Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How To Build Strong Children

Beginning today's message, Johnson Bowie is on stage with his wife, Summer, closing out a series about family called "Raising the Next Generation".  Getting questions from the audience and online, Johnson and Summer open with the intent of their message; How to Build Strong Children.   All of our children have potential.  We want our kids to grow up as believers and as leaders.  Our kids are the future prophets, apostles and teachers. 

A question that came in from the Internet is (all questions are in green); What is the most important thing to know as a parent?  The answer is a long list, but the thing that seemed to stick out is the fact that parenting is intentional.

Proverbs 22:6 says,  "Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it."

We are training up adults.  We are training them intentionally in the ways of the Lord.  Parenting doesn't just happen where kids are raised up to love God.  With this in mind, Johnson announces that they are going to list out the top 10 things to do when raising a child.  These points apply in virtually any scenario where kids are being brought up. 

1. Teach them to love God and to love His Word.  Kids must know that.  If we fail at everything else, this is the one thing to be sure we do.  Johnson's dad is a Presbyterian minister.  His family virtually never missed church, but there are way too many people who go regularly to church and are not saved.  In the story of Samuel, Samuel's mother Hannah prayed to the Lord and promised that, if the Lord would give her a child, she would dedicate him to the Lord all of his days.  In 1 Samuel 3, it talks about how Samuel kept waking up his guardian, Eli, because he kept hearing a voice (it was God), but as the Bible then says, "he did not yet know the Lord".  By this age, Samuel was being trained up in the temple every day!  He was active in the rituals, the prayers, the ministries and every aspect, but he didn't know the Lord!  It is a tough thing to reach the heart, but it is the responsibility of the parents to try and culture the personal relationship with Christ. 

Slugs & Bugs - God Made Me from Scott Brignac on Vimeo.

2. Train them in godliness.  This isn't telling and teaching, this is TRAINING.  We have to roll up our sleeves and show them what God loves and what God hates.  But just as big as the what is the why, we have to give the kids a vision of what we are living for.  "Because I said so..." doesn't get it.  If there is no vision, kids will rebel.  When parents are not there, the kids have to know that God is there. Why is it that Christian girls are more apt to involve themselves in oral sex?  Because they are obviously missing the point; that their bodies are temples of God!   The vision, in this case, is NOT virginity; It's about PURITY.

Our job as parents is to have the hard conversations.  We can't let the world teach them.  We have to teach them.  We have to be the ones who take on the awkward tasks.  "When you bought the mini van, you became awkward anyway."  It starts in the home!  We have to model this, though.  Kids can sniff out hypocracy a mile away.  We are the gatekeepers. 

However, even as we teach our kids God's Word, we have to give our children a chance to walk out their faith.  Otherwise, overprotected kids will fall away and fail. We would rather our kids fail at home than away, right?

Another question that came in is; What happens when our kids are around parents with different values?  This is another hard conversation.  It is one where parents ask other parents to be honored on certain points.  If this is blown off, we then train our kids why our position is the way it is and where in the Bible it says that this is why God says this. 

3. Don't be afraid to discipline.  "How many of you have been around undisciplined children?"  Your kids will be thankful later on!  Proverbs 19:18 says, "Discipline your children while there is still hope; otherwise you will ruin their lives."  With vision, don't be afraid to make tough decisions.  Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves his son disciplines him promptly."  If our children know we love them, then they will be able to understand that we have to discipline. Also, when disciplining, the parents have to be on the same page, otherwise the kid sees divisiveness.  What's more, treat all children, even adopted children, equally. 

What do I do if my child is in unrepentent sin?  It is a hard question to answer, but a) have the hard conversation, b) bring in some scripture, c) wrap your appeal in love and d) do not underestimate the power of prayer. 

4. Develope deep personal relationships with them.  It is easy for this to turn into a controlling environment.  But we have to have a home of love to balance discipline.  Kids will resent you and the faith if they don't feel love from you.  Your kids should know that they are the most important thing to them.  Important:  You are going to get more of what you celebrate.  If you will encourage rather than scold, the encouragement will yield far more.

5 Encourage them to honor and respect authority The Fifth commandment is to Honor your Father and Mother.  If we can teach our kids to do that at home, they will learn to honor others.  There has to be a culture of honor.  DO NOT PUT DOWN YOUR SPOUSE in front of the kids. 

6. Teach your kids to forgive others.  Matthew 18, the scripture says that, if we have an offense against someone, we have to confront them.  We have to model for our kids how to forgive. 

7.  Challenge them to stand for what is right, not for what is popular.  We have a whole generation of kids who are spineless and who do not stand.  We have to teach them that the priority is what is right in God's eyes.  Teach your kids that you and God will always love them no matter what.  But they have to know that most people do not stand for what is right.  Let them know that you will back them up here! 

8. Disciple them to embrace a strong work effort.  Teach and encourage your children to do good jobs.  You are raising future adults.  It is never too late.  Teach them responsibility and how to earn money.  Teach them how to do laundry and how to

9. Direct them to fulfull their God-ordained purpose.  Help them to live every day for their purpose.  Teach them that God cares what they do with their time.  We have to come alongside them and help them to step into their future.  The role of the mother is affirmation.  But the role of the father is confirmation.  Confirmation is laying out purpose and vision.  Confirmation also speaks out value, "You didn't just do good (affirmation), you ARE good (confirmation)."

10. Inspire them to love all people.  Model to them that, since everyone matters to God, they matter to us.  We have to love people.  In John 13, "As I have loved you, so must you love others."  Give money to the guy on the street. If someone needs you, reach out to them. 

Recently, Johnson took his son downtown to Safehouse Ministries.  Beforehand, Johnson explained that there were many different people that they would see who didn't believe like or see the world like they do.  But when he picked up his son from school, someone had laughed at him in class about going to minister to the homeless. "How did that make you feel?"  was Johnson's response.  "I'll never forget his answer"... "It made me feel bad for the homeless guy. 

Already, Johnson could see his son learning to love what God loves and to hate what God hates!

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