Most Christian parents have been embarrassed at church by a young, noisy child who disturbs the worship service. A decision is made to not let that happen again. Sadly, many choose the short-term, easy option of putting their child in the nursery because the longterm, good fruit option is too costly, or they don’t even know of another option.
Seldom do worthwhile things in life come quickly at no cost. In this case, sacrificial love and investment are required by the parents. The benefits of the “costly” option require purposing to train children to sit quietly and attentively in church. But how?
The secret, my brothers, is consistent, loving, gentle training every day. From our experience and observation of other families, daily family Bible time is the first great opportunity. The second would be any time the child is being fed, and the third would be using a consistent, daily schedule.
Remember the goal isn’t simply quiet children, but children who are able to maintain self-control and be attentive, whether it be the voice of their parents or the precious Word of God. This should be an agreed upon, fundamental commitment of both parents.
Whatever the age of the child, you must start. Don’t blame anyone else (including your wife), but begin now. (Continued next week.)
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
I wonder how many well-meaning parents are unknowingly harming, with potentially eternal consequences, their children every week when they take them to church? Have you noticed them? They bring their children to church (a good thing), but then during the service, the children do every imaginable quiet (mostly) thing, except listen to the message. Instead of teaching them to sit still and listen so as to obey God’s Word, the children are “taught” how to ignore God’s Word—not on purpose—but that is the result. While the children occupy themselves, they become skilled at deflecting the Word from their minds and hearts.
Many times we read where Jesus instructs those that “hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:9, 4:23, 7:16, Luke 8:8 and 14:35). That would mean, open your mind to what is coming into your ears. It is an intentional, learned process to train the mind to first concentrate with the goal of understanding so as to ultimately obey what is coming into the ears.
We listen intently because God’s Word is priceless and not to be treated like crummy background music that is played in a store where we are shopping. May we not be guilty of dulling the sword. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I love to engage people in conversation, and grocery store trips provide many opportunities for that. I have been able to dialog with quite a few baggers over time and found amazing similarities. In general, they are gamers. Playing video/computer games is the highlight of their day and the passion of their lives. They have no ambition or direction for their lives but seem to be content with just enough money to support playing games.
Recently, one man in his twenties, exclaimed with a big smile about the new game he purchased and the price. I asked him if he thought it was worth the twelve hours he had to work to pay for it? Beaming, he said, “Absolutely!” His dream is to upgrade his game system.
So my Brothers, the bad news. If you are giving your children anything for Christmas (or any other time for that matter) that facilitates their becoming addicted to gaming, including iPads/tablets, you still have time to change your mind. The sad thing is often Dad is the one responsible for bringing the vehicles to the addiction into the home.
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Please don’t facilitate your own children being brought into bondage.
Turning the corner briefly to another topic. Each year the closer it gets to Christmas the more dads we see, through our Titus2 ministry, who are ordering books for their wives. I would encourage you, if you haven’t yet gotten your wife a Christmas present, do it today.
Sunday’s Christmas Advent focused on God’s love. Jesus’ incarnation was the greatest example of love that the world has ever seen. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1John 4:9). The Lord convicted me (the flesh certainly didn’t) how seldom I notice and praise God for His love. I praise Him for His mercy, His grace, His holiness, and His blessings, but I’ve been blind to His love. I love people, and I love to tell about Jesus, yet, I am guilty of not recognizing God’s love. “… for God is love” (1John 4:8b).
You might wonder why it would matter that I haven’t been noticing and praising God for His love. When you generously love someone and they don’t notice it, doesn’t that have an affect on the relationship, in that it could be all the sweeter? Also if we are blind to love, we are far less likely to notice others’ generous, loving acts. Additionally, I’ve begun noticing that the more love is a focus in my heart, the more generous I am in my love toward others. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Jesus’ life and ministry on this earth seems like a very long time ago to me. However, consider this. It is not uncommon for someone to live a hundred years (centenarian). It would be reasonable to assume that during every century, since the time of Christ, there has been at least one centenarian who lived roughly the hundred years of that century. With that reasonable assumption, now picture, it took onlyTWENTY people to have lived one-after-another since Jesus lived. Only twenty people! We’ve had twenty people over for a meal many times. To look at our dinner guests and imagine how few lifetimes they represent from Jesus to now is shocking to me.
Shocking in what way? In regard to my having a new perspective on time. Even if Jesus’ return was in one or two hundred years, that now seems imminent. I am convicted of a spiritual lethargy as opposed to an urgency in regard to His return. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:40). I have not had and lived out an urgency of sharing Christ. I love to share Christ. I long to share Him with the lost, but I’ve not had the urgency.
What will that change in my life? I don’t know yet. I have a long list of lost people that I will continue to pray for daily. I seek to engage people spiritually every chance I get. How else will He lead, we will see.
With Christmas approaching, are you evaluating Christmas gifts for children? Perhaps you are concerned not to add to the clutter of toys in the home and also want to avoid the worldliness that is part of most of the toys. Books are a good alternative to toys since they take up little space, help a child develop reading skills, are profitable for use of a child’s time, and if the reading material is good, can even move them along in their thinking abilities and maturity.
One of the most critical and basic skills our children need is to be able to read and comprehend. They learn the nuts and bolts of reading in school, but fluidity in their reading and comprehension comes through practice. That means we want a well planned and thought out collection of books in our homes for our children to read.
We don’t, however, want to give these children appetites for reading that will cause them to spend hours upon hours of profitable teen, young adult, and adult years entertaining themselves reading books. While they are young and most of their free time is spent playing, reading is a productive alternative use of their time. But that changes, starting in the teen years, when overdone. We also don’t want to expose our children to ungodly and unwholesome material simply to give them something to read, even if it might be acceptable with other Christians.
So when our children were young, we started on a trek to find books that met our reading criteria. Thirty years ago when we wanted reading materials for our elementary-age children that didn’t conflict with our biblical principles, we struggled. It is even more difficult now. That’s one reason our oldest daughter, Sarah, began writing children’s books almost 20 years ago and now has published 14 titles. She knew what we desired in a child’s book, and she could write to those specifications. Certainly, we won’t all share those same benchmarks for a reading book, but her books have been embraced by conservative Christian families.
Sarah’s goal in her books is to provide positive role models for children and limit or eliminate negative influences. I remember reading books to my children when they were elementary age, or them reading the books on their own, only to have them learn bad attitudes, critical or destructive words, and even negative actions from what they read. That did not benefit them nor our family and wasn’t our goal for their reading time. Certainly the books we allowed them to read were filled with many good and positive words, attitudes, and actions, but our children gravitated more quickly to the negative than to the favorable.
I love hearing about families who write Sarah telling her the positive things they see in their children as a result of reading her books. We even hear of dads and moms whose lives are impacted as well.
This verse has often influenced our choice of reading material for our children and also for ourselves: “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil” (Romans 16:19). This is a powerful directive for all areas of life, including what we read. Are you using that filter to sift the books your children read?
Investing in books at gift-giving occasions allows you to build a set of books the gift receiver can enjoy and learn from and that younger siblings can profit from as well. I know I am Sarah’s mom and have a biased viewpoint, but there are many families who agree with me about Sarah’s books. I encourage you to look at and consider one or more of Sarah’s books as a Christmas gift for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other child you gift at Christmas and to be careful in any book you provide your child to read.
Practical encouragement for homeschool moms by Teri Maxwell, and weekly e-mails for Christian men by Steve Maxwell.