Discipleship · Encouragement · Family life · home · Motherhood · Parenting

Training Children To Sit and Participate in Church

Children can do some really funny things in church.  When I was teaching the five year-old Sunday school class I remember asking my students how we get to go to heaven. A little girl raised her hand confidently. Her answer?

Die.

That remembrance still makes me laugh!

Sometimes, though, the things children do in church aren’t so funny – especially if you’re the parent.  I’m not sure if there’s anything more stressful or humiliating for a parent than trying to teach their little one to sit quietly anywhere, but especially at church.  Your child gets fidgety and talkative just the time there’s a need for quiet, right?  We’ve all been there, and I want to encourage you that there is hope!

I’ve blogged about this before, but I just felt the need to rehearse a few ideas about teaching your child to sit through a church service.

  • Train them. Talk to them before you leave home.  Tell them what is going to happen when you get there.  Remind them that you’re going so you can worship God and learn more about him!
    • Will they be going to Sunday school?  Remind them that you’ll be back to pick them up.
    • Tell them what kind of behavior you expect from them while they’re in class.
    • Will they go to Pastor’s Pals or up front to sing with the children?  Prepare them for what you expect.
  • Fortify them. Feed them a nourishing breakfast to hold them over through the service time.
  • Equip them. Pack a bag to take to church.  Keep it only for church times and fill it with quiet books, crayons, etc. that will help them to listen if they’re old enough.  They could draw a picture of something pastor is talking about.  If they’re older, they might have a special book to write down important words he hears in the message.
  • Help them. Don’t bring or give them sugary drinks or snacks – you’ll only be making it more impossible for them to sit still!
  • Reward them. I read about one mom who played the “Seat game.”  After training her two children to sit quietly in church, their mom told them they could sit one row in front of the parents next week since they’d done so well.  Each week that they obeyed and sat quietly and obediently, they all moved up one row.  Eventually they were seated on rows two and three!  You obviously couldn’t do this with really young children, but it would might be a great incentive for school-aged children.
  • Discipline them. If your child misbehaves, don’t wait for it to get better and stay in the service where they’re causing a ruckus! Take them out immediately and deal with it, and deal with it in a way that they won’t want it repeated.  If they get to go out and run around the foyer, they’ll learn that this is more of a reward than a punishment!
  •  Model for them. Encourage worship.  By your example of engaging in the singing and worship, teach them to follow your lead!  Sing!  Pray!  Open your Bible!  Take notes!
  • Praise them. Be sure to review the service on the way home.  Applaud their good behavior and obedience!
  • Warn them. Deal with the disobedience and use it as a teaching tool for the next service and warn them about what will take place if this happens again.

Training, training, training.  This must be consistent and loving.  It also really, really helps if you attend regularly.  Sporadic attendance will lose any training!  When this is every week, several times a week, they’ll get it!

This takes time, of course, but you probably won’t be getting called to their classroom nearly as often for behavior issues!  Instead, the teacher will pull you aside to ask what you’re doing at home that’s made such a difference. Oh, she may also tell you about the hilarious thing your child said to her in class that day!

Stay at it!  You will make it!

With love,

children · Encouragement · Family life · Motherhood · Parenting

Firm, Fair, Fun Parenting

This week I want to continue on with the parenting series in the form of some encouragement.  I know it can be difficult and wearisome when they’re small.  Teen years can seem to last forever with attitudes or questions about your choices.  Even the adult years of children can be challenging and stressful.  For that reason, we all need to have a biblical view of parenting – from the beginning to the end.  Let’s dig in and get some good advice from God’s Word to keep us faithful to this blessed call of building our children for the glory of God!

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Obviously parenting is a daily responsibility, and sometimes it can get overwhelming.  Other days it’s discouraging because the children don’t seem like they’re “getting it.”  We then fall into a disheartened mode which also influences the rest of our family.

May I encourage you on your parenting road today?

I heard a preacher recently say that in parenting you need to:

  • Be Firm
  • Be Fair
  • Be Fun

All three are needed.

Be firm – Say what you mean and then follow through.  Don’t promise a spanking for disobedience and then not carry it out when you get home.  That kind of neglect takes a  huge amount of effort to undo.  If you’ve set a curfew for your teen, expect them to honor it.

Be fair – Too often we hit the first one strong and hard.  We’re firm.  “No!” “No!” “No!” at every request, every attempt the child makes, at every word they say.  But stop and ask if you’re also being fair.
What does “being fair” entail?  Being fair requires really listening. Proverbs 18:13 says,

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,

it is a folly and shame unto him.

 Did you hear your child out completely before you answered them?  Do you understand where they’re coming from?  Or did you cut them off? If the teen was late for curfew, let them speak before you discipline.  Hear them out.  There may be a viable reason for their tardiness.   If we’re wise, we will obey the Scripture above and hear them out.  Let them know you care about what they have to say and that they are worth listening to.
Be fun – Lastly, we need to take time out for fun.  If things are stressful in homeschool, drop the books and do something just for fun!  If there’s been tons of stress in relationships, add a dose of something everyone will enjoy.
  • Go on a picnic for lunch.
  • Build a fort in the backyard.
  • Eat ice cream sundaes for supper.
  • Go shopping for sunglasses with your teen daughter and have lunch at her favorite place.
  • Learn to laugh – long and hard with your children
  • Isn’t it easy to scowl?  Let your kids see you smiling- and at them!

Firm, fair, fun.  If those words don’t describe your parenting, ask the Lord to help you incorporate the needed areas into your home today!

Which of these three areas is hardest for you?

With love,

children · Family life · Motherhood · salvation

How To Tell If A Child Is Ready To Be Saved

Recently while reading through an old journal, I read some memories of when my girls were little.  I read stories like :

  • the funny account of the day one of my girls told me my dresser had a rash…she was looking at the dust on its surface!
  • The day she emptied a jar of face cream and spread it all over my bedspread and herself.
  • Both my girls loved helping in the kitchen when I was baking.  What fun we shared as they helped stir in ingredients for cookies, or roll a little pie for their daddy.
  • Feeling frustrated at discipline – trying to figure out how to reach the child without breaking her spirit.

Parenting is full of fun days, hard days and days when you have NO IDEA what to do.  It’s for that reason that I’ve chosen parenting as the next topic in my summer series.

What a joy it is to have children given to us by God to raise for His glory – and what a huge responsibility it is!  As Christians, it must be our daily goal to point those little ones to Christ in everyday ways, in intentional ways and in ways that will prepare them to trust Him as their Savior as soon as they can understand.  But that’s where we get hung up – we wonder how much do they need to understand to make a real decision to be saved?  I’ve written several posts about that and I’m going to repost those this week, because it’s just a burden on my heart.  The bottom line is this – Jesus said to suffer the little children to come to him and forbid them not.  If a child is saying they want to trust Christ, who are we to say they don’t know enough?  Jesus loves them.  So, let’s start in, shall we?

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Trusting Christ as a little girl has created in me a love for talking to children about God’s gift of salvation.  I can relate to them because I remember how it was for me all those years ago when I knew I needed to receive God’s gift of salvation for my own!

Here’s what I remember about myself at that time

  • I was a sinner.  Oh, I was a “good girl.” You see I wanted to please and obey my parents and others in authority.  But even at seven, I remembered lying, disobeying, being sassy or disrespectful.  All that was sin, and I knew I was guilty.
  • I knew I wasn’t going to go to heaven because of my sinful heart.  It had separated me from God.
  • I knew Jesus loved me so much that He took my punishment on the cross, and that what He did made it possible for me to be forgiven by God.
  • I knew that all I had to do was receive God’s free gift of eternal life by calling on Him to save me.

That’s pretty much it.  There was a TON I didn’t know.  But I knew enough about salvation to do the calling. Along with my love for telling children about Christ, I’m also passionate about us as adults not making it hard for a child to be saved.  It’s as though we feel they have to be on an adult level of understanding before they can really trust the Lord. I heard a preacher say recently something like this,

Often when a child talks to us about salvation, we ask adult questions they cannot answer,

and we say they’re not ready to be saved.

Then when an adult needs to come to Christ we tell them to just have

childlike faith!

There was so very much I DIDN’T know about the Lord, His Word or my eternal destiny.  But you know what?  That didn’t change my decision to receive Christ that day!

I hear many adults wonder about their child and say, “What if they’re not ready?”  Then don’t push them, but if they’re asking you questions, just lead them to Jesus!  Will you regret that they came too soon, or that they needed to make it sure later on?  No!  Bring them to Him!  Then continue to guide them and teach them.  Make it easy for them to find Christ!  Don’t put them off because you wonder if they are really ready.

Another question is, “What if they don’t really understand?”  I ask a child questions.  Here’s what I may ask:

  1. Why did you raise your hand in class?  Even if the invitation was so very clear – “Come see me if you want to know how to have Jesus as your Savior and have your sins forgiven.”  Sometimes a child will shrug their shoulders and not have a clue.  Maybe they came because a friend came up.  I’ll just pat them on the shoulder and say, “That’s okay.  Thanks for coming to see me!”  End of discussion.
    If they say, “I want to talk about Jesus…” then we go forward.
    If your child is talking to you and others about needing to be saved, then it’s obvious the Holy Spirit is working in their heart.  You might ask them, “Why do you think you need to be saved?  When should a person ask Jesus to save them?”  As a parent, use every discipline time as another reminder of their sinful nature and their need for Christ.
  2. Have you ever sinned?  If they say, “yes.”  I’ll ask what sin is and why is it a problem.  If they say, “No!!!!”  It’s usually also the end of the discussion.
  3. What did God do for us because we have sinned and we cannot enter heaven with sinful hearts?  I have them read with me John 3:16 and Romans 6:23.
  4. What do we have to do to receive a gift?  What do we do to receive God’s gift of eternal life?
  5. Are you ready to pray and receive God’s gift of salvation?
  6. I have them pray out loud – not so I can grade their prayer, but to make sure they’re not praying for their Papa’s surgery or their gold fish that died.  (Trust me, it can go there if the child isn’t really serious about salvation at this point.)

If you can keep a child on point through those brief questions, that in itself is also a good indicator that they’re really thinking about their need for Jesus.  Once I had a child respond at an invitation and when I started asking them questions they went off on conversations about their toys, their dog and vacation time.  It was obvious to me they didn’t come because they were wanting to receive Christ.
If, however, the child prayed and admitted they were a sinner and asked Jesus to come in their life, then rejoice with them and remind them that the angels in heaven are also rejoicing!!!

It grieves my heart to hear a parent say to me that their child has been asking to be saved, but “We don’t feel he’s ready.”  To me, that’s a scary place to be.  Don’t stand in front of the cross and hinder them; move aside and join them on your knees as they, in their childlike faith pray to be saved!

My girls were saved at a very young age, and both have said they never doubted their salvation.  Neither have I.  I knew God would keep His promise when He told me I would have eternal life!  I believe that’s the very essence of child-like faith!

How about you?  Do you have a certainty that you will go to heaven when you die?  This is an excellent video  (left side of screen, click to enlarge) about how you can have a relationship with God and eternal life with Him.

Because Jesus loves the little children,

P.S. I got saved while attending Sunday School. You might like to read this post about the value of Sunday School and what it did for me!

Family life · home · Motherhood · Parenting

Family Friday – The Price of Sparing the Rod

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When you bring a sweet little baby into your home, your last thoughts are about the time when you’ll need to correct them.  I mean, they’re so adorable and innocent when they’re little!  But those discipline days come sooner than you imagined, and you find yourself either taking up the rod and lovingly obeying Scripture, or you talk, reason, bribe and threaten until you’re sure someone will die in the process!

I can vividly remember one day with one of my daughters in which I learned a lesson the long, hard way.  She had been a “stinker” all day.  I had warned her and tried to use my words to correct her behavior  (using words as rods is just cruel!).  Late in the day I realized that I failed to obey God’s directives to take up the “rod,” and discipline her in love.  I pulled her to my lap and told her that what she was doing was sin, and that because she’d continued to disobey after my warning, I was going to have to give her a spanking because I loved her and didn’t want her to continue in her sin.  She bent over my lap and I administered the two or three swats with my little paddle.  She cried.  I cried.  I held her in my arms and we prayed that the Lord would help her obey.

Tears were wiped away and she merrily skipped on her way to continue her play.  She was so HAPPY!  Her attitude was completely transformed, as was our day!  It was as though she had been waiting for me to deal with her biblically to prove the amount of love I had for her.  

A parent who loves their child will discipline them as God disciplines us.  Over and out.  I had selfishly kept back from the training she needed.  But now, here she was, singing, playing, and happy after the loving rebuke.  She knew I loved her, and I had learned the lesson to give the correction when it was needed so we could both enjoy the child/parent relationship as God intended!

Do you find yourself frustrated as the parent of a young child?  Have you obeyed God’s Word and lovingly administered discipline?  It’s God’s way, and if used lovingly and consistently, will produce the results of leading a child to recognize their sin, and their need to repent – both to God and their parents.  Stop the frustration, and obey so your child can do the same!

Don’t lose heart; train your children with love and your relationship will be refreshed in unbelievable ways!

I read this article this week that was excellent.  I pray it will encourage you as a parent!

Lovingly,

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Encouragement · Prayer · Uncategorized

Divine Help Is On The Way

I just finished reading a captivating book called, Relinquishing my Dreams, by Sue Burrows and Tricia Bradley. The subtitle is “How to Survive a Prodigal.” This is the true story of one family that dealt with their daughter’s rebellion beginning when she was fourteen years of age. The book also includes survival tips in each chapter, biblical characters to study, and then it ends with a Bible study of twenty-six different Bible characters that will help one to have hope and know how to deal with their prodigal. It’s excellent.

 It’s not surprising that one of the characters that the authors study is David. David had a prodigal son named Absalom. Though I haven’t done the study in my new book yet, I did just recently read Psalm 55 where David addresses the hurt and pain he’s experiencing because of a betrayal. This came in the form of an old counsellor of David’s –Ahithophel. Now this man is giving Absalom counsel – against his father. Wow! A double whammy!

David reflects on his relationship with Ahithophel in the early years. In Psalm 55:12-14 he says, for it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God incompany. David is referencing Ahithophel’s betrayal in II Samuel 17 where Ahithophel says to Absalom: Let me choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night: and I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed, and will make him afraid; and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only.

It wouldn’t be half as bad if we would read that Absalom cries out, “No! How could I do such a thing as to betray my own father, the king?” But sadly it reads instead, And the saying pleased Absalom well…

Is there any burden so great as the rebellion of your own child? How did David deal with this pain? We read in Psalm 55:16, 17
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
David found comfort in prayer. He reminded himself that God would hear him. Note that he doesn’t just whisper a prayer, he’s crying out!! He’s desperate for God’s help and intervention.

None of us like the thought of going through something as hard as what David is experiencing here, but it will be good for us if it does what it did to David – it drove him to his knees. It’s as though that burden is bearing down on us until we are bowed down. It’s that place where we realize that the greatest resource we have is prayer.

Whatever your burden is today, whether you’re dealing with a prodigal, financial struggles, health issues, relationship problems or your own flesh, let it drive you morning, noon and night to cry out in desperate prayer.

David’s God is your God. Divine help is on the way!

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Parenting

“Wait! Don’t Discipline Her!”

He that justifieth the wicked,
and he that condemneth the just,
even they both are abomination to the Lord.
Proverbs 17:15

Does it scald you to hear that a just person was persecuted for something they didn’t do? When you learn that an innocent person was punished for a crime they didn’t do are you tempted to go on a rampage? It’s not fair. We want justice.

But now, let me ask you moms…are you just as adamant about seeing to it that the wrong that your child does IS punished? It’s the other side of this proverb – “He that justifies the wicked is abomination to the Lord. “Wicked” is the description of our heart according to Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? When we overlook the wicked, sinful things our child does, God hates it.

You may think you’re innocent of this parental sin, but will you consider one more question –

What do you do when your spouse steps in to discipline the wrong your child has done?  Our protective, mothering heart wants to jump in and intervene for our child, does it not? We hate to see them get a spanking, or anything that might cause pain or hardship. It’s tempting to step in and make an excuse for them. We may suggest they be given another chance. In so doing, we are justifying the wicked! I might add that we’re also stepping into the realm of showing disrespect to our husband’s authority and demeaning his leadership in our home. At the moments when we want to stop the discipline from happening, we must think the truth – that the wickedness needs to be dealt with, or we’ll be sinning against the Lord.

I can remember times when one of our girls would push the limit and disobey, and would earn the discipline that was promised if they crossed that line. My husband would step in and send them to their room. They knew what was coming, and so did I. They went to their room, and I headed to mine – at the other end of the house. I had to remove myself from the situation in order to be able to handle it. I would go and pray for both my husband and my daughter as the discipline took place.

If you’re asking, “What if the husband is going to give unfair punishment?” I’d answer by saying, make a loving request. You can be like Daniel and ask a question PRIVATELY. Asking him a question about the discipline in front of your child is again destroying his leadership. Go into another room and talk quietly. Ask a question. “Do you think this deserves the punishment you’re giving?” “Could we pray before you spank her?” Ask sweetly, then accept whatever he decides.

Remember that the principle of disciplining the wickedness is in order to turn your child’s heart to God. This reminds them of their need for Christ. To avoid the dealing with their sin, is to keep them from seeing their own wicked heart and their need for cleansing. That in itself can help us understand why the Lord wants us to let our child bear the consequence of their sin.

Don’t become guilty yourself by justifying the wrong your child does. Instead, make sure it’s dealt with. The Lord loves that and He loves your child…even more than you do! The reward and blessing will follow!

Are you ever tempted to defend the wrong your child does? When is it hardest for you?

With love,

evangelism

A Peek From My Porch

How to Host a Bible Club in Your Home

I’ve shared with you before about the weekly Bible Club I have with my neighbor children.  Today I thought it might encourage and help others who have had thoughts about perhaps doing a club at their house to get a little peek at what we do and how I prepare for our hour-long Bible lesson each week.

I’m using an old Sunday school curriculum that was left over from several years ago.  It serves as the guide for what lesson to teach next.  Then I plan our schedule out minute by minute.  Our time together is precious, and I want to make good use of every second we have.

What you see below is my schedule from last week, along with links to the songs/verses I’m teaching them.  The Internet is a huge help!  Take a peek:

February 5, 2015
4:00 – 4:010- Sing – 
Jesus loves the little children – Cedarmont Video
My God is So big – ( choose new Picture Book)
Recite Psalm 23 
Pray
 
4:10 – 4:20 – Heart Search – Look for heart cut outs around living room – Truth to be taught – God knows where we are.  He loves us and invites us to receive His Son as our Savior
4:20 -4:30 – Bible Story – Jesus Loves the Children – Luke 19
4:30 – 4:40 – Review Bible lesson with Game –
Ask a review question.  If they answer correctly, they may “fish for a heart.” Use hearts that were found earlier  (Paper clip on heart, magnet attached to string for fishing rod.
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4:40 – 4:50 – Snack – Apple slices with peanut butter – heart shaped centers (cut out with heart-shaped mini-cookie cutter).
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4:50 – 5:00 – Craft – Heart Mobile – Jesus Loves…On the little hearts add names of people they want to remind of God’s love for them.
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I try to follow a theme for each lesson that correlates to the Bible story we had. Since we’re in February and the lesson was on Jesus Loves the Children, I made use of heart-shaped/themed everything.  It makes it fun and also memorable for the children…and me!
I’m truly not sure who enjoys our hour together more!

I hope this inspires you to host a Bible club so you can refresh the hearts of children with the Gospel!

Have you ever hosted a Bible club or attended one when you were younger?  

With love,
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