Raising Kids Who Don’t Remember Jesus

BibleRead-2They have heard about him. They know his stories. They know what he’s done for us. They sing songs about him. They have asked him to forgive their sins. They have been baptized in his name. They have memorized his words. They have done good works in his name. They have more information about him at their fingertips than any other generation, yet they don’t remember him. How does someone so saturated with Christianity loose the very essence of the one they call Savior? How do you claim a sense of what it is to be Christ-like, but have no memory Christ?

What am I talking about? It’s the Lord’s Supper. The essential part of church life that emphasizes the gospel, what it means to trust Christ, and most of all where we REMEMBER him. It’s a common meal where we all participate by receiving elements that represent the blood and body of Jesus and in doing so we ALL TOGETHER acknowledge his sacrifice and eminent return.

I see lots of believers, especially believers with children skipping out on this thing that Jesus actually said to do in rememberance of him. Is it possible to teach our children about Jesus, but to not remember him? Can we have them sit for a family devotional and prayer, sit in Children’s Church, sit close by as we go and minister, and somehow not teach them to sit for a moment to examine their life and remember Jesus?

I get it. There is a long list of excuses on why not to get the kids our of children’s church or return for a special evening service. They haven’t made a profession of faith yet – (They need to see that they are left out and apart from Christ. This physical illustration of restricting your kids from taking the Lord’s Supper will do more to teach them this reality than you words alone). Kids are really hard to keep still and quiet in church (It’s always been this way, but there are very few things in life they learn from lack of experience and this isn’t one of them).  They are in children’s church, I don’t want to interrupt the lesson.  (Can you make a children’s lesson more profound than the experiential, tangible, visible, and tastable lesson set before us in the elements of the Lord’s Supper? First as an outsider observing everyone else and then prayerfully as a believer who also professes faith in Christ.) Think about it, with the Lord’s Supper you see with your own eyes all your brothers and sisters professing that their hope is in Christ alone for salvation? We see that God provided the ultimate bread from heaven, and that we don’t live by bread alone, but by his very Word! We see that Jesus truly is the vine and we are the branches, that he is the head and we are united as the body! We see that it is only through his brokenness that we can be made whole.

Perhaps a more sober thought is, “What do I implicitly teach my kids by not participating in the Lord’s Supper myself and not bringing them in to join me?” I think the answer is clear. You teach with your actions (which speaks louder than words) that you don’t have to obey every request command of Christ and you teach that they don’t have to shouldn’t remember Jesus in this way because it’s not important.

We do a lot for our kids, everything from organic food to baseball practice. We sit through dance recitals and agonize with them over homework. We do our best to teach them about our faith and to honor God, Why wouldn’t we prioritize the Lord’s Supper?

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  – (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV)

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Why I Stopped Ignoring the Lord’s Prayer and Started Using it to Disciple My Kids

I need to confess something. I used to have an antagonistic spirit toward the Model Prayer (or the Lord’s Prayer) as many call it. I knew it was in the scripture, but I felt like it was something that was foreign to me. I went to a Christian school from fourth through seventh grade and I’m sure that maybe I learned it there. It wasn’t something we recited in the home, it wasn’t something we recited at church, and I’m pretty sure the only reason I memorized it was because it was part of my school work.

So it sat dormant in the back of my mind. I think I also had a prejudice against it because I felt like the words became hollow when everyone said them in unison. I wondered if God would even hear the prayers of those who repeated these words. I mistakenly thought prayer was a one sided communication. I was supposed to just tell God what I needed and he was supposed to provide. I didn’t realize that prayer was one of the key ways that God changes our hearts.

Everything changed for me when I had kids. I wanted my kids to know God the way that I know God. My life was radically changed when I was about twenty-five years old and I haven’t quite gotten over it. I knew that the model prayer must be important. Who better to teach my kids how to pray than Jesus, right? At this point I thought I had it all figured out. I was praying my way for a while. I never thought to go back and look at what the Scripture says about prayer. I never thought to go back to this prayer that I had memorized. I never thought that this was anything more than a tool to use with my kids.

So I started teaching Miss R, my oldest, when she was about three. And Mr.N, my youngest, learned to say it as soon as he could talk. In fact we have a video of Mr.N saying the Model Prayer when he is about two years old. He’s recited it nearly 1000 times in his little lifetime now.

Not long into the journey something happened. I forget the spark that caused it all, but one day one of my kids was struggling with bitterness and I said, “Remember how Jesus teaches us to forgive in the model prayer,” and I shared the story of the unmerciful servant. Then one of my kids were concerned for someone and I said, “Remember how Jesus teaches us to ask God for our daily bread.” Then one day one of my kids was struggling with an injustice in their world, and we saw that the Lord’s prayer teaches us to ask for Jesus’ kingdom to come.” Then one day my daughter is consumed with her sin and as I pass by her door at night I hear her praying, “Dear Jesus will you forgive me for my sin just like I ask in the Lord’s prayer?”

I began to meditate deeply on the Lord’s Prayer, going over it again and again in my mind. Thinking through the implications and tangents to other scripture passages and I was amazed to realize that there was a lot more to the Lord’s Prayer than I had thought. I was the one guilty of repeating things without thinking, but with sincere meditation this has become I guide for me in how I pray.

One of the ways that the Lord’s Prayer effects us is it acts like a tuner. I have a guitar. I don’t play much but someone gave me a guitar… and a tuner. The tuner is helpful because the guitar is very prone to getting out of tune. You put the tuner on the end, play a note and then adjust accordingly. It works great when I use it. This prayer is like that. Our lives get out of tune. We begin to lose focus. We think life is really all about this thing or that thing and somehow we miss God in the mix. This prayer teaches us how to adjust our attention, our focus. Is your life filled with anxiety? Go to God in prayer like Jesus teaches us to and you will find peace in the midst of a troubled night. It tunes our hearts. It checks our actions. It exposes our secret motives. Most of all it focuses us on the supreme value of Knowing God.

Join me as I dig into the Model Prayer over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing brief exposition with practical application. I won’t be blogging every day on this topic, but will be blogging frequently. Check back often to get the latest.

10 Reasons Why I Taught My Children to Pray Lord’s Prayer

At the writing of this post my kids are 4 and 8. Both have learned the Lord’s prayer and have been quoting it each night from memory for quite some time now. The Lord’s Prayer, or as it is also called, the Model Prayer can be found in Matthew 6:9-13 where Jesus teaches his follower how  to pray. Here are 10 reasons why I found it important for my kids memorize this (each one memorized it around age 3 before they could read).

10. So when some genius says, “the sinner’s prayer isn’t in even in the scripture” they can just start quoting scripture… “Thy Kingdom come… Forgive us our sins” (Maybe I’ll teach them Psalm 51 as well).

9. I don’t think they will come up with anything cooler on their own since this is the way that Jesus taught the disciples how to pray.

8. To improve and expand upon their capacity to memorize information.

7. To help hide scripture in their heart that is obviously both immediately relevant and applicable.

6. To provide a reference point for teachable moments… “It’s like we say in the Lord’s prayer…”

5. To give them confidence in prayer.

4.So they learn forgiveness through remembering what it is like to be forgiven.

3. So the will learn to be Kingdom focused rather than self-centered in their prayers

2. The Lord’s Prayer is a map straight to the heart and character of God.

1. So That They might Know God. (both at times have prayed on their own small childlike prayers of faith for the forgiveness of their sins and to follow God based on the Lord’s prayer).

The God Puzzle

THe God PuzzleThe God Puzzle: How the Bible fits together to reveal God as Your Greatest Treasure by Valerie Ackermann is a workbook that seeks to engage children with the rich truths of God’s Word. I’ve been working through it with my 7-year-old daughter as part of a morning devotional time. I’ll cook breakfast while she works in the book on the bar behind me. She has a hunger to learn about God, loves any kind of homework and is eager to work on any project we do together so this format is right up her ally.

I don’t know how well the format will work with my son when he is old enough to work through something like this. His personality is different and I don’t see him having enough patience to complete a lesson without diligent supervision. We’ll see when he gets there.

The book leads readers to look up scripture to answer questions and has a host of different exercises like matching, crossword puzzles, etc. It’s great for someone who already has a basic grasp on how to look things up in the bible, but will require help if you child is still learning the books of the bible, etc.

Over all I think this is a great tool but probably used best as a parent-child project. I wouldn’t just hand this to my daughter and ask her to work through it out (though I might if she were at the top end of this age range). I can see it being a great conversation starter, devotional material, and even home school teaching aid. For more information about this book and what others are saying about it check out this link from the Litfuse Group: http://litfusegroup.com/author/vackermann

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Communicating With Children: 5 Ways to BLESS your kids

Be Available

This means removing distractions, like the phone, television, computer, etc.  This isn’t always face to face interaction.  Sometimes it can be enjoying a hobby or meal together.  It may involve a late night session of learning how to play Rock Band.  The point is to be available.

Level appropriate

When choosing how to interact with your child remember to keep it on their level.  I made the mistake of trying to teach my daughter tennis at the tender age of four and expecting her to be responsive to my techniques.  She quickly taught me that I needed to be on here level, so we reduced tennis to some basic motor skills and hand eye coordination with a racket and made a really fun game of it (we didn’t even worry about the net… which is where I started).

Her dance instructors are amazingly sharp at getting on her level.  In a few short lessons she knows more about dance than I would have ever hoped to learn.

Empathetic

Try to imaging the world from the eyes of your child (especially if they are younger).  We made the mistake of letting our daughter watch Scooby Doo.  Everything seemed fine during the day, but at night she was seeing “creepy” monsters and ghosts all over the place.  Not so much because scooby do is Evil (they do reveal the real culprit at the end of each show), but because she has an active imagination.  Things that seem harmless to us can be scary to our children.  Things that seem clear to us can be confusing to our children.  Its important that we try to remember or understand what life is like on their level.

Straight forward

Somewhere many of us have adopted the idea that it would be a good idea to persuade our kids what they should do instead of telling them what to do.  You may catch yourself dropping hints instead of giving actual commands.  We’ve found that stating the obvious really goes along way towards moving your child to be productive.  If you want something done like having the trash taken out, a room cleaned, home work done, etc.  Be direct.

Simple

Sometimes we forget that what is clear to us, may not be clear to our kids.  Not only is it important to be direct, but be simple.  Sometimes what appears as disobedience our kids part is really a lack of clarity on our part.  Here are a few basic tips for clarity.

1. use simple language (make sure your kids know what you are saying)

2. Provide direction.  ” You can’t be in your brother’s room right now. You can play outside or in your toy room, which one would you like to do?”

3. Give options, but not to many. Notice there were only two options above.  This gives your child room to make a decision about playtime.  We intentionally limit the options.  Too many options stifle the decision making process.