Raising Your Children For the Lord

In the early 80’s I presented a similar lesson to this one about raising godly children. After presenting this lesson one Sunday, I had all five of my children come the next Sunday, hoping they would back up what I had presented. But I remember Bart had rather shot down what I thought was important. One of the points was making Jesus real in our home. Bart said that to him it really didn’t matter that we went to church, and what it was that made Christ real to him was that he was made alive and real in our home.

So that has given me the thought to look into a little different area of this subject.

1 Peter 3:6b  “…and you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you.”

Deut 31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them; for it is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear to be dismayed.”

These verses are so true for mothers. It is an awesome job. Awesome for you with young children and all that is ahead of you. Awesome for me as a grandmother and walking beside my grown children. Let those verses give us courage.

Thinking of this lesson a sentence came to mind in a paper we received from the Browns in London regarding their vision for the United Kingdom. It said, “History in this country has shown that when a few committed young men and women embrace and live out the principles of Jesus Christ, the nation had not only moved, but changed for the better.” I think that is so true as we consider bringing our children up for Jesus and leading them to follow him. We first have to embrace and live out the principles of Jesus Christ in our own lives and in our home. Our first priority is to be attached to Christ ourselves, embracing him and living out his principles. As we lift Him up in our homes and in our daily life, He will draw those children to himself.

Matthew 19:13-14 “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder him, for such belongs the kingdom of heaven'”.

John 12:32  “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

How can we lift up Jesus in our homes for our children to see? For one thing, by having Jesus live in us and through us and by knowing what Jesus would have us to do…. and then do it. I think a key thought in the Matthew 19 reference is “not to hinder the children from coming to Jesus”. What do we do as parents that ends up being a hindrance to our children seeing Jesus? Perhaps…. arguing with their dad in front of them? Gossiping? Being sarcastic, bitter or revengeful? What can we do to help them see Jesus in our actions and decisions?

We can either claim James 1:5 for wisdom in the little decisions, and perhaps help build the fence at the top of the cliff. Or wait until disaster strikes and pray for ambulance service at the bottom of the cliff. Time with the Lord is so important in raising our children and asking the Lords wisdom on decisions we need to make. If we don’t do this, we will use our human wisdom and what seems good and right to us, not necessarily what the Lord would have us do.

Isaiah 55:8,9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”

Example: When Jane didn’t want to be confirmed and instead wanted to be baptized in the water off Fox Island

Don’t let pride enter into your decisions with your children. What will the church think? What will my friends think? It is important to not only pray for our children, but with them for their personal needs.

Example: Praying for Pollyann with sports and praying for tests with Bart

Dick one time shared in a couples class about living on the edge financially, and how he felt he invested in his kids lives, not financially in their future. He didn’t save for college for them and didn’t have large insurance plans. He felt by being a part of Sitzmark Ski Lodge at Crystal and skiing and playing with them, he was investing in their lives and our life as a family. He felt boats, jet skis and waterskiing were also investments in our family, keeping the kids close to home and out of trouble.

There was a couple in the class we were teaching, who we had hoped to get to know better and who after this class asked us to have coffee. We did, anticipating they wanted to talk about the Lord or parenting. But no, he was an insurance agent and he really confronted Dick for telling people, in his opinion, to not buy insurance but rather to spend money on activities to do with your children. So, not everyone agrees with our theories.

In the 80’s when Dick lost his business and we went through some very hard times financially, some people would ask, “Do you now wish you had done things differently and had been more careful with your money?” He always said, “No, I wouldn’t change a thing.” He felt he had his children and they were close to him and that was more valuable than all the money in the world. The Lord did provide a way for them all to do to college for as much as they wanted or needed.

If we can lift up Jesus in purity and truth, not hindering our children in anyway, they will see Him and He will draw them to himself and they will follow Him.

Oh, Lord give us grace to allow Jesus full reign in our lives, to live and shine, so that He will be lifted up.

Family Devotions

I am going to share some simple thoughts and memories from Family Devotions with our children.

We started in a little house on Oxford St. when we had only Becky. She was between 2 and 3 years old. I wanted to have an atmosphere for this time and since we had no fireplace I decided to use a kerosene lamp in the center of the table and we would sit around it. It worked well and in a dark room it was quite cozy. I used the lamp even during time of the year when it was light because it still helped with making it a meaningful time.

When we moved to 35th in University Place, I liked to have devotions in front of the fire whenever possibly and in the summer at the beach cabin, in from of a beach fire on the bulkhead. I think atmosphere helps make it a special time for the children.

I think about Jane’s comment a while ago, “Mom, I think devotions meant more to you than it did to us kids.” That could be true, but I needed that time as a mom. It was the most precious time of the day for me, but I still think these times of devotions had an impact on the lives of our children as well. All are now raising/ have raised children for the Lord and doing a good job (and their children are raising children in the Lord).

As a busy mother, I needed time with my little chickens gathered around, quietly talking to them about Jesus. It was a wildly noisy time between 3-5pm  with 5 children and trying to make dinner. And then began the unwinding time. I would give them their baths and then send them down to the fire place to be dried off by Dick and put on their pajamas. I would then gather the children together and hand Dick the devotions book. I always found it important to get Dick’s approval for devotional time. But like most things, it doesn’t happen unless mom takes a little initiative.

We often began devotionals with a regular story. We went through “Laura & Mary” books, a chapter at a time for example. Dick would then read a chapter from a Children’s Devotional Book such as “Little Ones Time with God” or “Happy Acres”. There are books to fit every age group. Dick would read the story and then ask the questions at the end of the chapter which the children would answer and discuss. After reading and asking questions we would sing a few songs or choruses. Then each would pray. I still remember Bart’s regular prayer every night when he was little, “God bless all the people in the world. The ones I know and the ones I don’t know”. That rather covered it all 🙂

We would always end with the song “Now the Day is Over”. Singing one verse and humming one verse. Then bed time would start for the young ones. I could see extra benefits from these times for children, besides learning about Jesus. It taught them to pray out loud and as a result they were never afraid to pray in a group whenever they were asked. It also taught them to sing as a family. Sometimes we were asked to sing and they always had a song ready. They had several that each one would sing a verse or special things within a song. They changed the words to “Micheal Row the Boat” to “Barty Row Boat”, which had lines like: “sisters help to trim the sails” and “Nanny and Boppy on the other side” and “milk and cookies on the other side” and “Wollochet bay is chilly and cold”. All ending with hallelujah.

Benefits I could see as a mother:

  • taught them to pray and be concerned for one another
  • they learned how to share prayer requests
  • they learned how to ask for forgiveness from God and others
  • opened up opportunities to mend relationships in the family

It’s easier to establish this routine when they are small, before school age, and easier in grade school. It becomes more difficult for a routine as they enter Jr. High and High school. Each child in the family has a different experience and a different remembrance of their life in the family. I know Pollyann’s memories of Family Devotions are very different from Becky. I feel it provides a strong basis for praying “for everything”(tests, games, friends, disappointments). It also is a natural time to witness for Jesus when kids have friends over to spend the night. As a mother it made me feel I was daily taking a step in fulfilling Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way she would go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

May the Lord bless you as mothers and fathers as you train up your children.