Training Our ChildrenSherry
Our Featured Speaker is Sherry Bitler, Director of Children's Ministries at Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Glasgow, Delaware. Sherry is a beloved wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother with many years of ewxperience in children's ministries in the body of Christ. Her topic is "Grace for the Children", based on the scripture, Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
This particular evening, a passage from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis brought our attention to the fact that Satan wants to keep us so preoccupied with the future, so that we forget to be happy in the present. Screwtape (an assistant to Satan) is giving instructions to his nephew, Wormwood, who is a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. Screwtape tells Wormwood that the Enemy [God] wants us to keep our focus on the present because that means we [Christians] meditate on our union with Him, and eternity, because that state is concerned with Him. He encourages Wormwood to use fear, avarice, lust and ambition to make the young man look forward and be in constant "pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the present... It is better then for your patient to be filled with anxiety or hope (it doesn't matter which) about the future... because it is only piling up disappointment, more impatience, when his false hopes are dashed... than for him to be living in the present. Yet, he is aware that in the present all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell..." which is where, Screwtape concludes, Wormwood should attack.
At any time our circumstances in the present may result in false hopes and broken dreams from our personal thoughts and perspective. However, clarity comes when we turn our focus to the truth and hope in God that He shared through Jeremiah to the Israelites who were in exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. "For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you," says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jer. 29:11, AMP)
The present and the future are two facts in the Lord which are in themselves a priority to married women who are spiritually single:
1. Your relationship with your husband. A loving, caring friend gave me an acrostic that will enable you to prepare in the present to impact the future:
G – radually make changes
R – ave to your husband about his good qualities
A – ccept him as he is
C – hange yourself as God’s grace allows
E – njoy each day you have with him
2. Training your children to become godly adults.
A concerned wife and mother asks, "How do I handle my child(s) fears and anxieties that result from their father's unbelief? How do I glorify the Lord as I gently and honestly talk to them about their dad without destroying his character to them?"
Each of your children have their own God given goals and talents and God has a plan for how He intends to use them. It is important that you know how each of your children think and why he asks what he asks. Each child has a certain "bent" in their aptitude and talents. Find where these are and speak to him where he is.
There are many "rights"... stop looking for the right answer and instead look for how you are going to glorify God in the situation.
Scripture says train not teach. Hide Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in your heart: "The commandments I give you today must be in your heart." What must we teach?
- The Lord is our God.
- The Lord is the one and only God.
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
- Love Him with all your strength – Lifestyle training
- Make sure your children learn His commandments
- Talk about them when you are at home
- Talk about them when you are walking on the road
- Speak about them when you go to bed
- Speak about them when you get up
- Write them on the doorframes of your houses
- Write them on your gates
Training means modeling. When you hide God's word in your heart, and act on it by your obedience, God honors your trust in him by allowing the Holy Spirit to be visibly reflected in you. You train your children to love God's word as you do. God will open your mind and heart as He gives you the opportunity to understand your child by seeking Him to know how to get to your child's heart. Training your child is not about their behavior so much as it is about their hearts (and yours). A good book that speaks to this subject is Shepherding A Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Also, giving your child his own Bible to take to church will give him a sense of responsibility for the book itself, and a reverence for what God says inside it and brings God's words close to him.
Matthew 25 talks about our talents. Talent can also be considered as our circumstances. Talents = circumstance = Opportunity to glorify God. You can use your circumstances as an opportunity to grow prayer warriors, and show your commitment to spiritual truth. You will be creating an atmosphere that says "think of the Father's viewpoint instead of your own." By your response, you demonstrate that God's power sustains you through circumstances that you would like to be different. A good resource for this subject is the book, For Instruction in Righteousness by Pam Forster (Doorposts Publishers).
When your child asks a question that seems out of sync, ask "Why are you asking?" Fear is contagious and can lead to other sins. Sometimes when our children ask questions they express a fear. Fear in itself is not a sinful emotion. It can protect us from foolish actions that endanger our lives. Children need to learn healthy fears: jumping into deep water without knowing how to swim, playing in ditches filled with rushing, swirling water; electricity, what not to touch, fire, getting too close to an open flame; traffic, slowing down and being conscious of the stop and go and weaving in and out of cars in front, beside and behind. The book, For Instruction in Righteousness also speaks to this parental concern.
When children ask questions that we find hard to answer, try to understand before you assume or answer too quickly. Look behind the words and ask God to reveal the "bent" of your child – is he vulnerable to fear, anger, sadness. Be intentional in addressing these natural "tendencies". Our "natural bents" are never an excuse to disobey God. Training a child to resist those bents is difficult and often painful. Remember that raising a child is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
Never mock a child's fear or other sinful bent, but gently lead him to an understanding of God's unfailing love and protection that is God's grace in action. Fear is contagious and can infect an entire family if not controlled. It also leads to other sins - lying, compromise, complaining, rebellion, depression, and injustice – all natural bents of every child. If we excuse or rationalize those bents, we are actually "training" our children to stay in their sin and when they are "old they will not depart from it."
Be intentional about keeping things positive before your children. Always respect your husband and hold him in high regard before your children. For help in this important area, read As Unto the Lord by Pam Forster (Doorposts Publishers). Journal with the children those moments God has been faithful to them. Be aware of the small things, stop and pray with them.
It is important that your husband and you are united before the children. It offers security and clear direction. Any differences should be aired between the two of you in complete privacy. If you are not of one mind, you can ask God to fill in the gap that is needed to obtain a sense of security. Someone has said, "Satan condemns - Christ convicts." Learn to know Christ's conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind God's word. It will always bring healing, not condemnation and chaos, to the situation.
Dawning Light of GRACE: When you first trusted Christ as your Savior, He gave you His Holy Spirit to love His Word. In response to one of my pastor's sermons, I created a bookmark with the words, "Whatever happens..." These two words remind me of the exhortation of Philippians 1:27: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel." Life is all about God and what He foresees for you and your family – whatever happens. He created you to glorify Him by sharing His story and extending His grace to those who are in need of him. I agree with the speaker who said, "It is not the lions and tigers that get me, it's the mosquitoes!" Help your child(ren) to love their Dad so much that everything they don't understand they can take immediately to prayer. That's how you teach them to see their circumstances (and the mosquitoes) as opportunities to glorify God. By your own life you are training them in the way they should go. You and your child's faith will be transformed as God opens your eyes to see Him working in the circumstance.
*Login to share your comments with others regarding this article. If you are not a member then please register.