We are asking parents to review books that they have read on Christian parenting or family life. Here our Women’s Ministry Leader, Gen Johnston, gives us some things to consider as we read.
Barnaby asked me to recommend a book which I have found helpful in equipping me to undertake the task of parenting as a Christian – wanting to honour God as I go about the job he’s given me as a mum. But I think before I do I want to make a couple of caveats (can you tell I used to practice as a lawyer???)
A couple of caveats…
Whether we enjoy/find a book helpful is often subjective. A dear friend of mine rates “Moby Dick” amongst her top books and after labouring over it I gave up, I didn’t want to waste more time on a book I didn’t like just because my friend did! So that’s my first health-warning – just because I like an author’s voice, doesn’t mean that you necessarily will.
More importantly – I’d rather share with you some tools in how to discern whether the author you are considering investing time in reading merits your attention. When looking for a book to read, I am often looking for an author who has wisdom in the area I’m struggling with – I want to listen to a voice of experience to help me. In truth, I found this wisdom most effectively when I met with an older woman from church to read with. She was a Titus 2-style mentor to me – doing life with me and teaching me to examine my life in light of what we read, pray through it and apply it practically. I know many women want a Titus 2 relationship with an older woman and if they aren’t able to connect with someone in our church, perhaps as a next-best they will seek that from a woman broadcasting online via blogs, podcasts, YouTube, etc. If that’s the case, because that woman isn’t in our church family and so subject to our elders’ authority and discipline in upholding sound doctrine (Titus 1:9) we’ll want to be sure the role models we’re choosing to invite into our homes via social media merit the position of being our spiritual mentor.
To be blunt, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing out there so we want to be careful and discerning in selecting whose voices we are listening to (whether in book, podcast, conference etc.).
We need to be alert to ensure that what we are reading is “sound doctrine, that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim1:10-11), anything adding to or subtracting from the gospel won’t pass the test of sound doctrine.
So how do we know if we have a wolf or a shepherd, a Titus 2 mentor or a Proverbs’ adulteress?
1. Know your Bible
If we are committed to hearing and obeying faithful teaching on Sundays, studying the Bible with others in a small group, reading the Bible for ourselves and perhaps in a one-to-one Bible reading partnership, we’re going to have a better chance of discerning when something is off-beam. Remember how false teaching works though – it’s like the truth but isn’t truth, it’s a distortion, and often one that fits with a secular/self-centred world view (e.g. Genesis 3… “Did God really say ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”).
So, given how easily we are deceived, as well as reading our Bibles we also need to….
As we seek training in discipleship we pray for God’s spirit to remind us of his truth and give us wisdom and discernment.
If you aren’t familiar with the author/speaker, they haven’t been recommended in church or by a trusted Christian friend, invest a bit of time in researching whether their teaching is sound in doctrine. If they have a website, check out their statement of faith and whether these are biblical and sound. If they are cited or available in trusted places (The Gospel Coalition, The Good Book Company) someone else has probably already checked … but don’t ignore steps 1 and 2 above!
4. Listen/Read Carefully
As you read, take notes/mark up the margin, if there’s a statement made that niggles at you, check it against the Bible, if there’s a Bible verse quoted to support the statement, check the context of the quote, is it being taken out of context to support the author’s viewpoint? Is what is being shared centred on Bible wisdom or is it centred on the author’s lifestory/experience/illustration? Read with a partner – discuss what you have read.
Perhaps as we make our selections, read with partners, absorb the teaching, in all of it we can start out with the same prayer for ourselves that Paul prayed for his friends in Philippi,
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”Phillipians 1:9-11
For more family-related media please head to dundonald.org/family- devotionals, or please email us any feedback or encouragements!