After reflecting on yesterday and how great of a job Toby Gibson did in presenting his first sermon, I thought about the importance of parenting (and grand-parenting). Christian parents have always had a daunting task in attempting to raise children to believe and live out the gospel of Jesus in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. What does it take?
Paul said to Christian fathers in Ephesians 6:4 (I believe fathers have the primary role of spiritual leadership in the home but it is safe to assume this applies to mothers as well) to “bring them (your children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Here are some practical ways we can do this: Pray for them – and for wisdom for yourself as parents every day; teach them the to look at things in life from a Biblical perspective by asking, “What does the Bible say about this?”; make them go to church (!) – yes I know we are to “be” the Church and not just go to church – but I don’t believe people can “be” the church if they’re not going!; tell your kids whether or not they believe the gospel is up to them but as long as they are living with you they will be going to church and hearing the gospel; show them what true love is in marriage by self-sacrifice for your mate; teach them that God’s moral truths are absolute and do not change with the times (some customs may change but not moral truths); teach them that the world is messed up and the world often gets things wrong but God never does – never!; let them see you reading the Bible; pray with them; teach them that God loves them more than they can imagine and even more than you do; teach them humility by admitting your own flaws and failures; ask for their forgiveness when you have blown it; Pray for them and for yourself (I know I already said this but keep at it); filter their friends for them – make them get rid of destructive friendships; give them responsibilities at home; discipline them in love and not in anger; make sure discipline fits the “crime”; be consistent; don’t allow them to manipulate you; set the rules and stick to them but also show grace at times to help them see grace is real; but don’t allow them to turn grace into a license to do wrong; pray to have wisdom when to show grace and when to discipline; do not be too permissive in rules you establish about dating…never let them be at home alone with their dates; keep your marriage strong; stay active in church no matter what; don’t let sports leagues or school activities take priority over the church – otherwise they will think church is optional or secondary; be growing in your love for Jesus and your knowledge of the word of God; let them see that you are active in church ministry and studies and that you are not a Sunday-only Christian.
I have more to say but these devotionals are supposed to be brief (sort of). I love this church and all the parents in it. Let’s pray for the parents (and grandparents) of the children at MCC and all of those working with our Children’s and Teens’ Ministry.