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.
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 only TWENTY 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.
Brothers, I am truly thankful to God for each one of you. Thank you for giving your thoughtful attention each week. My prayer is that your relationship with the Lord and your love for, and investment in, your family will intensify.
Here are worship thoughts from several of you:
The worship of God is our eternal destiny. God is looking for true worshippers. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). DC
Obedience seems to be one of the highest forms of worship. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Worship is impossible to avoid. We either worship God or something else. I see worship as a consecration to God of our entire being which manifests itself in every moment and part of our lives. We need to repent and understand God seeks all of our attention and devotion, that we would worship Him always in our hearts and minds – and that would always directly transpire into acts of love, mercy, compassion, self denial, and self sacrifice in following our Lord, that our motivation in all things would be to His glory and honor. A person can be worshipping as they are doing the most mundane or dirtiest, lowest of jobs if they are doing it with a thankful heart of love to God and love to neighbor. In fact those acts of love may mean more in the sight of God in consecrated adoration and reverence to Him than showing up to church multiple times per week for worship. WH
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2b). I have seen this verse best lived out in the life of my Grandpa. Everything he does and says is rooted out of a desire, and I would say sense of duty, to show the “worth-ship” of God in practical and humble ways. He does not do so for men to see but because he knows God sees. I have heard it said that there is “a time for worship.” From this verse, I would say that time is someone’s whole life, not so much a weekly event.” ZP
Worship is abiding in the presence of the shadow of the Most High. MR
He looked to be about 25 years old—tall, thin and muscular. He stood at the back-end of a large, open, box-truck waiting to begin. It looked like it would be a boring, unglamorous, menial job of loading dirty tires to be hauled-away from the Costco tire shop. I was very wrong. Then, it began. The only thing missing from this incredible performance was an orchestra.
Tires started being launched at him in rapid succession as if from a “giant, rhythmic, tire, machine gun” inside the shop. Not missing a beat, and with the appearance of no effort, he bent enough to grab the inside edge of each rolling tire. He skillfully used the incoming tires’ momentum, altered its trajectory, and slung it five to ten feet up into the back of the truck. Right arm, twist, sling, rotate, repeat. Over and over he did this with an occasional left arm movement thrown in. What an incredible show of strength, timing, and coordination. This man knew how to make something boring a work of art.
Brothers are you turning every activity of your day into a pleasing offering of sacrifice to our God for His glory? “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
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.