Posted in Children, Christian Family Devotions, Fostering Godly Character, Growing Up Together, Knowing God's Word, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized

All Day Teachable

“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.” Deuteronomy 6:7-9

Image result for scripture on the wallAs an educator, this scripture really hits home for parents passing on the truth of God, as A.W. Tozer puts it, “undimmed and undiminished.” In verse 7, we’re commanded to impress God’s commands on our children, and then God uses the remainder of this passage to let us know how we can make that happen.

In undergrad, I read plenty of studies about the merits of teachable moments, active engagement, time on task and enriched educational environments. Since God created our brains and understands how we each learn best, it’s no wonder that He prescribed research sound educational techniques for families long before the first schools were ever founded and even longer before even one research study was done on the subject.

Teachable moments are those times when a we seize the natural interest/curiosity of a child as it blooms in front of us and make the most of the opportunity to infuse them with as much understanding as they can get at that time.  When God herein basically tells parents to keep His Word activated throughout the day, the natural result of this is to saturate our children with the knowledge of the Holy in response to their inquiry as life presents them with questions and challenges.

Active engagement means that the student is the one who is directing the investigation and time on task means that it is the student who is actively processing the material. What better way for this to occur than when the family’s daily discourse centers around God’s Word–sitting and walking all day from getting up to going to bed?

Enriched environment means that a history class will have visuals and other materials that keep the whole room focused on the subject of history–specifically the points of history being studied in the current unit. And the same goes for math, health, science, world language, et al. God actually commands His people to take it a step further here. Yes, post them all over your home and even on the landscaping around your home, but also wear them on your body–jewelry, t-shirts, hats…the more we can infuse our lives with the Word of God, the better we will remember it.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Knowing God's Word, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized

Heart Soil

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” Deuteronomy 6:6

Image result for heart soil + imageWhile we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts [Deuteronomy 6:5] , we are also to hide His Word in [Psalm 119:11] and to keep His commands on our hearts as well. Why our hearts?

According to scripture, the whole heart is comprised of intellect [Genesis 6:5-6; Psalms 19:14, et al], will [Proverbs 16:19 and 19:21, et al], and emotion [1 Samuel 2:1, Jeremiah 4:19, et al]. It is the figurative core of our physical being, not the literal muscle called the heart. It is the command center for how and what we think, choose and feel. In essence, it is the fabric of who we are as individuals.

We love God with all our hearts so that we will we choose to lovingly obey Him. In obedience, we hide His Word in our hearts so that we will not sin against Him, and that also means that we will not sin against fellow man. But that scripture wasn’t yet penned when the law was given a second time in Deuteronomy. David was not even a twinkle in his mother’s eye when God instructed His Israelites in how to pass faith onto their children.

And the thing is, faith is not genetic, it’s contagious. But only a genuine, living faith is contagious, not a soured or dead faith. God tells the Israelites to plant His commands in their own hearts for two reasons; 1) so that they personally will live right before Him, and 2) so that their children will see their genuine, living faith, their relationship with the one true God, and learn to love and trust Him because of it.

Have you given your whole heart to God? Do you continue to hide His Word in your intellect, will and emotion? Have you planted God’s commands in the soil of your heart so that they spring to life before your children’s eyes? Do your children see genuine, living faith emanating from the very center of your being in all things?

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized

Let My People Know

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4

Image result for wrestles with godIsrael–Jacob’s God-given name. One who contends–or wrestles–with God [Genesis 32:28]. And Jacob’s descendants have ever after been known by the same. Israel–God’s chosen people. In their obedience, they were an example of His blessing. In their disobedience, an example to the nations of the consequence of sin and punishment from on high.

But when God brought His people out of Egypt to bring them in to the Promised Land [Deuteronomy 6:23] He put His name on them for all the world to see and know that He was the God of Israel. With His name written on their Nation, He needed His people to know that the gods of Egypt were false and that the gods of the Canaanite cultures were also false. That there is no other God beside our Lord and Creator [Jeremiah 10:6].

He cannot be divided into many smaller gods–one to rule sunlight, another for moonlight, one to rule seas, and a smaller one to rule rivers. Every culture on the planet shares the spiritual remembrance of a divine being, but Satan perverted, diminished or fractured the understanding of this memory into pantheons of false deities–every one an idol.

But God’s intention when He instituted the ministry of home, was that the family would–as A.W. Tozer puts it–pass on undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God that we received from those who came before. That we would lead by example in reverence for the one true and infinite God, and denounce without hesitation every false authority created by finite man.

When this is the heart of our home, then it will also be the heart of our children.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Growing Up Together, Loving God, Parents, Prayer, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized

Hear

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4

Image result for ear + imageThe opening verse to the Shema is so critical to growing a family and a personal life in the Lord. First, as Israel was being led into the desert out of Egypt and given heart-set commands from God, He addressed the Egyptian and Canaanite mindsets around them. One they were leaving, and the other they were about to walk into.

Before even this though, God opens what He is about to say with a single instruction.

Hear.

It seems like simple a simple word, one that a reader can gloss over, take for granted. But herein lies a world of trouble for many who would come to Christ.

Hear. To be told or informed of. To be aware of or know the existence of. To listen or pay attention to. To listen to all that someone has to say. To listen and grant.

In our day, many have become ultra-visual receptors. That is that we listen with our eyes. TV, social media, devices, billboards, everything around us grabs our attention and stimulates our understanding through the lens of sight rather than the filter of ears.

But I believe that the Israelites had also become a visually stimulated people, absorbing all of the sights and cultures of their masters in Egypt. That is why God needed to tell them when He uprooted them from the only life they’d ever experienced–because at the exodus, none alive had ever lived outside the bondage of Egypt save Moses–and began to instruct them by telling them to use their ears.

Jesus addressed this deficit as well, saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” [Matthew 11:15, 13:9 & 14:43; Mark 4:9 & 4:23; Luke 8:8 & 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 2:11 & 3:6].

Why? Because God speaks. He spoke all that is into existence [Genesis 1:1]. He spoke with His Creation–Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:9]. He spoke to Abraham [Genesis 17:9] and the other patriarchs. He spoke through the prophets at many times and in various ways [Hebrews 1:1]. He sent the Word of Life–His Son, Jesus–to speak and call the world to repentance [Matthew 9:7]. He spoke on the day of Pentecost to people from every language group [Acts 2:4-6]. And He still speaks today.

And because God also hears [1 Samuel 1:20]. He hears our prayers. We wouldn’t petition the throne of God if we didn’t believe with our all hearts, souls and minds that He alone is able to do beyond all that we could ask or imagine–and that He wants to, because He loves us.

We love Him because He first loved us. Shouldn’t we also hear Him, because He hears and listens to and grants petitions to each of us?

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Uncategorized

Love Rooted in Sincerity

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

Image result for roots + imageTimothy is commanding his readers not to teach falsely–no false doctrines, no mythologies and no theologies based in genealogies. What we believe–not just if we believe–about the Bible is important. And not just for us, but for our children and our children’s children.

You see, God is love. And the greatest two commands teach us to first of all love God and, from that outflow, to love our fellow man. Moreover, false teachings don’t stem from love and are not themselves loving. Because false teachings aren’t based in the love of God, they’re based in the self-love of man. And false teachings aren’t the saving truth of a loving God.

The will to love God, ourselves and others comes from three things–a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Holiness. Goodness [by God’s standard, not man’s]. Absolute certainty in the God we hope in but cannot see with our physical eyes. And these without falseness.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Growing Up Together, Loving God, Parents, Prayer, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized, Worship

The Bread of Sincerity

“Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

Image result for injeraIn our society today, it is hard for our children to imagine the need for God to provide food for us. After all, most of us have jobs and are able to make sure that our children not only eat what they need, but much of what they want–as much as they want, as often they want–everyday.

However, we try to impress on our children that even this type of bounty comes only from the Lord. He provides us with our job. He blesses us with the ability to be able to enjoy a variety of foods at each meal and other times throughout the day. He still maintains the seasons and global systems that allow food to grow. By His design our bodies extract nourishment from our food and deliver it throughout our bodies.

So demonstrating sincerity in mealtime prayer as thank God for providing for us is a very real thing. Our children need to see and hear our sincerity. Because we truly would not have the blessings and bounty that we do in our every day lives without God. That is not to preach a prosperity gospel. Not at all. But only to acknowledge that it is God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills [Psalm 50:10]. It is God who provides. It is God who gives the increase.

And it is God who sincerely deserves the glory for the good things that we are able to provide for our children.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized

TV-Watching, Media-Consuming Sincerity

“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32

Image result for family watching tvIt’s hard to watch TV as a family. Very hard.

Our oldest son, now 10, is a renegade Patriots fan and was so excited to get to watch his first full Super Bowl–complete with Brady jersey. We’d planned to monitor commercials very closely and to send our children to get ready for bed during the half-time show, but even flipping the channels at inappropriate commercials felt like we were majorly messing up. By the time something inappropriate came up, we couldn’t flip fast enough, and the TV seemed to freeze that last inappropriate image–that we were trying to avoid–on screen while booting up the next channel. Ugh!

Obviously, we figured we’d be doing a lot of channel flipping at commercials. We knew we didn’t want to take a chance on the half-time show, just in case. Yet on any given afternoon/evening after the kids are home from school, the homework and dinner is done, and the kids sit down to watch some kid-friendly, and usually educational, TV programming we run into the same problem.

One thing that I’ve noticed with my kids through all of this, they know what they’re not supposed to see. Just last night, my husband was side-tracked with our youngest daughter when an inappropriate commercial came on, and our oldest son called him relentlessly to change the channel because he knew that the content wasn’t appropriate for himself or any other sibling in the room. Praise the Lord!

Our oldest daughter, now 12, has to search images for PowerPoint homework assignments, and she  clicks out of the image tile screen if something wrong pops up and then changes search terms. Hallelujah!

By our conviction as parents, when we watch TV as a family our children have learned which things they should not allow to enter their vision–and therefore their minds. When one of them asks why we left the channel, we tell them, “They [the characters] weren’t doing something that God is pleased with. They were disobeying His Word.” It’s that simple.

As they get older, we discuss the scripture more in depth so that they understand what God doesn’t approve of and know where He says it in His Word. By our reactions to ungodly cultural portrayals on TV and media, our children see the sincerity of our relationship with God.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Spiritual Autonomy, Uncategorized, Worship

Impressing God on Their Lives

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23

Image result for worship + imageWorship must be sincere–without wax. God can see the heart of a man, but our children can see it too. They will know if our worship is sincere or not. Because worship of the heart comes out in a life.

God commands us to have no other gods, to not make any images into gods, and to not use His name emptily. He alone created all that is. There is no other like Him.

Our children will know–maybe before we do–if we allow something else to become a god in our life. They will know what images we worship with our time and attention. They will see right through our empty invocation of the name of God Almighty. They will know because they have a God-given intuition when it comes to their parents. They themselves have occupied the place of undiverted love and attention, and because they see our daily lives.

If we worship God in the Spirit and truth, not only will we be the kind of worshipers the Father seeks, we will be the kind of worshipers that our children should emanate. The kind of worshipers whose love will overflow into our children’s lives in an indisputable way. In the way that will leave the impression of God on their lives.

Posted in Children, Fostering Godly Character, Loving God, Parents, Seeds of Faith, Uncategorized

Spilling Jesus into the World

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

Image result for overflowing water + imageAs parents, we are teachers 24-7 to our children. Of course, James did not mean that parents shouldn’t teach their children or that believers shouldn’t become parents. His exhortation simply makes readers aware of the great responsibility born by we who teach–we will be judged more strictly.

By God, yes, because teaching is the highest form of learning. In order to teach, one must have a more intimate knowledge of the truth than those they are teaching. So they are also held more responsible for living out that truth.

But by our fellow man as well. Others will look closely at the life of one who professes God’s Word to others. Does their life align with the truth they are teaching? Are they sincere in their faith and genuine in their love?

Our children will also judge us strictly, for by the life we lead by example, we demonstrate 24-7 what we truly believe about God. We demonstrate whether or not we genuinely have a personal relationship with Him or not. “For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” [Galatians 3:27].

If the Holy Spirit indwells us–and if we are believers then He does–we are Jesus with skin on as we walk this world. Our first responsibility is to be Christ to our spouse and our kids. To touch their lives with the love that only God can give. Our marriages and families should so overflow with the love of Jesus that it spills into our neighborhood, community and the world at large.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” [John 13:35]. Everyone–starting with your spouse and children, and rippling outward to change the world to the glory and honor of God alone.