Stand in the Gap - Part 4
Stand In The Gap 4
Train Children To Think
Parents can anticipate problem areas and allow their children to think through such temptations before they happen. Practice problem-solving exercises before the difficult situation arises. Before one father allowed his son to use the family car for the first time, they had a conversation that went something like this: "Now son, this is a good running little car, isn’t it". "Yes sir!" "It’ll be a temptation to see how fast it will run, won’t it?" "Uh, well, I hadn’t thought much about that". "It’s kind of a natural thing. Chances are good that as soon as you get down to the red light, Tim (one of his buddies) will pull up next to you and rev up his motor and challenge you to a race. So, what do you think you ought to do?" The time to think about a temptation is before it happens. In this manner we think rationally about the temptation instead of emotionally. What if Joseph or Daniel had reacted to temptation purely on an emotional level? (Genesis 39:9; Daniel 1:8). May I also suggest to you that such enables our children to view temptation when their hearts are free from bitterness, skepticism, cynicism, and adult-type rationalizations (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Parents can help their children recognize the qualities that they should want and avoid in selecting a future spouse. Our kids also need to be reminded that their marriage will impact the entire family, including all the extensions of the family for better or worse(Proverbs 12:4; Genesis 27:46). "One father would invite the prospective husbands and boyfriends to come to the farm. He would put those boys to work, so his four pretty daughters could see which boys would amount to something and which ones were afraid of work…These dads were not afraid to put a little pressure on prospective suitors…Many of the families let their children know they prayed every single day for their future mates" Faulkner pp. 198-199).
Manage Family Influences
This would include: 1. Open your home to your children’s friends. Wise parents open their homes to the friends of their children by providing a safe, fun place. In addition, know the names of your children’s friends, and as one mother added, "Yes, and you need to know even more than their names". This will demand extra work and effort on your part (1 Peter 4:9). Be the home in the neighborhood which is having the most influence on the future generation in that neighborhood. Let your the friends of your children see what a loving family really is! 2. Expose your children to potential heroes. "These parents brought others into their homes who were role models and mentors. They believed in the importance of having ‘heroes of the faith’ around their dinner table….A young woman said, ‘Mom and Dad always had great friends, so we knew what made good friends’" (Faulkner pp. 204-205). (Hebrews 13:7 "imitate their faith") 3. Added to this, such families tended to avoid the influence of people who had a negative impact, even when those people were close relatives. These families displayed love and kindness toward such negative people, but they purposely steered their children in other directions, almost like isolating an infection. 4. "Whether we like it or not, the influences of our corrupt world are sometimes brought right inside our homes and up close to our families…They regulated the influence of the media by limiting and monitoring the television and movies their children watched. We couldn’t find a single family that allowed the children to watch TV before all the homework was done"(Faulkner p. 206).
- Use the television wisely and use it for character building. Watch shows or rent movies that have a definite and healthy moral message.
- Read to your children. William Bennett has done some interesting research and has found that programs like "Sesame Street" actually have a negative effect on a child’s attention span. The short segments and hopscotching format is detrimental to the development of concentration skills. Reading stories to your children at a slower pace teaches children to pay attention and concentrate for longer time periods.
- I recently received an issue of World Magazine which included the top 40 books of the 20th Century. These books were chosen because they proclaimed or applied a biblical worldview in a hostile 20th century. Some of the titles were: Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis); The God Who Is There (Francis Schaeffer); Christianity and Liberalism (L. Gresham Machen); Battle for the Bible (Harold Lindsell); The Cost of Discipleship (Dietrich Bohoeffer); The Conservative Mind (Russell Kirk); Ideas Have Consequences (Richard M. Weaver); and The Closing of the American Mind (Allan Bloom).
- Many of the charges against television can also be levied against uncontrolled electronic games, or violent games. None of the children were allowed to see whatever movie they wanted—regardless of the rating. The parents tried to protect their children’s innocence and high ideals as long as they could by knowing the kinds of movies that were good for their children and which ones were not. Sometimes parents seem to forget that we need to hold on to our innocence and high ideals also (Matthew 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:20 "yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature"). www.screenit.com is a website that gives precise moral details new movie releases.
- At times adults tend to scoff at the danger of watching the wrong thing, but maybe more adults would have less personal problems if they had monitored what they watched and what they allowed themselves to believe when they were younger (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23).
- Such parents also monitored when, and the amount of time, their teens spent in the workplace. They realized that the teenage workplace can provide some very powerful, negative influences in your child’s life at a time when he or she is most vulnerable. "Chances are good that your child will meet other kids who are ‘on their own’ too soon" (Faulkner p. 208). If possible, try to get your child into an adult workplace, where they can gain experience or skills (Psalm 1:1ff; Proverbs 13:20).
- Monitor the influences that your child is receiving from organized sports. 1. Children need to learn that winning isn’t everything, for the Babe Ruths, and Michael Jordans—outlive their victories. Our children must be prepared to live a whole life. It’s a false philosophy that implies that life terminates at the end of our peak physical condition. 2. Children also need to learn to lose gracefully. 3. Faulkner notes that he favors sports like hunting, fishing, camping, roller blading, biking, hiking---because the parents can be active participants with the child…These are lifelong sports that the whole family, young and old, can engage in, not just young super athletes" (p. 213).
The Importance Of Reading
The importance of reading, reading well, and loving to read, is readily seen in the fact that reading usually stands before a person and salvation (Romans 10:17). People who can’t read well or don’t like to read, are typically very poor students of the Bible and consequently, weak Christians (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14).
- If Mom and Dad love to read and are seen reading this enjoyment will be contagious. 1. By talking to other Christians who have raised their children, or are well on their way, find out what are the "must" reads when it comes to books that impart biblical principles. 2. As an adult, you need to have your own list of the books that you should be reading. 3. Build your own family library and make good use of the city library. Mark Twain said that the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
Religious traditions which violate, subtract from, or add to Scripture are to be avoided like the plague (Matthew 15:1-9). Yet, the word "tradition" can also simply mean "that which is handed down" (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Hence, regular attendance at services could be viewed from that angle as a divine tradition. Faulker notes that regular, undisputed church attendance shouts two things: first, that we are parents think that Christian values are important; and second, that the church as family is important (p. 304). May I suggest to you that the following traditions or habits might have some benefit to your family:
- Gathering around the family dinner table and eating dinner together. "Dinner is the single disaster as a family ritual, too rushed, too hassled, with parents using it as a time to discipline and socialize their kids" (Faulkner p. 305). Remember, it isn’t the food that is important, rather it is the conversation. Here is a wonderful opportunity to find out what your kids are thinking, feeling, a time to discuss various topics and help them see things from God’s perspective. These parents also made an effort to avoid questions that could be answered with a yes or no. Rather they’d ask open-ended questions like, "How do you feel about that?" "What are you interested in?" "What was good about today?" (Deuteronomy 6:7).
- Neat family traditions could include: Decorating the graves of deceased loved ones, having some sort of special celebration at a milestone birthday (i.e., 16,18). Organizing a neighborhood block party, or family reunion. Having father-daughter, mother-son outings, creating an alternative to the prom, or giving meaningful books to graduates, volunteering during the holidays, the annual family newsletter, and making homemade cookies or candy for older members. Note, many things can be done without spending a whole lot of money. One family had a "half-day vacation week". They were too-poor to take a week-long, out-of-town vacation. So one week they worked hard from 6 A.M. till noon every morning, then every after they went went to the country club on a borrowed pass, they then ended each day by going to Dairy Queen and getting a banana split. The kids thought this was one of the best vacations they ever had. Some families created their own summer camp, like a "cousins camp". Another family borrowed enough TV’s so they could watch every football game being broadcasted on New Year’s Day. Another family started a tradition of always putting something in the Christmas stockings to shoot each other with. It started with peashooters and has included popguns, ping-pong-ball guns, and rubber-band guns. In addition to all this, create traditions which are "service" oriented, such as making a habit of visiting the aged (Leviticus 19:32; James 1:27 "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress"; Matthew 25:35).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/644-9017