Teach our Children

“You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.”  This is the first line of the song, “Teach your Children Well”, by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, which compels me to question, “What kind of code are our children living by?”

First, let’s talk about building a strong foundation for our children.  Having taught school for most of my life, I witnessed children who struggled in 6th grade because they had a weak foundation in the primary grades; and sadly, these students were often “lost” as they went “on their road”. On the other hand, I came into contact with children who had a firm foundation, who were determined, confident, and successful.  They had no qualms about tackling something new “down their road”.  They knew where they were going. 

These two scenarios also ring true when teaching our children God’s word.  We must start when they are young to give our children a firm foundation-a “code” to live by.  A great example of a teenager who had a “code to live by” was Daniel.  He was taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years, into a hostile, foreign, idol-worshiping country, but because of his firm foundation in Jehovah God, he never compromised in his faith—even when faced with death.  Then there’s Paul’s young protégé, Timothy, whose mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were commended by Paul for instilling the “faith” in Timothy. And I must mention Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She was, most likely, just a teenager when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her, telling her she would give birth to the Messiah and that she was “highly favored by God.”  Mary’s answer?  “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said.”  Wow! Mary definitely had a firm foundation in her God. 

Therefore, let’s be intentional about giving our children a “code to live by”; don’t leave it to chance because it will probably never happen.  Talk to your children about God, read the Bible with them, give them weekly verses to memorize—start when they are young and they will have a plethora of Bible information when they are older.  I think of the words Moses told the Israelites, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commands that I give you today are to be upon 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.”

If you are a parent of young children, it is scary to think of what these children may face as they grow, so give them a firm foundation, a moral compass, a “code to live by”.  Don’t let them be lost on their road. Don’t let them be like the Israelites, who, after the death of Joshua, forgot Jehovah God—“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord or what He had done for Israel.”  They began to worship idols, and the various gods of the people around them.  The wisest king, Solomon, said it well, “Train up your children in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Teach your children well.

So You Are Forgiven

To Parents:

So you are forgiven and free from guilt. Does that mean you don't have to change? No, Christ loves us enough to walk with us in the active change process. 2 Corinthians 7:10 discusses how Godly sorrow leads not to overwhelming regret, but to active God centered change. So what is the importance of this when considering parenting children with behavioral challenges? Everything it means that our actions are weighed not against a comparison to the kid next to him in class, but through the lens of a Godly father. Therefore we throw off the sin and run toward loving Godly parenting daily, hourly, in this moment. But take comfort because you are not alone Godly sorrow by its very name implies that God is with us, before us, besides us, and behind us. You are not making this change alone but God is making it in you. You have failed 100 time before. Praise God! That means you are 100 times better now than when you started. Pray Lord I'm a sinful parent. I need you. I can't do this on my own. Change me so I can be the parent you want me to be. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes and helping when it's too hard. In your name I pray.

To the Child:

"Ok so I've heard about this Jesus thing before but I think that's for good kids... You see I tried to go to church before and a man with a very red face told me I couldn’t come back when I learned not to roll down the aisle. You’re a nice crazy lady to say that Jesus loves me but I'm pretty sure that's for kids who can sit still." 

Dear one let me tell you when Jesus walked the earth he had 12 close friends and three best friends. One of them, Peter, well if he was sitting in front of me in my office we would probably be throwing around words like ADHD or maybe even oppositional. You see he spoke without thinking, he used bad language and he was violent. Sound like anyone you know? So what do I take from God choosing him from all the men on the earth? That Jesus not only wants to be your friend he wants to be your best friend. He not only wants you in his house he wants to give you the keys to his home. He not only calls you to follow him he calls you to love and lead others. So beloved I do mean you when I say Jesus loves you.

Number 1

To Parents:

It is 8:30 in the morning, you’re late to work, almost in tears, as you watch him walk in late to school again with hair worse than crazy hair day. There was screaming crying and anger, yet again it's ringing in your ears "I failed…I was too hard...too easy...too busy...too stressed...too much." Over and over again I hear this story. I have never met a parent who if they were honest didn't live with this litany of guilt singing in their ears. There is some truth to our self-abusing rant. All parents mess up. Mary and Joseph were hand-picked by God himself to care for his Son and they lost him for three days in a busy city. Yet Jesus honors his mother even at the point of his death. So yes, you made mistakes. Get over it, the devil is the accuser of the saints. God knows you have made mistakes. He still loves you and your child. Forgive both of you and move on! Give the guilt to God. He already knows rest in His love and forgiveness. Then find the next opportunity to love your child. 

To The Child:

My teacher calls me the problem child... My mom calls me her burden...My peers call me a bully. God calls me beloved. God knows you yell; you cuss you hit and you hurt. He will help you change all of that. First He wants you to know you are his; He loves you all of you. He made every part of you. He knows your pain, your anger, your sadness. Wrap yourself up in Him and give it all to Him. He will define you as precious, loved, called, chosen, and worthy.