A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 2)

In my last post, I mentioned that it is important for us as parents to ensure that our children are familiar with the core beliefs of all Christians. We must also help them to understand what being a disciple of Christ entails. This involves knowing not only what God desires to do for us, but also what He expects of us in return.

Let’s start with Christianity’s core beliefs.

These are the foundational teachings of the first apostles. Paul told Timothy, “And the things which you have heard of me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The apostle John exhorted, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

Core Christian beliefs:

  • The infallibility / inerrancy of the Bible
  • God is eternal, having no beginning and no ending.
  • God is three distinct Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is one God, not three, with all three Persons having existed from eternity, without a beginning.
  • God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time).
  • Jesus is fully God and fully man. He existed eternally as God the Son before He became man, but now He is both.
  • Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin into a fully human body.
  • Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life here on earth.
  • He died on the cross of His own free will, to atone for our sins. There is no other way to God or to heaven, aside from trusting in Jesus as our only means of salvation.
  • We are saved by grace alone (God’s gift of righteousness to us, through Jesus’ death for us) rather than by any help of our own good deeds. At the same time, those who are true believers desire to live holy lives, modeling our Savior, Jesus.
  • Jesus physically rose from the dead.
  • He ascended into heaven, and is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father.
  • He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers.
  • Upon death, the spirits and souls of all believers are immediately taken to heaven.
  • Jesus will come again to receive His Church to Himself. There will be a resurrection of the physical bodies of all believers into new, glorified bodies at that time.
  • Jesus will physically return to earth to rule and reign over all.
  • Upon death, those who have refused to believe on Jesus will suffer everlasting torment and separation from God. Their physical bodies will also experience a final resurrection, when they will be judged before God’s throne and assigned to eternal damnation in the lake of fire, along with the devil and his angels.

The Creeds:

One of the most effective ways to teach these core beliefs is by studying the creeds of the Church with your children. You might want to commit one or two of them to memory. In the early centuries of the Church, creeds were formed by men of God in order to unite believers around the essential doctrines of the Faith. They were also formulated to combat various errors which had crept in. Here are the main creeds:

The Apostles’ Creed

The Nicene Creed

The Athanasian Creed

Statements of Faith:

Still another way to instruct our children in the core beliefs of Christianity is by studying trusted statements of faith or catechisms. Your denomination or fellowship may have a clear statement of faith. If that is not the case, here are a few which may be helpful to you:

The Assemblies of God Statement of Faith (Pentecostal / Charismatic believers)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Reformed)

The Westminster Catechism for Young Children

Christian Missionary Alliance Statement of Faith (Evangelical)

In our next post, we will talk about teaching the Ten Commandments as a means to help our children enter into life led by the Holy Spirit.

Part 1

Resources by Lee Ann:


Teach Your Kids to Hear God!


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 1)

Some years ago, a friend of mine shared with me her philosophy for raising her children to know Jesus. Rather than teaching them about the Lord and how to know Him personally, she felt that they would somehow end up desiring Him automatically because of her example. She hoped that by observing her prayer life, worship, and daily living for Jesus, they would catch on and want the same for themselves — that they would somehow naturally absorb a life in Christ, without instruction. Unfortunately, her plan did not work, and her grown children are not following the Lord.

Of course it’s important for our faith to be exhibited before our children on a daily basis. Seeing us engage in intimate relationship with God should whet their appetites to know Him themselves. That is certainly part of the picture.

But we must also give them tools so that they will have a clear idea how to develop relationship with the Lord. There are practical steps we can walk them through to help them form habits of prayer and Bible reading, or to learn to hear God speak to them. While there are exceptions, most children won’t figure these things out on their own. They need to be given the skills, and encouraged in them repeatedly, while they gradually mature in their young faith.

So, discipling our children to seek God for themselves is important. But there’s something else we need to do as well. We must instill in our children a framework of the foundations of biblical faith — core beliefs which all true Christians should be aware of and adhere to.

While some church fellowships are doing an excellent job, a large portion of the Church seems to have been missing this part of discipleship for the last few decades. Consequently, we now have many, many people attending our evangelical / charismatic churches who are clueless about basic beliefs and don’t even realize it. They live by their soulish instincts, rather than being led by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit — because they don’t know any better.

Because some in the Church are very afraid of promoting legalism (and rightfully so), we’ve gone to another extreme, where we don’t speak about God’s expectations upon His people at all. We’ve neglected to give people an elementary knowledge of the nature of God and how He operates because of it. We’ve adopted a feel-good, just-follow-your-heart, everything-is-conditional-on-the-circumstances approach. In some cases, we’ve even said from our pulpits, “Doctrine doesn’t matter. All you need to do is love Jesus.” As a result, many people are ignorant of the truth. They have ended up worshiping a God made in their own image, a false Jesus, who benevolently panders to their every whim, requiring no commitment in return.

We’ve got to start changing this, and the perfect place to begin is in the home. No longer can we depend on the local church to do it for us through Children’s Church or Sunday School programs — because, in many cases, it’s not happening there. Often, it’s not happening in adult church either. Fragments of truth are being taught here and there, but no cohesive framework is presented to help people become established solidly in their faith.

If your local fellowship is doing a great job already, that’s wonderful! You are blessed! For those who do not enjoy such blessing, in the next few posts, I will be sharing some ideas of how to impart systematic, foundational teaching to help your children pursue after God to the fullest.

Part 2 

Resources by Lee Ann:


Teach Your Kids to Hear God!


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

Servant Parenting

We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. — Romans 15:1

Being a parent can feel overwhelming, especially for those who have several small children to attend to. Sometimes it gets discouraging, as we deal with one need after another without much of a break to regain our personal tranquility.

I remember the discouragement I felt several months after having our second child. Recovering from a C-section this time around had not been nearly as easy as it had been with the first child, almost twelve years before. Furthermore, the doctors told me I had gone into this pregnancy not yet fully recovered from the chemo and radiation I had completed just five months previously. To top it off, our beloved miracle baby, my promise of a restored life from our Father in heaven, suffered stomach issues and cried incessantly.

In the midst of all my fatigue, I indulged in a small pity party, with me the only guest. Why could I not have a little peace and quiet? Why all the jumping up every few minutes to meet another demand? Why couldn’t I have a tiny bit more time for uninterrupted thoughts without another colic bout intruding? (You may snort your disdain, because I had only one small one to deal with, but the struggle was still real!)

The Lord quickly recalled to my mind an article I had once read in a homeschool magazine. The author had told of her own time of feeling overwhelmed by small children, and how the Holy Spirit had quickened to her heart Romans 15:1: “We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.” God had applied the verse to her parenting, encouraging her to serve her children, to bear with their neediness for so much help, and to set her wants for time to herself aside.

The Lord used that verse to bring me out of my own case of the blues, and to give me a new joy in serving both my children. I mulled it over often in the ensuing days: I can bear the frailties of my little girl. Jesus calls me to not please myself, but to do this for Him, and to do it with joy. From that point on, I really did find new joy and strength in serving her.

I remembered another story I had heard, of a mom who pictured herself as serving the Christ Child every time she dressed or fed her small children. It helped her to overcome impatience and to lavish love upon them. I took that story to heart and started applying it, too.

Our self-serving society constantly barrages us with the message that we’re supposed to indulge ourselves. We are told that the good life is all about us having our needs met, our desires gratified. In particular, women have been brainwashed into thinking that children are a hindrance to our fulfillment, so the sooner we get them out of our hair, the sooner we can accomplish “important” things. Meanwhile, we miss realizing that the little people we have been given to serve on a moment-by-moment basis are the genuinely important things.

Those of us who follow Jesus must continually push back against these selfish ideals. Intellectually, we know from the Bible that we are called to serve one another, to put others ahead of ourselves. That knowledge doesn’t make it easy, however. Perhaps one of the best, and yet often hardest, training grounds for learning to be a servant is within our own families. Jesus calls us to die to self. Paul even said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). It’s not a popular or frequently heard message in the Church today, but it is as valid as it ever was.

Jesus uses serving our family to build our character. For those of you who find caring for your children a great joy without much of a struggle, what a blessing! It is a special grace, which may be due to your God-given temperament or His unique plans for you. The Lord will find other means to build your character. But for those of us who are more challenged in this area, He uses it to mold us into the likeness of Himself.

… In lowliness of mind, let each of us esteem others as better than ourselves. Do not look every one on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 2:3-5

Do it for Him, bear it for Him. He will receive your servant parenting as if you had ministered directly to Him. It is a fragrant offering.

 

Character Building for Families

 

 

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home (Part 3)

swan-pixabay-public-domainI mentioned in Part 1 of this series that the place to start in developing a peaceful atmosphere in our homes is by making prayer the first priority. In Part 2, I gave some practical tips for enhancing that peace. Let’s look at a few more ways to increase the level of peace in our homes.

Create an atmosphere of peace by playing worship music in the background. Keep the volume low enough so it is not distracting. Choose music which is somewhat serene. You don’t want Johnny and Susie’s adrenaline to kick into overdrive.

Love first, lessons second. Some days, hugs and snuggles are more needed than at other times. Take the time to dish them out. Accomplishing tasks may be temporarily delayed, but in the long run, they will get done more easily, if heart-needs have been met.

Be quick to ask forgiveness when you have not been Christ-like toward your children. You will be an example of humility to them which will last a lifetime. Also take the time to make sure they resolve conflict among themselves. Insist that they ask for and give forgiveness to each other. It takes time, as often they will resist doing this, but it is one of the most important lessons they will ever learn.

Recognize the difference between major and minor incidents. Sin should always be dealt with, but many times we parents tend to freak out about little non-sin things which really don’t matter all that much. They are simply irritations to us, caused by our children’s immaturity. As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Rejuvenate peace by taking a ten-minute break when things get crazy. You might encourage them to take a timeout to read, play, or run around in the back yard. You will appreciate the break yourself.

When the children’s emotions are tail-spinning, pray with them. When our children were sad, discouraged, or upset, we asked the Holy Spirit together to take back control of their emotions. We taught them to pray for themselves this way, too. It really does change how they feel. Within minutes, we had a turnaround in their outlook. (This works for grownups too!)

Remember that you — not the children — are in control of whether peace reigns or not. Children have a way of quite naturally influencing the emotional atmosphere of the home. If we let this happen, it just frazzles and overwhelms us. We need to make sure we are the ones who set the tone for peace, and then pull the rest of the family back into line, if things start to get out of whack.

Finally, continually cover your family in prayer. As you do, and implement these other tips as well, you will find your home improving in its peacefulness.

Previous: Part 2 

 

Character Building for Families

 

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home (Part 2)

In our last post, we talked about laying the foundation for peace in our homes through prayer. Without a good foundation, a building will quickly crumble, and it’s the same in our homes. Begin with prayer.

Let’s look at some other elements which will help us in cultivating a peaceful home atmosphere.

Develop a healthy balance between structure and flexibility. Structure helps to provide security and peace. By structure, I mean things like

  • Having an overall plan or set of goals
  • Putting into place a schedule which sees to it that the plan is accomplished
  • A consistent routine, with known expectations
  • House rules of behavior, clearly understood and expected of everyone

When we have these things in place, our children tend to feel more peaceful. Surprises are nice for special occasions, but for day-by-day life, most of us do better when we have a good idea of what is supposed to happen next. God is a God of order, and He has built the need for order into us, because we are made in His image.

But, we should temper our structure with flexibility. Decide ahead of time that if something unusual comes up, which makes sticking with your schedule for the day difficult or impossible, it’s OK. Don’t let it rattle you or your kids. Plan on a few disruptions (even big ones) here and there, and don’t let structure be a god. A schedule should be something you rule, not something that rules you.

Ask God at the beginning of your day to be Lord of your time. If something comes up which might cause a delay in tasks being accomplished, ask Him to help you make up for lost time and catch up on any important work. He created time, and He knows how to help us master it.

Seize teachable moments as they happen. It is more important to stop and talk about questions your children have about the Lord, His ways, and how life is supposed to work, than it is to stay strictly on schedule. Those God-moments where the spiritual light bulb goes on inside of them are of eternal value.

Flowing back and forth between an established routine and dropping that routine for better things is part of living life according to the Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17), and liberty mixed with orderliness makes life more enjoyable for the whole family — and more peaceful.

Discern between what is essential and what is not. When we first began homeschooling, I thought we had to do everything in the lesson books, or else my children would end up with gaping holes in their education. The truth is, in most of those workbooks, there is a lot of nonessential busywork. Your children don’t have to do all the crosswords and word searches or color all the pictures, especially if such activities are boring to them. These are not so much educational exercises as they are ways to fill out the workbook or keep the children busy so they don’t bother anybody for a while.

I also discovered that there is a lot of unnecessary review work. The program we started out with involved ten workbooks for each subject, and we struggled to get all ten done in a school year. But after the first year, I realized that the last workbook in the series was just review of the other nine … and then in the following school year, the same review was repeated again. So, we learned to skip those final workbooks. Curriculum companies are masters at providing repeat materials. It’s good to review to an extent, but too much is overkill, and it can stress your family out. So increase your peace by cutting out nonessential busywork.

Tidiness enhances peace. Because God has built a desire for order into us, a wreck of a home tends to contribute to chaotic emotions on our insides. It is OK to take some time as part of the school day to clean house and pick up clutter. Call it a “Life Skills” class. You will feel happier, and so will your children.

Next time, we’ll finish up with a few more ideas for how to bring about a greater level of peace to our homes.

Previous: Part 1
Next: Part 3

 

Character Building for Families

Create an Atmosphere of Peace in Your Home

swan-pixabay-public-domainDoes it seem like chaos rules at your house since you started home schooling? Do you spend most days wishing you could reduce the noise and stress levels by dropping the kids off at the nearest public school so that you could enjoy your mom-cave of peace and quiet for a few blissful hours?

While it’s natural that commotion levels will rise in direct proportion to the number of bodies occupying territory under the same roof, there are practical steps you can take to reduce turmoil, preserve your sanity, and create a sense of peace for everyone in your home.

It starts with getting our priorities in order. This means if we get things right spiritually first, a beachhead of peace will be established. Then, with a few tweaks here and there, the rest will fall into place nicely.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace ….” Peace is an aspect of Who God is, and since it is part of His nature, it can become part of ours as well. If our home is in a state of upheaval most of the time, something is amiss in our relationship with the Lord, because confusion is not of Him, while peace is.

One of the Holy Spirit’s objectives, as He dwells within us, is to help us continually grow into the likeness of Jesus. In fact, Galatians 5:22, 23 tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit [at work within us] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [humility], temperance [self control].” The various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit don’t work separately from each other. In other words, as we depend on the Holy Spirit to help us respond lovingly, gently, with patience and self control, we feel more peaceful, and if we determine to stay peaceful, it will in turn help us be more patient, loving, joyful, etc.

So, how do we go about establishing a beachhead of peace in our own hearts and then the hearts of our children?

Start your day with prayer. Many of us miss how important this is. It’s vital for you, the parent, to have that time alone with the Lord, but it’s equally vital for your children. My book, The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids, is a short and inexpensive step-by-step plan for how to teach your children to pray and get them into the habit of prayer. If you don’t know where to begin, it will really help you.

Start your school day by gathering the family to pray and read the Bible together. (You can count this as Bible class if you want to.) After you have prayed together for a while (not just a quick sentence or two and you’re done), give the older children some time on their own to pray. Use that time to be with the Lord yourself, if you haven’t already taken time for Him.

Spending time with the Lord allows Him to instill in us His character traits, and peace is one of them. As we make the effort to build relationship with Him, something wonderful happens: His Presence fills the atmosphere around us. As we consciously abide with and in Him, we are also filled, refilled, and increasingly filled with the Holy Spirit. In the process, we become like Him.

Ephesians 5:18-20 commands us to “… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The details mentioned here of how to be filled and refilled with the Spirit are all elements of prayer. If we start our day fully focused on the Lord, that flow of communion with the Holy Spirit continues with us throughout the day, so that we keep on carrying His peace and joy into all that we do, say, and think. This is why prayer is so important for both you and your children.

Quite frankly, prayer time is not an extra option. It is the prayerful home that is the peaceful home. If we don’t make the effort to start with prayer, none of the other steps I’ll be listing in the next post are going to help a whole lot. So, let’s begin there.

Next: Part 2

 

The Homeschool Guide To Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

New Release — Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

Kids Hear God Cover 425

Now available as an e-book from

 All normal parents want their children to grow up into thriving, responsible adults. But Christian parents have an even more important dream: that their children would be fervent lovers of God throughout their lives. Sure, we can “train them up in the way they should go,” but how do we make sure they continue to burn brightly for Jesus, once they are grown? A key component is teaching our children to know the Lord’s voice personally, so that their ongoing relationship with Him increases in strength as they mature.

Teach Your Kids to Hear God! gives simple explanations to help you and your children recognize the variety of ways God speaks. It also provides many practical tips for how to make listening for the Lord a daily adventure in your family. Although written particularly for homeschooling parents, this short book will work for any Christian parent who is willing to take the time to disciple his or her children into a deeper life in Christ.