Thursday, June 30, 2011

Raising Children Up In The Lord

My wife and I have certainly made lots of mistakes so far in raising our son. But God has been gracious to help us commit to regular times of family worship, in the context of speaking about the Lord throughout the day. This has proven to be a great blessing to our family.

Earlier this year we went on our first overseas mission trip as a family, to Nepal. I had Evan, our three-year-old son, share some of his memory verses and theology questions with church members and local pastors one day as we were standing outside enjoying the view of the Himalayas over the city of Kathmandu. They were very encouraged to hear him speak correctly of the Trinity - that there is only One true God, and that he exists in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Perhaps this was especially noteworthy to these Nepali believers because of the culture in which they live; a culture that worships many, many gods.

As I listened to my little boy recite truth in a foreign nation, I felt more than fatherly pride. I was suddenly hit with the idea that a three-year-old knew more truth about God than perhaps many, many thousands of people in the idolatry-soaked nation we were visiting. I prayed that the truth of the gospel would fill the land of Nepal! And I thanked God that my son was growing up under the truth of God's word. This is due to God's grace, not to any great achievement of my own.

Today I printed out the five memory verses we have been rehearsing with Evan since he could talk. I also printed out eleven questions of theology that we have constantly discussed with him. I put them in a cheap frame and hung them on the wall. Evan was glad to see them hanging up just for him.

I thought I would share these verses and theology questions with the readers of my blog. This is not to draw attention to myself, but hopefully to encourage you in the disciple-making of the children in your life. Children are able to comprehend more than we sometimes imagine. We are in great need of repentance for the laziness we often show in this great responsibility before God.

I would like to encourage families to have a regular, daily time of family worship. I would also like to call men to lead in this effort. It is to fathers that the Lord addresses this responsibility (Ephesians 6:4). But if a father is not present or willing, let godly women pull their children aside and pour into them the great truths of God!

Here are a few suggestions for family worship time. Gather the family with no background noise (this in itself may prove a great feat for some!). In whichever order you prefer, spend time together reading the Bible and discussing, singing to the Lord (this may be awkward at first, especially if this has not been a regular practice in your home), and praying. This may be the perfect time to rehearse memory verses and go over questions of theology. You also may find your children asking questions about God, life, the Bible, or other important things. This is a treasure!

Especially if your children are younger, family worship time does not have to be long. 15 minutes may be a great start. Some nights will go longer, and others will barely survive 5 minutes! It's ok. Just lay the foundation and be faithful.

Finally, it is important to let family worship time be in the context of speaking about God throughout the day! We want our children to see that Christ is our focus - our very life - not just in a set time each day.

May God be pleased to use us to raise up a generation of children who love God and delight in Christ!

Evan's Memory Verses and Theology Questions

Memory Verses (ESV)

1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [2] “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), [3] “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3

2. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Deuteronomy 6:4-6

3. Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3

4. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

5. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

Theology Questions

1. Who made you? God made me.

2. Why did God make you? For his own glory.

3. What else did God make? God made all things.

4. How many Gods are there? There is one God.

5. How many Persons are there in God? There are three Persons in God.

6. Name them. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), God the Holy Spirit.

7. How much did God love us? He loved us so much he gave us his Son, Jesus.

8. How much did Jesus love us? Jesus loved us so much that he died for us on the cross.

9. Why did Jesus die on the cross? He died to shed his blood to pay for our sins.

10. Did Jesus stay dead? No, he rose from the grave and is alive forever!

11. What does God want us to do? God wants us to believe and trust in Jesus and to Love God and Love People.

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