Because some people supposedly care so much, our nation spends hundreds of billions every year, and we have changed longstanding traditions. What if the people who care so much really only care about themselves? What if we have spent trillions of dollars and departed from fundamentally sound traditions for the sake of lies? Here are […]
Category: (3) Parenting
There are three basic elements involved in leading a child to a saving relationship with Christ: prayer, example, and age-appropriate instruction. We lead a child to Christ through the diligent application of all three elements from the time before the child is born.
The importance of prayer in the process of evangelizing children cannot be overstated. From the time of conception, parents should be seeking God’s wisdom for themselves and grace for their unborn child. God has promised to give wisdom liberally to all who ask Him (James 1:5), and His wisdom in all aspects of parenting is essential, but nowhere is it more important than in spiritual matters. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is by grace through the gift of faith, so our prayers for our children’s salvation should be centered upon seeking that gift of faith for them. We should pray for the Holy Spirit to draw our children to God from their earliest days and to sustain them through a life of faith and service to God until they are safely secure in heaven for all eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14). We should pray that God will draw us to Himself and become a reality in our lives so that we can be good role models for our children.
Our example as children of God provides the best visual model of the relationship with Christ we wish our children to have. When our children see us on our knees daily, they perceive that prayer is a regular part of life. When they see us continually in the Scriptures, studying, feeding and meditating on God’s Word, they realize the importance of the Bible without our having to say a word. When they perceive that we not only know God’s Word, but endeavor to live it out in practical ways every day, they come to understand the power of the Word in a life lived in its light. Conversely, if a child sees that mom or dad has a Sunday “persona” which differs drastically from the person they see every day, they will be quick to spot the hypocrisy. Many children have been ‘turned off’ to church and to Christ by two-faced role models. This is not to say that God can’t overrule our faults and failures, but we must be ready to confess them to God, admit our failures to our children, and make every effort to “walk the talk.”
Furthermore, providing age-appropriate instruction in spiritual matters is crucial to leading a child to Christ. There are myriads of children’s books and resources such as children’s Bibles, children’s Bible story books and music for all age levels to read, sing and memorize. Relating every aspect of a child’s life to spiritual truth is also an important part of spiritual training. Every time a child sees a flower or a sunset or a bird, there is ample opportunity for parents to relate the beauty and wonder of God’s creative power (Psalm 19:1-6). Whenever our children feel safe and secure in our love, we have the opportunity to relate to them how much greater the love of their heavenly Father is. When they are hurt by others, we can explain the reality of sin and the only cure for it—the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for us.
Finally, sometimes an inordinate amount of importance is placed on getting a child to “say the prayer” or “walk the aisle” as evidence of his/her decision to trust Christ as Savior. While these moments can be valuable in cementing in a child’s mind when and how he/she came to Christ, salvation is the Spirit’s work in a heart. True salvation results in a life of progressive sanctification and discipleship, and this must be communicated as well.
God created the family. His design was for a man and a woman to marry for life and raise children to know and honor Him (Mark 10:9; Malachi 2:15). Adoption is also God’s idea, and He models this in His adoption of us as His children (Romans 8:15, 23; Ephesians 1:5). Regardless of the means by which they enter a family, children are a gift from God and He cares about how they are raised (Psalm 127:3; Psalm 34:11; Proverbs 23:13–14). When God gives us gifts, He also gives clear instructions about their use.
When God led the Israelites out of bondage, He commanded them to teach their children all He had done for them (Deuteronomy 6:6–7; 11:19). He desired that the generations to come would continue to uphold all His commands. When one generation fails to instill God’s laws in the next, a society quickly declines. Parents have not only a responsibility to their children, but an assignment from God to impart His values and truth into their lives.
Several places in Scripture give specific instructions to parents about how to raise their children. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” There are several ways parents might provoke their children to anger. Some parents set impossible standards so that a child despairs of ever achieving them. Some parents tease, ridicule, or humiliate their children as a means of punishment, which does nothing but provoke them to anger. Inconsistency can also provoke to anger as a child is never sure about the consequences of his actions. Hypocrisy provokes children to anger when parents require behavior from children that the parents are not choosing for themselves.
To “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” means that parents should train their children the way God trains us. As a Father, God is “slow to anger” (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 145:8), patient (Psalm 86:15), and forgiving (Daniel 9:9). His discipline is designed to bring us to repentance (Hebrews 12:6–11). His instruction is found in His Word (John 17:17; Psalm 119:97), and He desires that parents fill their homes with His truth (Deuteronomy 6:67).
He also disciplines His children (Proverbs 3:11; Hebrews 12:5) and expects earthly parents to do the same (Proverbs 23:13). Psalm 94:12 says, “Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.” The word discipline comes from the root word disciple. To discipline someone means to make a disciple of him. God’s discipline is designed to “conform us to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29). Parents can make disciples of their children by instilling values and life lessons they have learned. As parents practice godly living and make Spirit-controlled decisions (Galatians 5:16, 25), they can encourage their children to follow their example. Proper, consistent discipline brings a “harvest of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Failure to discipline results in dishonor for both parent and child (Proverbs 10:1). Proverbs 15:32 says that the one who ignores discipline “despises himself.” The Lord brought judgment upon Eli the priest because he allowed his sons to dishonor the Lord and “failed to restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13).
Children are a “heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). He places them in families and gives parents guidance in how they are to be raised. The goal of good parenting is to produce wise children who know and honor God with their lives. Proverbs 23:24 shows the end result of raising children according to God’s plan: “The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise” (NLT).
Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Training involves purposeful, consistent, and diligent actions. But one research project found, on average, fathers in America spend five minutes or less each day talking with their children.
God has a plan to train children as He intended. Teaching our kids starts with a foundation of love. All people, especially the young, desperately need to feel accepted, loved, and valued. If they don’t find validation at home, they’ll look elsewhere. Children need to hear their parents say things like, “I love you,” “I value you,” and “You have what it takes.”
A second part of training a child involves the parent’s relationship with God. We can’t share what we don’t have. A person’s relationship with Jesus must be real and exciting. Otherwise, it’ll be impossible to teach others about how to have intimacy with the Lord.
You can use two effective training tools with children. The first one is your testimony. Share what God is doing in your life. The second tool is your example. A powerful lesson is driven home when a child sees his parent admitting fault, asking for forgiveness, or expressing gratitude for God’s mercy. The stakes are high. If we disobey the Lord and fail to teach our little ones correctly, we make them vulnerable to the world’s teaching. Not only does this harm our precious children; it also hinders the next generation.
I will never forget a young boy who came up to me after a men’s prayer meeting. For some time, his grandmother had been fighting cancer, and the news kept getting worse and worse. This child shared that his family had prayed together for many months. And with excitement, he added that they had just gotten word the cancer was gone.
There is no better way for kids to learn to pray. This child’s parents didn’t just speak about bringing requests to God; they modeled it. As a result, the lesson will stay with their son throughout his life.
This example demonstrates a powerful principle: Kids learn best when taught by example. They watch everything Mom and Dad do—and they’re great imitators.
Think about all the positive and negative ways this truth can play out. For example, if we want children to be obedient to the Lord, we are wise to live godly lives in front of them. And if we pray in a fervent, honest way, they are likely to learn that habit as well, and turn to God for guidance, strength, and security. On the other hand, we might think of habits or choices that we hope the kids won’t pick up. That’s why it’s a good idea to take “inventory” of the lessons that our lives are teaching about faith, values, friends, priorities, and finances.
Consider what your children will be like if they follow in your footsteps exactly. Then think about which areas of your life might need adjustment. Pray for discernment—and the strength to make any necessary changes. Remember, your offspring will likely reflect your life, so be sure that you are a reflection of God to them.
For believers in Jesus Christ, the question of whether or not a Christian education is important seems obvious. The answer would be an emphatic “Yes!” So why ask the question? It’s because the question comes from a myriad of perspectives within the Christian faith. Maybe the question should be “who is responsible for introducing my child to Christianity?” or “should my child’s education be done in a public, private or home-based system?” There is no shortage of opinions on this topic, some very strongly held and endlessly and emotionally debated.
As we begin to search for a biblical perspective, we come to the definitive Old Testament passage on educating children found in Deuteronomy 6:5-8: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Hebrew history reveals that the father was to be diligent in instructing his children in the ways and words of the Lord for their own spiritual development and well-being. The message in this passage is repeated in the New Testament where Paul exhorts parents to raise children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Proverbs 22:6 also tells us to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Training includes not only formal education, but also the first instructions parents give to a child, i.e., his early education. This training is designed to plant the child firmly on the foundation upon which his life is based.
As we move to the subject of formal education, however, there are misunderstandings that need to be addressed. First, God is not saying that only parents are to educate children as many would assert, and, second, He is not saying that public education is bad and we are to educate our children only in Christian schools or home schools. The principle found throughout all of Scripture is that of ultimate responsibility. God never directs parents to avoid education outside of the home; in fact, it isn’t even addressed. So, to say that the only “biblical” method of formal education is home schools or Christian schools would be adding to God’s Word, and we want to avoid using the Bible to validate our own opinions. Just the opposite is true: we want to base our opinions on the Bible. We also want to avoid the argument that only “trained” teachers are capable of educating our children. Again, the issue is that of ultimate responsibility, which belongs to parents.
The issue in Scripture is not what type of general education our children receive, but through what paradigm that information is to be filtered. For example, a homeschooler can be given a “Christian” education but fail in life because he or she does not truly know the God of Scripture and does not truly understand scriptural principles. Likewise, a child educated publicly can grow to understand the fallacies of the world’s wisdom by seeing its failure through God’s Word which has been diligently taught to him at home. Information is being sifted through a biblical lens in both cases, but true spiritual understanding only exists in the latter. Similarly, a student can attend a Christian school but never grow to understand God in an intimate, personal relationship. Ultimately, it is the parents who are responsible for shaping and molding the child in a way that will succeed in accomplishing true spiritual education.
In Hebrews 10:25, God gives Christians the command, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The body of Christ is an integral part of the education of children, assisting parents in nurturing and educating children in spiritual matters. Exposure to something outside of the family structure, in this case sound biblical teaching from church and Sunday school, is good and necessary.
So, no matter what type of institution of learning we choose, parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s spiritual education. A Christian school teacher can be wrong, a pastor and Sunday school teacher can be wrong, and parents can be wrong on any particular viewpoint theologically. So, as we teach our children spiritual things, they need to understand that the only source of absolute truth is the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, perhaps the most important lesson we can teach our children is to follow the example of the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11), and to test all things they are taught—from whatever source—against the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
In Deuteronomy 23:2, the Mosaic Law says, “The child begotten out of wedlock or incest shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” What this was saying is the child born out of wedlock was illegitimate and unworthy of Israelite citizenship for ten generations. This does not mean, as some mistakenly think, that an illegitimate person cannot be saved or be used greatly by God. His mercy and grace through Christ are sufficient for all.
In the New Testament, Hebrews 12:8 mentions “But if you are without correction, where all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.” This is telling us that whom the Lord loves He chastens, and corrects every child of His. Those He does not correct and discipline are not really His children, and therefore, will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We must be one of God’s own, born from above, to enter into Heaven.
So we can clearly see that anyone who trusts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. John 3:16-18 says it all, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned; but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
When God looks down on His children who have received that free gift of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He does not see our nationality, color, legitimacy or non-legitimacy of birth, only the righteousness of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). We are not saved because of who we are from birth; rather, we are saved because of who we become at the new birth. We become new creations in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When a child born out of wedlock is born again, he/she becomes a son or daughter of the living God (John 1:12).
In Psalm 139 David is praising God for “You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!”
We can easily forget how powerful a parent’s influence is upon a child. A simple, offhand comment from a distracted mom or dad may be all it takes to plant a seed of insecurity that rankles for years. Let’s consider some ways we could inadvertently cause a lack of confidence in our kids.
First, a home atmosphere marked by chaos and volatility will keep children off balance, on guard, and nervous. As adults, they may feel rejected or unloved and therefore are prone to see themselves as unworthy of acceptance and affection.
Second, negative comments about a child’s performance or character strike at the heart of his or her personhood and significantly affect personal development.
Third, unrealistic expectations can weigh a child down, often creating the feeling of conditional love. That is, the child may believe that his parents will love him only if he lives up to their expectations—whether in academics, athletics, or some other area.
Fourth, a lack of positive reinforcement can be crippling. Imagine how it would feel if you did your absolute best whenever you tried something but never heard the slightest word of encouragement? Such a situation leads to a person having no perception of or confidence in his abilities.
The job of raising children isn’t simple or without challenges. But even when facing frustrations—whether related to family or external causes—be mindful that words and actions powerfully influence your sons and daughters. Whatever their ages, choose to instill a spirit of confidence in your children.
This love is the same love that compelled the Savior to teach the disciples God’s Word and to demonstrate God’s love for us through His death and resurrection (1 John 4:7-8). There is no end to how much God loves us and desires to bless us. The intention of God in the creation of man was to have fellowship with Him. First John 4 tells us that once we recognize this, it enables us to love others. Whether we view every child as a blessing from God depends on how much we see that child as God sees him. When we look at each child through the eyes of God, there is no question that every one is a blessing from Him. If we look at that child through the eyes of sin, then we would doubt that blessing because we focus on the creature and not the Creator.
It is God’s plan and desire that each child be born according to His plan for us and that is through marriage. When that does not happen, it does not exclude the fact of God’s love and care for the child. David concluded in Psalm 139:17 that God’s thoughts for His people were indeed precious and innumerable. The most practical application of this is seen in the lineage of Christ in Matthew 1. All through the names, we recognize those who failed in life in some way and see those who were born of illegitimacy and sin. This did not disrupt the fact that God’s Word was fulfilled and brought the blessing of salvation to man.