Keeping Kids in Church/part three
By: Glenn R. Embree
A Biblical Foundation
There is an excellent blueprint for the spiritual development of the
family in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.
These verses are known as the Shema and were foundational to the religious education of Hebrew children. They emphasize the importance of obedience, of practicing God's laws daily. Deuteronomy 6:2 gives the reason God gave these commandments to the people of Israel;"…so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands…that you may enjoy life." By obeying these commands, the Israelites would live with a constant awareness of God. In fact, these verses established a pattern and direction for the spiritual dimension of Hebrew families that would be passed down from generation to generation.
The instructions were established within the Israelite culture in 1400 B.C., but strong parallels and applications are relevant to the family today. Here are five applications drawn from these verses to help make church life and spiritual matters a positive experience for our children.
1. Talk about God's laws when you sit at home.
What kind of things do you talk about at home? Football, cars, school work, vacation? There is nothing wrong with these things, but do you talk about spiritual matters as well? Notice, I didn't say the church; I said spiritual matters, the things of God. Talk with your children about Jesus Christ, His attributes and characteristics, including His faithfulness. We're instructed to make spiritual matters a regular part of our family conversation.
2. Talk about God's laws when you walk along the road.
Israelites didn't have many options when traveling. They could walk or they could ride a donkey. There were no stereos or CD players to entertain them on the journey. Families talked, sang, told stories and interacted with one another as they traveled. They had time to share the important things of life. In these fast-paced days, we need to make time to talk with our families about things that matter. Riding together in the car can offer quality time. Turn off the stereo and talk.
3. Talk about God's laws when you lie down and when you get up.
Some say, "It's how you start and how you finish that's important. Throughout the day there are many interruptions and distractions that can get us off course. This is also true for young people. At school and when interacting with peers, Christian teens face numerous temptations that challenge their faith, but how they start and finish the day can make a difference. If possible, start the day with family prayer. In the evening, around the dinner table, set aside time for family devotions. Don't let your family's spiritual experience consist only of Sunday morning at church. Make opportunities each day to teach your children about the things of God.
4. Tie God's laws as symbols on your hand and bind them on your foreheads.
The Israelites of Moses' day wore phylacteries, little boxes that contained portions of Scripture. The idea was to keep the word of God close to their hearts and minds. One way to make spiritual matters a positive experience for kids is to make sure they have a readable Bible. You can find several Bibles on the market written specifically for young people, which make it readable and understandable. If we demonstrate a love for God's word, they will too.
5. Write God's law on the door frames of you houses and on your gates.
The Bible isn't telling us to paint our homes with scripture verses. The Israelites attached a mezuzot, a small wooden or metal container that contained the written Word of God on the door-frames of their homes. If you visit Israel today, you'll still find them in many places. This verse is saying we should have the Word of God around the house, to be conscious of its presence not only in our homes, but also in our lives. When people come into our homes, do they sense something different? Do our neighbors see us model our faith? Do we witness for Jesus Christ? As we impress the law of God on our children's hearts, we'll lay a strong foundation for church life now and in the future.
(to be continued)
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