In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Influencing our children's hearts

Recently I heard yet another story of some Christian who abused his kid; while mis-using scripture to justify it.

As I thought about it my heart felt heavy.

I can't help but remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:6-7 (NLT):

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.
We have such great influence on our children.
I want my interactions with my sons to bring about good in their lives, not tempt them away from God.
But I don't think it's so simple as to just shove the Bible at them. I can remember my dad deciding when I was young that he was going to bring us up in the ways of God, so he instituted this time when he'd read from the Bible after dinner each night. I have no idea why, but he chose the book of Job. He didn't even try to make it kid-friendly, he just read from it each night - and in the KJV to boot! So, to us we were being read to from some book that was written in an archaic language style that we didn't understand and we were bored to tears. I think this pushed us away more than drew us to God. Because it was so boring to us as kids and we played with each other (kicking one another under the table), and then we were "bad" for not listening.
So what have I done?
I know that I make it a priority each day to take some time in the morning, before the day begins to spend time in prayer and reading and thinking about scripture. I've always hoped that my sons see this as something real in my life. Over the years we've sometimes had family devotions that included object lessons or group reading; the most successful of these have been during the Christmas season when they revolved around an advent wreath. I've given my sons devotional books aimed specifically at their ages at various times and they appear to have sporadically benefited from them. I suppose the greatest success I can claim is that recently my 21-yr old son mentioned in an email how busy he is (he's in his last year of college at West Point) but that he's makes time before breakfast formation "to sit and pray and read the bible a bit and reflect".
What about you? What are some things you've found that you can do that help you influence your children's hearts toward God?


GCT said...

"Recently I heard yet another story of some Christian who abused his kid; while mis-using scripture to justify it."

How do you know that it is a "mis-use" of scripture? "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is in the scripture, as is some pretty heinous treatment of children (Lot offers his own daughters up, children killed for making fun of a bald man, etc.)

"I want my interactions with my sons to bring about good in their lives, not tempt them away from God."

Can not "good in their lives" be quite separate from god? Can not atheists have "good in their lives?"

Finally, I have to add that I don't have kids and I'm not planning to have kids, but I would want my kids to have a broad knowledge so that they can make informed choices. When you were bringing up your children and installing Xian beliefs, did you also introduce them to other beliefs, whether Xian or other religions?

Robert Madewell said...

Tracy, I think the problem is with the scripture. If there are people out there (and there are) that take the bible to be 100% inerrant cover to cover, then there are people who will follow the brutal parts of the bible letter for letter.

Here's one that my Dad cited as a good way to raise your children.

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23: 13-14

Maybe, the Hell I was delivered from was dogmatic religion.

Tracy said...

As we've "talked" before, GCT, there's some things I can not explain in the Bible. My husband John and I joke about this together; we've got our list of Bible-tick-offs. But it doesn't diminish my faith in God. There's a Bible passage I adore, because I so relate to the heart of Peter when he said these words to Jesus found in a situation described in John 6:66-69(NLT):

"At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God."

So there you have it; my approach is that there is indeed lots of stuff in the Bible that I don't like, but I love Jesus and want to follow Him.

I'm surprised GCT that you ask if atheists can have good in their lives since in other discussions I've said quite clearly that there are good people who pursue all sorts of belief systems.

I love my 3 sons. I think they are one of the best gifts I've ever received; they are absolutely incredible (I'll refrain from a lengthy, boring to others, discourse about how wonderful each one is). I do not feel the need to bring them up in all religions or without religion so that they can make a choice when they are adults as some people I know do. To me my faith is so real, vital and such a wonderful thing that I have brought them up in Christianity. I actually even require that they attend some kind of Christian church weekly until they graduate from high school; they do not have to attend the same church as me but I do require Christian church attendance. I'm guessing you'd find that rather narrow and it is very narrow. Because we live in the real world; other religions, current events, other takes on reality, is a discussion topic at the dinner table or while driving in the car or just as situations arise. I read a lot as does my husband and 2 of my 3 sons like to read as well. None of us limits ourselves to only Christian literature. Discussion of thoughts and what people think and how they believe is a topic of interest in our house. But of course I always approach these discussions from my world-view of being a Christian because that is who I am.

Robert, your dad may certainly have had some great things about him, but he had big problems and the fact that he abused you and your family is about him and his issues. There is always the thought about following the spirit of the law verses the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is that kids don't have fully developed brains and they need parents to guide and instruct them (it drives me crazy when I observe parents of young children who are behaving totally obnoxiously and the parents are invested in letting the kids be self determining rather than just being in charge and saying no), so don't refuse to guide, instruct and disciple. Because let me tell you, young children can be exhausting so it would be easier sometimes to ignore them. Loving, consistent discipline is healthy. Did I always provide it for my sons? I know there have been times I've messed up. But you can ask all 3 and none of them would say they felt abused at any time, and all would admit that as they grow older I increasingly loosen the reigns and let them both make, and live with the consequences of, their own choices.

GCT said...

Sorry for the late reply:

I'm not sure where the first part is coming from, as my question was about how you know that your interpretation is correct.

To your second point, there's a difference between being a good person and having good in one's life.

Lastly, that was my opinion, take it or leave it. I would think that it would be more satisfying to you, them, and god if they were to be versed in all religions (and none) and then decide that Xianity is the correct one. There's many, many people out there who are one religion simply because they were raised that way.

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