While preparing to share at Momtourage, I kept thinking, “What did Tom and I do to be blessed with four children who love and follow Jesus as adults?”
My first thought was nothing. It is God’s Grace and the work of the Holy Spirit. Let me add a disclaimer– I don’t claim to be perfect or to have it all figured out.
So with that in mind, I prayed and asked my kids if anything in our home was beneficial? When I heard their answers and asked others who were raised in Christian homes. Everyone had basically the same answer. I’ll let you hear for yourself what they had to say:
Do you see a theme? Don’t just say it, live it!
When my oldest son went to preschool and was asked what his parents do for a living, he said “My Mom reads the Bible and my Dad plays on the computer.” Yes! (Just to defend my husband, he does work in the computer field.)
So, I’ll share thoughts about what it looks like to have an authentic relationship with Jesus that your kids can witness in your day to day living– possibly your best tool to disciple your kids. The passions that result from your new life in Christ is a place to start.
Go to God daily and constantly. Pray and spend time with Him. Have a dialogue, not a monologue. You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t spend time with. When my kids were going off to school each day, we prayed with them for protection of their mind, body, and spirit. We prayed just about everywhere (you get the idea).
- We prayed and talked about their friends and the importance of choosing them wisely.
- We prayed before meals.
- We prayed at bedtime.
- We prayed when we were celebrating.
- We prayed when we were afraid.
- We prayed when we couldn’t sleep.
- We prayed here, we prayed there.
Read the Bible regularly to get to know God. We read the Bible together and on our own. Every night at bedtime our routine was to: read a Bible story (or two, or three) from the Beginner’s Bible, worship, and pray. Those memories are ones I cherish from raising my children. This was also a time filled with Bible questions from my kids. If you don’t know an answer, be honest!
Unfortunately, I still don’t have all the answers. My kids call from their college dorm rooms with questions from their Bible studies. My daughter, Elyse called Monday night to ask if the Nephelum in Genesis, Chapter 6 had souls. Thankfully, she called her Dad!
If you are in a relationship with God you should also desire to be in a relationship with His people. We modeled this by hosting a Life Group in our home for most of our children’s lives. Our children watched as we helped those in our caring community. When someone in our group was sick we prayed for them and when someone had a baby we made them dinner.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Psalm 22:6 ESV
Rick Eimers, our youth pastor, did the math and concluded you have 216 months from birth until their 18th birthday. Believe me when I tell you, it is a blink of an eye. If your child is already five that means you now have 156 months left.
Obedience will come through that love relationship. We guarded for ourselves and for our kids: where we went, what we watched, what we listened to, what games we played.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally,brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. “
As you seek and grow in your knowledge of the Lord you will make decisions for what is beneficial and what is harmful for you and your family. That is between you and the Lord. Again, we weren’t perfect in all situations, but we were intentional.
Gary Thomas wrote in Sacred Parenting that his son sat exactly as he sat with his legs crossed and his bible open to his side when they went to church together. Another friend said that she cries every time she hears her father’s favorite hymn because he always cried when he sang it. You are their only parent and the person they are most likely to look towards for a role model.
Because we know the importance of families worshiping together, we will have family worship services at CVC on the fifth Sundays of each quarter beginning on March 29th. We will have opportunity for you to teach your children about Baptism and Communion as we make them available during future family services. You are the primary and most influential spiritual influence in your child’s life.
We live on mission through hospitality. A few Easter’s ago I invited several people at the Easter service to spend the holiday at our home. My son who was at Case, at the time, invited several international students, and Mosaic Church brought three students who had just arrived from China. We had a sweet resurrection celebration as we shared our reason for celebrating with those who were there.
So, if you have an authentic relationship with Jesus that you live out will you have perfect kids? NO, but you are likely to have a child who loves Jesus, and you do have directions from scripture to guide you in discipling them. My favorite being:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
So, it this is what comes from modeling your walk with Christ, what happens when you don’t live it?
Just a refresher of the story of the Israelites, God’s chosen people. They found themselves as slaves in Egypt. God sent plagues, miracles, saved their lives and freed them. Within one generation their faith was gone. How’d that happen you ask? They didn’t live it and they didn’t tell their kids.
“7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. 9 And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. 11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.”
This all happened one generation later!
As you depend on the Lord and grow in your relationship with Him, you will have the best prescription for discipling your children. And your story will be uniquely yours as mine was to us and as our relationship is with Jesus.
- Crazy Love by Frances Chan
- Spiritual Parenting an awaking for today’s families by Michelle Anthony
- Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna
- 101 Discussion Starters for Families by Gary Chapman
- RightNow Media — FREE
Recommended Resources from the CVCKids:
- Sunday School lessons in advance, so you can be the primary spiritual influencer in your child’s life. We will reinforce what you have already taught at home when they come on Sunday mornings.
- BLAST! on the first Sunday of each month. Parents and Children attend together a multi-media show that teaches the lessons they will be learning that month in Sunday School, so that parents have additional talking points at home.
- Application tools– these vary from month to month