We all have had a conversation with a boy who proclaimed he was going to do great and mighty things. Listening, you smiled, affirmed, and encouraged him as he spoke, but inwardly you wondered, “Will he actually do it?”
Have you noticed that doesn’t just apply to boys? A few months back, I was visiting with my son, Nathan, and his wife, Melanie, on the driveway when they were dropping something off. At one point in the conversation, I commented that I still wanted to lose ten more pounds, and I was going to do it. They responded with appropriate smiles and encouragement. Well, three months later, not only have I not lost those pounds, I have packed on a few more.
Aren’t we glad Noah, Moses, and Paul were men of God who put action to their words? What if Jesus, when in the garden, had called down legions of angels to avoid going to the cross? We all would be headed for eternity in hell. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
What have you said you would do and haven’t? First in priority is our relationship with Christ (Col. 1:18) — in the Word every morning and praying (1 Peter 2:2). Make sure you are involved in a Bible-believing/preaching church each week (Hebrews 10:25). What about investing in your marriage (Eph. 5:25) and relationships with your children (Deut. 6:7)? (Don’t believe the quality versus quantity lie!) May we be men of our word.
God gives us untrained children. From then on, everything we do or don’t do—our passions, subtile pleasures, self-discipline, reactions, what we hate, what we love —are all imprinted on our children. Whatever measure of rebellion, disrespect, or lack of self-control in our children that we accept is part of the “training process.” To top it off, how the child perceives our love of God, our worship, and time in His Word, can affect him for eternity. Self-control is one of the most important things for our children to learn.
One tool that facilitates the whole family learning self-control is a daily, home schedule. Not only are needed things accomplished, but it helps a child (everyone for that matter) develop self-control. To submit to boundaries and structure is critical for life. The flesh wants freedom and nothing external telling it what to do. However, we are bought with a price. All of our time and our whole life is owned by our God. His yoke is easy for the obedient but not for the rebel. There are times to sit still and be attentive (church) and times to be active. Each must learn to rule over himself in order to submit to the One Who owns us.
If you would like help in this area these resources have proven beneficial in tens of thousands of lives: Managers of Their Homes and Redeeming the Time.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Most parents would love for their children to sit still and be attentive at church. The question is how many are willing to invest in their children to achieve that end. If you are, it’s achievable, and family Bible time is the ideal training vehicle with the side benefit of them learning self control.
Begin with a mental checklist of Bibletime-behavior goals for your children. Make your guidelines achievable, and explain them to all the children when you begin. Don’t resort to the bad idea of allowing children to play with toys during this time as it teaches them to think about things other than God’s Word.
Even little ones love how good it “feels” when they are praised by the family at the end for sitting still and having been quiet. Encourage/remind the older children that their example influences the “youngers.”
I watched my son, Christopher(six children ages 1 to 8), improve upon what we did in our home for family Bible time. I am blessed by his faithfulness and diligence in this. To help the little ones when beginning Bible time, he holds up one hand and then sequentially points to each finger associating a behavior with it.
o Hands busy (hands clasped together)
o Sit up
o Feet down
o Be quiet
o Listen carefully
Over time, he no longer needed to rehearse these each night. Often, when they have done exceptionally well, Christopher will reward them with something active a little one would enjoy.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (Psalm 119:9,10).
To get it right, start early. However, infants are too young for church-type training so parents will do well to preemptively manage the child’s sleep, feeding, and hygiene needs. In the event that plan fails, head for the cry room.
As he gets older, training can begin. Using every opportunity, once a baby can sit in a high chair to eat, meal prayer times are perfect for simple training. Teach your children these three basic rules for praying: hands folded, eyes down, sit still. Of course, it will be funnier than effective at first, but you’re committed, remember?
Start with short prayers and over time, move to progressively longer ones. If you are implementing this with toddlers, tell them you will be praying with your eyes open so you can make sure theirs are closed. If they aren’t successful, they can practice longer while others are being served their meal first.
Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand when his behavior is pleasing you. Tones and smiles communicate a lot to your small children before they can speak. More next time on other opportunities to help your children develop self control.
“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 11:20).
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.
God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden to test Adam’s obedience. Adam disobeyed, and mankind still experiences the consequences. Actions of one flow down to others.
Jesus’ obedience to the Father brought Him to the cross to atone for man’s sin. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus obeyed, and those who are Christ’s, experience the blessings of eternal life. Actions of One flow down to others.
Now, our turn. Have you meditated on Romans 12:1? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Daily we have manifold opportunities to bring God glory by loving obedience to Him. And the actions of one (you) flow down to others. Presenting yourself to God as a living sacrifice for His glory is impressed on the hearts of your family because what you love, obey, and give yourself to affirms your words of praise and adoration for your God and Savior.
A good dad is concerned with protecting his family since God has assigned him to be head. As head, Dad is to be aware of what might threaten their physical safety. Ephesians 5:25 calls Dad to even lay down his life for his family as Christ did for His bride the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
I’ve known a lot of dads who are focused and concerned with their family’s physical security. However, there are dangers to the family that are of greater importance and often go unnoticed. Are you careful and on guard with what is coming into the minds and souls of your family? Media abounds, and people have their favorites, justifying why it is good for them. However, I’m confident, most are similar to “dumpster diving.”
I believe if you embrace the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:23, you will not only enjoy safety, but your family will grow in the Lord Jesus Christ. If it edifies, embrace it. If it doesn’t, pitch it.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
My heart aches hearing of the problems some are facing. Is God still good? Yes, beyond measure! Has He forgotten His children who are struggling? No.
Are you complaining and fearful or praising and joyful? Brothers your wife, your children need you to be strong. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
As you have needs, lay them before your Lord. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Keep a journal and capture all your needs and God’s answers for future encouragement. God is always good, always.