Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Legacy of Faithfulness - Part II

Recent statistics have shown that our children are abandoning their faith in record numbers after leaving home. One such study claims that 75-88% of children raised in Christian homes will leave their faith by the end of their freshman year in college. That number should terrify us and motivate us to reexamine what we are doing in our own homes to pass down a legacy of faith to our children. Obviously, we are failing our children in the most important aspect of parenting. So, what do we do? Do we just hope for the best and stumble blindly toward the finish line of parenting, hoping that they will “turn out okay”? We would never accept this answer if the question were our children’s education. We spend an incredible amount of time and money making sure they get the best possible education, and we spend countless hours (and dollars) taking them to dance classes, sports practices and music lessons to give them every advantage. Why, then, have we placed so little importance on their spiritual upbringing?

We are raising a generation of children who have no spiritual heritage. Because of this, we are sending them out into the world as easy prey for the one who seeks to destroy them. Even Karl Marx recognized this, saying, “A people without a heritage are easily persuaded.” We need to be giving our children a strong foundation for their faith, making sure they know what they believe, why they believe it, and that they are part of a legacy going back two thousand years to the birth of a Savior in a humble manger in Bethlehem. So, how does this happen?

God makes it clear to us in Deuteronomy 6 exactly how this is to take place. He says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God doesn’t say to casually impart His commandments to our children, or to take them to church once a week and hope that they somehow “catch” our faith. He says to impress them on our children. I looked up “impress” in the dictionary to get a better feel for what that word means. It means “to affect deeply or strongly in mind or feelings; to fix deeply or firmly on the mind or memory; and to urge, as something to be remembered or done.” To me, this implies something very purposeful and serious. First, God commands us to love Him completely; then, He commands us to pass on this command to our children. We should be teaching our children about Him at every opportunity, not just at church, or on Christmas and Easter. Talking about spiritual matters should permeate our days, including discussing such things at the dinner table, in the car on those many drives to baseball practice and in those heart-to-heart talks when their hearts are aching with hurt or frustration. When you read the newspaper at breakfast, talk about what you see in the world. Help them to recognize differences in worldview and how that affects what people see and believe. If we are not purposeful in making this happen, the years will fly by and our children will be gone…and possibly, so will their faith.

We also must be faithful in teaching them truth…that there is ONE truth, not many, and it comes from the Word of God. We must teach them to search Scripture to see if what they are being taught is true. We must make sure the education they are receiving is filled with truth, not lies. We must give them an appreciation for history and help them to recognize God’s hand of providence as they study stories of the past. As Os Guinness says, “Those who don’t know history have no sense of identity, and no sense of wisdom as they explore where they’re going to go. Without history, we’re lost!” Deuteronomy 32:7 tells us to “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” We need to pass on stories of God’s faithful people and how they persevered through trials, often giving their lives rather than surrender their faith. We need to instill in them a passion for truth in doctrine, as well. The Nehemiah Institute released a study showing that less than 10% of churched teens have a true, Biblical worldview. The world is apparently doing a whole lot better job of instilling its worldview into our children than we are…and that is shameful.

As we raise our children, we need to be disciplining them in ways that are intended for long-term results, not short-term peace. Just as pacifying a screaming child with candy at the grocery store gives a short-term answer (we are no longer embarrassed!) but leads to long-term disaster (a disobedient child who learns they can get whatever they want by misbehaving), our “quick-fixes” in spiritual matters often fail as well. While the world teaches us that we should desire happy children, God teaches us that our goal should be holy children. Be purposeful and persevering in looking to the end goal, a young adult who is surrendered to God and to His will. Let’s give our children a sense of vision and a purpose much bigger than themselves. Let’s raise children who will change the world for God, not lose their faith the minute they are no longer under our supervision. Let’s pass down a legacy of faithfulness which will continue for a thousand generations. Let’s wake up and take responsibility for our families before it is too late.

What kind of legacy are you leaving your children?

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deut. 7:9

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