Tag Archives: Blessings

Teaching The Gospel to My Children: Part 2

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Teaching The Gospel to My Children: Part 2

Haven’t read Part 1? Check it out here: Where I realize that my children can’t be kept from sin, but they must be taught how to respond to sin.

Knowing my children have a sin nature, from the moment they are conceived, is an important part of teaching them the gospel. The first part of understanding the gospel is seeing that we are indeed sinners in need of a Savior.

I often get very frustrated with modern parenting that operates from a standpoint of the idea that the child is a blank slate. They are sinless, and if we can juuuuuust get things right, they’ll improve the human race. This thought, however innocuous it might seem, at its core sees man as a Savior. Not Jesus. It assumes the if the children can be raised properly, man can save itself. And I am ashamed that I used to believe this, wholeheartedly.

“But I don’t believe THAT!”  I had once said to myself. In word, I didn’t, but I was inadvertently teaching my kids this. When we discipline our children, we tell them a LOT about themselves, ourselves, and their relationship to God. I am far far FAR from a perfect parent, and I have a lot of mistakes to undo in this area.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Take for instance, a popular cartoon, Daniel the Tiger. I recently watched an episode with my children on “sharing.” There were lots of pretty songs about sharing blocks, and how we’ll all be happy if we just share! But the premise of the episode was clear, and repeated over and over and over again. Share, because if you do, it’ll feel GOOD.
Sounds great, right?
Nope. Not so right. Without realizing it, we often teach our children that doing good feels good. And that We ought to do good for the sake of feeling good, or if there is something in it for us.

But is this scriptural? Is doing good about feeling good, or is it about something bigger?
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Jesus is clear here, doing good is about giving God glory, not fulfilling our own desires. At its heart, selfishness is the root of all sin, putting ME first, making ME God. It is at odds with Jesus’ own commands.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV)

I used to say this kind of thing to my child:
“If you share with Emma now, she’ll share with you later! Or, what about a trade! You give her what she wants, and she’ll give you something you want!”
We are teaching children that good is only worth it, and is only good, if they feel good.
But this is a selfish premise, we are feeding our children’s selfish sin nature. We are teaching them that their feelings, their wants, are more important than what God says is right. We teach them that feelings, and their satisfaction, ARE God.
And, crazy as this sounds, I was also feeding my own sin nature. I mean, it is MUCH easier to have Ava bribed into stopping the crying. Hand everyone the toy they want, and nobody gets hurt, right? Well… sort of. There is that moment where Ava’s selfish desire can NEVER be sated, because it isn’t about the toy, it is about ME, about how I feel, or what I want.
See what I was doing here? By feeding this selfish nature, I was feeding a beast, one that just got bigger, badder, and all around worse. For the convenience of today (less screaming) we are sabotaging the character of tomorrow, and losing a very important teachable moment to share the gospel.

I now do this instead:
“I’m sorry, but that is Emma’s property, you may not have it unless she says yes.”
Oh good. There is an out, Emma could say yes!
But Emma says “No.”

Uh oh. Cue the tantrum.

Yes, this does mean more work for me, but which is more important, an easy, fun, confrontationless time with my child, or teaching them right from wrong? Teaching them to follow Christ’s commands: To love the Lord your God, with all your heart, your mind, and your soul, and your neighbor as yourself? Christ neatly summed up all the laws in the Old Testament in this little nugget. My job is not to teach my children to love themselves (selfishness) But to love God, and those made in his image, more than self.

In part 3, we’ll get into how this kind of teachable moment often does lead children straight to the gospel.

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Conviction: Where do I go now?

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I do not usually post things of an overtly political or social nature on this blog. Generally I stick to introspective thoughts, how tos, and recipes. But something has greatly shaken up my world lately, and it is heartbreak over a very preventable tragedy. As I hold my newborn son, and go through the beauties, the struggles, and the blessings of daily life with a newborn, I am completely aghast and heartbroken over the trial of Kermit Gosnell (please do not click on the link if you would prefer to avoid graphic images and descriptions. Viewer discretion is advised. The short story is that Dr. Gosnell is accused, and on trial, for gruesome partial birth abortions, and unsanitary and dangerous abortion procedures.) I have been following it for some time, and had heard about it as the trial date was approaching, and as my due date was approaching. Since the trial began, soon after my son’s birth, I read, in horror, of the atrocities this man committed. And I thought to myself; What does this mean to me? How should I, as a Christian, respond to something like this?

I spoke to my mother, knowing that when one feels strongly affected by something, indeed, convicted to act upon it, there are a few places we should go:

  • To scripture: Read God’s Word and find out what God says about what is bothering you.
  • To wise counsel: If God’s Word is unclear, or even if it is clear, seek counsel from those you look up to as spiritual advisers, on how to apply God’s Word to your life, or to clarify, and how to further study God’s Word to get to the heart of a principle or concept.
  • To prayer. Take time to unload your thoughts, burdens, and if need be, confessions, to God. Allow him to take the burdens you carry, and trust in his Sovereign Will, and his Infallible Word.
  • To application. Take what you have learned, toss out your own impulses, and apply God’s Word to your own life.

I know what God’s Word has to say on the subject of unborn children:

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Behold, Children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb a reward.

Psalm 127:3

He values them. He made them. He loves them. They are blessings. I know this.
So what did my Mother have to say when I called her? She told me something like this: “Liz, do not become so mired in this horror that you can do nothing about, that you forget your own responsibilities as a Wife, and as a Mother.”

Good advice. My first responsibility is to the children God has entrusted to me. He is clear in his Word what he wants from me on that score. (Duet. 6, Psalm 1, Eph. 6) So am I meeting the challenges God has given me in my own children? I must admit to falling short on that. It is a constant learning curve, and one that contributes to my sanctification daily, and theirs as well, I’m sure. The Holy Spirit is not done with me in this area of life, and I must admit that this case has had me feeling firmly convicted that my first place to look is here, in my own home, to see, how do I respond to the great blessings God has entrusted to me?

Secondly. Although I am vocal about the rights of the unborn, what do I really do about it? Not much, not really. I don’t talk to my elected officials on this one (and so I should, I’ve called them up enough on things like, personal liberty, gun rights, homeschooling laws etc.)  And do I offer help, compassion, support to any women I know? Not really. Do I offer a witness to others about the blessing of children? Sometimes I even complain about mine. Not that they are perfect, (they aren’t) but do I dwell on the blessings of children before others, or do I snarkily joke about the burdens? Ouch. Guilty as charged.
My husband and I feel firmly that the Bible teaches that each child is a blessing, and as a result, we’ve done something kind of scary, we’ve left our reproductive future in God’s hands. And just as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with 4 children, and doubt this conviction, two things burst on my sight. Kermit Gosnell, and this book: Does Birth Control Cause Abortion?  I cannot simply read these things with a horrified look on my face, and feel sad. I have to act, and I cannot relent. I have been convicted, and it is time to apply God’s Word to my own life. I can’t stop the Kermit Gosnell’s of the world singlehandedly, nor can I stop the legality of the abortion in the U.S. alone. I CAN stick to what my husband and I have felt compelled to act on, and make our family a priority, and I most certainly can teach my daughters and sons God’s Word concerning marriage, family, and children.

I can also tell them my own story about the heartbreak of sin when we walk away from God’s law, and the ways I am still paying for my teenage pregnancy, even today. I know the heartbreak of those mothers in that clinic. I know the overwhelming feeling of “How will I ever ever EVER be capable of mothering this child?” and I know the emotional terror one faces when we realize our own inadequacy in the looming cliff of parenthood, when we are barely children ourselves. But I also know the redemption in Christ, the blessings of obedience, and the beauty in every single life. I know that I would not trade one moment of that terrifying and overwhelming experience of that first pregnancy for a different life. The beautiful little girl that God gave me is well worth every moment of it. I know God already has a plan for her, and is using her in many lives, including my own, to see the beauty in the work of God’s hands.
When we are faced with conviction, what can we do, but turn to God, and seek his face to remedy our own failures? We cannot stop or solve the failures of others, but we can certainly seek God to govern our own lives, and our own hearts, by his regenerating power.

Kuyper