husband. wife. dad. mom. “LOVE LIKE THAT.”

To love as Jesus has loved us. That becomes the desire of every follower of Jesus who is grateful for the grace and forgiveness given to us, because that is the “new command” He gave and grows in us (John 13:34-35). But how difficult this is for the husband and wife, for the mom and dad!

We are more relaxed in relationship to those with whom we are most familiar. Our relaxation often translates into a low awareness of self-absorption, and consequently results in a lack of denial of self. Therefore, we become less patient and more frustrated, less gracious and more critical, less generous and more cautious.

Paul challenges this relaxation and self-absorption in his letter to the church of Ephesus. In fact, he practically applies it in two specific relationships – marriage at the end of Ephesians 5 and parenting at the beginning of Ephesians 6.

May we beg Jesus daily to help us as husbands and wives and as moms and dads to love one another and to love our children like Jesus has loved us. May we ask Jesus to grow us daily to discover more and more how Jesus loves us.

May Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1-2, as translated below by Eugene Peterson, become the heartbeat of our marriages and our parenting, because it is crucial in order to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel:

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.
~Ephesians 5:1-2, the Message

Husbands – ask Jesus to help you love your wife like that.

Wives – ask Jesus to help you love your husband like that.

Parents – ask Jesus to help you love your children like that.

What is it in our minds, our hearts, our past, our present, our schedules, and our priorities that keeps us from loving like this? 


do you as a parent view the church as a PARTNER or as a PRIMARY?

Do you view the local church family of which you are a part in a PARTNER role or a PRIMARY role when it comes to your kids? I don’t know many parents who would ever say they view the church in the primary role of raising their kids, but too often when it comes to disciple-making, this is the default thought and the unstated view.

As parents, how much focused attention and creative energy and quantity time are you giving into these areas of development for your children?

  • their awareness of the BIG story of GOD and how their stories are defined and secured and purposed by Him
  • their ability to not only articulate the Gospel but also to translate its gracious and loving and securing and compelling aspects into their daily lives
  • their understanding of how to read and study and apply the many rich and complex and beautiful stories found in the books of the Bible
  • their focus on more than just what they want to do and want to be but also on how they are giving into what others are doing and want to become
  • their propensity toward confession and contriteness
  • their willingness to listen well and learn much
  • their growing gratefulness for the gracious, merciful, loving Gospel of Jesus

And just to clarify, here is this guy’s short, petty, lacking, but hopefully close-to-adequate summary of that grand, gracious Gospel:

the Gospel _ that news that God, even before He made us, knew we couldn’t get this life right or our behavior better or our insecurities secured or our loneliness overcome. So, even before we were sinners, He had already planned to come in skin right near to us to assure us of His undeserved love, to forgive us for wanting to know more than the life He offered, to remind us of His desire to be with us, to demonstrate His faithfulness to keep a promise even though we couldn’t, and to invite us along with Him to continue to announce and declare and embody this same good news to all who are ashamed and hopeless and insecure and alone and have lost their way.

The Gospel is more than worth spending our entire lives discovering its impact on our identity, learning the wisdom of how Jesus secures us, living to love because of how the Spirit compels us, and growing in gratefulness for how God has restored us.


We need a church family to partner with us together in this. We don’t need to view the church as the primary disciple-maker of our kids. We have dropped them off for church activity long enough. May we be the church together with our kids and together as respective families, encouraging and praying for and equipping one another as parents to grow our kids with grace and send our kids with gospel.


SENT kids and Supreme Court rules

I’m not sure that I could offer wiser, more insightful, more challenging thoughts than Dr. Russell Moore’s response yesterday to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. So, if you only have time to read one blog post about it, skip this one and CLICK HERE to read his.

There are three suggestions I felt worth posting on this particular blog site focused on equipping parents to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel. I am NOT trying to offer a response to the Supreme Court ruling. These are NOT my political thoughts. My three suggestions are more from a dad’s heart.

# 1 _ as parents, may we not just declare something “wrong,” but rather may we ask Jesus to help us learn why something might not be what God intended.

When we parent for moralism, when we hope our kids will just turn out “good,” we tend to declare “right and wrong” rather than teach what makes something right or wrong. Declaring “right and wrong” without processing the why behind it tends to result in judgmental thinking, self-absorbed moralism, and guilt-driven behavioral choices. Jesus spoke against each of these. Why? Because judgmental thinking inhibits loving relationships, self-absorbed moralism prohibits loving concern, and guilt-driven behavioral choices exhibit the stifling fear and consuming shame we actually feel inside.

Doesn’t sound much like the “love one another” and “secure in God’s love” stuff Jesus taught.

When we parent our kids attempting to learn together why something might be “wrong,” or better said why something might not be what God intended, then we tend to value relating with God and with our neighbors rather than valuing our own performance and self-fulfillment. This tends to result in kids who learn to relate with God, who live confessing selfishness to God and to those close to them, and who love not expecting neighbors to live perfectly, selfless. In these kinds of relationships, grace and gospel define relationships.

Here is the point. The church is quick to declare same-sex marriage and homosexuality as wrong. But do we know why? The answer is not just “because the Bible tells me so.” I mean to cause us to beg God for wisdom on His thinking behind why He did not intend it, as well as to cause us to think about the heart and soul issues that are evidenced in this symptomatic behavior.

It seems from God’s Word that same-sex marriage and homosexuality are not what God intended. Simply read Romans 1. But church, if you do, please don’t forget to read on into Romans 2. Paul rebuked his readers in chapter 2 for judging the behaviors of people mentioned in chapter 1. Paul challenged them to recognize their judgmental hearts not filled with love. He went on in Romans to highlight his readers’ never-ending need for the gospel of Jesus and their choice to forsake the mission of God to go love those lost and alone in exchange for cultural comfort and self-righteousness.

That is what happens when we value law more than love. We begin to bow to law’s demands often forsaking to bow to love one another.

# 2 _ as parents, may we not forget our own never-ending need for the gospel nor the fact that the culture around us has yet to be transformed by trusting that Good News.

One conservative family group whom I happen to value greatly included these questions in their response to yesterday’s ruling.

“What does it mean? How did this happen? How should we process this loss, and where was God in this defeat?”

The questions insinuate that God’s team suffered a loss yesterday. The questions imply a surprise that people would have ruled this way. The questions infer confusion as what to do now.

May I suggest that God’s team suffered no loss yesterday. Can we conservatives let go of this notion that we are on God’s team. The General of His Angel Armies told Joshua outside the walls of Jericho that God was not for them or against them:

When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua approached Him and asked, “Are You for us or for our enemies? ” “Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord ’s army.” Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked Him, “What does my Lord want to say to His servant?” The commander of the Lord ’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:13-15 HCSB)

God’s intentions are much grander than a moral society.

May I also suggest that the church needs to quit being surprised that people choose to act in ways that God never intended. Read 2nd Corinthians 4.

We, WE meaning all of us as heterosexuals and homosexuals, are wrecked by a selfishness and a shame and an insecurity that we alone cannot overcome. May we not forget our desperate, ongoing need for the gospel. Its personal reminder to us that Jesus came near because He loves, not because we were lovable. Its cultural implication that people prefer hiding in darkness to embracing the Light (John 1:1-14). Its compelling nature that sent Light into darkness, and now the Sent One sends His followers as ambassadors of light-giving life (John 20:21).

Romans 10 makes it plain. How would someone know without those sent coming near? We as the church don’t consistently do what God intended. And we are surprised when the culture around us does not?

May we love first as we have been loved. May we not judge first, act surprised first, expect moralism first. The expectation that any of us should naturally and consistently do the “good” thing flies in the face of the gospel and makes a mockery of the cross (read Paul’s letter to the Galatians).

May I further suggest that there is no confusion as to what the church must do. For, the mission that the sent ones have been invited into has not changed. Let me explain in the third reason for this post.

# 3 _ as parents, may we ask Jesus to help us overcome fears and stigmas that cause us to disengage from culture and instead embody the gospel of Jesus with presence and friendship.

The Sent One put on skin and took up residence among us (John 1:14). It seems to me, that we, who call ourselves His followers, have not followed Him in this way.

We have spent billions of dollars creating spaces for moralists to safely gather. We have spent billions of dollars on engaging marketing and inspirational events inviting the like-minded to attend. We have spent billions of dollars on riveting, straight-forward, presentation tools. But we have had very little real presence. Very little long-term, relational, loving residence in the midst of a culture we are surprised by when they don’t preserve our moralism and are bewildered why they don’t proclaim our Messiah.

What if the ruling handed down yesterday is more of a judgment upon the ones who claim to be betrothed to the Groom than it is a judgment in favor of those wanting to be together as grooms or as brides?

If presence was not required for the communication of the gospel, then God Himself would not have taken up residence. They will know we are His learners, His followers, by our love (John 13:34-35), and love is impossible to experience without nearness.

This is the rub isn’t it?

Can I confess that the ruling yesterday scares me to death as a father with regard to what will now be the cultural norm for my six children? Can I confess without trying to sound too much like a prophet that the ruling yesterday concerns me as a pastor with regard to what is about to be proclaimed the next line-in-the-sand, civil rights issue with which the church will be forced to wrestle? Can I confess that the ruling yesterday causes my heart to ache as a follower of Jesus with regard to its exposure to my own lack of nearness?

Nearness is the rub. Homosexual exhibition near my kids. Same-sex couples visiting our worship gathering. Gays as friends.

How careless of the Heavenly Father not to consider this when He sent His Son! Jesus at a party with drunkards! Jesus with a prostitute washing His feet! Jesus over for dinner in the home of sinners!

Wait a second. The Father allowed that.

In fact, Jesus came near to me. When I was still drunk on my indulgences. When I had whored my worship out to other things that made me feel valuable. When I was leaving Him off the guest list for dinner. He demonstrated His love for me.

And a demonstration of His love is the only catalyst for the transformation of a life.

We seem to forget that the work of God is that people believe in the One who was sent (John 6:29). The work of the church is not therefore to declare how dark darkness is or to try to modify how dark darkness is. The work of the church is to help people believe in the One who was sent. Only in believing that He came near, in love, not to condemn nor to leave us the way we are, but to help us to love abundant life secure that we are fully loved. Believing in the One who was sent changes us. And going near as sent ones helps to enable that belief (read Romans 10).

May we awaken. But not the awakening we pray for typically. The need is not a grander worship experience or more moving preaching. The need is not a more effective evangelistic strategy. The need is presence. A gratefulness for His. A willingness to go near with Him.

The homosexual community already knows what we think of them. I wonder if they know what Jesus thinks of them? How would they if His sent ones aren’t actually going near as friends?

And how irrational of us as moms and dads to think that our kids would go to college valuing God’s love given away over God’s laws legalistically demanded if they don’t see us live near in gracious, family-like community?

How about we cultivate into the hearts of our children a surrender to what God intended – loved sinners trusting grace repenting of our own sin as we grow in our security to love – as well as a commitment to what He is making us to become – fishers among the lost and lonely? How about we respond to the ruling yesterday confessing our absence as a possible portion of what brought it about? How about we ask Jesus to help us with our fears of raising kids near to sinners?

Lord, have mercy on us. We so need Your help. Please give us wisdom and courage to love as You have loved us.

Three questions to pray about and discuss as parents and maybe even as a whole family in hopes of becoming a sent family together.

Consider praying through and discussing the following three questions as parents and possibly even as a whole family. The conversation may reveal some areas where confession and repentance are needed. Which is awesome, because one of the fundamental essentials for parenting SENT kids is to be confessional, gospel-believing, being-transformed-by-Jesus parents.

1. How might our family relationships become more gracious?

2. What are the implications of the Gospel upon our parental approaches?

3. Are there any behaviors within our family, even as parents, that are subtly self-indulgent or self-righteous, and if so will we identify them and confess them and ask Jesus to change us in the coming months?

Maybe getting private with Jesus around these questions first would be helpful, so that you and I can lead out with our own personal reflections from them, breaking the ice so that honesty and transparency can avail when they are discussed together.

Jesus, please help us parent secure because You have loved us, and please help us to love our kids like You have loved us.

Day 6 of 6: Paul Tripp shares in six short videos wise insights on mission in marriage and family.

Six days. Six short videos. All from the Verge Network. All about living on mission in our marriage and with our kids. Valuable equipping resources to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel. I hope you will be enriched as well as sent by them, to live in the identity the Sent One has given to us (John 20:21).

Here is the sixth:

How can I normalize ministry for my children?
by Paul Tripp

Learn more about Paul Tripp’s writings and ministry at

Also, check out Tripp’s new book Sex and Money for a challenging read personally as well as to better equip you to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel.

Day 5 of 6: Paul Tripp shares in six short videos wise insights on mission in marriage and family.

Six days. Six short videos. All from the Verge Network. All about living on mission in our marriage and with our kids. Valuable equipping resources to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel. I hope you will be enriched as well as sent by them, to live in the identity the Sent One has given to us (John 20:21).

Here is the fifth:

How do children become kingdom minded?
by Paul Tripp

Learn more about Paul Tripp’s writings and ministry at

Day 4 of 6: Paul Tripp shares in six short videos wise insights on mission in marriage and family.

Six days. Six short videos. All from the Verge Network. All about living on mission in our marriage and with our kids. Valuable equipping resources to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel. I hope you will be enriched as well as sent by them, to live in the identity the Sent One has given to us (John 20:21).

Here is the fourth:

How Can Children be Included in Missional Living?
by Paul Tripp

Learn more about Paul Tripp’s writings and ministry at