FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Addressing the Heart

with Tedd and Margy Tripp | September 29, 2010
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There are two things parents need - energy and wisdom. Today, Tedd and Margy Tripp pass along some practical parental wisdom they’ve learned over the 20 plus years they parented their own three children. The Tripps exhort parents to address a child’s heart, not just their outward behavior.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • There are two things parents need - energy and wisdom. Today, Tedd and Margy Tripp pass along some practical parental wisdom they’ve learned over the 20 plus years they parented their own three children. The Tripps exhort parents to address a child’s heart, not just their outward behavior.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

There are two things parents need – energy and wisdom.

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Addressing the Heart

With Tedd and Margy Tripp
September 29, 2010
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Bob:  As parents, we realize that we need to find our security, our hope, our everything in Jesus.  That’s something Margy Tripp says we need to be teaching our children as well.

Margy:  Christ is for me everything that I need in order to be okay.  Do I need a friend?  He is the best friend.  Do I need a comforter, a provider, a defender?  Whatever I need, Christ is that.  So when I say flee to the cross, beat a path of the cross, I mean teaching children that in Christ there are all the resources that we need.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday September 29th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey.  And I'm Bob Lepine.  Tedd and Margy Tripp, join us today to talk about what it means to bring up a child in the nurture and the instruction of the Lord.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  I have determined you need, you really need two things to be a parent.  You need –

Dennis:  Is this like Curly’s one thing in the movie?


Bob:  It's this one thing.

Dennis:  One thing.

Bob:  Two things. 

Dennis:  Or Gary Smalley.


Bob:  Here are the three things.  Gary has three things.  Three things that the researcher shows.  This is powerful and profound.  Never mind, I won’t go there.

Dennis:  But you have two things for what?

Bob:  I have determined that there are two things.

Dennis:  I can't wait. 

Bob:  That every parent needs to be effective as a parent.  The first thing is you need enough energy to sustain yourself, right?  The second thing is you need wisdom to know how to handle whatever comes at you.  Now, here is my question.  God gives you kids when you have got the energy but you don’t have the wisdom.

Dennis:  Isn’t that the truth?

Bob:  And now that I have got a little more wisdom but no energy –


You know could we have done it all at the same time, right.

Dennis:  Well, here is the deal.  I have made this statement who knows how many times here on FamilyLife Today.  I mistakenly thought that God gave me six kids to help them grow up.

Tedd:  He gave to you to help you grow up.

Dennis:  That’s the point.

Tedd:  That’s it.

Dennis:  I think parenting is God’s final call to a human being grow up, don’t be like them.  Put away your childishness.

Well, that was the voice of Pastor Tedd Tripp, he joins us in the studio along with his wife Margy, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Margy:  Thank you.

Tedd:  Thank you.

Dennis:  They have book called Instructing A Child’s Heart and I am going to turn right to page 41.  You believe as you saved your book here that parenting is helping your children interpret life from God’s perspective.  The word for that in the Bible is the word Bob used Wisdom.

Tedd:  That’s right.

Dennis:  You spell out and there are probably 10 things you list here that were what you and Margy felt like were the core issues.  You were trying to help your children understand, share that with our audience, please.

Tedd:  Yes, these things that we have listed here on these pages let me just even step behind that for a minute to say our children cannot interpret life accurately unless they understand these truths because they are really foundational truths. 

Recognizing that life doesn’t consistent in the abundance of possessions.  I can't measure how well life is by how much stuff I am getting or having or retaining. Needing to walk in wisdom and to submit to God’s agenda for us rather than to create my own agenda.  Trying to understand what God is bringing into my life.

Dennis:  Realizing there is a God.

Tedd:  That’s right.

Bob:  And it's not you.

Tedd:  Yes, that’s right.


Dennis:  It's not the child.  It's not that parent.

Tedd:  God is bringing life to me and I need to receive what God brings and have the wisdom to accept from God’s hand what God brings me because God brings wonderful blessings.  He also brings incredible disappointments to us.  Life has made up of both of those things and helping children learn that God is in them. 

God is not just there in the wonderful things but God is there in the disappointing times too because God has a bigger agenda for me and just having me to be happy at this moment.  He wants me to be like Christ and he uses the moments, the happiness, the unhappiness to shape me and to make me like Christ.

Dennis:  You know what I am going to do here.  I am going to put all of these on our website at so folks can go access them because I think they need to be able to read all 10 of these.  But I want you to share each of you, your favorite from the remaining ones that are in this list.

Margy:  Well, I will start by going to the last one in the list.  There is a sowing and reaping principle in the Bible and we need to develop a harvest mentality.  In our world, we don’t like consequences.  We want to blame everything on others.  We are blame shifting people.  Our children live in that culture and have been powerfully affected by it and so you will hear children on the phone saying you won't believe what my mother is doing to me now or you won't believe what my teacher is making me do.  That’s because they have been taught consistently in a culture never to take responsibility and always to pass responsibility onto someone else. 

Children need to learn that they live in a world where God has built-in consequences.  They are both positive and negative.  They need to understand how that works.  If they are going to live in ways where they benefit from the consequences sometimes the negative consequences that come to them and learn to own their behavior and learn the lessons that come to us as a result of the consequences that God has built in.

Dennis:  What’s your last favorite one, Tedd?

Tedd:  Yes, I think my favorite one would be that the heart cannot be trusted.  Jeremiah 17:9, the heart is deceitful, desperately wicked.  We can't trust our hearts.  One of the worst pieces of advice we can give people is just follow your heart because our hearts can't be trusted.  The heart is as Proverbs 4:23 says the wellspring of life. 

Now, that may sound very negative to say you can't trust your heart, heart is deceitful.  But what we are really saying is that there are all kinds of desires and aspirations and goals I have within me that are very self-serving.  It's so easy for me to become entrapped in those things and think that’s what will make life work for me.  In that sense the heart is deceitful because my heart tells me lies.

Dennis:  Yes and I will give you an illustration of this.  One time I was driving down the road with one of my children.  I will just allow them to be anonymous here and I was talking about relating to the opposite sex.  The child looked to me and said, “Daddy, you don’t trust me.” 

I said you know what, you are right sweet heart, but I want you to know first and foremost, I don’t trust myself because I don’t go out to lunch with other women, other than your mother.  I don’t ride alone in a car with a woman who isn’t my wife.  I don’t meet behind closed doors with women by myself.  I leave the door open if there is no window where you can see in.  I said I want you to know I don’t trust my own heart.

Tedd:  That’s right.

Dennis:  All I am trying to do is help you understand what your boundaries are here so that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you make a mistake.

Tedd: And see the benefit of that instruction for your child is that she may be thinking she can trust yourself.  She is too young to realize the wisdom of what you are telling to her.  It’s so important for you to be coming to her with that truth and help her to see yes that’s true of you.  It's true of me.  It's true of everyone.  Our hearts are filled with desires and passions, they tend to be self-serving and self-centered because we are compulsively self-loving therefore we can't trust ourselves.

Bob: You put your list of these in your book but if we open up our Bibles to the middle, there is a whole book there where the King, Solomon, listed not just 10 or 100 but hundreds of principles of wisdom that are a great place for parents.  You   used to take your kids out to breakfast and go through a proverbs Bible study with them.

Dennis:  Yeah, you are talking about the Book of Proverbs.

Tedd:  Right.

Bob:  Yeah, the Book of Proverbs is that instruction from a parent to a child.  It's these wisdom principles that we can just go to and say look, here is what the Bible says about this, here is how I have learned it and experienced it in my own life.  Son or daughter, I want you to be wise.  I need to implore you to be wise.

Dennis:  And to that point the proverb say, guard your heart for from it flow the wellsprings of life.

Tedd:  That’s right.

Dennis:  And you really believe that parenting ultimately is addressing the heart.  What do you think the scriptures are talking about Tedd when they talk about the heart?

Tedd:  You know it's interesting.  We tend in our culture to think of the heart as the emotional feeling side of us and the mind is that calculating reasoning side of us.  The Bible doesn’t use the term “heart” in that way. 

We think with the hearts.  Mary takes these things.  She ponders it in her heart.  We know in our hearts, know in your heart that as a man disciplines his son so the Lord disciplines you.  We see with our heart.  May the eyes of your heart be opened. 

The Bible uses the term heart to describe the center core of our being.  I think that it is a basket term that carries in it other things like things about the soul, the spirit, the mind of man.  The Bible uses the term “heart” as a summary term to describe all of those things.  It's the center core of our being.

Bob:  Our emotions are of part of that.

Tedd:  Emotions are part of that.  Our thinking is a part of that.  Our relationships are part of that.  Worship is a part of that.  Our desires.  The Bible translates it sometimes lust or desires.  Epithumeo is a Greek word.  It is those epi-desires and those things have set course life for us.  They reside within the heart.

Bob:  It's the personality control-center.  Really the heart is what directs your life. Whether it's that you are ruled by your emotions or you are ruled by your thoughts or you are ruled by peer influence, it's all what controls your life. That’s your heart, right?

Margy:  That’s right.  Our hearts are also storehouses.  We have that wonderful passage that paints this picture of the heart being a storehouse. 

A good man brings good out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil out of the evil stored up in his heart.  What gets stored in there is profoundly important because when the mouth opens, when the hands act, when the feet go, it's going to disclose what’s in the heart.

Bob:  Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, the hands operate. That’s why the proverbs say that we are to trust in the Lord with our whole control center.  Our whole heart leaning not on our own understanding and in all our ways acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.

Tedd:  Yes, one of my kids said to me one time “Dad, I am really having trouble trusting God in this situation.” 

I said “well, who are you trusting?  What are you trusting?   Because when we are having trouble trusting God we haven’t stopped being trusters.  We are just trusting something else.  Our own ideas, someone else’s ideas but we are always trusting.

Bob:  We like our own wisdom better than God sometimes, don’t we?

Dennis:  We do one of the lists you have in your book is a description of all the adjectives in the Bible that are used to describe the heart.  I really found this interesting.  I am not going to read all of them but here are some of the words. Notice that some are positive and some are negative. 

Adulteress, astray, bitter, blighted, broken, but then there is blameless, contrite, crushed, darkened, deadened, deceitful, diluted, devoted, envious, evil, faint—you can just keep on listing.

Bob:  You only get to the F’s.

Dennis:  Yes.  I can finish it out—sinful, steadfast, troubled, unfeeling, upright, unsearchable, weary, wicked, wise, and wounded.  I mean our hearts, there is a reason why Solomon said guard your heart for from it flow the wellsprings of life. Now we have a father in the studio who has been listening to this broadcast.

Bob:  We have been getting questions from, can you call us the peanut gallery.  It is a kind of a one-man peanut gallery. 

Dennis:  One-man peanut gallery, but I am just wondering if Todd has a question about the heart of one of his children.

Bob:  And Todd you are the father of four, is that right?

Todd:  That is correct.

Bob:  You have got a six-year-old, a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a one-year-old?

Todd:  Three-year-old and two-month-old.

Bob:  Okay alright and do you have a question related to the heart of your children?

Todd:  Actually I do.  Going along with the list Dennis just read our child seems to exhibit a lot of that in their heart and we have tried all forms of discipline.  We have tried grace.  We have tried love and we have not found anything that we can tell has got into that child’s heart, so what should we do?

Bob:  How do you chase that stuff out of a child’s heart?

Margy:  You can't.  What we have to do is remain faithful.  We have to take all of the occasions that present themselves throughout the day to address the specific issue in that long list and take the child again to the gospel to the fact that Christ is able to overcome our biggest problems.  Then I think also and this has to do with seeing the occasions of discipline and correction as opportunities to take note of the child’s deepest needs. 

Depending on the age of the child we need to devise prayer times certainly in the morning, approaching the day with prayer for this child’s deepest needs, assuring them of Christ’s ability.  I think of 2 Peter 1:2-3 his divine power has given us, that’s an act already accomplished, has given us everything we need for life in godliness. 

Now it is important for young children to know that they can come to us and we will help them find the cross.  We want increasingly for them to learn how to find the cross themselves as they learn to trust Jesus.

Bob:  Explain what you mean by that, for them to find the cross, what are you talking about?

Margy:  I believe that involved in that is seeing that relationship with God was lost in the fall.  That wonderful connection that gave Adam and Eve everything that they needed, answered all their questions.  If you think about it, that was the pre-fall picture of being alive, of being complete.  Of course the fall changed all of that. 

But God has given the Lord Jesus Christ to bridge that gap and he has become what makes us once again alive to God.  We are complete Christ.  Christ is for me, everything that I need in order to be okay, do I need a friend?  He is the best friend.  Do I need a comforter, a provider, a defender, an advocate, a shelter of strong tower of rock.  Whatever I need Christ is that. 

So when I say flee to the cross, beat a path to the cross.  I mean teaching children that in Christ there are all the resources that we need and as we come to him, certainly initially repenting and believing in him, but then over and over and over again bringing our weakness and our failure to him. 

He is a sufficient savior for all of those needs. 

Bob:  You talk about bringing children to the cross rather than just saying bringing them to Christ, because you really want us to remember redemption in the midst of this.  To remember that what we are bringing is our junk and you leave that at the cross where divine forgiveness is offered but you find there the power for transformation, because the Bible story doesn’t end at the cross.  It concludes with an empty tomb where the power of the resurrection is there to transform a life.

Tedd:  You know I think one of the things that I just want make a sidebar comment here is that in all these things that we have been talking about as we have done these programs with you, this is all a process, it’s not an event.  So often parents are looking for an event.  We have this big event of correction and ever after the child does exactly what I exhorted them to do.  It’s not the way it works.

Dennis:  It’s fixed.

Tedd:  Yes, there are no fixes like that.  It’s in process where I am just daily living independence on God myself.  I am bringing myself to Christ.  I am bringing myself before my children, I failed, please forgive daddy I was very angry.  I spoke to you in a ways I shouldn’t have spoken, please forgive me.  I have asked God to forgive me.  I need your forgiveness, too.  I am confessing and acknowledging my own sin.  I am bringing them to Christ again and again.  I am bringing God’s truth again and again.  It’s a process.

Bob:  And you know as you are talking about this and Dennis, I think this is critical for parents, we either parent out of the abundance of the life that we are drawing from our walk with Christ, or out of the scarcity.  A lot of times parents are exhausted in their parenting job because there is not the abundance in their own life.  There is not their own experience of walking with God.  You have to have that foundation built in order to be the parent God’s called you to be.

Dennis:  Yes and it’s going back to the heart.  What’s the command to the parent as well as the child?  It’s when Jesus was asked, what’s the greatest commandment in the law?  He said you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. 

I have in my Bible right above this passage which is Matthew 22:34-40, I have three words written at the top of that passage, which is about the command to love God and also love your neighbor. 

I have these three words written the great surrender.  It really is what a parent is training a child to learn to do for the rest of his or her life.  Who among us can say the need for me to surrender is over and done with?  I am still learning to surrender, learning to obey.  I do think there is something within a parents’ set of desires, he really doesn’t want to be done with it Tedd, I mean to put it bluntly.

Tedd:  I think you are right, that’s always our temptation.  We want it to be over and done.  We want to never have to struggle with this again, but I want that in a lot of areas of my life. 

I want to paint a room and never have to paint that room again but I lived in the same house since ‘78, we have painted them all several times.  I think parenting is like that.  It is not something we are over and done with.  I think if we get a hold of the idea that it’s a process we realize that there is a process of God’s grace working in us, too.  God is growing us, as you said earlier Dennis.  He is teaching us our need of Christ and we are learning how to bring that need of Christ to our children, each of these kids are different. 

The ways I am going to talk to one child is going to be different than to another child because they are different people.  But I am taking in to account who they are as individuals, but bringing God’s grace and God’s goodness to them all the time.

Bob:  I just think we need to figure out a way to get to hospitals and when babies are born have them hand out a copy of Tedd & Margie’s book to every parent and as I hear the instructional manual go.

Dennis:  Yes and instead of then setting their children on their laps and saying oh, Amy you are just a sweet, cute, lovable, sinner.  Instead they need to set the parents on somebody’s lap and  say you have just begin to commence growing up in earnest.  I just want you to know as we give you this child, this is God’s instruction manual, this child is going to teach you more about yourself about life and about God, maybe then any other human being on the planet with the exception of our spouse.  

I just want to say thanks to you Margy and Tedd for your faithfulness over the years to write books that are not fluff.  And there is nothing fluffy about what you have written here, this is anchored in the Bible and when you start dealing with issues of the heart it’s tough stuff, and I am grateful to the God for you and hope you will come back and join us again on FamilyLife Today.

Tedd:  Thank you, we have been delighted to be with you.  It’s a joy.

Margy:  Thank you.

Bob:  Well and because they don’t hand out the books at the hospital you can call us, you can go online at and to get more information about Tedd and Margy Tripp’s book Instructing a Child’s Heart or about Tedd’s previous book Shepherding a Child’s Heart classic book.  These are must read books for parents. 

Again you can get more information at or, call toll-free 1-800 "F" as in Family, "L" as in Life, and then the word TODAY and we will make arrangements to have the books you need sent to you. 

You know we often get great feedback from listeners, some suggestions about possible topics we can cover on FamilyLife Today.  Feedback about how God is using this program in your life, in your marriage, in your family.  We have folks who offer constructive criticism about things that you hear on the program.

Whatever it is we love hearing from listeners, we appreciate your comments, we appreciate your prayers, we appreciate the fact that you listen to FamilyLife Today and we are grateful for those of you who help support the ministry. 

We are listener supported and the fact that we are on the air today is all because someone like you has made a donation in previous days to help us make sure the bills are paid.  We appreciate those of you who partner with us, financially here on FamilyLife Today.

In fact this month if you can make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry, we would love to send you a four-CD series that features more than four hours of conversation on the subject of how you can grow a spiritually strong family.  We have taken themes from a book that Dennis and Barbara Rainey wrote a number of years ago on that subject and the CD set is available as our thank-you gift to you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month again with the donation of any amount. 

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And we hope you will be back with us tomorrow.  Michael Emlet is going to join with us and we are going to talk about how all of God’s word is profitable and how we can do a better job of understanding some of those passages that may leave you scratching your head from time to time.  We will talk about that tomorrow.  I hope you can join us. 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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