GOT KIDS? WANT SOME ???

Relax. The title of today’s devotional – GOT KIDS? WANT SOME? – is not an offer for me to pawn off a few extra children into your family.

Actually, today we’re going to chat about how to impact kids with the single most important relationship they’ll ever have, whether you have some yet or not. It is so important, that it’s the one by which their whole life will measure success when all is said and done.

If they have access to any sort of a connected device, today’s young people are inundated with massive amounts of information and join-my-list-of-friends-with-one-click relationships. Training them to sort through it all and teaching them to identify the things and people who should really matter is a job that falls to parents, grand-parents and a few select folk who are allowed into the inner circle of trust that will set the course of children’s lives. It’s an awesome responsibility.

Today’s verse says POINT YOUR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – WHEN THEY’RE OLD THEY WON’T BE LOST.

I wish it were as simple as pointing. Wouldn’t that be nice! Just a quick, one-time “Head that way!” and the entire job is finished. Just brush off your hands and ask, “What’s next?” If only.

Truth be told, the translation that says, “Train up children in the way they should go; even when they are old they will not depart from it” delivers a clearer picture. Training is much more than pointing. The training that builds a solid foundation for life will demand ongoing teaching, evaluation of performance, correction … and then more training. It’s a cycle that’s initially led by that close inner core, then widened to other trusted folk, with the final goal that the kids will be able to continue to do it on their own — and WANT to!!

So, how do you train children to be successful in life? To be a sharp and prepared tool God can use whether He’s equipping them to work indoors or out, at a desk or a jobsite? Where does the focus need to lie? How do you train a child so that the end result is a “complete” person; fully equipped for every good work?

Here’s what we call the BLUF. No, I’m not talking about faking anything. In military parlance, BLUF (which is spelled with only one “F”) means “Bottom Line Up Front.” And here it is: I’m convinced that building the character of Jesus Christ into your kids is the single most important element you can focus on.

Do that well, and all the rest can be built on THAT solid foundation.

Without it, the pressures of life will eventually erode the weak foundation and cause the building to collapse.

POINT YOUR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – WHEN THEY’RE OLD THEY WON’T BE LOST

The first step is to BE what you want to teach them to be. Loving Jesus and trusting Him to lead your life is initially something that is more caught than taught. What do your kids see in your life that shows them how important God and His word are? As I’ve said, a living love will always show. If you’re deeply in love with your spouse, your kids will see it. Moreover, they will come to value that kind of a married relationship; they’ll want to have a spouse who loves and cares for them well. Do they see the same kind of committed, sacrificial love for Jesus in your life? I hope so. We can only reproduce what we are.

Your best tool is the word of God. In a world where things are being tossed aside as irrelevant that no one in their right mind had questions about twenty years ago, you need a standard that doesn’t change with the latest Twitter trend. If technology, wealth and titles are used as the measure of character and self-worth you’re aiming at a moving target. The truly important elements of character don’t change. Love for God, integrity, compassion, self-sacrifice, humility and many more things such as these — they form the foundation of a life designed to impact its generation. These things we learn from God’s word.

Because all scripture is God-breathed, it is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Those are the four steps of training, whether for ourselves or for our children.

INSTRUCTION
We learn who we need to be from the pages of God’s word. Both from reading it for ourselves, and from having it taught to us by wise and godly people who are better at loving and serving God than we are. God’s word teaches us who we are called to be and how we are called to live. The examples we read, hear and see teach us. The lessons we learn will serve us well, both learning what we ought to do and what we do better to avoid.

CONVICTION
When we look at where we are and compare it to where we want to be – the gap stares us in the face. You and I are not living out our faith perfectly, and in some ways we may not even be doing it well. God’s word speaks to our hearts and minds and gives us a standard we can reach out for. His word tells us where we fall short of the mark, and what we need to change. His word is like a large and clear target. And, when we examine our lives, we can see how far we are from the bulls-eye.

CORRECTION
His word always has the answer. Christ speaks to us by His Holy Spirit from the pages of scripture and applies the lessons contained in His word. God Himself provides the correction we need. It’s why spending time with Him and His word each day is so important. There are hundreds and hundreds of voices shouting in our ears calling evil good and good evil; trying to deceive us. The world’s standards change rapidly, but God’s standards don’t change at all. Truth is truth no matter how few people live it, and lies are lies no matter how many people embrace them. What you believe about something cannot change its essential character.

Let’s say that I became convinced that I could breathe underwater. Totally, absolutely convinced. Let’s assume that I’ve believed for years and years and years. How long would I have to believe it before I could ACTUALLY breathe under water? Yeah, you and I both know the answer to the question. It makes no difference HOW LONG I believe it. What if I was able to convince everyone in my family? Or even my city. What if everyone I knew were also convinced? How many people need to believe it before I can breathe underwater? Yup – same answer. It makes no difference how hard, how long or how many people believe a lie. It stays a lie because BY NATURE it is untrue.

That’s why God’s word is so critical. Because all scripture is God-breathed, BY NATURE it IS TRUE. That’s why it’s useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

TRAINING
Training completes the cycle of learning. Training is where we take what we have learned, analyse our performance, apply correction — and then try again. Over and over and over. It is a cycle, not a path. Training connects right back to instruction, because as we train we learn more. Training develops skill; and training received from God’s word equips us for every good work. His word gives us what we do not have and builds in us all that we need. His word completes us, fully equips us to be victorious in life … and afterwards.

God speaks to people. It doesn’t matter how old they are. You and I share this time together each day. Some of you are above the age of seventy, but you’re still learning how to be better lovers of Jesus. Some of you aren’t yet in your teens. I have a great-niece who listens to the podcast of Mornings with Bishop Robert every day on the bus as she heads to school. (She’s amazing, and I’m so proud of who she is becoming in Jesus! ) How old you are doesn’t matter, how much you love Jesus and how well you follow Him do.

POINT YOUR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – WHEN THEY’RE OLD THEY WON’T BE LOST

The final goal is that kids will be able to continue to do it on their own — and WANT to. When children arrive, parents do everything for them. Giving them milk, cuddling them, cleaning their bottoms. But milk is intended to give way to solid food, cuddling becomes learning to walk. Along the way we expect our kids not only to learn to eat but to cook. Not just to learn reading, writing and math but loving, serving and obeying God. We want them to embrace instruction, conviction, correction, and training in righteousness; it’s how they will learn to wipe their own bottoms and impact the world for Jesus as they get better and better at following Him.

When we began this morning, I said that introducing your children to Jesus was the most important relationship they’d ever have, that it’s the one by which their whole life will measure success when all is said and done. I hope you see why. No matter what else your kids become experts in – medicine, business, art or philosophy; unless they’ve learned to love Jesus well they’ll never pass the final test.

POINT YOUR CHILDREN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – WHEN THEY’RE OLD THEY WON’T BE LOST

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