Our boys aren't little kids anymore.
The way they think, talk, act...it's changing. Sometimes, I feel like I'm speaking with adults.
I can't just talk with them about the 7 days of creation (although that is foundational), or the fact that God created them and loves them (also critical), or simply have a short devotional and prayer time together. As they age, I need to provide them with adequate, meaningful teaching so they can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:18).
Here's how I'm changing my approach and going from doing devotionals to discipleship...
How are you and God doing?
How are you, AND your family, and God doing?
Simply put, having a pulse on spiritual matters means knowing where you and your family stand with God.
Have you heard from Him lately? Are you building a daily altar? Do your children know Him and walk with Him? (Or, if they are young, do they at least know the fundamentals of our faith?)
Questions to consider:
Parents, we need to know how to make a case for the truths and teachings of Christianity and how to apply them to every day life. Call it apologetics, call it theology, call it what you will - we need to do it.
This doesn't always entail a sit-down session but it should. Often, it will be in passing, when we wake, when we travel, before we go to bed, etc. It will/should also take place when tragic world events happen, when a loved one passes away, when a friend betrays us, when you lose a job, and so on. Before they're adults, use those circumstances to draw near to God and the counsel of His Word, together with your child(ren).
Here's a short list of three important topics to discuss...
A Truth a Day is a new resource that will be available on Altarpreneur Kids.
It is a simple tool to help bring structure to your devotionals; It includes a weekly topic and 3 short teaching/discussion ideas. It was created especially for fathers, to take the guesswork out of what they will teach their children from the Bible during the week. It came about from my own dilemma of wanting to share at least one truth a day from God's Word (hence the name). With God's help, I finally put the 'pen' down and created a weekly guide that I can continue to use and adapt as our boys get older and more (spiritually) mature. Now, you can too!
A image like the (green) one above will be provided with each weekly topic along with 3 ideas for discussion/teaching. Here is a sample of the 3 ideas:
A) Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. We know the song and it's important to know God's Word. Here is a sermon by John Piper, which covers this passage. Listen, reflect, discuss!
B) Talk about the danger of disobedience. Here is a short clip from Ligonier Ministries that might help.
C) Talk about what sacrifice looks like today. Here is a video called The Priority of the Altar. In the first part, I describe elements of the altar, then and now.
Stay posted for updates on this resource.
Keep the Fire Burning,
Dear parent, to live with more purpose, carefully answer this question:
How do you want your children to remember you?
What comes to mind? Do you want to be remembered as a loving father or mother? Fun? Strict? As someone who loved the Lord? The list goes on and it's unique for each person.
Once you've answered it and gave it some serious thought, write it down.
Next, put together a short list of daily, weekly and monthly activities that will help you live out this description. For example, if you want your children to remember you as someone who spent time with them and taught them the Word of God, one of your activities might include a weekly project/game and a daily Bible devotional.
These are some of the basic steps I took to create The Covenant Planner. This is a simple, one-page document that helps you plan for a Godly year by giving you a visual reminder of things that matter. Even as your children get older, this can serve as a simple tool to keep you focused.
Genesis 18:18 - For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.
There is one thing in common with all the professional plays and theater performances I've seen - I never saw what was happening backstage, behind the scenes. In parenting, this is not the case.
Training your children in the path they should go (see Proverbs 22:6) is not seasonal or short-lived.
Parents, to put it simply, we are always on stage.
Our actions, our reactions, our words, our silence, our habits, it's all being observed.
Today, give some thought to how you are living your life and the example you are setting for your children. Ask:
This is certainly a shortlist to keep in mind. There will be days when you feel like hiding backstage. Turn them into teachable moments.
Keep the fire burning,
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 on 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. (Deut.6:4-8)
'Passing on the faith' has to do with teaching Gods commandments to the next generation. That's the WHAT. Thankfully, God also gave us the HOW.
We need to be careful not to treat it as a checklist of information we need to 'serve' to our children. In todays culture, we're used to giving/receiving information, services or products, in the form of transactions. We drive up to Starbucks, place an order, pay for that order, and receive that order. Done. Move on. We log on to Google, type in a request, receive the information, and move on. DANGER in this method: We'll segregate our time into buckets of activities that are 'Christian/holy/faith-based, etc.' and buckets that are 'secular/non-faith-based.' To the Christian, everything we do must be done with a clear conscious and with full dependence on God.
Teaching our children and the next generation about God and His marvelous works must be a lifestyle. Speak His Word, sing it, live it, listen to it, act it out (for the younger children), ask questions about it, study it, write it, record it, share it etc., as you go about your daily life. When you wake, when you sleep. When you travel, when you're at home. That's what God tells us in Deuteronomy 6. And, not that you need a reminder but...God knows best! BENEFIT of this method: We will develop a holy habit of putting God at the center of everything - faith, family, career, and so on.
Note: This lifestyle method is not about making Him the Lord of your life. That's an overused and misused Christianese phrase. He already IS the LORD! Whether you 'make Him Lord' or not, does not diminish His power or authority. It will, however, diminish yours.
Keep the Fire Burning,
One night, Levy asked me why only the priest was allowed to meet with God (in the holy of holies, as we read in the Old Testament).
What a question, from a 5 (almost 6) year old.
I did my best to explain to him that this was a special work established by God, to be conducted by appointed men, for the purpose of meeting with God on behalf of His people. I tied in the fact that it was a symbol (foreshadow) of the work of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest; He died once and for all so that anyone can have a relationship and direct access to God, by faith!
For all you (newer) parents with young children, here's a quick pocket-guide to being able to answer your children's questions about God and all things spiritual. It's important that you don't just brush them off with a quick answer or revert to the not-so-meaningful 'because I told you so.'
1) First, know the Bible! You cannot make it up. Kids have a way being able to tell when you're not sure about something. When they ask you a Bible-related question, use the Bible to answer them.
2) Keep it simple. Don't get ultra-theological. Speak at their level, as Jesus did with the rural listeners in his day; remember, even children were attracted to Him because He not only came down to earth, but He was down to earth. Explain things in terms they can relate to.
3) Connect it to daily life. Make a connection to every day life and explain how His Word is a light and a guide for us. Relate the answer you give to a spiritual discipline, principal, or truth from the Word of God that they can apply.
Keep the Fire Burning,
Ephesians 6:4b - "...bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
My boy's can tell when my heart is not into something. Especially when they ask me to play a game with them but I'm just not feeling it.
Nothing will ruin my testimony more quickly than pretending to be on fire for God at church but living halfheartedly at home or at work.
I need to be the same person when I pray as when I play. The same energy, the same heart. Why? 1) I cannot (should not) separate my faith from the activities that make up my daily life. I have to live it out in every area. When I'm at home and when I'm at work. When I'm on vacation and when I'm at church. In my own backyard or at the neighbors for barbecue. Everywhere. And at all times. 2) It shows them that when I serve people and spend time with them, I represent the love of our great God. When I make time for them I'm showing them that people matter because they matter to God.
We often put on a facade. We wear a somber, pious face when it comes to 'holy' things and we become indifferent when it comes to so-called menial activities like playing hide-and-go-seek. Or, for some, it's vice versa. Growing up, I remember hearing some preachers who would talk differently at the pulpit than when they spoke with you one on one. They had a more harsh, deeper intonation when they preached but sounded 'normal' during a conversation. I was determined to never do that. I've not arrived, but it's getting better. I'm determined to be 'normal' at all times. Bottom line: We need to demolish the silos. Whatever you do, be you.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men - Col.3:23
The days are long and the years are short. Sometimes I feel like I need to cram as much of the Bible in my children's head and heart, or else they're not going to make it in this world. If you've ever felt the same, let's stop and take a minute to just relax. There's a better way...
Pick one truth today to share with your children. It doesn't have to be a sit-down, lecture setting. Share it as you go about your day. Over dinner. While playing or doing an activity. On the road. Pick a simple truth such as God is faithful. Explain to them that God can be trusted no matter what we're facing in life, even when we don't understand. Come up with a story on this principle or teach them a verse from the Bible about it (for example, see 2 Thess. 3:3).
Then, should the Lord grant you tomorrow, do it again.
Biblical, on-the-go, tips for meeting with God. Written from our experiences as parents. This is our digital space for jotting down learning moments from our devotional time throughout the week.