Category Archives: Child Training

Got Fruit?

Consider the farmer who fuels up his combine and heads out to the field for his fall harvest. When he arrives at the field, he is devastated because he sees no standing corn, only weeds. What happened? More accurately the question is: “What didn’t happen?”

As absurd as it sounds, he has no harvest because he didn’t want to take the time to plow and prepare the soil prior to seeding. Or he didn’t cultivate so the ground would accept rain. Or he wasn’t vigilant in dealing with pests and weeds. 

Isn’t it amazing the work it takes for a good harvest? Hmm, sounds like what it takes to raise children who will love the Lord. Even with all the work, there are no guarantees with farming, but still the farmer invests. Yup, sounds even more like raising children in Christ. 

“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:5-8).

What is the Difference?

Every loving parent has had a time when words of encouragement for a child to follow your instruction weren’t enough. You explained clearly, and they repeated back to you what was expected. Yet the child simply would not choose to do it, therefore chastening was necessary. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not (Hebrews 12:5-7).” 

I don’t like to receive chastening, yet I’m grateful the Lord loves me and wants His best for me. I want to learn as quickly as possible when He sends chastening my way. How do I tell the difference between the problems of life and chastening? How do I discern if something is chastening and if it is, what might be the area of disobedience God is trying to correct?

In verse 7 we are told that “God dealeth with you as with sons.” Our God is the ultimate good father and a good father tells his son why he is being chastened. We can be sure that God has been “telling” us via His Spirit or the Word about an area of disobedience in our lives. We sincerely need to ask Him with an open mind. If still in doubt, our wives might have an idea too.

Halloween

As this time of year rolls around and evil is exalted in every neighborhood, it brings back memories of the journey the Lord has led Steve and I on concerning Halloween. I thought it might be appropriate to tell you this story. Hopefully, it will encourage those of you facing decisions in this area, and bless those who have already made them.

As young parents, we wanted our children to enjoy the same positive Halloween experiences and memories that we treasured from my past. However, since accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior toward the end of our college days, some doubts crept into our minds as we viewed Halloween decorations with a new perspective. We discounted those doubts, though, being sure we could keep our children dressed appropriately and apply our own values to this particular night.

The first Halloween our little ones were of an age to trick-or-treat (back in the early 1980s) I had made them very cute costumes. Out we trooped on Halloween night to the “safe” close neighbors, determined to make memories as we went. It wasn’t long until I had one child in my arms and two more clinging to my leg begging to return home. The lure of free candy did not overpower the fear in their hearts as they looked at the other trick-or-treaters.

Steve and I began to wonder if childhood Halloween memories were worth what was beginning, in our hearts, to feel like compromise. What kind of memories were we building anyway? The Lord used the children’s fears, as well as much discussion and prayer between Steve and me, to convict us. We decided that it wasn’t right for our children to be out trick-or-treating–participating in a “holiday” that focuses on evil. Verses such as the following would stand out to us as we were praying about this decision. Romans 12:9, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 16:19, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Once we made the “no trick-or-treating” decision, we still had to deal with children who would come to the door on Halloween. Surely, this would be an opportunity to witness to them by handing out tracts along with the candy. We could involve our children in choosing tracts. Plus, we would still be building warm, childhood memories by letting them hand out the goodies and tracts.

Halloween once again rolled around. The doorbell rang. Excitedly, I asked our oldest son (who was six years old at the time) if he would like to open the door and give the children outside each a piece of candy and a tract. After opening the door, he quickly handed the container back to me and ran to his Daddy. It didn’t take long to figure out why. The “characters” facing me were frightful looking at best.

Perhaps the Lord is taking you along a similar path concerning Halloween as He has our family. I want to encourage you not to feel strange or alone if you decide to spend that night in your house making it look from the outside like no one is at home. Stand firm on being separate from the world’s pursuit of glorifying wickedness and don’t bow down to the evil of Halloween. Take that time to spend together as a family, praising and worshipping your holy, righteous, almighty God.

Who Is He?

If only everyone had the right answer to: “Who is Jesus Christ?” Jesus is the Messiah, God incarnate, the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God, Son of God. It is a great question when you engage someone new. If you hear a textbook response then ask: “But Who is Jesus to you?” (Luke 9:20) Knowing Who Jesus is theologically, is important, but not enough, compared to knowing Him as one’s personal Savior and Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

Obviously, we want the right answers (read relationship) from our children. What are you doing to facilitate that? Hopefully, your family is attending church. That is good, but are you leading your family in a quality, Bible time every day? That is vitally important to disciple our children in their relationship with Jesus. We must also be living out the example of life in Christ before them. If Jesus is in our thoughts, and we are abiding in Him, He will be in our speech through praise and thanksgiving over the course of the day. Brothers, we have nothing and are nothing aside from Christ. 

If our answer to “Who is Jesus?” is simply a textbook response, and our lives aren’t different from the world, that is scary. Maybe we don’t know Him. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

What’s Your Attitude?

Your attitude is vitally important. Your thoughts regarding your God-given responsibilities are powerful factors in determining the results ahead. Nehemiah was steadfast in his determination to build Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:11, 2:11, 2:17) and you, my brothers, must be determined to build your families spiritually (Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6:4).  

Nehemiah had enemies around him who did not want him to succeed in the work God called him to (Nehemiah 2:19). You will face resistance (John 16:33) to building the godly family God has called you to build. The more godly your desires for your family, the more resistance you might expect. It may come from extended family, neighbors, “friends” or sadly, even people at church who don’t like your particular direction. Initially, they might use disparaging/discouraging words (Nehemiah 2:19) to you or your family, and if that doesn’t derail you, they will likely try additional tactics. 

Those against Nehemiah devised cunning ways and even intimidation to try to stop the building. Oh, my brothers, don’t underestimate the will of those who do not want you to succeed in raising children who love and serve the Lord Jesus. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). 

The Best Inheritance

I have two brothers in Christ who have mentioned with fondness that they own Bibles that belonged to a grandmother. The fact that their Grandma used that Bible and made heartfelt notes in it is clearly what brings added treasure as these men read those Bibles. It is a heart connection with someone they loved and who is now with the Lord. “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” (Psalms 45:17).

Please consider doing something similar for those you love. It is a parting gift for when you go to be with the Lord. Here are some practical suggestions for this.

Purchase quality Bibles so they will last through many years of use. My preferred publishers are Cambridge and Schuyler. Choose a Bible that is Smythe sewn, has quality paper, and is real leather (goatskin even). Select large type so it is not hard to read. 

Underline key verses that speak to your heart. I use different colors: red for commands, blue reveals God, black for general special emphasis, and green for salvation related. Set up a legend that works for you. 

I use Pigma Micron pens, .25 mm for notes and .45 mm to underline boldly, or .25 mm less bold. Westcott (#18) makes a 6 inch flexible plastic ruler that is perfect for underlining. It will conform to the page shape, isn’t too long to get in the way, and goes margin to margin. I get mine at Hobby Lobby. 

During my early years of Bible reading, I tried highlighters, but they looked messy, even though I tried to be neat. It’s God’s Word, and I want my Bibles to be treasured. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Strong and Courageous

Please consider. If the decisions you make while leading your family don’t require strength and courage, is it possible you aren’t following God’s Word, or you are leading a family of “angels”? Here’s why the question. 

When Joshua took over leadership of Israel, Moses told him to be strong and of good courage (Deuteronomy 31:7). God, Himself, told Joshua two times to be strong and of good courage (Joshua 1:6, 1:9). One time God told Joshua to be strong and very courageous (Joshua 1:7). Do you get the feeling that leading consistent with God’s Word is a difficult challenge? Joshua was taking God’s children into the promised land. The obstacles had been huge under Moses’ direction and would continue to be so. Previously, the problems were more from within than from the enemies without. 

Do you see the similarities to what a Christian father faces in raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Then Paul encouraged the Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Next they were to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). That takes strength and courage my Brothers. It is a marvel of God’s grace that He will supply it (Philippians 4:19).

Homeschool Planning

For homeschooling moms, summer provides an opportunity to reflect back over your past school year and prepare for the upcoming one. New school beginnings hold the excitement, hope, and promise of significant accomplishments for each member of your household. Often, though, this promise will not come to fruition unless specific goals and directions are set for the year.

Planning as a Couple

Planning with my husband, Steve, for the next school year was always a highlight of my summer. The two of us blocked out time together where we set goals and planned the course of our school year. I remember a couple of summers where on a Saturday we went to a conference room at Steve’s work. There was a long table to spread materials and computers on, comfortable chairs, and a big whiteboard. Being away where there were no interruptions had obvious advantages. One year, though, we spent Saturday morning at home working on this with nothing else scheduled “to do” and encouraged the children to play in their rooms or outside as much as possible. After those planning times we had a “date” with dinner out. Several years we were able to get away for a night at a bed and breakfast for our school planning time.

Background Information

To prepare for our time, I put together some background information for Steve to review before we met. He took what I gave him, read and reviewed it, and prayed about it before we had our meeting. 

I gave him our plan and goals from the previous summer and a schedule of what we actually did during the school year. I also wrote out areas in which I felt we did not do what we wanted, including difficulties with attitudes, schedules, specific schoolwork, not keeping the children accountable, or them not achieving a goal. I gave him a list of subjects I thought we might want each child to study or work on and the number of hours we do school each day. I wrote out some character concerns that specifically affected schoolwork.

What To Do

When we had our planning sessions, we started with prayer, since Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” First, we went over the previous school year’s plan to see what we achieved, what we deleted, and what did not work. Next, if we written out goals for the past year, we reviewed and evaluated whether we had accomplished them. 

Then we looked at our list of what each child could spend his school time on for the coming year and prioritized it. The big white board in the conference room was great for this. We listed each child’s name on the board and then underneath placed the school subjects for him to pursue with a number beside it for its priority. From there, we worked with the specific amount of time to spend per day or week on a particular subject. We also wrote down ideas on how to make sure the character deficiencies were addressed and followed up on.

Make It Happen

I am grateful that Steve was willing to sit down with me and make important decisions regarding our school direction. Although I usually put together the specifics after this major meeting, I knew where we, as a team, were headed. If I ran into further snags, Steve and I set aside more time to address the new items that come up.

I hope it is possible for each of you who are homeschooling couples to make time to be together and focus on your school planning for the next year during these summer months. Perhaps it will be something you look forward to as I did my planning times with my husband.

What Seeds are You Planting?

We live within three hundred feet of 12 of our grandchildren. I have a ram’s horn that I use to signal the grandchildren between houses. Christopher’s children use a cow horn, and Andrew (across the street) has a trumpet. It is sort of a grandpa and grandson thing. 

The other day on an errand with ten-year-old Joshua, we were discussing horns, and he told me he would like a ram’s horn like mine. (BTW, if you know anyone who raises and butchers rams, email me please.) He was looking online but didn’t want to spend as much as they were priced. I asked him, “Joshua, why don’t you use your gift money for that?” He replied, “I don’t want to spend over $20 as I’m saving to buy my house debt free.” I sure couldn’t argue with that. I thought, “Great job, Christopher, in planting that seed. It is firmly rooted.” 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Teaching children wise financial stewardship would rank high as a good thing.

Encouraging or Dampening

Walking around the convention hall one couldn’t miss the sparkle of sheer delight in many mom’s eyes. They were thrilled to be at a homeschool conference hearing about and seeing the tools of their trade. WIth all the things an average mother does in managing her home, these moms were special because they added homeschooling to an already full mommy’s plate of daily tasks. These were the elite of the elite, the “Navy Seals.” the “Green Berets” of moms in the trenches of raising children. They had not chosen the easy way of sending their children off to school. They were not just doing a job, but were delighting in it. The time Teri and I dialoged with them was energizing. 

There was another aspect that was so good for Teri and me, yet, heart-rending. Those were the stories that tore your heart in two – stories of hardship, struggles with children (with no easy answers), and of the tragedies of life. 

What broke my heart most were the dads who stood lifeless or like a wet blanket in response to their wife’s excitement. She turns to him with an excited, hopeful voice, “Honey look at this.” He replies with a flat, dull, indifferent tone, “Ya, I see it” or something negative. 

Dads, we are the blessed of the blessed of the blessed to have wives who will invest their lives to school our children. May we love them in word and deed, honor them, and thank them. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Please don’t forget that it takes a mother to be a father.