David-shepherd boy, harpist, poet, soldier, king, husband, father, adulterer, and murderer-is one of my favorite people. Why? Because the antithesis, the battle between good and evil, ran right through him and so very publicly. He was wonderful; he was terrible. He was a sinner; he was "a man after God's own heart." He was the royal ancestor of Jesus-on both sides of the family. That's hard to beat!

How can such a sinner also be "God's man"? That's the mystery and wonder of grace. Psalm 51 provides the answer. This deeply flawed person was also a profoundly broken person. And that's God's way, for which I am very thankful.

And then there's this book. One would think that a book on the nurture of children would have been written by a person who is or was a stellar example of a nurturing parent and teacher. I was neither. For the antithesis runs through me, too. Just ask my children and my former students. This deeply flawed author, however, is also a person redeemed by the blood of Jesus and guided by his Spirit. I did not write this book as a testimony of how I successfully lived out its message, for I couldn't and I didn't. I wrote this book because I felt called and led to do so. It is my contribution to the body.

Why, then, should other parents and teachers, many of whom are far more faithful servants than I in the biblical nurturing of children, give the message of this book any credence? Because like the Berean Christians of old they will have "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what [Jack] said was true." This book is my finite attempt to write what God has said about the nature and the nurture of his children. Both his special and general revelation have been cited as its source. But you must still check it out yourselves against the Word. I hope you will find it faithful.

No other parent or teacher can do perfectly what this book suggests, either. I hope that is some small comfort, lest you become discouraged. Why, then, write such a book? Because God's standards for nurturing children need to be known and attempted. His plumb line must be our baseline from which to operate and evaluate. All parents and teachers are mandated by God to seek to follow his ways in the nurturing of his children. When we fail to measure up-and we will-we like David must go to the throne of grace as broken people seeking forgiveness, renewal, and redirection. David, for the most part, was not a very good parent, but he always was "a man after God's own heart." For he knew where to go and what to do with his failures.

Rather than viewing the message of this book as an all-or-nothing venture then, I suggest that you select a few doable steps to incorporate into your nurturing repertoire. Don't try to do it all; you will only become discouraged. But do something, for God requires effort in his power. Nurturing children is much like the Christian life-one step at a time. With the Apostle Paul we must say and believe and act on the words: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). May God richly bless you as you seek to be faithful in the nurture and admonition of his children in his ways.