Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raising Our Children

"I'm delighted you're here today," Brad warmly exclaimed at the start of today's service, sunshine streaming in the windows.

Announcements today included:
1. Roger DeLoach has published a book called He Calls My Name about the Christian ministry that has been occurring in our local race tracks. A fundraiser will be held at Gethsemane Covenant on Wednesday evening.
2. The building committee has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday the 30th.
3. There will be an August 2nd Open House at the Crestman's after the service. More information coming soon... In the meantime, mark it on your calendars.
4. This week's VBS was wonderful. Thanks were extended to all those who gave of their time to help make it happen.
5. And don't forget next week's fundraiser Rummage Sale next Saturday. Bring your items to donate on Friday... and your wallets on Saturday.

There was an amusing comment made when Paula requested that people bring their favorite Sloppy Joe recipes. Joe Stapleton made this amusing request: "Can't we call them something other than Sloppy Joes?"

Darlene's introit was again meaningful. Familiar lines seeped through the melodious tune... "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me." After enjoying some video footage from the week's VBS experiences, the offering was taken.

Today's Scripture readings were from I Kings 17:8-16 and Galatians 1:11-24. A hymn followed and Brad took the pulpit to give the message.

Raising Our Children

Today's starting point was Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Brad then shared how it seems we're constantly hearing about advances in genetics so that one day we may have the ability to define our child's traits in advance by genetic engineering. Tongue in cheek, he imagined a future Kids-R-Us Catalog where we make such choices.

The reality is, that as parents we have responsibilities toward our God-given children. Brad spent this morning's time with us outlining four objectives we should strive for as we raise our children.

1) Build strong self-esteem.
Just because building self-esteem became a buzzword in child-rearing manuals these past two decades does not mean it is unimportant. Children need to know that they are valuable, both to God and to their parents.

Brad shared a story about an 8 year old boy who attempted suicide because he did not believe he had value. In fact, he believed he was the source of all his parents' troubles. Strong self-esteem is an important quality for children as they move toward adulthood. They get this through three behaviors which are within our power to give. A word, a look and a touch.

Kids need to hear affirming words. Jesus, when He was baptized, heard these words from the heavens: "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Our smiles, our hugs, our affirming words are vital to our children.

2) Build sense of personal confidence.
Confidence is inter-related with competence. As we invest in our children, to learn skills in their areas of interest, they experience the inner satisfaction that competency brings. Whether it be art, music, sports, we as parents can foster confidence within our kids by investing time working with them.

I had many stories come to mind while Brad shared, of my parents investing in me, and our support for our own children's interests. Brad share how his own father taught him important lessons as they did things together. On one occasion, Brad was trying to chop down a tree but it wasn't going well because the axe was a bit dull and the tree a bit hard, so he gave up. Brad's father came over and used this experience as a teaching opportunity. "Brad," he said with his hands on Brad's shoulders, "in the real world you're going to find that almost everything you do is hard. school, athletics, marriage, church work. It's more complicated than you think, just like that tree you're dealing with. You can decide to quit, or find a new, better approach. Son, I'm expecting you figure out a way to get that tree on the ground even if it takes all day."

Brad did put that tree down, but he took a more important lesson away that day.

3) Teach them relationship skills.
One of the bi-products of our increasingly fragmented society is fragmented families. Both adults and children are challenged by the broken relationships and fewer than ever are learning how a healthy relationship works. There is more escapist behavior than ever these days.

There's a standard line that private pilots use when the navigation gets fouled. They say, "I don't know where I am or where I'm going, but I'm getting there at a very high velocity." Many young people are entering adulthood at a very high velocity, but velocity without direction can be a very dangerous thing.

4) Establish Christian values and spiritual foundations.
There's a strange notion that we should raise our children "values free." But school and television are not values free. They tear down the values we hold and replace them with alternates. So the question is, who will impress their values on our children?

We can't disregard or neglect this important truth: parents are the primary influence on their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." In other words, every experience shared with children can be a training experience."

Brad then told a story about one occasion in which a man drove by in a very chic Cadillac. Brad commented on how rich the man must be. Brad's dad replied, "That guy owes money to every man in town. He's got creditors lined up 20 deep and they're not getting their money. Yet that man's pride leads him to put on a show, but Brad, it's phony. It's phony to live beyond your means. It doesn't please God to put on an act, to pretend you're something you're not." Brad said that he can still remember the color of that car, and that influenced to this day the way he does personal finance.

The world is a theater through which we have the opportunity to teach God's values.

The world needs children with strong self-esteem, great competency, great relationships and strong spiritual foundations. Let's make a commitment to to turn it up a notch, with God's help.

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