Thursday, June 2, 2011

For Instruction In Righteousness - Review

You all know me as the Good Old Days Farm lady who raises herbs and fruit and vegetables… but the most important thing I do here is raise children.  So I would like to take a few minutes today to share with you my  
#1 All-Time-Favorite Parenting Resource.
If you can only buy one book (in addition to the Bible) in all the years of raising your children, this is the book to buy!  No, I don’t get any commission or benefit of any sort by telling  you to buy this book.  It’s just that this book has completely defined the way I parent.  When a Little Farmhand misbehaves, I don’t need to think to myself, “I can’t believe you are behaving this way and completely embarrassing me!!!  What is wrong with you???  You must get this from your father’s side of the family!!!”  This book gives me all the tools I need to deal with sin in my children’s hearts in a way that honors God, respects my children, and keeps me from going crazy.

Doesn’t that almost sound like magic?  So what is this wonderful book?

For Instruction In Righteousness by Pam Forster

Pam Forster, seasoned mother of 6 children, has put together this wonderful resource!  It’s 366 pages long, so before you get intimidated by its sheer size, let me tell you… this is not a book for reading!  It’s more like a concordance for parents.  Here’s how it works:

An Example From Our Home:

One day we were celebrating the birthday of one of the Little Farmhands.  We went to the zoo and had a wonderful time together!  When we got home, everybody was tired including (or maybe especially!) we parents.  Papa the Farmer was going to make his special gluten free rosemary pizza for us and he asked one of the Little Farmhands to go out into the garden and get some rosemary.  Now this particular child has done this many, many times before.  This is not a difficult or unreasonable task.

But the farmhand did not obey.  This child just looked blankly at Papa the Farmer.  Between him and I (not realizing the other parent had already asked), this child was asked to go pick the rosemary three times, and still didn’t move.  It was definitely time for some discipline.

Now, remember, we were all tired.  But still, tiredness is not an excuse to disobey.  So, instead of getting upset and yelling, “We’ve already told you three times to go!  How come you haven’t gone yet?  How many times do we have to tell you? Yada yada yada” (which would have resulted in the child thinking we were crazy…) here’s how we handled it:

I pulled out my copy of For Instruction In Righteousness and found “Disobedience” listed among the 52 sins commonly found in children.  Disobedience is listed under “Sins of the Heart,” but there are several other categories covered in this book as well.  Here’s the Table of Contents for you to peek at:

TOC 1 Final
Very Final 2 

I turned to the section on Disobedience.  There are 8 pages devoted to this one topic.  I am not going to go through everything about disobedience in one sitting.  So for the moment I just scan the list called “General Information and Commandments About This Sin” and pick one main point to share.  On this day I chose to read Hebrews 13:17, a verse that points out that we should obey the authorities put over us, because they are watching out for our souls.  (Pam Foster lists each verse along with a summary of what you will find in that verse when you look it up in the Bible.  How handy!)

The next section is entitled “What Happens, or Should Happen, to the Disobedient Person?”  I really like this section because it helps me develop a punishment that “fits the crime” instead of just being a crazy lady who doles out random punishments all the time.  In this case, I chose 3 Bible verses to share with my little one.  Proverbs 2:22 says that the disobedient will be “cut off from the earth”, Proverbs 10:27 says that the years of the wicked will be shortened and Proverbs 10:28 says “expectation will perish.”  So, by combining these verses, the punishment that we developed was that the child who had disobeyed would have to be “cut off” from the family by going to bed early (“shortened days”).  Since the child had not done their part in helping to prepare the Happy Birthday supper, their expectation to enjoy the meal was not fulfilled.  We allowed the child to eat something simple, but it wasn’t fun birthday food.  (Ok, we did show grace and mercy by waiting to eat the special birthday dessert until the next day.)

Wow!  What an extraordinarily effective punishment this was!  The child’s comment while lying in bed before everyone else had gone to bed was “It’s so hard to stay in here!” I have also noticed that all the children have been extra mindful to obey after seeing this mini-drama play out. 

The next morning I pulled out my book again.  A list called “The Blessings of Obedience” helped me to share with my little one that God promises that the obedient will be happy (John 13:17), will have a long peaceful life (Proverbs 3:1-2, Exodus 20:2) and it will go well with him (Deuteronomy 5:16).   There are also Bible stories about the blessings of obedience that we can choose to read if we want and even a list of memory verses specifically dealing with obedience.

Can you imagine how much time I would have to spend with my concordance to come up with that all by myself?  Hours and hours!  But with For Instruction In Righteousness I am able to pull all this together in just a couple of minutes!  If my children disobey again, there is still so much information that we didn’t cover so we can come back and have another lesson about obedience with all new-to-us examples from the Bible!  (And another lesson… and another lesson… and another lesson…)  And we can do this for any sin in my children’s lives!  (Or any sin in my own life.  Ouch!)

Which edition?  The New or the Old?

Doorposts originally printed this book in 1993.  Since then they’ve done a bit of updating and have now published a new “updated” edition!  On their website they say that if you already have the old edition you don’t need to upgrade to the new edition.  I didn’t believe them, so I went ahead and upgraded.  I figured that if $33 spent on this book can help me set my children’s feet on the right path, then that $33 is an investment in eternity and well worth every penny.

The fact is, they were telling the truth.  I really didn’t need to upgrade.  The new version covers everything the old version covers.  Nothing has been taken out.  There are a few items that have been moved to a different, more logical section of the book, and a couple of Bible verses have been added here and there.  Fonts have been changed and there are 14 pages of appendix that have been added.  (The new appendix covers "Helping Your Child Learn from Scripture,” “Using For Instruction In Righteousness for Life-Changing Bible Study,” and “Thoughts on Rewarding Children”.)

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two versions:

Obedience Comparision
The old version is on the left and the new version is on the right.  You can click on the image to enlarge it.  Any verses that appear to be left out of the new version have actually just been moved to a more logical spot a few pages later.

Here’s the long-and-the-short of it.  Either book is a great investment!  I’m glad that I upgraded, because the new version is mildly easier to use and now I have an extra copy to share with friends!

How can YOU get a copy of “For Instruction In Righteousness”?

Easy!  Just go to to order it!  The new version is being sold for $33 right now and it is well, well worth every penny!  And while supplies last, they are clearing out the older edition for only $23!  Either one is a great buy if you just want a little help raising children in a Christ-centered, Godly way.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I just love the insight you have given to me, I needed it! I would very much love to have all the Godly instructions for our children. God Bless You and your Family

  2. You are most welcome. Like I said, this book has completely changed the direction of my parenting. If I can be of more help, feel free to email me privately: God bless you and your family, too. =)