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Instructing a Child's Heart

Tedd and Margy Tripp

Reviewed by: Stephen B. Green

Date posted: 09/06/2009

Instructing a Child's Heart, by Tedd and Margy Tripp. Published by Shepherd Press, 2008. Paperback, 200 pages, list price $13.95. Reviewed by OP pastor Stephen B. Green.

One of the great concerns of the church is to pass on the biblical faith from generation to generation. I read an article recently that predicts the death of the evangelical church in the next fifty years. Obviously God will sustain his church, but we are commanded by him to pass our faith on to our children (Deut. 6:4–8). God commissions us as parents to raise godly adults.

Tedd and Margy Tripp’s book, Instructing a Child's Heart, gives us many insights into how to effectively parent and teach our children. One such insight is that we are to provide both formative instruction and corrective discipline to our children. Formative instruction is systematically teaching truth and giving our children the knowledge they need. Corrective discipline is applying that knowledge to their specific situations.

Another insight is that the focus of our educational work with our children is their heart, their inner man. Jesus says that how we act reveals who we are (Luke 6:43–45). As parents, we must deal with our hearts, and do all we can to train our children to deal with theirs. "Ignorance of academic information is not our greatest enemy; rebellion is." The Tripps tell us to repent of heart-level rebellion, and to train our children to do the same. In chapter 5, they reflect on James 4 and how our desires wage war within us. Our raging desires are the spring from which our sin flows. We and our children face circumstances that we respond to sinfully because of the desires of our heart. Because we want to effectively instruct our children, their heart is our target in the process of both instruction and discipline.

The Tripps also present the need for our children to see God and his glory. Our calling to teach our children (Deut. 6:7–8) follows our calling to love God with everything in us (6:5). In the same way, we are to begin our parental ministry by focusing on God and his glory. As our children learn about God and by God's grace join us in celebrating his glory, they will love the Lord themselves. This is tied to the Tripps' chapter on the role of the church in our children's lives. We know that believers belong in fellowship with other believers. The Tripps do a good job of pointing this out.

I wish the Tripps had said more about how to strategize the transition of responsibility and authority as our children mature. They present a long-term goal of working toward our grandchildren following God fifty years from now. I would benefit from more of their thoughts on how to gradually entrust our children with greater responsibility, so that when they leave our homes they are already equipped to live independently as godly adults.

This book is a great resource for everyone looking to raise their children to be godly men and women. I recommend it to all of you who dream and pray for your children to build the body of Christ in the next generation.

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