Category Archives: Christian character education

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 6)

In this last post in our A Well-Grounded Faith series, we’ll look at a few more items you may want to include in your children’s education in the foundations of the faith:

What were the criteria for determining which books ended up in the Bible? (And how do we know they really belong there?) This is a question many people have at some point in their Christian life.

Assure your children that God’s Word is precious to Him, and that He had a personal hand in guiding the leaders of the early church to discern which books were truly His inspired revelation. Besides that, the early church fathers used strict criteria which writings had to live up to, in order to be considered authentic. Answers in Genesis gives an easy-to-understand and thorough explanation of the process. You may wish to use other sources as well. We can be assured that the Bible we have today is indeed the inspired Word of God.

Make sure your children are thoroughly certain what the gospel message is. Our children should be very clear on what we mean by “the gospel.” Unfortunately, there are many voices out there trying to complicate this. The apostle Paul dealt with this same problem, and wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”

Here is the gospel message in a nutshell:

God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our salvation. Jesus took all our sin upon Himself, died in our place, and rose again from the dead. Every person who believes on Jesus for salvation, and acknowledges Him as Lord, is accepted by the Father and has eternal life. There is no way to God except through Jesus.

That is the simple gospel in my words — but don’t spoon-feed it to your children. Study the message of salvation in the Bible, and then ask your children to write a summary of the gospel in a short paragraph. Three to six sentences should do it. By requiring them to think it through and then write it down for themselves, you will help to solidify the message in their hearts.

Here are some Bible references to help you as you study together:
John 14:6
Romans 10:9, 10
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Ephesians 2:8, 9 1 John 5:11, 12

Play “The Bible Answer Mom (or Dad)” — Set aside a special time once a week to field your children’s questions about God and the Bible. This doesn’t mean that they have to hold their questions during the rest of the week. They should be able to ask you things they wonder about as they come to mind. But when you set aside a special time and encourage them to be prepared with questions they would like to ask during that time, it builds an anticipation. This can become one of the highlights of your family’s school week.

If you like, make a game of it, where the kids try to stump you. Get the children involved in searching out the answers with you. (It’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Let’s find that out together.”) This could be a great way to teach them how to find answers for themselves in a concordance and at various online Bible study sites.

Here are a few websites I like to use when I need answers:

Answers in Genesis (not only for questions about creation)

Got Questions?

Christian Answers.net

A couple of final thoughts:

Remind them often that knowing God is about being led by His Spirit, moment-by-moment, rather than merely presenting an outward appearance of obeying a set of expectations or rules. It is about a living, breathing relationship with Him, anchored in His Word.

The most effective way to teach the foundations of our faith to our children is through repetition. Once is not enough. They need to hear these truths again and again, through frequent review. Make talking about the things of God a priority. As our children grow, we can increase the depth of what we teach, according to how their understanding has increased.

Deuteronomy 11:16-22 gives us a pattern to follow:

Take heed to yourselves, so that your heart is not deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them…. Therefore, you shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul….

And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shalt write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates, so that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth…. Diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him.

Establishing our children as solid Christians, who can withstand the temptations and deceptions of the world around us, is not for wimps. We must be steadfast and persevering in the task. However, we can be confident that the Lord Himself will help us, as we depend upon Him. He is more interested in seeing our children develop into strong believers than we are. All of heaven’s aid is at our disposal.

Previous — Part 5  

 

Character Building for Families

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 5)

In our previous posts, we talked about teaching our children the Ten Commandments and the core beliefs of all true Christians. Having a clear understanding of God’s character is still another essential part of possessing a well-grounded faith. If we understand His unchangeable nature, we are less likely to fall for the deceptions which are so prevalent in our world.

In the Bible, God reveals much about Himself through His names:

  • The LORD our Sovereign
  • The Everlasting God
  • The LORD our Provider
  • The LORD our Healer
  • The LORD our Peace
  • The LORD our Righteousness
  • The LORD our Shepherd
  • The All-Sufficient One

The Names of God, by Lee Ann RubsamThere are hundreds of  names and titles for God in the Bible, and they are a wonderful way to discover Who He is. My website has a free list of most of the names of God, if you are interested in studying them further. (We also offer a low-cost e-book or print booklet which includes Bible references for His names.)

While conversing with God right after the terrible golden calf experience, Moses asked Him, “If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, so that I may know You. … I beseech You, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:13, 18). In essence, Moses was asking the Lord to reveal His nature to him, and God granted his request. He placed Moses in a cleft of rock (v. 22), and allowed him to see a portion of His glory as He passed by, proclaiming, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…” (Exodus 34:5-7).

We see in this passage seven character qualities of God:

  • His mercy
  • Graciousness
  • Patience
  • Goodness
  • Truthfulness
  • Desire to forgive
  • His justice (fairness)

Others clearly outlined in the Bible are:

  • His holiness
  • Faithfulness
  • Desire to be our Provider
  • Unconditional love
  • His sovereignty

“God IS love,” according to 1 John 4:16. Teach your children that whatever God does stems from His absolute love for them, whether they are feeling it in the moment or not. He does not love some more than others (“God is no respecter of persons” Acts 10:34). He does not love us based on how “good” we are. Many of us who are adults struggle with feeling loved by God. One of the devil’s most successful lies is that God doesn’t love us. We must start early and be persistent in establishing the truth of God’s love in our children’s hearts.

One of God’s names is “My Goodness” (Psalm 144:2). His absolutely good nature ensures that He will never lie to us and that He will always be faithful to keep His promises. Because of His goodness, we can be assured that He will provide for us. In Exodus 3:14, God calls Himself “I AM THAT I AM.” In essence, He is saying, “I AM whatever you need.” Study the I AMs of God with your children. You will be blessed with a greater appreciation of how much God loves to provide for us. You will find a list of the I AMs at my The Names of God webpage and also in The Names of God book I mentioned earlier.

God’s sovereignty is not whimsical or capricious. We can count on Him never to violate the promises He has given us in His Word. Nor will He ever negate other facets of His character. While He is all-powerful, He cannot do things which go against His own pure nature.

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann RubsamIf you would like help in teaching the nature of God to your children, my book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God may be helpful to you. In it, I first explain characteristics common to the three Persons of the Trinity, and then give a breakdown of the unique roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It can be used as a springboard for discussion for the entire family, or as a text for junior high-age children and older.

You may also find the Encouragement from God’s Word section of my website helpful in teaching God’s nature. It topically lists many Scripture verses which you can use as supporting evidence as you teach the character qualities of God.

In our wrap-up post in this series, I will present a couple more ideas for building a well-grounded faith in our children, as well as a few final pointers.

Previous — Part 4 (Ten Commandments, cont.)

Next — Part 6 (Series Wrap-Up)

The Rules of Sonship

Crown, via Pixabay Free Images[This is a repost of a light-hearted article I wrote in 2011 for my other blog, Out of the Fire. Lord willing, in the days ahead, I will write a little more extensively on teaching our children how to think and live as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. What better place to learn about our position in the ultimate royal family than in our Christian home schools?]

And all creation’s straining on tiptoe just to see
The sons of God come into their own.
from a song by The Fisherfolk

Romans 8:19 puts it, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the unveiling of the sons of God.”

I got to thinking one day about what it means to be the sons of God.  (“Sons of God” includes women, by the way.)  And I came up with a list — sort of a “Wouldn’t it be nice if we all understood who we are in Christ and acted that way?” kind of compilation.  So here it is.  I hope you will enjoy it.

#1:  Sons know that since God their Father thinks they are wonderful, Sister Effie’s opinion about them doesn’t count.

#2:  Sons serve each other, but are nobody’s slaves. They don’t let any man “own” them.

#3:  Sons don’t get offended by intimidation tactics. They smile and stand tall because they know who they are, even if the intimidator doesn’t. (I’ve had a hard time learning this one.)

Yertle the Turtle, by Dr. Seuss (affiliate link)#4:  Sons and Dr. Seuss know there are Yertle-the-Turtles in the Kingdom. They just refuse to be part of the stack.

#5:  Sons trust their Father to meet their material needs. He’s got the universe at His disposal, after all.

#6:  A son remembers there are other sons in the family and shares generously with them.

#7:  Sons are secure in their destiny-callings and don’t try to usurp someone else’s.

#8:  Sons also know there is plenty of destiny to go around, so jealousy of other sons isn’t necessary.

#9:  The King’s sons know the privileges of royalty and appropriate them.

#10:  There is no caste system or waiting line to an audience with the King. All sons have equal and instant access.

#11:  Royal sons have a gracious demeanor. They treat others with respect because honor is ingrained in their hearts.

#12:  Sons don’t make a big deal about other sons’ mistakes and faults.  That’s just the way family is, quirks and all.

#13:  Sons know no man can take away from them what their Father has given them.  Their destiny/mantle/calling is secure in Him.

#14:  Sons understand the authority backing them. Their Daddy bears the title, Supreme Potentate of the Universe.

#15:  Sons wear their royal robes inside out. (Their beauty starts on the inside and radiates to the outside.)

#16:  Sons know Father is a God of His Word and can be trusted.

Can you think of any more rules of sonship that I’ve missed?  Why not post them as a comment?

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

The Virtue of Contentment

Godliness with Contentment

One of the rarest character qualities to be seen in our day is contentment. Contentment comes from knowing God’s nature, being convinced of His delight in caring for His children, and having a desire to live life yielded to Him. I don’t believe it is possible to live a satisfied life without such understanding.

Because our society has increasingly fallen further away from the Lord,  an entitlement attitude has perverted the concept of what real contentment is. This deception has  made great inroads into the Church as well. Our children are encouraged to think of themselves as very special individuals, but have not always been taught to esteem and defer to others as equally special. Exalted, unrealistic expectations have been planted in them that they can do and be whatever their minds can imagine, and that they deserve the top of the line, rather than patiently working to reach attainable goals. As a result, many are grossly dissatisfied with life.

How can we who are Christian parents help our children to overcome the prevailing entitlement mentality — to live unselfishly, and to be content with the blessings God gives them? It is not an easy task. It requires diligence in laying foundational truths from the Bible in their thinking and then reinforcing corresponding right attitudes through repeated reminders and applications.

There is a strong correlation between gratitude and contentment. If we can teach our children to cultivate a habit of thanking God for every blessing which comes their way, and to appreciate even the smallest kindnesses people show them, contentment will naturally follow on the heels of the grateful heart they develop.

We must teach them to be thankful, not only when they receive exactly what they desired, but whenever the Lord or another person gives or does something for them — even if the gift doesn’t perfectly fit  what they had hoped for. We teach them to appreciate the heart of love in which the gift was given, not focusing on whether it met their expectations to the last iota. Some of the biggest blessings we will ever receive don’t initially look like what we had envisioned, but over time, we come to understand that there was a hidden treasure inside of them.

Some blessings are beginning steps to larger ones. The Lord releases goodness into our lives in increments. He watches to see how we handle what we are given — the attitude we have toward the gift, how responsible we are in caring for it, and whether we are mature enough to handle a greater blessing in the future.

We must teach our children not only to be content with material goods, but also with the people God places in their lives. Teach them to accept and love people, flaws and all, and to look for the precious nuggets in each person. If they can’t find anything to love in someone, suggest that they ask the Lord to reveal to them what that person’s good points are. I have found that some of the most irritating people in my life became treasured friends, as I asked the Lord to show me what He saw in them.

We must also help our children realize that the good things which come our way are not all rights we naturally should expect. Some are undeserved blessings, given simply because God or people love us. Some require patience and hard work to acquire.

Contentment comes from trusting that God intends great good for us. He will not let us down, or give us something nasty in answer to our prayers for good things. Contentment also comes from learning to give unselfishly to others. The more we give of ourselves, the happier we become, because we are acting as our Father in heaven acts. Most importantly of all, true contentment comes in knowing God intimately.

If you would like a step-by-step starting plan for cultivating contentment and a thankful heart in your children, my book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1 contains a 17-day unit on contentment and a 12-day unit on gratitude which will get your family headed in the right direction.

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

 

 

 

Finding Strengths in Your Child’s Weaknesses (Part 2)

Norman-Rockwell bully

Last time, I said that many of our children’s negative character qualities can become positive ones, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Let’s talk about how we can help them in the transformation process.

1.) Explain the negative/positive character qualities concept, as presented in Part 1.

2.) Assure your children that Jesus wants to help them with their weaknesses and sin areas. He will work needed change in them gradually, and He will be patient with their failings in the process.

3.) Tell them  that you are on their side too, and that you are there for them as their coach and cheerleader in the transformation process.

4.) Mention that God is still working on your character, just like He is on theirs. No one in the family is perfect, and everyone should strive to be patient with one another as you grow together.

5.) Encourage the children to bring their frustrations with themselves and others to Jesus. Tell them they can ask the Lord for His strength to change, and He will help them.

6.) When you see a negative character quality showing up in your children, gently point out to them what they are doing which isn’t good. Give them opportunity to ask the Lord’s and the family’s forgiveness. Then, remind them of what they are becoming in that area.

Example: “How do you think your sister feels, when you order her around? Would you like to be treated like that? God has designed you to be a leader, and leaders do well at giving direction to others. But leaders have to learn to serve and be kind in how they talk, too. They also have to learn not to overdo telling others what to do. Let’s keep that in mind in the future, OK?”

7.) Watch for the positive side of their character traits, and point those out, as you see them happening. For that bossiness/leadership trait, for instance, you might say, “I’m so pleased with the patience you used in showing your sister how to tie her shoes!” Or, about the stubbornness/persistence trait, “I noticed that you kept at that problem you were tackling in your science project. I love how you don’t quit until you get the job done!” 

8.) Pray together for the Lord’s help in overcoming, as character issues arise. (But don’t bring up their faults out of the blue. You don’t want them unduly focusing on the problem, as that can cause failure consciousness, which leads to shame and frustration.) Encourage them to depend on the Lord, and that He will help them to change over time.

9.)  Apply Bible verses to the character issue you are dealing with. For instance, for the child who is too blunt, you could remind him, “Honey, Jesus says in the Bible to be kind to one another, and to speak the truth in love. Sometimes it’s best not to talk about imperfections we notice in others, even if it is true. And we always need to be careful to say things in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s feelings.”

10.) Talk to them about how God uses a refining process to help us become all that we should be. Encourage them to humble themselves under His correction and yours, rather than resisting and defending themselves.

11.) Teach them to inwardly ask themselves, “What would Jesus do in this situation, if He were me?” This is a discipline which must be practiced by frequently bringing it to their attention, until it becomes a habit. Go on a daily God hunt, where you take time as a family to discuss successes (and sometimes failures ) each of you had during the day in recognizing and following through on what Jesus would have done in your shoes.

12.) Assure them that although you want them to overcome their character weaknesses, you love them wholeheartedly in the midst of them. Help them to understand that you don’t love them more or less based on how they behave. Help them to understand that their Father in heaven also loves them for who they are, not how well they do.

There is a good future ahead for your children — and you. Don’t let their weaknesses (or yours) get you down. Instead, give the Holy Spirit free rein to work on them, and watch Him change the weak areas into strengths worthy of honor.

 

Character Building for Families

Finding Strengths in Your Child’s Weaknesses (Part 1)

Norman Rockwell Girl with Black EyeWhen we see faults in our children’s character, our feelings can range from annoyance to serious concern. Perhaps you have been trying to fix particular attitude problems your kids have, but although you’ve lectured to exhaustion, the issues persist.

It can be discouraging — especially if you recognize that the faults you see in them are your own areas of weakness. Our children are often miniature mirrors of ourselves, and that’s not always pleasant to acknowledge. We don’t want them to make the same mistakes and suffer the same consequences we have, and sometimes we blame ourselves, thinking we’ve inadvertently trained our bad habits right into them!

There’s hope, and it starts with realizing that many negative character traits can be turned into utterly positive ones, as we call upon the Lord for His assistance. He’s the One Who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

While it isn’t the case across the board, some character flaws are actually good qualities in disguise. Originally, mankind had been created in the image of God, bearing an accurate reflection of His nature, but the resemblance was marred when Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden. All of us have inherited the sin nature and the damaged character traits which go with it. Now, the God-image in us is grossly distorted, like how those mirrors in carnival fun houses look — only worse. What was once beautiful became ugly.

Here’s the good news, though: ever since Jesus redeemed mankind through His atonement at the cross, He has been restoring all things. He wants to restore you and your children, too — including those besetting character flaws. The negative traits can be transformed back into what God originally intended them to be.

Let’s take a look at some common negative character qualities, and see what God wants to restore us to:

1.) Stubbornness becomes persistence and perseverance when we allow God to reshape us. The persistence/persevering side of this character trait is crucial for intercessors, leaders, and problem solvers.

2.) Criticalness is the flip side of discernment. Discernment is a vital tool in getting God’s kingdom work done. When we understand the difference between these two, we no longer have to feel paralyzed by negative impressions received in our spirit-man. (See my article, Criticalness or Discernment? at my Out of the Fire blog for how to know the difference.)

3.) Bossiness is the immature mark of born leadership. Born leaders see the goal and just want to get it done! Developing a heart of servanthood helps us overcome bossiness.

4.) Arrogance is transformed into confidence. Arrogance is all about me and what I can do in my strength; confidence is about knowing who I am in Christ and letting His Spirit work through me.

5.) The tendency to be controlling becomes decisiveness and the ability to take the lead when a need presents itself. Control has a root of not trusting God. As we yield to Him and let go, He teaches us when to take the reins and when to restrain ourselves. We learn to delegate, rather than manipulate, and to leave our hands off of whatever is not our realm of responsibility.

6.) Paralyzing timidity and fearful caution change into prudence which weighs situations and moves forward in wisdom.

7.) Blunt lack of tact, when redeemed, becomes a steady directness, a stay-the-course truthfulness, seasoned with grace.

8.) Those who are oversensitive to the actions and words of others usually have an acute ability to hear the Lord hidden inside of them. They can also be keenly empathetic toward the pain of others.

(9.) Self-pity, redirected, becomes compassion.

The Holy Spirit desires to remold each of us so that these negative traits become the positives they were meant to be. He renews our minds and imparts His heart to us, as we spend time in prayer, Bible meditation, and listening to Him.

The Lord has other means to restore the God-image within us as well:

  1. Suffering brings forth humility and compassion for others.
  2. Yielding ourselves to His discipline, rather than making excuses for why we are justified in keeping our weaknesses,  helps us achieve transformation into positive character faster.
  3. Allowing Him to bring us through testings creates dependency on Him for His strength.
  4. Submitting ourselves to others on a regular basis builds humility within.

All of these are necessary components for growing in Christ-likeness. The refiner’s fire cannot be avoided if we wish to move forward in the Lord’s plans for us. We and our kids need to know that. We can ask Him to redeem our areas of weakness, and He will be faithful to answer us.

When we understand that many of our particular faults are actually God-designed traits which are part of our purpose in Him (once they are restored), it is far easier to love ourselves as we are and to cooperate with God to set things right.

Next time, we’ll talk about how we can help our children come into the positive side of their character challenges.

Part 2

 

Character Building for Families

 

New Discounts and Ordering Options

U. S. Customers:

Character Building for Families SetEverybody likes receiving discounts — and at Full Gospel Family Publications, we like giving them out, too! That’s why, for our U. S. customers, we are offering a 20% discount on orders of 5 or more Character Building for Families (either Volume 1 or 2, mix or match). Put together a group order for  your homeschool co-op or homeschooling buddies and save $3.20 per book. Order at our Character Building for Families homepage.

River Life Student EditionWe also offer a 25% discount on 5-10 copies of River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus (ideal for your homeschooling teens). Order more than 10 copies and receive a 30% discount. Order at our River Life page.

As always, Media Mail shipping is free on all our products.

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Over the years, shipping internationally has become extremely expensive, and I really hate how much we have to charge our international customers to ship your printed materials.

We have another solution for you. You can now purchase Character Building for Families and River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus very reasonably as PDFs. Go to our ordering page, click on the button which applies to where you live, and look for the PDF options on the ordering page for significant savings.

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