Sunday, July 7, 2013

Toddler Time II

I would like to address the subject of discipline in this post.  Though we often think of discipline as punishment, we all understand that the word has other meanings.  Noah Webster in his 1828 Dictionary lists punishment third, and learning is the first meaning he gives to this word which comes from a Latin word translated 'to learn.'  Therefore we will try to hone in on the learning aspect of discipline. 
Children are sponges.  They soak up information.  As parents, it is our duty to make sure the information they take in is the right kind.  From a very early age they should hear the Bible read to them, they should hear accounts of God's working in the Old Testament and lessons from Jesus' life,  death, and resurrection in the New Testament.  They should be learning Christian songs, memorizing Bible verses, and in other ways they should be taught to be disciples of Jesus. 

Pre-school salvation experiences are often doubted later.  I have had my share of doubts when I would listen to others give an amazing account of their wicked lives powerfully transformed by the grace of God.  I never had an outwardly wicked life.  Then some would say, 'You should know when you were saved.'  Well, I don't know when I was saved.  I just know that I was saved when I was a little kid, possibly when I was five years old.  Three of our four children have pre-school salvation experiences.  Of those, they all have had doubts and have done like I did.  They asked Jesus to save them (again), because they weren't sure if they were saved.  I believe in most cases, these young professions of salvation are real for kids who have been raised in homes where the Bible is taught.  And for those of you who think I am full of hot air, consider John Wesley, England's greatest evangelist.  He came back from a failed missionary trip to Georgia, convinced he wasn't saved.  At an Aldersgate meeting his heart was 'strangely warmed' - his point of conversion.  Yet I read in his journal, later in life he really believed that as a child when he prayed at his godly mother's knee, was when he was truly saved. 
Now all of that is to emphasize the importance of your small children coming to you and telling you that they want to accept Jesus as their Savior.  At this point of their lives, I believe it is harmful to press them to be saved.  They have soft hearts, and pressure would easily force them to comply with something they may not even understand.  But with your faithful prayers for their salvation, coupled with the instruction of the Word of God, your precious kids will ask questions and seek a relationship with God.  Though they may be young, do not think they are not ready.  There was a time in some denominations when it was believed you couldn't be saved before you were 12 years old.  I trust no one reading this believes that.
For many years I have tried to avoid using the term 'Bible Story' when teaching primary age kids.  I always wanted my young charges to understand that the accounts I was relating to them were real, not fairy tales - though they may have included supernatural events.  At any rate, invest in some Bible 'story' books, read them faithfully to your children.  They make great bedtime memories, and let them ask questions, even if they are just trying to prolong things before lights out.  And above all, don't be doubting the accounts of the Bible yourself.  Yes, God created the world and all life on it in seven literal days; yes, there was a world-wide flood which destroyed all mankind except for eight people; yes, God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed, after which the Egyptian army was drowned.  You see, if any of these miraculous events is too much for you to believe, your kids may wonder if the miracle that Jesus was really raised from the dead could have really happened.  It is either 100% true, or it's a lie.  It is the Word of God and can be trusted.  At young ages kids will readily believe it; you should too.

As they grow older and connect with the internet, your role as parent gets more difficult.  First and foremost, make sure you are not indulging in hidden sins on the internet (or anywhere else).  Continue to pray for them and try to monitor their computer activities as much as possible.  I was blessed with a wife that kept the communications open with our kids when they were teens.  After school they all talked about their day and what happened.  Don't be afraid to confront your kids if you suspect they are doing wrong.  Along with internet use, I believe it is important to limit the time spent playing computer games and make sure the games are not suggestive of sex or filled with violence.  Also monitor what they watch on TV.  Know what your teens are doing and keep the lines of communication open.  Don't let them shut you out of their lives.  And Moms and Dads, agree with each other. Don't let your kids 'divide and conquer.'

Raising kids is hard work, time-consuming work, and thankless work.  But remember that for the short time that you have them, they are lent to you by God, Who has commissioned you to raise them to walk in His way and for His glory.  Seek the face of God and ask Him for wisdom to see your dear children become disciples of Christ Jesus, their King.