I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea in December 2013, which prevents good, solid sleep many nights of each week. I am working with doctors for proper treatments, but until then I have some rough mornings. Today was one of those rough mornings. As I was sitting in my office this morning reflecting on getting kids out the door for school, I was reminded about a sermon I preached in January about intentionally modeling Jesus to our children. It is always good for me when the Holy Spirit gives me simple reminders, and maybe you appreciate them also.
If you would like to listen to the actual sermon, you can find it on iTunes. It is 57 minutes, and the second time around is always better so you may want to continue reading.
As a parent, my goal is to be a biblically sound Christian who models Jesus the best I can. I need to give the right amount of law to each child, along with the right amount of grace and love. I am learning these amounts are different for each of our children and possibly different from day to day. As I give (or don’t give) these right amounts of law, grace, and love, I should be reminded that my great grandchildren will need to endure to results of my choices. Did you hear that? What we do today, could still be around 80 years from now. That gives me pressure to make sure I am doing the right things to the best of my ability. Not perfection!
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (NIV), “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 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. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
First, the commands, decrees, and laws of the Lord are for us, our children, and our grandchildren. We have a responsibility to intentionally pass it to the younger generations of our families. We cannot afford to leave this responsibility in the hands of others. If we do, we will be disobedient to the decree.
In order to grasp the responsibility, we have to become sensitive to the voice of God speaking into our lives. This will allow us to know what we are supposed to pass along. We can only do this well when we strive to live in deep reverence before God all of our days. Webster’s dictionary defines reverence as “honor or respect, felt or shown”. This is a call to action! God never gives us the option of sitting on the bench. He never gives us the option of spiritual retirement. His commands and decrees are forever. When we stop living for Jesus, we declare to our family the previous decades of our lives didn’t really matter. We can erase years of influence with one or two bad decisions.
Second, I suggest that we have many gods in our homes. We all have stuff that takes our attention and focus. Is there a moment in our lives that we refocus on the Lord, our God. Is God the Lord of all the stuff in your home? The verses above say we are to love God with our heart, our soul, and our strength.
“Our heart” means we love God with our knowledge, reflection, thinking, and understanding. This includes our ability to think critically and logically.
“Our soul” means we love God with our emotions and passions. This could include getting mad about the right things rather than become angry about things that didn’t go our way.
“Our strength” means we love God with our physical abilities.
Third, Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to impress the Lord’s commands and values on our children and grandchildren. I spent four years at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI. As a student, I was taught repetitively to seek to live by a Christian worldview because this is what I would pass to my family for years to come. It’s true! The things that are important to me have become important to my family. To impress something is a marking or a transfer. This should have significant implications on what we are transferring to our kids minds. Parents, you may not believe this, but you are the biggest influence in your children’s life. In fact, if we model Jesus well to our kids, they are 67% more likely to follow Jesus well as adults. I understand they make their own choices, but we have a responsibility to guide their choices the best we can.
Here are 10 things you can do to guide your children’s spiritual choices.
- Honor God with your decision-making. Embrace the values of Scripture over the values of culture.
- Serve your neighbors, even the ones you don’t like.
- Text your kids/grandkids verses or spiritual thoughts throughout the day.
- Use your social media accounts to spread the love of Jesus rather than engaging in drama.
- Get a dry erase marker and write verses on your bathroom mirror.
- Pray at meals, whether it is in the dining room or in the car.
- Take a 30-day challenge to listen to Christian music only!
- Take a 30-day challenge to read the Bible 12 minutes every day. Make it a family challenge. It will give you automatic common conversations about Scripture.
- Pray with your kids/grandkids before they go to bed at night.
- Play audio scripture while family is getting ready in the morning. You can find affordable Scripture if you visit www.christianaudio.com.
A final charge…
Grandparents – You have a difficult task because you want desperately to pass along the values you embrace to your family. You have tried your entire life to ensure your kids walk with Jesus. Some do and some don’t. On behalf of the generation that did not value and respect how you tried to pass faith to us, I apologize for the agonizing pain we have caused inside of you. I apologize that you have felt betrayed and unneeded. It is time that younger generations begin to understand your generation and for you to understand younger generations.
I ask you not to quit. We need your wisdom and life experience. I ask you to keep trying to pass your faith to your grandkids. I ask you to learn to communicate your faith in a way they will embrace. The generations younger than me want to know you care about them individually before they will care about the information and truth you wish to pass along to them.
Parents – We have the responsibility to pass along Biblical values to our children. The church in America understands that coming to church for a weekend service only does not produce long-term Christ-followers. Our kids need to hear us lead them spiritually throughout the week. Spiritual growth must become a priority within our homes. Our kids will embrace the values that are spoken into their lives repeatedly.
If you have young kids, I ask you to begin speaking into them the values you want to them to hold as teenagers. Doing so will make those pivotal year in your home less difficult. Recent studies show that kids, as early as 4th & 5th grade, are already deciding if they will continue with their faith as adults.
I pray that you strive to be a blessing to your family today. It will make the craziness of your day go much better.