Wednesday, 29. August 2012 by Renee Ellison
Preserving godly seed in this world is precarious, at best. Right from the Garden of Eden, we nearly lost the godly line when Cain killed Abel. Angels held their breath until Seth was born because there was no godly line to replace Abel there for awhile. And angels held their breath again when all but Noah were wiped off the earth. The godly seed YOU raise is terribly important. A frail godly thread hangs in the balance over the entire earth and your child is in that line. This must be your first, and last, obsession. It is your highest call to raise a holy child for the Kingdom, as well as for the child’s own soul.
While the enemy occupies us with academic anxieties over Greek gods (demons), he prowls around to take the SPIRITS of our children. Keep your focus on the “worship factor” in your children. What are they starting to worship? Movie actors? Rock stars? What posters and pictures are going up in their rooms? What are they listening to? Watching? Talking about? Be too busy with godly pursuits to let this worldliness gain any head of steam in their lives in the first place. Let Bible reading, serving real needs in the real world, gaining life skills of all sorts, and running home based businesses occupy those hours, instead. Is their devotion to the one true God SECURE? How MUCH do they love Him? What can you do to raise the spiritual bar in your child in the few short years of influence that you have with him? Is his affection for God locked-in, rock sure? Where does your child run emotionally in his spare moments? What reading does he prefer? How does he use his discretionary time?
There is no downside to raising a godly child. Holy children don’t rebel. Holy children internalize YOUR values—they have no reason to rebel. They love the God you love as ardently as you do, or more so. They enlarge heaven and enlarge righteousness upon the earth, while they wait for heaven. They don’t get side-tracked. They cause no trouble. They waste no life. Their very presence and their choices glorify God while they walk among the sons of men. They are content. They are cheerful. They are selfless. They are mature before their time, as Timothy was.
Most of us as parents are preoccupied…we are chasing the wrong ball…in the wrong ball park…playing the wrong game. The “game” of life is to “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Catechism) and to raise up godly seed to do the same. Until our children are ambitiously doing that, under their own gumption, without us, even when we aren’t looking, we have work to do. If all we do is focus on secular academics, we COULD raise an intelligent murderer. Our grief will know no end if we worship academics only, but our joy can know no bounds if we groom the spirit to adore the living God. Take up your child, steward him in holiness, and return him to His Maker…just like Hannah did with Samuel.
There are FOUR ways to steward a child in the development of holiness.
1. Set a good example, yourself. Be in a “white heat” yourself in your own love for God. Be daily in His word. Be ever running to Him with the vicissitudes of life. Nothing inspires like example. Turn off the cultural noise (media and all) until you have tended to God as your FIRST priority, EVERY day. No matter how disheveled the schedule, go to Him at your FIRST discretionary moment.
2. Train your child’s will. God takes a lifetime to show us as adults how exchanging our will for His will in all matters in life is actually our most fulfilled life. We were created FOR God, not for ourselves. We will always be slightly off the radar of the real deal, slightly out of focus, when we live for self. Therefore, believe that developing a supple will in your child is THE avenue to his greatest happiness. The goal? Can he submit himself anytime, anywhere over any matter to the will of his parent, as a young child? Has the child learned to deny himself? He won’t always be having to do this; normal days are filled with much give and take. But CAN he do it, at a moment’s notice, when called upon to? A parent who is forever appeasing his child, humoring him out of his disgruntlement, bending his adult will to his child’s will, trains nothing in his CHILD. The parent already knows how to do this. It is the CHILD who needs the practice.
3. Train your child’s character. Teach him that his word is his bond. Train him in personal nobility: not to lie, to follow through with what he says, to be trustworthy. There are around 50 of these attributes. Find out what these are, and go to it.
4. Teach your child to go to (and rely upon) his OWN prayer closet. All of the remarkably holy saints throughout history knew the value of their own prayer closet. Each of them had discovered that THIS is where you recalibrate spiritually and cross-examine your motives as you HEAR from God through HIS Word and YOUR prayer. Daily cloistered away from the world at some moment during the day to transact business with God changes a man like the sun changes seeds in a garden. No sun, no plant, nothin’, zip, zilch. Time spent in this sacred holy relationship is the core difference between raising a holy child and an academic one. This is the fastest route and the shortest distance to transformation. No man who influences the world for God does so without the prayer closet. George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Oswald Chambers, Jim Elliot, Charles and John Wesley, Isaac Watts, François Fénelon, Andrew Murray, Charles Finney, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd and others (read them all) of historical note lingered there often. What they conversed about in private with God ALONE materialized in a finished lasting spiritual work on the ground in real life.
So even if you do family devotions, then at the opposite end of the day train the child in his OWN devotional life, so that he learns how to rely upon God by himself for that eventful day when he grows up and leaves home. At first do HIS devotions with him, day after day. By virtue of your own excitement about it, make it the best part of his day. Then imperceptibly, bit by bit, remove yourself from his devotions until he is doing them without you with the same eagerness that he had when doing them with you.
Give him his own Bible (while you are still doing devotions alongside him). Start with easy versions and teach him to underline in it like a workbook (right next to you, with lots of smiles and approval) so that he can rapidly re-find his favorite verses. Also, teach him to jot down one gem from his daily devotions in a little notebook. Just one. This causes him to interact with what he reads and not just go through the motions. Teach him to pray for five minutes. That’s it. You grow a spiritual muscle just like you exercise a physical one—incrementally. One chapter, one thought, one prayer. You are growing a HABIT. It will mushroom on its own.
If you have boys sixth grade and up, have them trade off times with the father for leading short daily family devotions, each of them standing up to read one chapter, at the foot of the dinner table, perhaps. At the close of this reading, encourage your son to make ONE VERBAL COMMENT upon what was just read, for the edification of the family. The whole exercise will take a total of about five minutes. Done. (Long devotions turn everyone off, whether by son OR father.) Men don’t lead their OWN future families because they think it is too overwhelming of a chore, they were never in the HABIT of leading, and they were never trained. To NOT do this becomes a lifetime source of guilt and awkwardness when sons later become the heads of their own households. Require this of your sons, and appreciate them IN it, and it will become the coveted joy of a man’s life as God meant for it to be—fueling their manhood and assuring grand influence in the world via the piety and actions of their own family.
Training academics doesn’t hold a candle to training holiness…but usually you will find that the holy saints BECOME the most academic as well! The spiritual discipline fits them for good progress in the other. BOTH get done, concurrently. William Carey cataloged all the known flora and fauna in his village in India as WELL as was a missionary. Albert Schweitzer cataloged the rivers of Africa. Said again, “there is absolutely no downside to raising a holy child!” The results will be the joy of your life. You can count on it!
Children Can Gulp the Word
Character Traits Coloring Book and Songs
Wesley’s Daily Holiness Checklist