Bringing Up Children Who Will Love the Lord – Part 3

This month’s Mom’s Corner continues with a series of articles answering a question about what practical things we can do for our children that would help them grow into adults who love the Lord with all of their hearts and live their lives for Him. I am once again including the original e-mail that I received with the question that precipitated these Mom’s Corners so that you don’t have to look back to find it in the other articles.

“My greatest desire for my child is that he will love the Lord with all of his heart. He is generally well behaved and obedient, but I have recently realized that I need to do a better job of stirring up godly appetites in his heart. I want to teach him to be a lover of God more than a lover of pleasure.

“There are two areas where I see my own need to improve: One is that I don’t think I have scheduled in enough work and responsibility for him. The other is that I am not a diligent person. I am too quick to settle for less effort, both on my part and on his. I haven’t been purposely doing this, but now that I realize it, I am so sorry for it! I want to change, and I am claiming God’s promise that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

“I am going to re-read my Managers of Their Homes book, and rewrite our schedule. Once I have done this, I plan to start joining the weekly accountability threads.

“Meanwhile, I would love any advice you have. I know that teaching our children to love God above all is a heart issue. However, I believe that our hearts are affected by the way we spend our time. I believe that our schedule has a VERY strong impact on our hearts. What do you put on your schedules that has actually brought fruit in your children’s lives, taught them to love the Lord, and to have a servant’s heart?

“We have silent Bible reading, as well as a time for reading the Bible together, and for memory work. He uses a Bible study book as part of his homeschool work. We also have a reading time right before bed. For the most part, we use books with a godly focus, such as the Moody Family Books Rod and Staff stories, etc. What more can I do to give him godly teachings and to help him apply these teachings to his life?” WhiterThanSnow

To briefly recap, we first saw the importance of the model we are setting before our children through our personal example. No matter how much teaching we do, if our lives don’t demonstrate what we teach, our children will not learn what we want them to learn. Then we moved into the realm of using Scripture to build a love for Christ into our children’s lives. They need to be reading the Bible for themselves, reading it with the family, and also seeing its application to every aspect of their daily lives.

I believe that if we want our children to grow up to be lovers of God more than lovers of pleasures, that desire will be part of our ongoing prayers for our children. We will pray continually for our children as Paul prayed for the believers in his churches, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Colossians 1:3). These desires that we have for our children will be more than lofty goals that we hope will someday happen. They will be undergirded by the greatest foundation possible, the foundation of prayer. I love the prayers Paul prayed and can see the practical application of praying these kinds of prayers for my children. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:9-11).

As we strive to provide space in our children’s days for activities that will draw their hearts to the Lord Jesus, we would be wise to consider the negative impact that many activities can have on our children’s hearts and their focus. That is one of the major themes of our book called Keeping Our Children’s Hearts, so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, consider with me the child who grows up watching TV during his free time and playing a multitude of video games. Is it possible that he will so addicted to his entertainment that he will be a lover of his pleasures rather than a lover of God? If so, then we have to see our responsibility in this process because we are usually the ones who set the course of the daily schedule and allow access to these kinds of activities.

Another consideration when thinking about where a child’s heart will be drawn and how that will impact his walk with Jesus as an adult would be what his friends are like in his childhood years. What is the potential that a child’s friends will draw him to an all-consuming love for Jesus Christ versus drawing his heart to worldly fun? My husband, Steve, recently wrote a series of articles for dads that addressed this topic in much more depth. The series is called Worldly Friends.

Since WhiterThanSnow wants her son not only to love Jesus with all of his being but also to have a servant’s heart, certainly she will be moved toward her goal if she starts including her son in her daily work and chores. Think about the time a mother can spend with a child or multiple children working in the kitchen together or folding laundry. During those hours, fellowship and conversation occur all the while the child is serving. Much of it will be trivial discussion of the day’s events, but we can also steer those words into ones of spiritual magnitude. We can talk about our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, how it impacts our daily lives, how we fail and what we do when we fail, and how we want to have servant’s hearts. During these frequent discussions, we can bring Scripture to bear on the occurrences of life in our homes and help our children grow in their obedience to the Word and in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We also have a resource called Managers of Their Chores that goes into much more depth on this topic.

While daily work and chores are beneficial for the development of a servant’s heart, we also see the need for giving our children practical projects. Projects develop skills in our children’s lives, skills they can use to serve others both now and in the future. They also allow our children to strive to accomplish what is beyond the scope of our everyday chores, providing them with new challenges and incentives. Steve’s book Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family is full of suggestions for implementing this kind of a mindset into our life styles. He also wrote a series of Dad’s Corners on this topic, which would be good resources, Practical Projects for Our Children.

The final suggestion I want to offer WhiterThanSnow as she pursues the development in her son of a heart for Jesus rather than a heart for pleasure is that they begin to minister together. Family ministry is a natural outgrowth of families choosing to work together. While there are limits on ministry with children, as we pray to the Lord for those opportunities, He is faithful to provide and direct. A very basic way to serve with children that I can think of would be to minister through hospitality. We can invite other families into our home for an evening of food and conversation. Include the children in the planning, food preparation, serving, and cleanup. For us, we always include family Bible time as part of the activities and invite our guests to join us.

A nursing, assisted-living, or retirement home outreach is another possibility with children because the elderly residents greatly love having children with whom to interact. When taking children into a nursing home, it is important to maintain high sanitary precautions since there is the possibility that germs in the nursing home will be detrimental to a child’s health. When Nathan and Melanie take our granddaughter, Abigail, to the nursing home, they keep her hands back so that the residents can’t reach out for them, utilize hand sanitizer frequently, and wash her clothing when they return home.

What higher vision could we have for our children than that they would love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Wouldn’t we agree with Paul as he writes to Timothy that we don’t want our children in this category, “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4)? There are many choices that we can make as we go through our days with our children that can affect these desired outcomes for those children. We have observed families who are making these decisions in raising their children and the positive results that are manifested in their children’s lives. It is a joy and blessing to our hearts as we observe these young people walking faithfully with the Lord Jesus. May we be mothers who will purposefully strive toward doing what we can do with and for our children so that they can become men and women who are lovers of God more than lovers of pleasures.

Go Green – Part 1

Everywhere I turn these days, it seems there is encouragement to “Go Green” and conserve our natural resources. I believe the Lord Jesus would have us to be good stewards of the world He has given us. Yet, it would seem that many have joined the frenzy with less than stellar motives. I’ve seen store ads take advantage of people stating many crazy “Go Green” reasons to purchase their products when a logical evaluation of those reasons showed there was likely little real benefit to the environment. When we stay in a hotel, there is usually a note to “save our environment” by not having the towels washed daily. While it is most certainly true that not washing towels every day will have a positive impact on the environment, the reality is that this saves the hotel great amounts of time and money in the housekeeping staff and laundry. Could it be that the hotel is all too happy to “Go Green,” but mainly because it benefits their pocketbooks? There are good things to conserve on, and others that mean little. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

With all the “Green Craze,” I’m very surprised no one has sought to promote conservation of our most precious resource. How could it have been overlooked? As a matter of fact, if anything, there seems to be a promotion to squander this most valuable resource, and it is the one resource that is one hundred percent non-renewable! Once you use it, it is gone forever. On top of that, it is the most priceless, precious resource we have. Have you guessed what the resource might be? Tick, tick, tick, tick.

I’m convinced that if there ever was a campaign worth championing, conservation of time through its wise usage is the one. I suppose that anyone who has been to one of our conferences or read any of our books would say we have flown this banner and rallied to support this cause since the inception of Titus2. Not only must we as parents embrace the need to treasure our time, but it is something we want to teach our children. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

In order to help our children learn to value time, we as their parents, must first model for them how precious time is to us. Our example shouts even louder than any words that we speak. What is our attitude about our time? Do we see time as the most limited and priceless resource we have on earth to be used only as the Lord Jesus directs? Tick, tick, tick, tick.

If we don’t treasure our time, we will be likely to waste it. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is commanding us to buy up the opportunity to use our time for good. If we do nothing with our time, it slips through our fingers like sand with nothing beneficial to show for it. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

We model to our children our value of time by how we use our time – first with our Lord, then with our spouses, next with our children, and finally with others. How a person uses his time shows others his value of it. Compare the following two passages of Scripture. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19-21). Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Colossians 3 begins with “If ye then be risen with Christ” which means, are you saved and do you have a mindset toward eternity? Believers, who have a correct view on life, know they are only on this earth for a short time and desire to use their time as the Lord directs. However, the carnal uses his time for things of the flesh. In setting his affection on things above, the believer loves God’s Word and makes it a priority to read it. He knows the Bible sharpens and empowers him so he avoids sin and can be used of the Lord. Sadly, I speak to many professing believers who have time for many other things each day but no time for reading God’s Word. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

The Luke 12 passage shows us those who are carnally minded are focused on having a good time on earth. They are not valuing their limited time as a great treasure. They are pleasure and entertainment minded much like the one who is not rich toward God. This world is all they have to look forward to; and therefore, they are making the best of it while they are alive. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Christians are to have a mindset of being pilgrims. This world is just something we are passing through. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). Tick, tick, tick, tick.

We are to be on guard against those things that will steal our time away from the good works on which God would have us spend our time. It is as if we knew we were to catch a plane to heaven, but we didn’t know when the plane was leaving. We would only be given an hour to dash for the airport once the call came for us. So in the meantime, we wanted to be careful to use every minute wisely because we didn’t know how many more minutes we had left. Yet, Satan desires that we spend our time on things that have no eternal value. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey” (Matthew 25:14-15). We all have twenty-four hours to make available to our Lord. However, we each have varying abilities, which will affect what we have to show for how we spent our time. Will we give Him everything or just what is left over? Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Do each of us spend time with our wife and value each minute of that time? A wife is our helpmeet, but we are called to lay down our lives for them. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Do we delight in time with that special one God has given us? Do we spend time as needed on the things she needs done, or do they seem as impositions? May we cherish each minute we have as we serve together with our wife. There is coming a day when one of us will go to be with the Lord, and she might be first. Live each day with her as if it could be the last. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Dads often think their primary job in life is to bring home a paycheck. However the Spirit directs otherwise through Paul, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is our vital priority, and that will take enormous amounts of time. The Lord says He will provide for the family’s material needs, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matthew 6:31). Yes, we are to work, but as we spend our time in the ways the Lord directs, He will provide for the family. The minutes are ticking away while our children are in our homes. Each minute is precious and is important in shaping their lives. We will have no regrets if we are zealous that our time is used in obedience to the Lord Jesus. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

However there is a gluttony of things to do that waste time – there is no eternal benefit to them. “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken” (Matthew 24:48-49). Fun seems to be the idol of today, and our great treasure – time – is sacrificed on the altar to this idol. May we treasure our time because there is a point when it is gone. Tick, tick . . . . . . . . .

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). For more information on valuing and conserving time, I suggest you read Redeeming the Time.