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  • John T. Polk II 9:57 pm on 2015-08-23 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: father, , , single parent   

    8-17-2015 Where Is Father? 

    Last year, 4 out of 10 children in the U.S.A. were born to unwed mothers, 2/3 of whom are under the age of 30. Of the 12 million single-parent families, 80% are headed by mothers. Of children under 18, 1 in 4 (about 17.4 million) are raised without a father, and 45% live below the poverty level. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21 NKJV). Every male who sires a child, but isn’t around to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV), will give account on the Day of Judgment! “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). But what if they don’t know who their parents are? “The LORD has been very angry with your fathers” (Zechariah 1:2 NKJV).

    This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

  • John T. Polk II 7:00 am on 2014-07-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father, , , , , , unborn, , womb   

    (#191) The Proverbs of Solomon 28:24-Robbing “The Greatest Generation” 

    Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 28:24: “Whoever robs his father or his mother, And says, ‘It is no transgression,’ The same is companion to a destroyer.”

    Respect for parents keeps civilization alive. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12) is repeated in the Law of Jesus Christ: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3). It is this endearing quality in humanity that is the backbone of an enduring society. In addition to our fathers passing along to us “life,” they should have “corrected us,” and we should have “paid them respect” (Hebrews 12:9). But the commandment honors both father “and mother!” A mother’s womb is a person’s first safe house where God develops it (Psalm 139:13-16), and while unborn, the baby has not done “any good or evil” (Romans 9:11). The “fruit of the womb” is our inheritance from God (Psalm 127:3), and only godless, vicious people would “have no pity on the fruit of the womb” (Isaiah 13:17-18).

    It’s too bad in our society, often it is honoring one or the other parent, or neither at all! Whether we break into their houses and rob their possessions, or stealing our time away from them, or letting greedy government take their earnings, when      and how do we honor our parents? Because they have lived through deprivation and destruction, they have been termed “the greatest generation.” But do they deserve our dereliction of duty to “honor” them? Not just that generation, but each generation that includes our parents deserves our “honor” and “respect.”

    The Israelite Nation rejected God’s Son (John 1:11-12), and their destruction also included what they had done at home: “Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death” (Mark 13:12). What have we done to either protect or rob our parents? No child should dishonor its parent(s) and pass it off by saying “it is no transgression”—because it is! No society can last that disrespects its parents!

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on 2013-10-30 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , delight, , father, foolish son, , , , , , , , , , , , wise son   

    (#97) The Proverbs of Solomon 15:20-Home-grown Heartbreak 

    Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 15:20: “A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother.”

    “A wise son” has learned God’s Wisdom and nothing is more satisfying than for a father to see that in his son! “A foolish man” has rejected God’s Wisdom and nothing hurts a mother more than to see her son “despise” (lightly regard, disregard, disdain) her! Too often the son who is overindulged and overprotected by his mother is neither prepared to love and appreciate her, or any other woman, for that matter! Before marrying any man, a woman should know, firsthand, his attitude toward his own mother! Reverse the proverb for the father and it reads: “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him” (Proverbs 17:25). Both parents share in the “grief” and “bitterness” when their “son” is “foolish.” There is no joy, and only anguish, when parents see their son a “fool.” Another proverb shows how it could be even worse: “A foolish son is the ruin of his father, And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping” (Proverbs 19:13). The situation becomes intolerable for both the father and the son if the woman engages in “a continual dripping” (nagging, blaming, berating) for that condition! Each soul has made free choices and is responsible for his, or her, own. “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). No son can justify his disrespect of his parents, disregard for others’ safety, or disgraceful conduct by what his parents did, or didn’t do, if he is trying to “be his own man!” Yet another proverb shows that the son who pushes away from his parents has nothing of which to be proud: “He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach” (Proverbs 19:26). Still another proverb shows what parents can anticipate when home values work: “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24-25).

    “Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, But a companion of harlots wastes his wealth” (Proverbs 29:3). Jesus used such a “foolish son” who “wasted his possessions with prodigal living” to show how the father (like the Father in Heaven!) waited in hopes that his son would repent and return of his own humbled choice, which happened (Luke 15:11-24)! Many treasures and family fortunes have been squandered in wasteful sins which helped no one in a beneficial way. God has waited for foolish sons to come to Him, for “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  Isn’t it about time you returned to God? “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on 2013-06-24 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , father, , ,   

    Studies in the Book of Proverbs #11 

    (#11) A Father’s Wisdom: Get Wisdom! 4:1-9

    Verses 1-2: To “hear” a father’s “instruction” places a responsibility upon the father to give “good doctrine,” hopefully, because father knows better. Directing children’s’ attention “to know understanding” gives them a quest for knowledge, which should not be “forsaken.”

    Verses 3-4: A father would certainly want to rightly teach his son, especially when he is “the only one” held as special in his mother’s eye. The father is responsible for setting his son on the right track by giving him information that, obeyed, causes him to “live.”

    Verses 5-9: Get after “Wisdom” and “understanding,” these are the primary goal to be obtained. DO NOT forget by turning away, for we have short-term memories and must follow through our knowing Wisdom with action based upon that knowledge. The same application is made to “faith” in James 1:22-25. DO NOT forsake “her” to receive her blessing. Stated positively, “love her” in a close relationship. Wisdom is the “principal,” or primary achievement in life, all else pales into nothingness. While getting wisdom, get “understanding,” also, for lessons without application are useless. “Exalt her” is an admonition to keep her in her proper place. Wisdom should be the leading reason and predominant cause of all we do. Promotions and “honor” will accrue to those who “embrace her” because a wise person is of great value to every society. This was how Joseph was chosen by Pharaoh (Genesis 41:33-41); a city was delivered (Ecclesiastes 9:13-16); and Jesus was found (Matthew 2:1-18). A life governed by Wisdom will be honored by “a crown of glory.” In New Testament terms we read: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12) “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8) Clearly, a life lived in obedience to Jesus Christ is a wise life which will receive “the crown of life” and “of righteousness.”

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

  • John T. Polk II 11:35 pm on 2013-06-17 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "show of humility", , father, , , , , , , , ,   

    God and “The Pope” Agree! 

              According to the “Living faith” section C of The Huntsville Times, Friday, June 14, 2013, the article on Religion & Church News carried an item titled, “NO, I did not want to be Pope.” It was an interview from McClatchy-Tribune that quoted the 3-month-in-office “Pope” of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis, as saying: “’No, I didn’t want to be pope. A person who wants to be pope does not love himself,’ the pontiff added, in a trademark show of humility.’”  Based upon his comments, God would agree that:

    1. Since “Pope” is a Latin term for “father,” and since Jesus Christ forbade anyone using the term “father” as a term for a spiritual leader (Matthew 23:9), then God would agree that Francis should not be “pope!”

    2. Francis “didn’t want to be pope,” a position which is supposed to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. But the Apostle Paul claimed that “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:9-11). Since God’s “mighty power” raised Jesus from the dead and “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23), then God placed Jesus Christ over His church, not a “pope!” Thus, God would agree that He didn’t want Francis to be “pope” over the church!”

    3. Francis said, “A person who wants to be pope does not love himself.” God’s Word has said that, after “the falling away,” “and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), but whose followers would be “among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10), then Francis must not “love himself” for taking the position of apostasy that God condemns! God would agree that any man who takes such a position “does not love himself” or the truth, either!

    4. Contrary to the article cited above, there is no “trademark show of humility” in anyone who opposes God, sits in God’s temple, or claims to forgive sins which only God can do (Matthew 9:1-8)! Jesus Christ condemned public displays of the Pharisees, which are remarkably like that of a “pope:” “all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23:5-6). No “pope” has ever manifested a “trademark show of humility,” while claiming to be equal with God! The real head of the church of Christ, “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). No “pope” has ever humbled himself to die on a cross for the church of Christ! God would agree that there is no “trademark show of humility” in this, or any other “pope.”

    It’s too bad the “pope” refuses to tell his followers what Jesus said would give salvation in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Will this “pope” agree with God?

    • Joseph Richardson 3:31 pm on 2013-06-22 Permalink | Reply

      Catholics do believe in Christ and are baptized (and do believe they are saved by that faith).

      • John T. Polk II 4:01 pm on 2013-06-22 Permalink | Reply

        Believing in Christ includes the fact that He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), but why, then, do Catholics use Mary as their Mediatrix?
        “Baptism” throughout the New Testament was a “burial” (Romans 6:3-4), but what Catholics are taught that it is an immersion?
        Mark 16:16 is Jesus’ statement concerning salvation, and it is to be defined as His Holy Spirit led the Apostles to write about these factors (John 16:7-13; Jude 3), not as “Roman Catholicism” has changed its terms over the centuries. What “pope” has explained Mark 16:16 with these Scriptures?
        Thank you for reading and replying. Please tell me wherein this answer isn’t helpful.

        • Joseph Richardson 4:32 pm on 2013-06-22 Permalink | Reply

          Hi John, glad to be reading. I reckon you are a neighbor. I’ve grown up in and live in Decatur; I lived in Huntsville for a few years before I moved back here, and consider Huntsville my second home.

          Catholics definitely affirm that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, as Scripture itself affirms. Mary is a mediator (“mediatrix” is just the Latin feminine) in the sense that she intercedes for us — in the same way we intercede for each other. That’s not the same way Christ is Mediator, in the sacred relationship between the Persons of God in the Trinity — He doesn’t just intercede; He intervenes.

          I could give you a lot of quotes, but then then would be very long. So here’s just a bit:

          There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, ‘for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all. ‘ (1 Tim. 2:5-6) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. (Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), Second Vatican Council, 1964)

          Regarding Baptism — the Church definitely teaches that immersion is the ideal method. Infusion (pouring) has been practiced in some cases since the very beginning of the Church, probably since Pentecost itself (how else are you going to baptize 3,000 men in a day, and their families?), and continuing to other cases of necessity (being being baptized on their deathbeds and the like). Pouring didn’t really become as common as it is today until the Middle Ages (there are medieval immersion baptisteries all over Europe), but recently more and more Catholic churches are going back to immersion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

          The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head. (CCC 1239)

          According to the Didache, believed to be the oldest Christian document outside the Bible, possibly dated as early A.D. 60 or 70:

          And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

          I’m not sure what you mean about the Catholic Church changing its terms. But definitely, through Baptism we die with Christ and are buried and born again (Romans 6:3-4, John 3:5); we receive the Holy Spirit and become a part of Christ’s Body (Gal 3:27, 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 4:5).

    • John T. Polk II 1:38 pm on 2013-06-24 Permalink | Reply

      Joseph, you have proven my point: Nothing in the New Testament teaches Roman Catholic doctrine. You claim “Mary is a mediator” who “intercedes for us” but “not the same way Christ is Mediator.” In the New Testament, “mediator” is used of the Prophets Moses (Galatians 3:19-20) and Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), AND NOT ONCE OF MARY, OR CHRISTIANS FOR ONE ANOTHER! Roman Catholicism has had to add Mary as a Mediatrix after God finished writing the New Testament! That explains what you were not sure of when you said: “I’m not sure what you mean about the Catholic Church changing its terms.”
      All of the next quotes you used to establish RC doctrine were written after, and outside of, the New Testament, and therefore are worthless for “the faith” (Jude 3), for it was “once for all delivered to the saints” by the end of the 1st Century. It is meaningless to try to define “the faith” by quoting: (Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), Second Vatican Council, 1964); The Catechism of the Catholic Church; (CCC 1239); the Didache; none of which are contained inside the New Testament.
      IF, as you say, “Catholics do believe in Christ and are baptized (and do believe they are saved by that faith),” then why would they not simply obey the terms of faith and baptism as described in the New Testament, without any or all of the additions of the Roman Catholic Church? “Baptism,” which itself means “immersion,” was never a sprinkling or pouring in the New Testament. Since immersion was required, the logistics involved on the Day of Pentecost were solved by the Apostles without changing “immersion” into “sprinkling;” and there is no New Testament record of any “being baptized on their deathbeds and the like.”
      By-the-way, you haven’t even begun to deal with my original premise: The office of RC “pope” has no New Testament right to even exist, nor is qualified to be the head of the church of Christ!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 9:53 pm on 2011-05-18 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Daddy, father,   

    Daddy, Father, & God 

    I never cease to be amazed at how children learn and put concepts together (sometimes incorrectly).

    Our third son, Abram, is about to turn 3 years old. A couple mornings ago he came up to me at breakfast and called me “God.” I’ve been called the devil before (seriously), but this was new. I quickly corrected my son and tried to figure out where this thought had originated. He resisted my correction initially (which is typical for him) and called me “God” again a couple more times. Finally, I figured out the root of the misconception (I think).

    We often begin our meal prayers to God with “Father.” Abram recently learned that I am his “father.” I can’t remember the context but recently I had told him I was his father and he retorted (as only a 2-year-old can) with: “You’re not the father, you’re the daddy!” Perhaps he finally figured out that I am the father–which, to his way of thinking, meant I must also be “God,” too!

    I think he’s got it straight now, but only time will tell! 🙂

    P.S. Recalling this event reminded me of Abram’s first prayer before a meal (probably around his 2nd birthday): “Father. Food. Amen.” It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

    • Chad Dollahite 7:58 am on 2011-05-19 Permalink | Reply

      I love it…children are so precious, and those moments are definitely priceless! I keep wishing I had written all those times down, so I could remember them all. Sometimes funny, sometimes spiritually profound…truly “out of the mouth of babes thou hast perfected praise”!

  • Glenda Williams 9:01 pm on 2011-03-30 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: father   

    "I Will Talk to my Father" 

    I use “Father” when I address the Lord. A friend who works with Hospice, and whose husband is a denominational preacher, told me on one occasion that she prays, “Good morning, Daddy.” I imagine you won’t be able to forget it either.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 12:01 pm on 2011-01-15 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 8) 

    [continued from part 7]

    18 Among all the points of education which I will endeavor for my children, I hope to see that each of them—the daughters as well as the sons—may gain insight into some skill that lies in the way of gain (however their own inclination may most carry them), so that they may be able to [support] themselves, and get something of a livelihood, in case the Providence of God should bring them into necessities. Why not they as well as Paul the tentmaker! The Jews have a saying worth remembering: “Whoever doesn’t teach his son some trade or business, teaches him to be a thief” (Ezekiel 45:10; Leviticus 19:36).

    19. As soon as ever I can, I will make my children apprehensive of the main end for which they are to live; that so they may as soon as may be, begin to live; and their youth not be nothing but vanity. I will show them, that their main end must be, to, acknowledge the great God, and His glorious Christ; and bring others to acknowledge Him: and that they are never wise nor well, but when they are doing so. I will make them able to answer the grand question of why they live; and what is the end of the actions that fill their lives? I will teach them that their Creator and Redeemer is to be obeyed in everything, and everything is to be done in obedience to Him. I will teach them how even their [leisure activities], and their [dress], and the tasks of their education, must all be to fit them for the further service of Him to whom I have devoted them; and how in these also, His commandments must be the rule of all they do. I will sometimes therefore surprise them with an inquiry, “Child, what is this for? Give me a good account of why you do it?” How comfortably shall I see them walking in the light, if I may bring them wisely to answer this inquiry.

    20. I will oblige the children to retire sometimes, and ponder on that question: “What shall I wish to have done, if I were now dying?” – and report unto me their own answer to the question; of which I will then take advantage, to [instill] the lessons of godliness upon them.

    21. If I live to see the children marriageable, I will, before I consult with Heaven and earth for their best accommodation in the married state, endeavor the espousal of their souls unto their only Savior. I will as plainly, and as fully as I can, propose unto them the terms on which the glorious Redeemer would espouse them to Himself, in righteousness, judgment, and favor and mercies forever; and solicit their consent unto His proposals and overtures. Then would I go on, to do what may be expected from a tender parent for them, in their temporal circumstances.

    [the end]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:58 am on 2011-01-13 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 7) 

    [continued from part 6]

    15. As in catechizing the children, so in the repetition of the public sermons, I will use this method. I will put every truth into a question to be answered with Yes or No. By this method I hope to awaken their attention as well as enlighten their understanding. And thus I shall have an opportunity to ask, “Do you desire such or such a grace of God?”; and the like. Yea, I may have opportunity to demand, and perhaps to obtain their early and frequent (and why not sincere?) [acceptance] unto the glorious gospel.

    16. When a Day of Humiliation arrives, I will make them know the meaning of the day. And after time given them to consider of it, I will order them to tell me what special afflictions they have met with, and what good they hope to get by those afflictions. On a Day of Thanksgiving, they shall also be made to know the intent of the Day. And after consideration, they shall tell me what mercies of God unto them they take special notice of, and what duties to God they confess and resolve under such obligations. Indeed, for something of this importance, to be pursued in my conversation with the children, I will not confine myself unto the solemn days, which may occur too seldom for it. Very particularly, on the birthdays of the children, I will take them aside, and mind them of the age which (by God’s grace) they are come unto; how thankful they should be for the mercies of God which they have hitherto lived upon; how fruitful they should be in all goodness, that so they may still enjoy their mercies. And I will inquire of them whether they have ever yet begun to mind the work which God sent them into the world upon; how far they understand the work; and what good strokes they have struck at it; and, how they design to spend the rest of their time, if God still continue them in the world.

    17. When the children are in any trouble-if they be sick, or pained-I will take [the opportunity] to set before them the evil of sin, which brings all our trouble; and how fearful a thing it will be to be cast among the damned, who are in ceaseless and endless trouble. I will set before them the benefit of an interest in a Christ, by which their trouble will be sanctified unto them, and they will be prepared for death, and for fullness of joy in a happy eternity after death.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:55 am on 2011-01-11 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 6) 

    [continued from part 5]

    12. As soon as we can, we’ll get up to yet higher principles. I will often tell the children what cause they have to love a glorious Christ, who has died for them. And how much He will be well-pleased with their well-doing. And what a noble thing ‘tis to follow His example; which example I will describe unto them. I will often tell them that the eye of God is upon them; the great God knows all they do and hears all they speak. I will often tell them that there will be a time when they must appear before the Judgment-Seat of the holy Lord; and they must now do nothing that may then be a grief and shame unto them. I will set before them the delights of that Heaven that is prepared for pious children; and the torments of that Hell that is prepared of old for naughty ones. I will inform them of the good things the good angels do for little ones that have the fear of God and are afraid of sin. And how the [demons] tempt them to do ill things; how they hearken to the [demons], and are like them, when they do such things; and what mischiefs the [demons] may get leave to do them in this world, and what a sad thing ‘twill be, to be among the [demons] in the Place of Dragons. I will cry to God, that He will make them feel the power of these principles.

    13. When the children are of a fit age for it, I will sometimes closet them; have them with me alone; talk with them about the state of their souls; their experiences, their proficiencies, their temptations; obtain their declared [concurrence] unto every jot and tittle of the gospel; and then pray with them, and weep unto the Lord for His grace, to be bestowed upon them, and make them witnesses of the agony with which I am travailing to see the image of Christ formed in them. Certainly, they’ll never forget such actions!

    14. I will be very watchful and cautious about the companions of my children. I will be very inquisitive what company they keep; if they are in hazard of being ensnared by any vicious company, I will earnestly pull them out of it, as brands out of the burning. I will find out, and procure, [admirable] companions for them.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:51 am on 2011-01-09 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 5) 

    [continued from part 4]

    11. I wish that my children may as soon as may be, feel the principles of reason and honor working in them-and that I may carry on their education, very much upon those principles. Therefore, first, I will wholly avoid that harsh, fierce, [ill-tempered] usage of the children that would make them tremble and abhor to come into my presence. I will treat them so that they shall fear to offend me, and yet mightily love to see me, and be glad of my coming home if I have been abroad at any time. I will have it looked upon as a severe and awful punishment to be forbidden for awhile to come into my presence. I will raise in them an high opinion of their father’s love to them, and of his being better able to judge what is good for them than they are for themselves. I will bring them to believe ‘tis best for them to be and do as I will have them. I will continually magnify the matter to them, what a brave thing ‘tis to know the things that are excellent; and more brave to do the things that are virtuous. I will have them to propose it as a reward of their well-doing at any time, I will now go to my father, and he will teach me something that I was never taught before. I will have them afraid of doing any [immoral] thing, from horror of the [immorality] in it. My first response to finding a lesser fault in them shall be a surprise, a wonder, vehemently expressed before them, that ever they should be guilty of doing so foolishly; a vehement belief that they will never do the like again; a weeping resolution in them, that they will not. I will never dispense a blow, except it be for an atrocious crime or for a lesser fault obstinately persisted in; either for an enormity, or for an obstinacy. I will always proportion the chastisements to the miscarriages; neither smiting bitterly for a very small piece of childishness nor frowning only a little for some real wickedness. Nor shall my chastisement ever be dispensed in a passion and a fury; but I will first show them the command of God, by transgressing whereof they have displeased me. The slavish, raving, fighting way of discipline is too commonly used. I look upon it as a considerable article in the wrath and curse of God upon a miserable world.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:48 am on 2011-01-07 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 4) 

    [continued from part 3]

    8. Restless will I be till I may be able to say of my children, “Behold, they pray!” I will therefore teach them to pray. But after they have learnt a form of prayer, I will press them to proceed unto points that are not in their form. I will charge them with all possible cogency to pray in secret; and often call upon them, “Child, I hope, you don’t forget my charge to you, about secret prayer: your crime is very great if you do!”

    9. I will do what I can very early to beget a temper of kindness in my children, both toward one another and toward all other people. I will instruct them how ready they should be to share with others a part of what they have; and they shall see my encouragements when they discover a loving, a courteous, an helpful disposition. I will give them now and then a piece of money, so that with their own little hands they may dispense unto the poor. Yea, if any one has hurt them, or [angered] them, I will not only forbid them all revenge, but also oblige them to do a kindness as soon as may be to the person. All coarseness of language or [behavior] in them, I will [not tolerate].

    10. I will be solicitous to have my children expert, not only at reading handsomely, but also at writing a fair hand. I will then assign them such books to read as I may judge most agreeable and profitable; obliging them to give me some account of what they read; but keep a strict eye upon them, that they don’t stumble on the Devil’s library, and poison themselves with foolish romances, or novels, or plays, or songs, or jests that are not [suitable]. I will set them also, to write out such things as may be of the greatest benefit unto them; and they shall have their [journal], neatly kept on purpose, to enter such passages as I advise them to. I will particularly require them now and then to write a prayer of their own composing, and bring it unto me; that so I may discern what sense they have of their own everlasting interests.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:45 am on 2011-01-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 3) 

    [continued from part 2]

    5. I will single out some Scriptural sentences of the greatest importance; and some also that have special antidotes in them against the common errors and vices of children. They shall quickly get those golden sayings by heart, and be rewarded with silver or gold, or some good thing, when they do it. Such as,

    • Psalm 11:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
    • Matthew 16:26 “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
    • 1 Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
    • Matthew 6:6 “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.”
    • Ephesians 4:25 “Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.”
    • Romans 12:17, 19 “Recompense to no man evil for evil… Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves.”
    • Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given unto you.”
    • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.”

    6. Jewish treatise tells us that among the Jews, when a child began to speak, the father was bound to teach him Deuteronomy 33:4 “Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.” Oh! let me early make my children acquainted with the Law which our blessed Jesus has commanded us! Tis the best inheritance I can give them.

    7. I will cause my children to learn the Catechism. In catechizing them, I will break the answers into many lesser and proper questions; and by their answer to them, observe and quicken their understandings. I will bring every truth into some duty and practice, and expect them to confess it, and consent unto it, and resolve upon it. As we go on in our catechizing, they shall, when they are able, turn to the proofs and read them, and say to me what they prove and how. Then, I will take my times, to put nicer and harder questions to them; and improve the times of conversation with my family (which every man ordinarily has or may have) for conferences on matters of religion.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:41 am on 2011-01-03 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” (Part 2) 

    [continued from Part 1]

    1. At the birth of my children, I will resolve to do all I can that they may be the Lord’s. I will now actually give them up by faith to God; entreating that each child may be a child of God the Father, a subject of God the Son, a temple of God the Spirit – and be rescued from the condition of a child of wrath, and be possessed and employed by the Lord as an everlasting instrument of His glory.

    2. As soon as my children are capable of minding my admonitions, I will often, often admonish them, saying, “Child, God has sent His son to die, to save sinners from death and hell. You must not sin against Him. You must every day cry to God that He would be your Father, and your Savior, and your Leader. You must renounce the service of Satan, you must not follow the vanities of this world, you must lead a life of serious religion.”

    3. Let me daily pray for my children with constancy, with fervency, with agony. Yea, by name let me mention each one of them every day before the Lord. I will [persistently] beg for all suitable blessings to be bestowed upon them: that God would give them grace, and give them glory, and withhold no good thing from them; that God would smile on their education, and give His good angels the charge over them, and keep them from evil.

    4. I will early entertain the children with delightful stories out of the Bible. In the talk of the table, I will go through the Bible, when the olive-plants about my table are capable of being so watered. But I will always conclude the stories with some lessons of piety to be inferred from them.

    [to be continued]

  • Stephen R. Bradd 11:40 am on 2011-01-01 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , father   

    Cotton Mather: "A Puritan Father's Lesson Plan" (Part 1) 

    [SRB note: I found a most excellent article by Cotton Mather a couple years ago and review it personally at the start of each year. I’ve edited it a little and will be sharing it in pieces here on TFR over the next week or so for your encouragement & stimulation.]

    Introduction: What’s a Godly Father to Do for His Children?
    On Father’s Day we tend to focus on simple gifts to Dads—a tie, a silly or sentimental card—and on back-yard barbecues. All good things, to be sure. And modern fathers tend to focus their parental energy on teaching their kids how to play sports, get good grades, or lead a “balanced life.” Again, all good, but have we lost our focus on a father’s spiritual role? Perhaps comparing a father’s focus in Puritan America will help us to answer that question. Cotton Mather’s “A Puritan Father’s Lesson Plan” provides just such a look.

    Cotton Mather (1663 – 1728) was a socially and politically influential Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer. He was the son of influential minister Increase Mather. Mather was named after his grandfather, John Cotton. He attended Boston Latin School, and graduated from Harvard in 1678, at only 15.

    Cotton Mather’s Preamble
    Parents, Oh how much ought you to be continually devising for the good of your children! Often devise how to make them “wise children”; how to give them a desirable education, an education that may render them desirable; how to render them lovely and polite, and serviceable in their generation. Often devise how to enrich their minds with valuable knowledge; how to instill generous, gracious, and heavenly principles into their minds; how to restrain and rescue them from the paths of the destroyer, and fortify them against their peculiar temptations. There is a world of good that you have to do for them. You are without the natural feelings of humanity if you are not in a continual agony to do for them all the good that ever you can. It was no mistake of an ancient writer to say, “Nature teaches us to love our children as ourselves.”

    [to be continued]

    • Rick Kelley 2:32 pm on 2011-01-03 Permalink | Reply

      These are great! Is there any way you could send me the lesson in its entirety once it is published? A MSWord doc, or something? I really appreciate these.

    • Stephen R. Bradd 10:35 pm on 2011-01-03 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Rick. Yes, I think they are great too. Please ask again at the end & I’ll send it to you and anyone else who might like it.

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