Enhanced – read by the author
Faith Filled Family typography

with Steve Demme

Big Rocks

on’t know how to set up the right expectations in your homeschool? Begin with the expectation Jesus left with His disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

–John 13:34–35

For most of my decades of parenting I did not have a clear picture of what a godly father looked like. As I have reflected on my vision for parenting, I see that it was a collage of sorts. It was wisdom gleaned from books, seminars, radio broadcasts, and other parents that I respected. In hindsight, I recognize that the biggest contributor to my own parenting was from my parents. I sought to emulate what my folks did well and improve on areas where I think they could have done better.

As I searched the Scriptures, I found a blueprint for parenting. It is to imitate how my Heavenly Father has parented me, His adopted son. He is the ultimate dad. In John 13:34 and again in John 15:12, His directions are crystal clear:

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

Jesus calls this the “new commandment.” We are not to parent our children as we wished we had been parented but as we have been parented by Him. Our focus is not to be on our family or origin and how we were raised or wish we had been raised, but on God Himself. It is an upward look. The question to ask ourselves is, “How has God, in Christ, loved me?” Once I have a clear picture of God and His work in my life, then I can emulate this pattern for my children.

This technique is not a straightforward academic approach where we read His instructions and then apply them to our home, rather it is a whole-souled approach that encompasses our mind, our heart, and our spirit. I have discovered that I can only give what I have received. The best illustration I can think of is a mother bird feeding her babies. First she eats the food, then digests it, then distributes it to the hungry beaks of her chicks.

Based on this analogy, if I want to love well, I first need to be loved well. The ideal father-son relationship is that of God the Father and Jesus the Son. We know that Jesus was a loving Savior. I believe He was empowered to love well because He was loved well.

Consider all the love that is packed into the words the Father declared for all the world to hear at His Son’s baptism. I am aware that most Christians know what was said, so please give me some latitude to piece together a new translation, so we understand this important benediction from Matthew 3:17:

“Hey everybody, this is My boy!! I love Him to pieces!! And He brings me great joy!!”

The Father loved His Son. Jesus, in speaking to His disciples in John 15:9 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you!” When we recognize that Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross, washed us, clothed us in His robes of righteousness, and adopted us, then we are able to put these passages together. Because of Jesus, God the Father looks at us and says, “Hey everybody, these are my adopted children!! I love them to pieces!! And they bring me great joy!!” Please pause and take this truth in, for this conviction has transformed my life and my parenting. May God, through His Word, and with the help of His Spirit enable us to take this in.

“…because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

–Romans 5:5

As we are rooted and grounded in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17-19) we are then able to love one another as He has loved us. If I want to extend grace to my family, I have to experience grace from God. If I desire to love well, I first have to be loved well.

I have mistakenly believed that I simply need to read a manual or receive information and then operate from my newfound knowledge. But that is not God’s way. To learn about God is good, but to “taste and see that God is good” is better. Our parenting flows from who we are and what we have tasted and digested.

Now that we have been introduced to the “new commandment” concept of parenting, let’s consider what it means to be a faithful parent. To begin our study, we stop and look at God, who is faithful.

“To learn about God is good, but to ‘taste and see that God is good’ is better. Our parenting flows from who we are and what we have tasted and digested.”
God introduces Himself to Moses on the mountain as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6) There are an abundance of rich passages about God’s nature. Here are three that represent scores:

“For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge… you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.”

–Psalm 31:3-5

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

–1 Corinthians 10:13

“Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

–Hebrews 2:17

A modern definition of faithful is to be true to one’s word and promises. To be steady and constant in allegiance and affection. The Hebrew word for faithful is “Emeth” which is translated as “truth” as well as “faithful.”

We can see that God is the incarnation of what it means to be faithful. He is absolutely true to His Word as well as steady and constant in His allegiance and affection for each of us.

He is the Word made flesh. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will never leave us or forsake us. God is love. Nothing can separate us from His love.

As I marinate in these truths, I find purpose and grace to be a faithful dad who strives to be consistent in his walk and talk. To be present. To be loving. I want to take every opportunity to make my children know that I am here for them, that I love them to pieces, that I am so glad they are a part of our family, and that I think they are the best thing since sliced manna.

This is the message our Faithful Father gave to His Son, which His Son then transferred to us, and which we now have the privilege of transferring to our children.

We know that Jesus is the only living being whose walk matched His talk. Sadly, I have not been consistent in that area. Several years ago our family navigated a difficult family business transition. It was the right thing to do, and I was in favor of changing our model from Steve’s business to a family-owned one. However when the papers were placed in front of me, I could not sign them.

Several weeks later a friend mentioned a phrase from Psalm 15:4—“who swears to his own hurt” or as another version renders it, “keep their promises even when it hurts.” A faithful man would honor his promise and follow through on what he had pledged. I saw that I was not being faithful nor walking in integrity, repented, and signed the documents.

When the Spirit convicts me, or my children point out my inconsistency, I acknowledge my sins and my shortcomings and ask their forgiveness. This is what earnest parents do.

In Revelation 19:11 Jesus appears on a white horse. Notice His name, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True.” God never changes. God the Father is faithful and true, as is God the Son, and by God’s grace so shall we be.

I hope this “new commandment” approach has encouraged you and planted seeds that will bear good fruit. This is such a blessed approach to parenting, to look at Jesus and see how He has loved us. I have compiled pages of Scriptures on this topic. In the process I have come to know and appreciate God in a new way. I have also been given many specific applications for how to love my family. I pray you will, too.

Steve Demme

teve Demme and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and six special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Down syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.