Way #2 We read the Bible every day and pray to God with an open heart.
"All scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
II Tim 3: 16-17
Recently, Nathan was talking about his year in New York City when he attended the New York Film Academy. He lived in an apartment in Harlem with two other young men.
"Every day, I would hear God speaking to me through so many scriptures that we had talked about and memorized. They just kept going through my head at different times and always when I needed them. And you know what, Mom? The voice sounded a lot like your voice and I knew I needed to heed the words, because I couldn't imagine breaking your heart! And those words became the prayers of my own heart amidst all the moments of my life in New York, because I knew God would be with me and speak to me and show me wisdom."
When Sarah was giving her talk at the conferences this year, I didn't know what she was going to say, as she is an adult and prepares her own talks. She shared a story that heartened me. Her memory of waking up early in the mornings was finding me sitting in an overstuffed chair in the living room or a smaller one in my bedroom, reading my Bible.
"I knew her diligence and devotion was what shaped her life and it always made me expect that I could learn and hear from God in my own life,"
Sarah shared as she talked of what personal integrity looked like in reality.
I hardly need to say I was not a perfect mama, and like all mamas, some seasons I was faithful to this standard as it was a habit I had developed and committed to early in my life before I became a mama. And some seasons I just barely made it through with the crises of life coming my way. I found that reading God's word and praying was essential to my ability to keep taking one more step in the direction of my own ideals--the fuel for my strength when life was exhausting. It is a habit I want to help others learn how to develop.
But in a time when there are so many formulas and voices of advice and people are busier than ever, I wanted to write an article that clearly stated--raising godly children is an issue of spending time with them with God on a regular basis. God and His word are what shape hearts and reading the word of God together gives the Holy Spirit a vocabulary in which to speak to our children when we are not there.
I didn't really know that my kids were paying attention-- I mean, really taking to heart what I was saying and teaching. Really, it felt so good inside my heart, to know that my own obedience and work at keeping my heart and mind on scripture left a significant mark in the lives of my children.
Most of the time they just looked like normal, sweet kids; squirming, wiggling, chattering, fussing, and being children.
More voices and messages invade the sound waves of our brains every day than ever before. Living in a melting pot of cultures now where all religions and values and morals drift together in and through the media; where all varieties of moral behavior are validated and find acceptance; where television and film and the internet smudge the clear borders of truth every day, and even promote violent behavior and dark themes--even in cartoons; the call to teach children has never been more important or profoundly necessary.
We must not underestimate the draw or pull these voices will have in our children's lives as they become young adults and begin to make decisions that will determine the outcome of their whole lives.
A real, true, loving, living God is the voice they must hear of--not just platitudes of moral rules--that is not enough to fool any young adult who is looking for love and wants to be liked.
Only real wisdom and scripture will do.
Building Foundations that Cannot be Moved
We build the foundational belief system and understanding of truth and God's nature and ways, in our children's minds, one day at a time, one brick at a time. For our children to have a strong house of truth invading and speaking to their invisible thoughts, their minds must already be filled with thousands of teachings of scripture so that their brains will have a "go to" place when they are making decisions about their lives.
As so many women have heard from me over the years, "In the absence of Biblical conviction, (when a person does not have a strongly held belief that has informed his commitments), then this person will indeed go the way of culture."
In other words, if a child has not been taught and trained and instructed in the wisdom of God's word and learned to pray to become familiar with His voice, then, the child will grow up to listen to the voices he has invested in the most, and the voices that will appear to make him happy.
A heart that is filled with and informed by Biblical convictions, does not just happen. It shaped intentionally over many years, day by day, circumstance by circumstance and repeated and lived thousands of times.
Advertisers never give up on loudly proclaiming their voices as they sell whatever is most profitable, and so we have to be even more vigilant to keep the voices of God's reason and wisdom going and shaping the minds of our children so that they can be strong in their generation and live to be great thinkers, communicators and shapers of culture in their generation.
It all starts with a mom who is willing to train and disciple her children and to pay the price of commitment, time, and winsomeness and preparation over many years of time.
And, God is waiting to bless us with His peace, love, wisdom, strength and comfort when we make time to go to Him. And our children will need the same from Him in their lifetime--but they will have a pattern of what that looks like because they will have learned it from our home.
And so, we read the Bible ever day in our home and pray with an open heart, and now our children do the same, because it was the very life and inspiration they breathed into their hearts day in and day out.
Do not be hard on yourself, mama. Just start out with 5-10 minutes--that becomes a habit worth following.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."