Monday, May 12, 2014

Passing It On

Our Grandson Gavin picking blueberries
 Opening my Facebook page the other day, I was delighted to find pictures from our daughter of her children out picking blueberries.  This is something I did with all four of mine during our homeschooling years.  The berries were delicious, and it was a great experience.  Of course, not all the blueberries made it home but that is the fun of this family activity.  I was blessed to know that she was passing this along to her children.  Hopefully, they will share this with their families when they grow up.
     Basically, this is what a Christian family is to do when it comes to our faith as well.  We are called by God to teach our children the hope we have within us on a daily basis.  One of my favorite Scriptures comes from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 reads:  "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."  It is not the primary responsibility of the church to do all the teaching.  Instruction begins at home and the church then comes alongside to confirm these truths through preaching and teaching of God's Word.  Without a parental foundation, children can often walk away from church down the road.
     Recently, The White Horse Inn radio program has been doing a series on Youth Ministry ( ).  They have been asking the question of why we are losing young people when they leave for college and how do we reverse this trend.  There are several resources there that would be helpful to look at, but one point stood out in their discussion on the program.  Parents need to teach (catechize) their children at home about their faith.  This was an emphasis we made when we home educated our children.  Along with academic studies, we spent time in the Bible.  We read it, talked about it and made it a part of all we did.  We wanted them to see how all the subjects we studied were tied together in a Christian worldview.
Rilyn and Daddy picking blueberries too
     Knowing, then, that God wants us to teach our children the way to salvation and how to live for Him, what are some ways we can accomplish this?  First, I believe we need to model for our children and our grandchildren our own faith by living it in front of them.  They need to see us read the Bible, pray, and go to church.  We cannot just drop off a child for church or VBS (Vacation Bible School) and expect them to come out a Christian.  It takes reinforcement at home and living by example.  I remember very well my grandfather Engel reading to me from the Bible.  We did not read story books at his house.  Instead, he would let me sit on his lap as he read the Bible out loud.  I confess that at my tender age I did not get all the big words but what an example it was for me.  I also saw him kneel in prayer before he took a nap.  These images are ingrained in my heart.
     Secondly, we need to make time to have family devotions that are age appropriate.  Reading a
Bible story and discussing it for young children helps them begin to form their thoughts about God.  As children become older, we can begin to tackle more in-depth study of God's Word.  I know we all have busy schedules, but this is an area of instruction, prayer and encouragement for the whole family with eternity in view.  There are far too many adults, even today, who do not know the Bible or what their church believes.  We do not want to raise children who will some day fall into this category.
     Third, we can share with our children a summary of basic Christian beliefs by using a Catechism.  There are simple children's versions out there of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  Have them memorize a question a week and discuss it.  In addition, there are Scripture references that can be looked up as well. Knowing what we believe and why we believe it is crucial to passing on the faith we have in Christ.  I remember going over catechism questions with my mother in preparation for our confirmation in the church.  When something is learned at an earlier age, it does stick with us.
      When it comes to parents of teens who attend a youth group, it would be wonderful to volunteer or help out from time to time.  Not only would help be appreciated but it would allow parents an opportunity to hear what is being taught.  Family dialogue is much richer if we are plugged in to what our teens are learning.
     Finally, we need to be actively sharing with our children, family members, neighbors and others how God is working in our lives.  If God has taught you something, share it with others.  It will encourage them in their faith.  The author of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 3:13:  "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."  Likewise, in Hebrews 10:23-25 we read: "…23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.…"  These verses do not apply only to church fellowship but any time we gather as a family as well.  Christianity is 24/7 not one day a week.
     Jesus commanded us to pass on our faith and make disciples of all nations.  However, He also meant for us not to neglect our own households.  It has to begin in our homes first if we desire to raise a godly generation of believers who are strong in their faith.  Let us be faithful in passing on the hope that is within us to our children and grandchildren.  It is an investment that brings glory to God.  Selah!

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