas for action".

One thing that I did disagree with was the ideas suggested for disciplining a child. Chapter 7 in Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and/or Chapter 9 in "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman are a great introduction to why methods like the ones in Gospel-Centred Family aren't Biblical and are detrimental to  your child's heart.

Overall, an exceptional parenting resource!! Easy to read, harder to apply. Although the book is short, I'd read it through slowly, savor each chapter, and really take the time to apply the material here.

Visit thegoodbook.com for more information or to read the first chapter of the book.

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