It often perplexes my mind when I hear people discuss their decision to “not” teach spiritual things to their children. For the staunch atheist or pagan I could understand, but this mind I hear from many professing believers. Some of their excuses include, “I want my children to make their own choices,” or “I just don’t think it is right to force Christian teaching on my kids.”  If this logic was equivocal on the plain I would accept it, but it isn’t. People make their children learn certain academic subjects that are truly just for the sake of being “well-rounded.” They encourage and reward their children to exercise discipline to learn mathematics, history, sociology etc. with the idea that these things are to be known for their good but yet they feel that spiritual teaching of God’s word is less than important.

Another reason that some believers don’t teach their children scripture is that they feel inadequate to do so but feel as though the “local” program for children can fill the gap in their ignorance. The truth is that children are more influenced by parental teaching than any other. SO, someone else can instruct children in spiritual things but if parents do not reinforce and at the minimum, show an interest in this learning, the child will soon depart from the heart of it. Keep in mind that I am not speaking of salvation, the new birth, justification, or anything else that comes by the work of God alone, but speaking of the foundations of such things: hearing the word of God.

Here are a few things in my mind, and in my experience, that should be considered regarding the teaching of children:

  1. Children must be TAUGHT EVERYTHING they are to learn. If we think they’ll get their “own” way soon enough, they most certainly will. Whatever we teach them they will learn. Learning is not belief or obedience, but learning brings the power of LIFE as the Spirit brings life through hearing by giving hearing. (Rom 10:17)
  2. Parental figures are the PRIMARY TEACHERS. Nothing will ever replace the direct and indirect teaching of parental influence. As an adult, I have many habits and practices that I realize I mimic from my father. These are learned behaviors and ideas that were not directly taught. Parents that do not love the word of God will have children that will NOT LOVE the word of God.
  3. Entertainment is the opposite of learning. So often people think that kids need to incorporate FUN FUN FUN with the learning of God’s word. When is the last time you ever saw a 1st grade teacher play dodgeball while teaching addition? How about a high school calculus class using drama to enforce a mathematical truth? All learning can be enjoyable, but it is a lie that it has to be a certain “level” of attraction for children: They learn more than adults anyway these days.
  4. Churches are often ill-prepared: Some well-meaning people pull kids out of worship and preaching to accommodate  their little weak minds while the scripture teaches that more children flocked around Jesus to listen than did adults at times. Jesus even said, “do not hinder…”.  When we separate the children from the teaching of the word, we hinder them against the command of Christ.  While children’s programming can be useful, in the long-haul, it divides the body of Christ and destroys the essence of future generations who feel like the church should “give me what I want…”
  5. Teaching and Living go hand-in-hand. The word of God is replete with examples of teaching and then exhortation to live out a teaching. Surely, as believers, we know that all good works are fulfilled by God, but we know the warning that if God is not transforming His people, then they are not His people because HE DOES and never leaves a child to rot. So, children need to hear and see the word lived out in adults. They need to see forgiveness and repentance. They need to see worship and affection for God’s people.
  6. Zeal and Love are different beasts. Loving the teaching of God without doing the teaching of God in loving His people at the cost of us is a lie according to John. We lie when we say we love orthodoxy but don’t LIVE according to orthodoxy. My hyper-grace friends can just click off of this now, as some of them may have cut much of the NT from their bibles. Having zeal for teaching our kids the right theology will never save them; living without love is condemnation, because Christ alone through Faith alone by Grace alone produces zealous love for God and His people.
  7. Love vs. Obey.  “If you love me you will obey my commands.” This is a very difficult pill to swallow from the mouth of Jesus. When we teach children we need to teach them that love is obedience.  Jesus loves the Father so He went to the cross in obedience. We love Jesus (because we have been born of God), so we follow after Him. Teaching children that one can love with a “feeling” while hating with “actions” is deplorable. Do children see US loving in this way?
  8. Teaching TRUTH is not revealing ERROR. So many polemics think they are making disciples by showing all the bad stuff. NEWS FLASH: you will never find time for truth and worship if your life is lived for the pointing out of the world’s error.  We know error because WE KNOW THE TRUTH; not the other way around. I know so many people who were taught by their parents of all the “bad”  things out there.  They know everything wrong in the world and yet they still know nothing right – ergo, they do not know Jesus Christ because they have been denied discipleship: teaching them to obey all I have commanded you!!!!!!!

Much more could be said and may well be said in the future. Add your voice and add to these points. My mind leaves me this moment so as for my children I want to show them, teach them, pray for them and trust in the Lord even when I royally destroy everything I employ!  So point 9 – The Lord is faithful, even when we are NOT!

Trust in the Lord and His word. Even when we as parents do it all wrong, if we invest in prayer and scripture with our kids, we can trust the Lord to bring the fruit!  Glad aren’t you!  Because otherwise, we are all miserable failures…. but alas, Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Pastor James

Over a decade ago we painfully transitioned to integrated family worship. This means that all people who are part of the family of faith, all ages, sit together under the preaching of the word of God. The first year or two it was difficult for many reasons: we couldn’t handle our children, other people didn’t know what to do about a kid who may make a noise, it was different, visitors were caught off guard…. the list could go on. But ten years later, while there are always matters to deal with along with 30 children sitting in the services at any given time and three infants on the way in the fall, we have seen so much more blessings from this decision than any of these pains would discourage us. And every now and then we see a little light and encouragement on how God teaches children in the midst of the church.

This past Lord’s day one such example was given and in my experience, it was the youngest example of “listening” I have ever seen.  My two year old daughter was doing her usual: sitting with grandparents and back and two between folks in the church trying to “talk quietly” and “listen.” Usually this is cemented with a well-placed snack. (meh).  The text for the day was 1 Thessalonians 4:15 – “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” For the introduction and then as a reminder halfway through the message (63 minutes this day), I was making the case that our natural instinct when hurt is to hurt back. I used the illustration of how our children, even at a young age reveal depravity and sinfulness even though they do not know or recognize it as rebellion. I was discussing how we are patient with them as they progress and grow and in the same manner God has been patient with us and even patient with “vessels of destruction.”  Either way, God is patient and we are patient.

I alluded to a basic expression of rebellion that most children do, the crying for no reason, the testing, looking, whining etc. and in the midst of this example my two year old looks at those around her and says, “My daddy’s talking about me.”  A low chuckle birthed from that area of the congregation and an epiphany was born. We know that God is sovereign to teach through the word and no matter what “educators” teach, God is greater than our ability to teach. The New Testament shows us that children flocked to Jesus as He taught ALL PEOPLE; and they understood Him. We learned by statements like this that children hear, listen and by the grace of God, understand. Not only was Abby listening (even though it appeared she wasn’t), she resonated with the experience of her sinful actions as they were illustrated, without the use of her name.

Remember beloved, our God is gracious and can pierce the hearts and minds of the infantile, the ignorant, the young, the old, the stubborn and the incapable. He is mighty to save and reveal even those things that are impossible to see. Scripture teaches through the mouth of Jesus that unless our faith be like the little children we cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven. This shows us that ALL OF THE WORK of salvation is God’s doing, not man’s. Glory be to God for His faithfulness. I have hundreds of examples like this of children hearing and understanding deep things, but this is by far the youngest and I thought I would share.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor James

Never has a child been more inept for life than the moment they graduate high school.

As a father of five, I am going to have many times to get the parenting thing right. Sadly, I never will and am OK with this reality, after all, I am pressing into a journey to “produce” children of a certain “type” and the truth is that the world (as it is) is not interested in my thoughts on how children are ready for life.  My oldest daughter is the first in succession, so I will point the remainder of my thoughts toward her and this season of her life:


While there is a million points of wisdom that one could give, I choose to focus on those things which hold gravity and are eternal rather than anything else.

  1. Understand that you have not finished anything, but are beginning everything. While your academic endeavors and goals are completed, their completion hasn’t done anything to merit accolade, it is the fulfillment of that which is required. As Jesus taught, [9] Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? [10] So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:9-10 ESV)
  2. Your education, academy, home study and all the points within are not better than any other form of education. The point is to learn to learn, which you have done; but also to remember you have much more to learn and if Christ is not the center of your wisdom in ALL THINGS, you have failed.
  3. While honors and scholarships are certainly yours, these things are wasted in the chasm of eternity when all that we are given is not used for the purpose of giving Glory to Christ.
  4. There is NO separation of your future plans from your future glory. The point of your existence is that you are to be KNOWN by your faith in Christ, nothing else matters. I have said since you were born that I would rather you be homeless living in a box honoring Christ, than to be wealthy and worldly in a mansion without Him.
  5. See that the reality of academic success is wide, not narrow. When I entered the Ph.D. program while in California I felt a sense of honor and pride. I was glad and hopeful that I would learn, add to the conversation of theology and effect change in the lives of others. I was sadly mistaken. There are millions of us in the same field, the same focus and the same academic ability and I was just a small ant in the mound of my mission.
  6. The world is NOT yours to take and make. The world is God’s and he has handed a majority of her over to reprobation, for wide is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate of righteousness. Be a light in the world, not a faded part of it.
  7. Never blend in with the culture. The culture of every nation is pagan, no matter what “ethics” it may portray. Resist the enemy of God, the temptation of your flesh and love the Lord with all your heart.
  8. Be willing to endure suffering and worldly failure for the cause of Christ. God has NEVER promised his church success in the world but rather eternal life as they “joyfully accepted the plundering of their property”, “rejoiced in fiery trials”, “always being put to death”… The world will offer you what it will, just as the devil offered the world to Jesus. Don’t take the bait.
  9. In that line of thinking, remember the rich young ruler who had the world at his fingertips, the wisdom of the scriptures, the ethics of holiness, the ministry of truth and the wealth of nations.  In the end, this young ruler thought he was righteous because of all he had done. This rich young ruler is the picture of success for many, but in reality, he could not believe that Christ alone is where his hope lay and he trusted “success” in the eyes of God by his works.  Jesus rebuked him and exposed that this young man loved the world and could not love Christ. Never forget that Jesus says that those well-meaning people who press their children into worldliness are wasting their lives and ignoring the promises of God–Gaining the world, but losing their souls.  [I edited this portion due to vague and assumptive thoughts relating to the topic that favored some theological heresies after publishing.]
  10. Don’t fall prey to materialism.  1 John 2:15-17 teaches that one cannot love God and the world. They are incompatible.  We cannot amass wealth on one hand while enjoying the wealth of glory on the other. It is easy to feel as though security comes through substance, but we know that is a lie of Satan. Security is in the one we do not now see, but we love with a joy that is inexpressible.
  11. Run and fight the good fight, the good race, the right dream.  The American Dream is a fool’s errand. While fallaciously I write without argument, this is my remembrance of those things that are already securely planted in your soul. God has never established such garbage for his people and has promised the opposite, “All who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted.”
  12. Rest in the sufficiency of Christ.  Whether you go to college, get a career, give your life for missions, began a family, start a business, write, teach, dream or fly, never forget that God has you and all that you are is well established in His power and might. Nothing else is needed. Rest in Christ when you have to quit a job because the company is unethical. Rest in Christ when your friends leave your side because Christ’s word is preeminent over politics, family and culture. Rest in Christ when everything you are is hated and you lose it all. Rest in Him when you keep it all and it appears no pain is in sight; it is then you must fight the temptation to not be content in Christ.  Remember Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4.
  13. Live for the glory of God. Now and forever and don’t ever let anyone put you down for that. Even if I fall prey to the stupidity of men’s wisdom, listen not to those words but remember the words of the Lord as I have taught and prayerfully lived before you.
  14. Learn that you will always be a learner. No one is a master of anything and no master of anything is without a master. You will need to glean all you can and grow in Christ as you sort out the chaff of life from truth. Hold fast to the word of life because when the day of the Lord draws near, your knowledge of modulus and Cicero will be useless. That is one of the points of learning, that we see the futility of it all in the face of Christ.
  15. Laugh. Live with joy and know that happiness comes from Christ alone. Period. Nothing more… Take yourself as you are, learn to enjoy laughing at your weaknesses and trials as though you know the reality of the future; because you do. Smile and let the world see the beauty of your soul and the resolve of your heart.

I am proud to have you as my child, my daughter, my friend and my sister in the Lord. I am thankful to the Lord of Heaven for all He has made you to be and how he has given you strength above your age and wisdom above your years. Keep those things that reveal His power, hone those things that are in need of change but in all things, know that your parents are glad you are who you are and most of all I am proud in the Lord that He has saved you and that you do have a love for His truth. Keep that, let the rest go as it will, and you will be truly successful in all things.

Your Dad.

p.s. I may add to this as the Lord strikes me… prepare. 🙂

With my fifth child and fourth daughter I found myself thinking it odd to sing “Patty Cake” to her calling her a baker man.  So I changed it up and thought I’d share it.

Patty Cake, Patty Cake Baker Girl

Pit em and Pat em and give em a whirl

Throw em in the oven on the baking rack

And in a few minutes we’ll have a snack!

The hand motions are about the same, but in a few minutes we touch our watch and with “we’ll have a snack”, we rub our belly.  She likes it. Maybe I’ll put it music and sell a CD.

God is good, even in crazy little creations like these.


aacoffin_blackSitting here listening to the ringing of my four oldest children as they play together gives me a moment to contemplate the amazing and glorious gift of God of my family.  At times I feel as though I am truly the richest man that ever lived.  Even in the aggravation of life, I can honestly attest to the reality that our family and our home is a haven of worship, a place where constant reminders of God’s grace sing through the echoes of memories and madness.  A place where there is a people at the heart of it all, a people for God’s glory by the power of His mighty grace.  I’m reminded of the gravity of being a father often, especially in this season as it has been one hard lick after another with “something” just around the corner.  Whether it be problems with our house (firstworld) not coming together or financial strain due to emergencies or the 29 visits to a doctor in 2013 and the related joys that tag along, it all comes in a very small manner, painful but joyful and God is truly using it all to sanctify us.

Our fifth child being born in October has brought a few more experiences, beginning with Robyn, my wife, who had a very difficult pregnancy and bed rest the latter third.  Then the birth in itself was a gift of God’s mercy pushing the physical and emotional limits of our hearts to the peak of failure and even death and all the while, the Lord was there, holding it all together by the Word of His power.  So this day, not yesterday and not the hope of what tomorrow brings but this day is the day for us now.  Now is the time of faith, now is the time of rejoicing and now is the time when all things are for the Glory of our Lord.  My children remind me of this and keep me ever working and hoping, not in a wishful way, in a certain and guaranteed confidence that only comes from God, that His purpose is good for me.  Fatherhood is dear to me, it is something that even as a young boy I desired and I am thankful that the Lord has given me the best and most excellent wife and five wonderful sinners, that by the Lord’s grace, believe on Him (well four at this point).

In this little moment there isn’t much of an argument for me to declare or theological paradigm to proclaim but a small reminder, a big smile and a wonderful glimpse at the Father’s love.  Hearing them play, sing, talk, and work through their own struggles brings me back to my childhood when one of my only fears was the loss of my family.  It really was, I lived in a pretty faith-filled place but when it came to considering one of my parents or grandparents dying I was shaken, not just pouty, but fearful.  I hear my children play and think, “is that their fear?”  Many times in the last 16 years of fatherhood each of my children have expressed this fear.  Daily they all affirm their love for me and their mother through obedience and affection and I know that there will come a day when they will face the reality of the death of their parents.  That day when I or their mother will depart this Earth to receive all that we have longed and held fast for in our lives.

While death is such a sweet and glorious blessing that brings with it no fear, pain or suffering, I have just realized that there is a small amount of fear in me still.  The fear that my children may fear as I feared at their age.  A fear that they would consider life wrecked and hopeless if we died.  And with that thought I can still feel the warm hand of fear in my own soul.  At the same time I rejoice, not because I love the macarbre but mainly because I am satisfied.  I am satisfied that they have the fear of children because they recognize their affection and dependance upon us and because we are their salvation in so many ways.  I know not every family has this that we enjoy and I would be a fool to think it could never end.  But for now, it is what we have and it is to this that I speak.  I am satisfied that the God of my salvation, Jesus Christ has attended to me and will in fact attend to my children.  I am satisfied that true hope is available through the Spirit of Life to them and that we teach them about the reality and certainty of physical death and how it is NOTHING in relation to the death of sin.

I am satisfied to know that my children, even if they are not aware, are prepared by God to face each day He has given them and that with all that I have within me I pray they hold fast to Him forever as He has held fast to them.  I am satisfied that there is no fear in death and that my fear and theirs, even in grief, will be brief and tied to a glorious outcome for their good.  I remember countless death room experiences, some of my own family where the dying would fear what would happen to those left behind.  It is natural, but our life in Christ is above natural, it is above comprehension because it is born of God.

I know that the God of Heaven has established all the days of my life and theirs and that nothing my children accomplish in life will ever make me proud or fulfill my greatest dream or reach their greatest potential except for them to trust fully in the perfect life and finished work of Jesus Christ the Righteous!  I am satisfied knowing that the Lord who began the good work in them will complete it, even if my death in their young lives is part of His glorious grooming and purpose.  But until that day, we fix our eyes not on that which is seen or feared, but the One who is unseen and revealed to us by the Spirit through the Word.  He alone is our peace, He is our comfort, He is our glory, He is our redeemer, He is our sufficient High Priest and He is sufficient to see my children be raised up to lay down their lives for the Gospel.

May the God of all gods and the King of all kings reign supreme in our home and all the days of our lives and God, may the legacy of these parents be one of Christ exalting glory!


Pastor James