24 Family Ways #1
"We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with wholehearted devotion."
Memory verse: "And He said to them, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment." Matt. 22:37-38
Rainbow light shone through a multi-colored stain glass window and looked like it was actually a upward passage to heaven. Our normally wiggly, chattery clan became silent as they walked into the lovely chapel and heard the quiet music wafting up to the very rafters where the light was shining through. Oddly enough, the beauty, formality and music hushed them and they sat mostly reverently through the hour service.
"Mama, you felt like you had to be quite 'cause everything was so special, pretty and respectful," piped one of my littler ones, when asked what they thought of the new church we visited.
The formal, captivating atmosphere was the first time our family had ever attended such a formal service together, but it was enlightening to see what the effect the sacred place of exquisite design and beauty had on the attitudes of my children.
Almost every time I read a story about someone who saw the glory of God, the effect of his blinding splendor in real life was that they bow down in fear, in reverence, hiding their eyes from the glory of God because it is so wonderful and great. The starting point for any real training in the hearts must be a reverence, respect and proper awe of God, Himself.
The first "way" is about learning to see the sacred, learning to honor things that are holy. If we do not learn to have a value and understanding that some things are special and set aside as a picture of great and intrinsic worth to show the eminence, the infinity of God's glory in our own homes and life, then we will never learn to honor God.
Honoring is recognition that some people have a value worthy of showing humility and special respect. If we do not cultivate a habit of humility that values those things and people that garner our best manners, our sacred response, our humble gratitude, then we will never learn to bow our knee before the one true God.
Honor of God begins with an honor of what is holy in our lives--people made in God's image are sacred and have great worth in eternity. Marriage, the commitment of two people to enter into a union and pledge before God of faithfulness is sacred and holy.
All that used to be sacred--human life, the elderly, churches and burial grounds, people in position of authority and accomplishment, parents, marriage, teachers, public figures--all of these are often torn apart, ridiculed and devalued in contemporary culture. When every vestige of truth can be ridiculed, cynicism runs so rampant that no one can believe in innocence, modesty or sincerity anymore, we lose a heart that can believe in miracles and the goodness and purity of God. When we see nothing as pure, we lose the ability to see God as pure and righteous.
However, in a time in history where very little is sacred or holy, we must seek diligently to create not just knowledge of what the word holy means, but to place tangible practices in our lives where we and our children practice to learn and understand that some things are sacred and set apart and deserve our reverence and worship.
Traditions were created to picture truth, beauty and meaning of life throughout church history in the past. When we give up all vestiges of tradition, we have given up much that would picture to the mind and heart of a child of what reverence and holiness looks like.
If we do not have visual, and actual habits and practice in the moments of our lives for things that are special and holy, our children will not understand the glory, the vastness, the need to bow our knee before a Holy, Magnificent, Omnipotent God.
Manners, the way we show respect, courtesy and honor of others gives us a sense of worth of the value of people in our lives. Honor starts with the respectful ways we treat others in our home--the way we speak to our children with respect of who they are; the way we give our attention and interact with our husbands, the way we treat strangers or others who come across our pathway.
.When we learn to give value to others by serving them, honoring them as human beings, we will much more likely honor God--and honoring God is the first commandment in the ten commandments. Loving God and honoring Him with our whole hearts is the starting place for appropriate worship of God, which says He is worthy of our praise and service our whole life long. Honor is a heart attitude.
Recently, I attend a funeral of a very special young friend who had died. I was a little surprised that many of the women my age wore jeans, few wore black. People were looking at their cell phones during the funeral. There was nothing in the dress, manners or behavior of the people who attended that said, "This is an occasion for showing respect to the wonderful person who died here."
I am a contemporary woman and do not judge people, in general, by their clothing or outward appearance. But as I pondered this, I realized that in our culture, we have pretty much lost a sense and a practice of showing our children the attitude of respect and self-control and reverence.
Most of our churches are places where there is casual dress, talking and chattering, informal behavior, so much so that the behavior and jokes told and manners of most people could not be differentiated from the behavior they would display at a restaurant or in any other casual place.
We make fun of our Presidents and leaders and feel no guilt or twinge of conscience for voicing every sort of opinion on Facebook. We criticize our preachers and leaders. We watch shows that make fun of marriage, Christians, a civilized or mannerly person with morals standards and cast shadows on many things that are innocent, pure, mannerly or respectful. In the name of "freedom" we excuse any kind of behavior and speech conduct, with no sense of propriety or restraint. If there is nothing sacred in our lives, then how do we hope to pass on a sense of awe, Godly fear and respect to our children?
Consequently, as we begin the training of our little children's hearts and souls, and take responsibility of our own attitudes, we must figure out how to convey to them that life is not about us. Our lives are about pleasing, serving, loving, worshipping and living for the very one who is the Lord of the universe, the creator of the world, the King forever, God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ. If we do not live honoring others, our children and others in our lives will have a hard time believing that God a good God who was willing to give them worth by serving and dying for them. Our belief is tied to the life we observe. Faith is connected to love and respect given. We learn to believe in God's goodness by receiving goodness in our real lives.
To implement this properly, we must seek to define for ourselves and our family, what will be sacred in our family. How will we display and teach respect to our children so that they will understand, when they are older, how to respect and revere our God and to live before Him with awe and with fear and trembling in respect of who He is.
One of the ways we implemented a sense of reverence and holiness in the lives of our family was teaching our children and practicing that there were places to use "quiet voices, and respectful hearts"--like in church, at concerts, at funerals, at graduations, at recitals. Cell phones are definitely prohibited in these places. Before we went into these places, we would talk amongst ourselves about it ahead of time ...
"This is a wonderful place to be still and to think about God and to listen to His voice. When we go into church, please show respect by not running, not fussing; try to be still during this ceremony or church service," etc.
"When we take communion, we focus on the amazing and generous sacrifice of our precious Lord. Out of honor to Him we remain quiet, not whispering, we give our full attention to Him, confessing our sin, and thanking Him for his forgiveness. When communion is over, we will remain in quiet attitudes out of respect and not speak or be loud until the service is over.
I am not talking about following my ideas or some kind of a rule, but you must establish some sacred things-- holy places, places for reverence in the moments and hours of your life, so that in your heart and the values of your children, you can learn and practice the meaning of "Reverence for a Holy God."
Serving a holy God, living for his glory is our goal.
If this is not built into the warp and woof of your life, then when it comes to adulthood and worshipping and reverencing God, there will be no pattern, no practiced understanding of what it means to love and obey our Lord with wholehearted devotion.
We can learn the words of this family way, but we also need to live the reality of our devotion and respect in order for the words to have meaning. Humility is at the heart of honoring others or God as much more important than yourself.
How have you instilled reverence and devotion to our Holy God in your lives?
How have you regarded sacred traditions or relationships as common and lost value for being reverent?
How have you seen things that have intrinsic eternal value degraded in the culture of your world?
Name several ways you can establish a practice of valuing the sacred in your own life.
Would others say that you brought a sense of honor to the atmosphere of your friendship because of the ways you showed honor, consideration and manners of others in your life?
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