My husband and I were convicted by the Lord, even before having children, that we should do our utmost to raise the blessings He has given us in a manner that was pleasing to Him. To this end, we have chosen to homeschool our children and have, over time, embraced the idea that the family is God's chosen building block for all other forms of society. Without a strong family unit, you cannot have a strong community, a strong state, or a strong nation. Even many unbelievers are now encouraging strong family values, because we are confronted by the fruits of a deteriorating culture on a daily basis, and that deteriorating culture began with a deteriorating family unit.
There are many Christian authors and teachers who are also beginning to focus more fully on what God's plan for the family is and how we as family groups can please Him and direct our lives down a path that He has outlined for us in Scripture. I believe that Marc and Cynthia Carrier have humbly sought to teach and lead other families in that very path.
The Values-Driven Family is the Carriers' first book, published in 2006. While this might be their initiation into publishing, they are much more experienced as parents, having been married 12 years and now homeschooling their six children. Not only do they "talk the talk" through their publications, but they are being challenged to "walk the walk" through the raising of their own children.
This 270-page paperback book is divided into four parts. Each part has several chapters all focusing on one major topic. For instance, part one is entitled "The Journey to Family Success." The chapters are full of biblical references as well as practical applications. At the end of each chapter, you are given one or two meaningful but easy to answer questions to help you personalize the chapter.
Also provided at the end of each chapter is a short section entitled "Practical Applications and Additional Resources" and one entitled "For Further Study." Both of these sections would help to facilitate the reading of this book in a study group, or they could make the book a more in-depth personal journey.
Given the depth of material covered and the seriousness with which the Carriers address these issues, it would be easy for this book to be intimidating, particularly to those without much spiritual training. However, their writing style is such that it is in no way intimidating, and would be very encouraging even for families without much church background.
As a complement and counterpart to The Values-Driven Family, the Carriers have also written Values-Driven Discipleship, subtitled Biblical Instruction and Character Training Manual. This 150-page ring-bound book is written more as a workbook, and it is designed to help parents as they strive to provide their children with spiritual instruction.
The first chapter discusses the why and how we should instruct our children in the ways of the Lord, including a section on family devotions and Scripture memory. I found this chapter to be encouraging and helpful, even though our family has been participating in family devotions for a number of years now. Even when you are familiar with a topic, it is easy to forget certain aspects or overlook the fact that you can still improve in that area.
The rest of the book is divided into 12 core values that we should all be striving to instill in our children. Values such as faith, wisdom, love, and self-control--the very character traits that the Lord often reminds us we, as Christians, should be unwaveringly seeking to gain in our own lives.
Each of these sections includes Scripture references explaining God's desire for us in the realm of that particular character trait, the reasons for acquiring it, and the practical applications of that character trait. Again, each of these chapters is written in a down-to-earth manner that makes it easy to understand yet challenging enough for even more mature believers.
I would heartily recommend these resources for any family that desires to draw closer to the Lord. Parents could use them to teach their children or even to gain a more godly character themselves. Leaders of study groups could use them to guide a study of what a godly family entails and how God intends for each family to achieve His righteousness.
The books are available in either printed form ($27.95 per set) or e-book form ($17.95 per set). Also provided on the Values-Driven Family website are articles written by the authors, free downloads, and a blog, all designed to supplement and reinforce what is being taught in their books. The Carriers definitely have something to say, and I think many of us should consider listening.