Thanks so much for joining me again for this series on building a bridge to your child’s heart. I so appreciate the encouraging emails and am so happy that you are finding this series helpful.
Today’s post is the fifth in our series together. It is preceded by:
If you have not yet requested to receive the article in it’s entirety free of charge, just email me at Lynn@Proverbs31.org. I’ll be happy to forward it to you!
According to a survey by the Barna Group, comparatively few early teens say that they learned enough Bible content to enable them to make important life decisions on the basis of biblical principles.” This survey goes on to say: “The significance of focusing on the development of children is underscored by findings showing that the moral foundations of children are typically solidified by the age of nine, that lifelong spiritual choices regarding one’s faith and one’s relationship with Jesus Christ are generally made before they reach age 13, and that a person’s religious beliefs are usually worked out prior to becoming a teenager – and that those beliefs rarely change to any meaningful degree after age 13.”
For those of you who still have children under nine, this is pretty powerful motivation for pouring into your children when they are young. For those of us who no longer have child that age, it can also be a very powerful motivator. This is our LAST opportunity to have true impact on our children before they head into the world.
Deuteronomy 4:9 says “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” NLT As parents, we have the priviledge of passing on to our children and grandchild all that we have seen God do in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Our stories are powerful. Our own history with God is something no one can argue with.
The possibilities we have to disciple our kids can take place in two ways: informal and formal.
Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9 instructions us how to teach them informally:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
For me, this would be translated “Listen up, Lynn, The Lord our God is the Mighty God and the reason you live, so love Him with all your heart, soul and strength. I am giving you this command and I want it to be as close to you as your next breath: Imprint them on your children’s heart. Talk about it when you are eating dinner and driving on errands; when you are tucking them in bed at night and when you are waking them up in the morning. Have them written all over your house so that they will read them often.”
I look for opportunities to tell my kids what Jesus is doing in my life and point out how He is at work in me. I use the Word to relate to the issues that they have in their lives and how His word is applicable every day. I share how the Word will help them to solve the problems they encounter and how He wants to rejoice in the good things that happen to them. It is so important as parents that we teach them ourselves and not rely on another.
When my daughter Mariah was in 5th grade, she got off the bus one day and I knew something was terribly wrong. She wasn’t crying, yet, but I could see distress on her face. As soon as we entered the house, she broke down. “Someone called me Shrek on the bus today.” Being 5’10” tall at 11 years old certainly was trying for my daughter. At that point, the small group leader, the youth pastor or the last conference speaker wasn’t there to speak the truth to my daughter. It was me; her mom. I began to speak truth into her heart. “He says you are altogether beautiful my darling and I see no flaw in You!” He says “You are the apple of my eye.” As I whispered these words to her wounded heart, I had to trust in the Lord that He would make them real to my hurting daughter.
I also believe we should continue to teach our children in formal ways. We can’t rely on the church to do it for us. Jamie Lamb from Virtuous Realities Ministries wrote: “Youth groups are great, but even the best youth pastor makes a bad parent.”
Barna Research recently conducted a study of kids from homes that attended church. The average child from a church-going family spends 2 – 4 hours per week going to church. Take out of this time – driving, singing, offering, etc. and you end up with an average of less than an hour of actual Bible teaching per week. How can one hour a week compete with 15 hours of the Disney Channel and other influences in our child’s lives?
When my daughters are eating their breakfast, I read God’s Word to them. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. I am trusting the Lord that their faith is being built up while I am reading to them. I also have a RadRev Girls group for my youngest daughter and five of her eighth grade friends. Every other week we get together to do a Bible study and learn more about Jesus and his love for them. By following a formal format, I am reassured that we will have a pre-set time to read and study His word together.
Evaluate the input and output of Truth in your child’s life. Do you need to personally take part in investing in them more? On Friday, I’ll share more on how I invest God’s truth in my children.
What avenues have you found that works best for sharing the Lord with your children?