“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” – Psalm 78:4
When I read the Bible there is a thread woven through that strikes me whenever I come across it. It is God’s love for children and his command that we adults tell them about him. You can’t escape it in the Old Testament. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” - Deuteronomy 6:6. See also Deuteronomy 4:9 and 11:19.
Joel 1:3 gives warning to, “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.” The book of Joshua talks of several heaps of stones built as monuments of remembrance for the coming generations (see Joshua 4:21-22). The entire Psalm 78 is dedicated to telling the coming generations of what the Lord has done for his people.
In the New Testament we see Jesus gathering children to himself to be blessed. He knows there is no better place for them to be than in his presence. He openly receives them and sternly tells his disciples not to keep them away.
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ ” – Matthew 19:13-15
Oh, if people would heed these words today! Do not hinder the children from coming to Jesus! Do not stop them from being in his presence or from hearing his Word! Direct them there, point the way, encourage them to know who he is and what he has done. Do not close the door on the relationship by not attending church or not reading the Bible. Stop acting like the name of Jesus is taboo unless used as a curse word. If this describes you, hear the rebuke of Christ loudly in your ear today – “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them”!
Tell the children about God and his glorious deeds and wondrous works. Tell them of his powerful wrath, his holiness, his perfection. Tell them of his standards and righteous judgement. Tell them of his immense love for his people, his glorious grace and his victory over sin and death. Tell them the story of Jesus that is only found in the Bible and is the only way to life forever.
You cannot rely on someone else to do this: not school (ha!), not church, not grandparents, not the internet, not a friend. You must do it. Do not stand aloof and think they will find their own way – someday – somehow – if they want to. If you wait until they are “old enough” to make up their own mind it will be too late. By then they will have learned from you that God is unimportant and not worth talking about.
Tell the children about God. Start with what is in the Bible and then (if you are a Believer) tell them of what he has done in your life. Tell of the times he provided for you, instructed you, and answered prayers. Tell of the time he claimed you as his own. There is so much to share, you have to start as soon as they are born and never stop.
Don’t go a day without talking to your child about God. Why? The answer is given in Psalm 78:7 – “so that they should set their hope in God.” God is their only hope, so you sure better let them know it. The only legacy worth leaving is the one that has eternal promise and points to Christ.
“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Psalm 34:11
This past Sunday at church, I sat behind a young mother holding her baby. The baby was a happy little guy and would often drool down his mom’s shoulder. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable for her, but it made me smile. This momma had fought the “Sunday Morning Battle” and overcome. She made it to church to worship with her family.
It is no easy task for a mom with young children to make it to church on a Sunday morning. Let’s be honest, it is a real battle. The list of good excuses is long and easy: I need sleep, I just want a break, we can read the Bible on our own, we will be a distraction, the kids will make a fuss and I’ll just end up sitting in the nursery. Hey, and church is optional, right? It isn’t work or a social event. Most people don’t go.
Plus the orchestration it takes to get the family out the door is a grand production of its own. You have to get everyone ready and looking decent, pack up what feels like half your household, and get yourself ready. This often equates to a rushed shower (maybe) and cramming into 10 minutes what used to take an hour. It is so much work.
I get the temptation to stay home on Sunday mornings, I really do. I battled the same internal argument with myself not so many years ago. There is a true, strong pull from the world to cave in and stay home. But when we read Hebrews 10:24, 25 we don’t see any asterisks: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The habit of the world is to stay home and stay away, but there is no blessing in that! That is not where this verse says the stirring and encouraging takes place. It happens with others, when we meet together.
In Acts 2:42 it says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” True devotion is proven when tested with challenges and temptations. What is your level of devotion in this challenging period of life?
Am I leaving out the dads? Yep. This is a blog for women. I would love to think the dads are leading and helping Sunday mornings so that the whole family gets to service. Many do, but not all. Moms, regardless of what he does, you still need to get up, get the kids and yourself ready (even if you don’t feel perfectly put together) and get to church. No, it is not about legalism and church attendance, it is about obedience and doing what God calls you to. The Church is the body of Christ (Col. 1:18) and his bride (Rev. 21:2). If you are a Christian, it is where you will be – together.
I’m not talking out the side of my mouth here, I did this as a single mother for years with a baby who had terrible colic and then separation anxiety. I spent many hours in the nursery with him wondering why I even bothered trying every week. But God uses all things. In the nursery I met wonderful, godly people with servant hearts and God used them to minister to me.
So to all you moms out there coming to church with young children, thank you! Thank you for your devotion and for overcoming all the easy excuses. The whole church body benefits when you are there, we are not whole without you (see 1 Cor. 12). You serve a vital role that you may not even realize. Keep coming, keep bringing the kids. Come with spit up down your shoulder and with your over-active toddler. We want you there. God commands fellowship and what he commands, he will enable you to do with his strength. Obedience to God brings blessings. Come and be blessed.
Favorite Christmas memory? Staying up late Christmas Eve nights with my little brother. He would camp out on my bedroom floor and we would talk for hours letting our imaginations fly about Santa, what gifts we might find under the tree and how excited we were to give our gifts to others. We could hardly contain our elation over what was to come; it felt impossible to go to sleep. We looked so forward to the morning that the waiting seemed almost truly painful, yet completely thrilling at the same time. It was wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation.
I am not going to discuss the merits (or more likely demerits) of Santa here today and I understand that many will feel that children excited about gifts is a display of materialistic greed (bah-humbug!). In my opinion, gifts (tangible and intangible ones) are awesome. I love to give them and, being a person who loves surprises, I enjoy receiving them too. We have an exceedingly giving God. He lavishes grace onto the undeserving and we need to reflect that giving nature as well, especially to those who cannot return the favor (Luke 14:12-14).
I encourage you to build on the anticipation of this season and direct it God-ward. Allow children to be excited about gifts, encourage them to wonder at what they might receive (always teaching thanksgiving); let them experience what anticipation feels like. Help them to be cheerful givers too (2 Cor. 9:7). Discuss the emotions they are feeling and what it has to do with their relationship with Christ. What does it have to do with a relationship with Christ? Let me tell you.
The Bible throbs with anticipation. People of the Old Testament lived in anticipation of a Savior, someone to relieve the impossible burden of the law and to fulfill the prophesies which foretold a Redeemer. John the Baptist came to prepare the way and build anticipation for the coming Christ. Jesus came and fulfilled the anticipation, yet continued to point us toward more. He talked of his Heavenly Kingdom, stating that he is going to prepare a place for us and added, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. Wow! Jesus gives himself as a payment for our sins, is resurrected to life and now has a place ready for us in Heaven, where we get to be with him forever to enjoy his glory and perfect presence. Hello? Can you feel the anticipation building?
There’s more. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Unless we get there first, Jesus is coming to get us! And in style (serious style and serious power, read Revelations 19:11-16!).
We who are Christians have SO MUCH to look forward to. It is too much to contain and too joyous to express - plus the Bible tells us it is going to happen soon. This is wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation! While I am zealous for the righteousness of the Lord, desiring justice to be finally executed upon those who reject him (“Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;” Ps. 10:15) my deepest longing is to enjoy the fullness of my Savior face to face forever and as soon as possible (“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Ps 15:27:4). If you don’t have feelings like this, you need to evaluate your heart; you may not know Jesus like you claim.
Ladies, train yourself in living a life of anticipation, allow this season be a reminder of all you have to look forward to and teach your friends and family the same. Display it for them; be excited to celebrate Christ and the insane gifts that he offers of redemption and forever life with him. Use the anticipation of gift giving and receiving as a springboard for gospel conversations. Focus your energy and fullest joy on times of praise and adoration of the greatest gift Giver of all, our Lord God.
Just like Christmas Eve with my little brother, may your nights be so filled with thoughts of our incredible Savior that it keeps you up late at night filled with anticipation of all that is to come. Come, Lord Jesus!
Oh, the days of young motherhood. If I had to choose words to describe it a few would be: smiles, messes, sleep-deprived, fat rolls, sticky and joyful. I’m sure you can think of many of your own. Oh yeah, one more: hard. Being the mother of young children (newborn to pre-school) is hard work. The demands of your time and energy are overwhelming. Add to this the fact that mothering young children usually coincides with young marriages. This makes the perfect, intense and pressurized medium for great growth or explosive combustion. Often both.
The picture I am familiar with is a young woman desiring to have a happy marriage, raise children well, and honor God at the same time. You have worked hard and looked forward to this stage of life and are finally there, married with children. Things appear to be on track and working out as planned. So why is it so difficult? Why aren’t you happy more often? Why isn’t this easier and more enjoyable?
Excellent questions and ones I have lived through myself and have counseled others on. Many are struggling along, trying to keep their heads above water. Being more successful at it at times and taking a dunking the next. Welcome to motherhood, trial by fire…but not fire without purpose. Being a mother is a beautiful role designed and assigned by God. That alone should be humbling, but beauty doesn’t equal ease. Internal and forever soul-beauty is hard work, keep reading.
Here is what is very important to remember: you are learning valuable lessons that will stay with you for eternity during these specific years. The two utmost lessons are these: 1.) Trust God in all things and 2.) All things are about God, not about you. You may think you know these facts already, but Momma, you don’t until you have been through the paces of motherhood.
I call the early years of motherhood the “Crucible of Young Motherhood”. A crucible is a container that holds metals that are melted or subjected to very high temperatures for a purpose. It is a good mental picture for those in this stage of womanhood. The intensity of having young children and a young marriage causes the “heat of life” to turn up. But again, not without purpose. Just like melting metal in a crucible is so that the impurities can be drawn off and then the pure metal can be poured into a mold, so is young motherhood a crucible for burning away the sin of the old self and a time of shaping and perfecting the new creation that you are called to be in Christ. It is prime time for heart-work to be done.
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” Proverbs 17:3
You may not see wiping noses, faces and bottoms as work toward spiritual growth, but it is. It is some of the best spiritual work that can be done! This is where trusting God is a must. You have to trust that he has called you to this work and that he is using this work to produce lasting fruit in your life (patience, love, kindness, peace, joy, self-control, faithfulness). It can feel like slow, tedious and even trivial progress, but the results are none of these things. The godly shaping of a woman through motherhood is one of the most fantastic processes ever to be ordained by God. If you doubt this, talk to some women who have lived it. Trust that God is doing work in you even when you don’t feel it.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4a
You also must remember on a daily basis (often an hourly basis) that everything is about God and not you. Keep your focus Godward. You wipe the sticky counters off for the hundredth time today because you are serving God through serving your family. You rock a screaming baby with ear infections because God has placed this baby in your hands and told you to raise them for him. You hug and serve a grumpy husband who is being unkind because God calls you to be like his son Jesus who submitted to the Father and died for sinners. It is all about God, the sooner you get this, the more spiritual growth you can experience.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Romans 11:36
A final yet vital word of advice: be in the Bible daily. Even if it is a single verse that you read in the morning and think on all day. Understand you can’t live without it. Staying in the Word during this time of your life is essential and will set the tone for years to come for spiritual discipline.
Ladies, the beauty of motherhood comes in the midst of the messes, sleepless nights and fat rolls. You will get glimpses of it now and then while in the crucible, but the true witness of the blooming comes when you are more removed from the heat. You will begin to see yourself take shape as you more closely reflect the beauty of your Savior. Trust him in all things, knowing all things are about him, even young motherhood.
My two boys have been sick this week with the stomach flu. This nasty bug is making the circuit fast, so maybe you have been dealing with some of the same things I have. In the middle of switching out puke buckets it can be hard to remember to still praise God, so I made myself try to brainstorm some blessings I have experienced out of this. Here are a few that I have come up with:
God is amazing, there is ALWAYS grace to be found in every situation. After meditating on these blessings I found myself happy my kids had been sick…what an odd statement…but not untrue. God desires us to look to him in all circumstances and to praise him for managing our daily divine assignments. Yes, divine and ordered by God no matter how mundane (or messy) they seem.
This experience brings two verses to mind. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” from 1 John 3:1(NIV) and “For from his [Jesus’] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. When you are adopted as a child of God his love is lavished upon you and his grace stacked high. All from the abundance found in Jesus! This is not an occasional sprinkling like from a little squirt gun but like a continual flowing from a wide open fire hydrant. Live joyously in this current, knowing that all things coming at you flow first through the loving hands of God himself.
My boys only had the flu and not cancer or a debilitating illness. Yet, this is where thanksgiving in all circumstances starts (1 Thessalonians 5:18), in the small, ordinary occurrences of life. When larger and more difficult moments come, you are practiced in trusting God and are able to worship him in the midst of it. If it doesn’t happen in daily life, it won’t happen when life’s true trials come.
Ladies, what has God brought you to today...this week...this year? Stop to find his grace in the middle of it. Where do you see good coming from it, how about spiritual growth or a training up of your soul? Still finding that hard? Then look at Jesus and think on the love he had for you that drove him to the cross and how he broke death so that our eternity can be forever sweet and glorious with him. Everything pales when staring into the face of Jesus Christ.
Let’s praise him today no matter what you are going through. Find his love lavished and his grace stacked high at all times for those who love him.
My youngest son, Troy, has been blessed with the gift of helping. He is always eager to be of assistance to anyone in need. One of the most common phrases out of his mouth is, “Can I help?” He purposefully runs ahead to open doors for family and strangers too. He loves to help me in the kitchen and if grocery bag carrying was a sport he would already be a pro at age 9.
I witnessed the extent of his servant heart again recently when our family attended a church work day to install a new floor in our sanctuary. Troy was a great help. He hauled heavy boxes of flooring, distributed the pieces, picked up old boxes, set up chairs and even handed out water bottles. He was never far away and always ready to assist.
At one point, as I was working on the floor along with others, I heard some sniffling behind me. I looked back to see Troy kneeling by a heavy box of flooring and doing his best to hold back tears; it was a fight he was losing. I could see that he had smashed his fingers when he lowered the box to the floor and he was in pain. He was struggling to still open the cardboard box up so that he could provide the pieces for the workers and not slow things down. But he was hurting and as much as he was trying to hold it back the little sobs kept escaping.
Troy was far enough away from me that he did not see that I noticed what he was going through. As his mom who loves him very much, I wanted to jump up, run to him and hold him and let him cry. I would check out his finger, find some ice to put on it and let him sit out for a while. But that is not what I did…I did the opposite. I let him hurt, I let him cry, I left him on his own and just watched.
The words that came into my mind at that moment were “suffer for doing good.” The full verse is found in 1 Peter 3:17, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Now I am not silly enough to compare Troy’s hurt fingers to serious Christian persecution, but I think it can still be a good lesson and a valuable experience.
As mothers (or anyone who has influence on a child’s life) we are in the serious and God-assigned business of raising-up the next generation of Christ followers (God wiling). We need to teach them how to suffer and how to suffer well. We need to allow specific types of pain in their lives so they can experience it and practice dealing with it. We need to not save them from all hurts. Examples:
All of this needs to be done in careful and loving ways, never intending harm, but always out of concern for their eternal souls and future standing before God.
Do not do a disservice to your children by preparing them for a cushy lifestyle where everything is fair and all participants get a trophy. Our desire should be to train up sold-out, world-changing, counter-cultural, Bible-wise Disciples of Christ. Persecution is a guarantee for those who love Christ (2 Tim. 3:12). Teach them this and prepare them so they will stand firm when the trials come.
Troy did work through his pain on his own and finished his job of opening the box and continued serving those around him. Instead of running off to hide, he loved on others with red tear-worn eyes and a smile. What a lesson for me to witness in my own son. God’s words ring ever true:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
If I told you I sing praise songs about how awesome my boys are or that I get down on my knees each night and bow down to them, would think I had lost it? I sure hope so. Yet we have become a society that does just that in a variety of other ways, not as obvious but just as destructive to you and to them.
There is a message I keep seeing being shared on Facebook about a parent’s love for their children. It says that everything the parent does is for their child and that he or she is what life is all about. What a load of trash! If you live for your child what a superficial, unsatisfying life you lead.
Are we to sacrifice for our children? Yes. Are we to love and nurture our children to the best of our ability? Of course. But never worship them. God has a special name for this, maybe you have heard it before, it’s called idol worship and he was pretty serious about it even from the beginning. Does commandment #1 ring a bell, as in, “You shall have no other god before me.”? Exodus 20:3
When we orient our lives around our children we put them in a place where only God should go. Is God okay with these little cuties taking his place on the throne of your heart? Get real. Keep yourself in check, even sincere Christ followers often fall prey to this mentality. It may be the most socially acceptable and even applauded sin in modern society.
Here is what God’s word has to say about a depraved group that he was done with, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
When we place our children higher than we ought (pedestal, stage or soapbox) or serve them as if their desires are our commands, we have bought the lie and dishonored God. We begin to move our life’s spotlight off of our Savior and onto a small creature who has no power (except for the imagined power we attribute to him or her). The exchange in the verse above has taken place. It is absurd and disturbing, like saying, “No, thank you Potter, I don’t need you, I will take this little lump of clay and worship it instead.”
What a disservice we do to our children in this. In our vain attempts to love them by praise and bending to their whims we distort their thoughts of God and cause them to become confused in their identity. We train them up to be glory-thieves, claiming the attention due the Almighty. No wonder we often raise selfish, prideful adults who think they have the power to determine who God is for themselves.
We need to love our children enough to not praise them. My goodness cheer for them in sports and drama, encourage them in working hard, tell them Good job! when they excel. BUT give the praise to the God that grants them these gifts and created them to thrive as they do. Make your children know that it is God working through them to display his greatness and that there is nothing better than being a conduit of God’s power. Teach them to look heavenward and not inward for strength and wisdom.
We as parents serve the purpose of being a human arrow for our children, always pointing up to our Creator and praising him. Seeing in each other the attributes the Potter has especially designed for each of us, but remembering to rejoice in the greatness of the Potter and not the clay. In a home that does this there is happiness and many reasons to celebrate.
Ladies, the next time you look at your child, see the evidence of an awesome and praise-worthy Creator. Know that the life of your son or daughter was created for the glory of God alone and there is no better purpose.
If you read Part One from last week, you know that God has called us, as mothers, to guard the hearts of our children. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) God has specifically assigned to us the young hearts under our care. It was written out before we were ever born (see Ps. 139).
I told you to think of yourself as a gatekeeper to the heart of your child. Is this an easy calling? Not in the slightest.
Everything and everyone is vying for the affections of our children. It is a real-life raging war and you are in the middle of it. Remember - strategically placed there by God himself for this reason. That is why we need to take it so seriously. We will be held accountable for how well we perform this duty we have been called to, so we need to go at it with our whole hearts and minds engaged.
Guarding hearts affects every area of your child’s life. Our senses are bombarded constantly with outside influences; we feel this as adults, how much more is this true for our children? We cannot stay ignorant of the spiritual battle taking place around us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Your children live in this time of present darkness, right in the midst of a world where Satan reigns and evil runs rampant. If you don’t protect them (as God has commanded) who will?
Be vigilant about who your children are with (adults and other children) especially when you are not with them. Be fully aware of what you allow their eyes to see and ears to hear; remembering that there is no such thing as “neutral” in this world. God is clear about this “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30. If it is from the world it is not good for your children. No neutrality!
This may (should) cause you to rethink many things such as: television (what do you watch or is it beneficial in any way, does it glorify God?), music (God wired us to love music for good reason, but it is also highly influential and has powerful abilities to manipulate our affections) , media of any kind, video games, where they attend school (the world reigns in schools and you are not there to be a gatekeeper, be sure you fully trust those who fill their hearts up for 7-8 hours every day), sleepovers, how you celebrate holidays (be mindful of what are you celebrating), what friends they hang around with, the list goes on. There is so much competition.
Start early and don’t give up when they turn 5 and go to school OR 13 and don’t want to hang around you anymore OR 16 when they begin to have a social life outside the home. These are some of the most important times to remain engaged. Stay vigilant, lovingly vigilant.
Am I telling you to “shelter” your children? Well, duh, yes! Why do people often think sheltering our children is a bad thing? It is our job; anything that causes you not to shelter your child is from the Enemy. Quit allowing him to bend your ear.
Protection and smothering are two different things, exposing children to evil is not the answer for building them up to withstand it. The goal is not increased tolerance. The goal is a heart kept as undefiled by the world as possible until the child is responsible for guarding their own heart.
The only way to train a heart to stand up to evil is to train them with the only weapon capable of defeating it, the Word of God. Teach them how to wield the Sword.
Do not think we are stealing control over our children away from God. Quite the opposite. When you become engaged in this battle like you should, you quickly realize that you have no control. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) You have to rely completely on the one who created those young hearts. God alone can fully guard their hearts. That is the foremost goal we must always keep in mind, we want our children to learn to give their heart over to God. He alone protects hearts because he, as their Creator, is the rightful owner and Lord over them.
Mother, be that active gatekeeper to the hearts of your young children. Train them with the Sword of the Word of God. Teach them how to protect their own hearts by following God’s ways designed for their protection. Show them how to keep their heart soft and ready for God’s directions and how to not harden it against him. Lean on God daily for his guidance in this, he is faithful in giving wisdom to those who ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Mothers, take a stand and take hold of your calling. Lovingly and vigilantly guard the hearts of your children!
Do you love your children? The answer is not as obvious as you might think. Sometimes we have great emotions and tender thoughts toward our children, but is that really love?
In Titus 2:3-5 Paul gives a significant list of what the older women of the Church should be teaching the younger women. Included in this list is the command to teach the young women to love their children:
It may seem odd that someone would need to teach us to love our own children; doesn’t that come “naturally” the moment they are placed in your arms after birth? Well, in some ways, yes it does. In other (very significant) ways we really need to be reminded what it means to truly love our children - thus the command in Titus 2.
Loving our children can mean cuddles and words of encouragement. It can also mean discipline and allowing pain to occur. It can mean giving or withholding; gentleness or a hard line. All of these can be expressions of love from a parent to a child.
What is the single most important way to love your child? Tell them about Jesus. Tell them about who love is and why there can be no love without Jesus. Read through the book of 1 John with them, especially Chapter 4, which contains lines like:
If you hate your children, then withhold this from them. And understand if you do this, you cannot love them, it is impossible. Only those who actually love their children will introduce them to Christ. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8.
With this knowledge we should SHOWER our children with true love; sharing with them the knowledge of who God is. Love them as much as possible by teaching them more about him and reading his Word to them.
Train them up in love to love him who is Love.
No material gift, “quality time”, or spoiling holds a candle to the eternal significance of this vital information. Do not withhold it, lavish it on them as the Father has on us “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1.
If your heart has been claimed by God, this is pure and simple obedience:
Soak your children (and all children you love) in experiencing and learning God’s designs, plans, promises, commands, and his justice, grace and mercy. Teach these attributes diligently to your children as commanded. There is nothing greater! Mothers, I enCOURAGE you to LOVE your children!
We had just finished breakfast and decided to take a hike in the woods on the “West Lake Trail” behind our campsite. Just me and my two youngest boys. As we entered the forest the world around us changed. It was beautiful. The morning sun was shining through the high leafy branches, sending rays of light beaming onto our path and illuminating the greenery around us. Birds were chirping out their morning songs and squirrels scurried around the hilly terrain.
As I watched my sons interact together on that broad trail in front of me, laughing and sharing imaginary stories, my decision was once again confirmed in my heart. I want more of this. I want to share God’s world with them and stand beside them each day in amazement of God’s creation and orderly plan demonstrated over and over in the details of life. I want to teach them how that light pressing through the trees above hits the plants below, initiating photosynthesis so that these plants can grow and produce oxygen. Why? Because that is how God designed it to be on creation day number three.
I want to begin with the Creator, Author, and Perfector of life and not allow him to be a post script at the end of their busy days. I want to share truth with them and allow their natural curiosity to bloom and stir in them a love of investigation. I want them to settle for nothing less than absolute truth in life. I want to teach my children to center their lives around God. So I am.
It seems like such an obvious decision. God has sovereignly assigned them to me to nurture, discipline and train. He specifically chose me for this position and yet I have sent them to the World for their formal education, assuming we could “add God in” as needed. I haven’t yet found scripture to support God being a side note to real life or an extracurricular activity that is optional. I only see him commanding to be the main focus of every aspect of our lives (see 1 Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:17).
Despite what I have tried to tell myself over the years, I have come to understand that education is never neutral. Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no hint of neutrality in those words. Public schools have kicked God out and taken their stand with the World. Therefore it follows that the educational system in our country today (not necessarily individuals) is against God and scatters.
What do we truly want for our children? My husband and I made ourselves sit down and seriously answer this question. With an eternal perspective firmly in place, we discussed and wrote down what we desired to see in the lives of our boys. There were no sappy answers of just “wanting them to be happy.” God was the focus of every goal we had and this had to change how we moved forward in raising them.
Psalm 127:3 and 4 tell us, “Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” These arrow-children of ours have great purpose. There is a spiritual battle waging whether we see it or not; whether we acknowledge it or not. I want my arrows to be as sharp and as dangerous as they possibly can be. I want them to pierce the Enemy in such a mighty way that he flees in fear, not of them but of what their Maker can do through them. Having been honed for usefulness by years of sharpening and training. The warriors that hold them are their father and I, given a gift laden with responsibility.
So I am leaving a position I have loved for ten years to yield to the calling of becoming a metal worker. I have heard myself telling others that this seems crazy, but as I write this today the opposite seems to be so true. It would be crazy to ignore the call and leave these arrows I claim precious to me, to be dulled by worldly ways and teachings. Trying to do quick, hit and miss sharpening in their ever decreasing spare time. If Christ is what life is all about, then Christ is what I will teach. All else pales in comparison to him and yet is only illuminated by his work.
There was a bench overlooking the river at the midway point in our trail that day. I asked my sons to sit next to me and we prayed together for God to guide us in this new venture knowing full well, as excited as we are, it will not be an easy path to take. We then walked on, and as I listened to these two brothers sing made up songs trying to make each other laugh, I again stood in amazement of a Creator who would package up such potentially dangerous weapons in such a joyful (although often ornery) way. Not long from now the bowstring will be pulled tight and these “arrows in the hands of a warrior” will be launched forward into a raging battle. I want them ready in every way to serve their King valiantly.