Raise Children in the Lord

Raise Children in the Lord

We have a responsibility to do this. We cannot just pawn it off on teachers, or Sunday school teachers, or our pastor, or a Christian school, if we have one. They can help, but it is our primary job to raise our children in the Lord.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there. This is my sixth Father’s Day being a father from the beginning. I was a step dad before that, but it’s not quite the same as when you start from the beginning. In my case, both of our girls were adopted from crisis pregnancies and were brought home when they were two days old. That’s pretty much starting from the beginning, and I realize the grave responsibility it is to be entrusted with their physical, emotional, and spiritual care.

Last weekend I was in Ottawa, Canada, speaking at the Metropolitan Bible Church. While I was there I met a number of fellows who were dads, and we spent an afternoon at a barbecue, talking about raising our children in the Lord. We have a responsibility to do this. We cannot just pawn it off on teachers, or Sunday school teachers, or our pastor, or a Christian school, if we have one. They can help, but it is our primary job to raise our children in the Lord. This morning our church played a video where a nine-year old narrator said, “We’re Watching You, Dad.” They’re watching how we live our lives, as well as what we teach them about the Lord, and there needs to be consistency in our lives.

I think part of our frustration as parents is figuring out how to make the contribution of theological content into the lives of our children. At the barbeque, I discussed a couple of different things that my wife and I are doing with our kids to accomplish that goal. Nothing particularly fancy, but we’re making an effort in addition to going to church, saying grace, and giving thanks.  We are trying to invest theological content in very specific ways.

We speak and pray in an extemporaneous way. We don’t recite the same prayer every day, because we want to have genuine, from-the-heart communication to God that the kids can see and understand.

We also have Annabeth, who is five, memorizing. She loves to do this. Kids like memorizing. It’s a game to them. They have fun doing it, and they do it very well. So we began on occasion, not every night, having some kind of recitation at the end of the meal. It might be the Lord’s Prayer,  Psalm 1,  or the the 23rd Psalm. We have the text printed out so that there’s a consistency in the wording

If you simply recite the passage with your kids, they will learn it before long. In fact, Annabeth often wants to do the recitation herself, and so she will try. If she’s missing a word, I have the cheat sheet in front of me and I can help her.. I don’t think she has  a lot of theological insight but she’s doing something that is spiritual in nature, though she doesn’t realize it yet. She’s just participating. That’s the way kids learn anything, even language. It’s nonsense to them. It’s sounds. And they go along and practice, and they begin to associate and understand as time goes on.

So now Annabeth has got most of Psalm 1 memorized. She knows the 23rd Psalm pretty well. We have to review it, and that’s an important part. She can recite the Lord’s Prayer. We even sing the Lord’s Prayer on occasion. It’s two or three minutes after dinner. It’s closing the family time together around the meal with some spiritual reflection. We don’t do it every single night. This is a way we’re investing ourselves in the lives of our children. And as Annabeth memorizes these things, they become part of her, and later on, as she is developmentally capable of understanding, she will apply the deeper spiritual understanding to that which she already has memorized.

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