Friday, February 12, 2016

Addressing Our Kids with Scripture

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Recently I finished Bruce A. Ray's Withhold Not Correction-the first of twelve parenting books I'd like to read this year. If you recall it was a book I'd been given at a baby shower for my firstborn, and four and a half years later still hadn't read. What bumped it to the top of my stack? 

Seeing not one, but three copies on the shelf of good family friends. These are lovely, lovely people. All five of their boys are grown men, several with families of their own. They are some of the nicest Christian men I know. The mama who raised them said she didn't read Ray's book until her kids were grown, but it basically said everything she would say. Say no more, ma'am. I was sold. 

While it feels somewhat somber and heavy-handed, Withhold Not Correction lays a solid theological framework for parenting. It's sobriety was a splash of cold water to wake up my lethargic parenting. As Christian parents we've been charged with a serious task- to raise our little ones in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We're responsible for training, instructing, and disciplining- all very hard work, but worthwhile and necessary. 

I've made a lot of excuses for myself and my children: It's so hard to be consistent! I just struggle with laziness. She is very hungry. He is super tired. Boys just have so much energy! Girls are just dramatic...etc. 

All of this is true... but if I'm not careful, they can become my justification for neglecting the all important work Christ has called me to. I'm not perfect, and my kids are not perfect- but Christ has called me to this role, and He will equip me for it. My job is to keep showing up, keep seeking him, keep loving and instructing and disciplining and following through. 

One of the areas I most need to step up in is addressing my kids with the Word of God. It's only the Spirit of God speaking through the Word of God that can save my children's souls. I can't save them, but I sure can plant as many seeds of His Word as possible into their little hearts, hoping and fervently praying that He will bless that and cause them to take root and bear fruit. 

The verse my kids hear the most is Ephesians 6:1- "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ray calls this a "holy catch all," but I've used it as my only catch-all. Different offenses require different Scriptures. Our kids need to see how their behavior fits within the framework of God's Law.

Now when my son takes a toy from his sister, I'm trying to remember Scripture- "God says 'do not steal,' and taking a toy from your sister is stealing." Or when one hits another, instead of just saying that hitting is mean, "the Bible says we ought to love one another- you are not loving your brother when you hit him." Whiny child? "Do everything without grumbling" {Philippians 2:14- there is also a great song for this}.

Instead of just telling my child they are being naughty, I want to pinpoint exactly what it is they are doing that is wrong, and address it with the Word of God. This is challenging- and it requires a whole lot of Bible knowledge from parents. Which means I need to be more diligent in my study of Scripture.

It would be a shame if I only spoke Scripture to my kids in situations of correction- I also want to commend their growth in character and any good I see by pointing them back to the Word. When they are enjoying something good, I want to point them to the Giver of all good things. When they've been obedient and are enjoying blessings because of it, I want to explain it to them as encouragement for future obedience.

This is going to require years of both study and instruction, but I'm thankful that this book gave me the jolt to move forward in this direction. Planting and watering seeds is wonderful work indeed!

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