Friday, May 31, 2013

What truths do we share?

That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, commandments, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.  Psalms 78:6-8

There is no greater heritage we can give our children and grandchildren than a solid faith in God. Money will easily fail them. There are some problems no amount of money can solve. The economy may fail them, their friends may even fail them; but God will not fail them.  And, if they know what He has done in the past, if they know how powerful He is and how willing He is to intervene in their lives, then they can live with an abiding peace and joy confident in God’s goodness.  They can take their problems to God in prayer and get help. It is up to us to teach them the great truths about God.

1.    The Goodness of the LordOur kids need to hear the Bible stories that talk about God’s faithfulness to His people. But they also need to hear our stories about how God has been faithful to us personally.  It is a wonderful thing if we can tell our kids stories about His faithfulness to our parents and their parents.  They need to walk through life experiences with us and experience the faithfulness of God themselves.  Life is the greatest teaching opportunity there is.  What must our kids know? They must know about the goodness and the greatness and the faithfulness of the Lord our God.

2.    The Absolute Truth of God.  Life is to be lived in the boundaries of God's commandments. Every child should know the Ten Commandments as a foundation for good decisions in life. When the world robs kids of biblical absolutes it robs them of their security and direction in life. Some principles are absolute because they come from an absolute God--one who never changes; one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  There are so many false ideas about God circulating today that it is most difficult for a child or even an adult unschooled in the things of the faith to know for sure what to believe except someone they trust tell them.

I do not want the major part of the theological instruction of my children to be the responsibility of anyone but myself.  The passing on of the responsibility for the theological instruction of our children to organized religion and other vocational ministry has taken the work but not the responsibility from the parent.  As a parent I realize there is a responsibility to teach as well as a responsibility to live that teaching in example. 

What have you shared with your children about God's activity in your life?  It may be that they are merely mimicking the example that you are displaying in their religious life.  They may hear it from the Sunday school teacher but they learn it from the parents.  The knowledge of God that has been passed down to us has been accurate in both theology and practice.  What will we pass on to those behind us?

Scripture to Claim:
O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.  Psalm 71:17-18

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life is the greatest teaching opportunity there is

For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, Psalms 78:5-6

The primary responsibility and authority for training a child clearly rests with the parents. It is an awesome task but it is also an awesome opportunity.  But the responsibility is not the parent’s alone. Parenting is to be done in the context of a community of believers.  As a spiritual community we want to be a support to the parents in their training and nurturing of their kids. We want single parents to find a place here where their kids can see wholesome, caring role models.

What must our kids know? They must know about the goodness and the greatness and the faithfulness of the Lord our God.

The greatest lessons we teach our children are by showing them the things we cherish and the things we dislike, the things we give attention to and the things we ignore, the things we value and the things we don’t value, the things we spend time doing and the things we neglect.  Basically, we pass on what we think is important and what we don’t think is important by the example of our lives. 

For years the church has been the primary place where our children have received spiritual instruction and formation (prayer, Bible studies, worship, and service) and we as a church have been happy to teach these things.  However, there is a recent movement that has suggested that the church’s approach has been unsuccessful and unbiblical in many ways. 

·      Recent research has shown that the church has about forty hours in a given year to invest in the heart and life of a child, while the home has about three thousand! 

·      Research has shown that 60-90% of kids leave the church once they graduate high school. 
These are sobering statistics.  As a parent I am not comfortable leaving it up to someone else who is not as invested as I am in my own child. 

Be Faithful to the CONTENT of God’s Truth
We don’t need to come up with some new spiritual reality to get our kids through these perilous times.
1.    The same God who brought Noah through the flood and Israel through the Red Sea and Daniel through the lion’s den can bring our kids through whatever they may face. The Old Time Religion really is good enough for me and you and our kids.

2.    The substance, the reality, the basics will never change and we must never try to change them. People still need to know their Bibles. People still need to know how to pray and worship. People still need to know how to love their enemies and forgive others. The essentials of what our fathers and our mothers told us have not changed and must be passed on.

The Bible tells us that God is the same, yesterday, today and foreverOur children need to know the great stories of the bible that tell of God’s wonderful truths.  They need to know that the same God that created the universe was with Noah and his family during the flood, and was there with Paul when the earthquake shook the prison walls and they came crashing down.  His truths are the same today as they were then and that same God loves them more than anyone else possible could. 

Scripture to Claim:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Be Faithful to Remember God’s Truth

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. Psalms 78:1-3

Yesterday we began talking about passing on the faith to our children.  It is our responsibility as parents to pass this on to our children.  It is not the responsibility of the church.  The church and the parents must work together. 

The verses above are talking about an active, eager and responsive listening which results in learning and obedience.  It tells its listeners to put forth some effort.  “Don’t just sit there.  Stretch out your ears towards me, lean forward in your chairs and catch every word. Don’t miss a syllable!”  Ancient wisdom is about to be shared and only the open ear will hear it; only the open heart will understand it. It will seem too simple to the fool; He will miss its import. But hidden in the words of this Psalm are keys to life and blessing.

The parent that realizes the responsibility to teach will be faced with the responsibility of working out his own theology and doctrine.  Before we can teach we have to learn.  Before we can speak we have to listen.

1.    There are a lot of dangers in a young person’s life today that their parents know little about which leaves the child vulnerable. 

2.    None are eternally dangerous like failure to know God.

3.    Would you take the time to learn about something your child needed to know to survive?

This is a life or death situation for your child.  It is eternal life or death.  Make sure you listen and learn.  Be sure you are watching for the dangers that can creep up in your children’s lives.  Satan is waiting to snatch them up and he has plenty of tools.  Equip your child so that they are “Satan-proof”.

Be Faithful to Share God’s Truth - We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and
His wondrous works that He has done. Psalms 78:4

How do we hide the things of God from the next generation?
·      We hide the things of God by not teaching them.  Failing to positively, purposefully, and systematically teach the Word of God to our young hides something they need desperately.  That's why Sunday Bible Study, youth activities, children's church, and all of the other kid's ministries are so important. These supplement what kids from Christian families get at home and provide what a lot of kids get nowhere else.

·      We hide the works of God by not recalling them. (Testimonies) Our young need to hear how the Lord has rescued us in the face of temptation. We must not God’s answer to prayer. We must tell them about his guidance and faithfulness to us in the defining moments of our lives. To hide the works of God from the next generation is to deprive them of something vital.

·      We hide things of God by our hypocrisy. Our teaching matters and our example is critical; but so is our honesty. Our young need to know that we struggle, that life is not always easy, and that sometimes we fail. They need to hear our testimony that, even in those hard times, God is good, faithful, and gracious. They need to learn about the compassion of God and not just his commandments. They need to know that our God is a God of second chances, even third and fourth chances.

Share God’s truth with your child.  Don’t hide what God has done for you.  They need to see His works in your life and how He has been faithful to you. 

Scripture to Claim:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pay It Forward

We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.  Psalm 78:4

Two thousand years ago by one righteous act, Jesus set something in motion that continues to multiply today. It is multiplied through the millions of believers who respond to his love toward them by investing kindness into other people’s lives.

Have you ever seen one of these domino effect contests where they set up thousands of dominos spaced just right so that when one falls it starts a chain reaction that goes from domino to domino? That is a good visual depiction of the impact of our choices.

Why does God wait until the end of the age before the Judgment Seat of Christ?  We really don’t have a biblical answer to that question, but logically the full effect of your life will go on for generation after generation.  And the total effect has certainly not yet happened the day you die.  I am convinced that when we get to heaven we are going to be amazed at the impact our lives had.  All we see is the immediate impact.  We just see a few dominos out.  But in reality everything you do is to some degree affecting other people.  That is both good news and bad news.

It is vital to teach spiritual truths to our children while they are young.
One of our core values as a church is that the church is for children.  We believe that children can become believers, grow spiritually and serve the church body, and therefore, we will have ministries designed to equip and facilitate this process.  Children are important to us as a church, because children are important to God.  The verse today is from Psalm 78 and stresses the importance of passing our faith on to our kids; of telling the next generation about the Lord.

The formative years of a child’s life are critically important for their spiritual development.  And that spiritual development takes place largely in the family and in the church.

Trying to save money there have been times when I used a piece of wood that had been molded for one purpose and then tried to use it for another.  I have learned why contractors throw perfectly good material away.  It is much easier to build something from scratch than try to take something already firmly shaped and make it into something else.  It takes too much time to reshape things and try to make them work after the fact.

It’s a lot easier to shape a child than to reshape an adult
God doesn’t constantly reveal Himself and His Word to each new generation. That’s not how He works.  Faith is not about our discovering new truths every day. God has spoken.  The next generation learns from the previous. That’s God’s plan.  Of course, a child must decide for himself.  But it is the previous generation that must to teach and guide.  Our kids need it.  Grandparents – you can have a role in this too.  Pass on your faith and beliefs to your grandchildren.  Sometimes kids put more stock into what their grandparents say. 

Faith is not just about us. It is about keeping the torch lit and
passing it on to the next generation.

Do not let the major part of the theological instruction of our children be the responsibility of others. The passing on of the responsibility for the theological instruction of our children to organized religion and other vocational ministry has taken the work but not the responsibility from the parent.  The church works WITH, not apart from the parent in developing the next generation's concept of God and His love and grace.

Scripture to Claim:
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.  Psalm 89:15

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