Anyone that is serious about raising godly kids in this day and age will appreciate there are many difficulties. Parents face a wide range of challenges from the pull of technology addiction to mounting pressures for higher academic performance with the associated distraction and busyness. It’s easy to leave God out of our parenting.
So, how do we parent so our kids love God? How do we seize the opportunities to do so despite the rising tide of secularism?
Seizing the year means seizing each day.
I went to the dentist this morning. She makes every effort to help overcome patient-anxiety by chatting continually! Her conversation starter was, “What have you been doing lately?” Lots went through my mind as I reflected on things. However, I immediately said, “It has been all about family really.” We have been really busy raising our seven year old daughter and two years old twins.
We consistently try to invest a living faith into our kids. A year is essentially a summation of many days. I try to make each day count. Each morning is a race against the clock to get kids ready for the day, as our elder girl reaches out for the ipad. All for school work of course! Lately, I have been getting her to write a bible verse related to her daily challenges, each day.
This morning she sat and wrote a verse from the Proverbs on a card, as mum put her hair into pony tails. Proverbs chapter 10 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor. But, diligent hands bring wealth.” Afterwards, without asking, she began helping the twins to repeat and memorise it, while going to school, in the car. She also told them, as I explained to her, “working hard will make your piggy bank jingle;” she does some house chores for pocket money. The car was full of laughter.
Seize the day by seizing the moment.
The kids kept repeating the words later on and we tested them in the evening. Of course being seven years old you can only expect so much; never mind twos! However, we are happy as parents. We know it all adds up. It’s going in the right direction. I continue to reinforce verses as we all do house chores together; something we have done for many years. Sometimes, I take my child for evangelism too.
This powerful seize-the-day-parenting approach is commanded in Deuteronomy chapter 6. After being told to “Love the Lord”, parents were to impress His commands to the children. When they get up, as they walk along the road, and to write them on the gate posts. God want parents to seize daily opportunities to train the kids.
So, getting acquainted with the bible is good, but we are to retain his word and make it applicable to day to day situations. Instead of having a lazy gate that allows anything and everything from the internet or telly to enter, we are to invest his words on the gates of our hearts and minds. It speaks of the first thing of our meditation, so it empowers our actions. We must seize the teachable moments with our kids! Seize these moments and we will seize the day.
Seize the day to seize the hearts.
Recently, I was asked to be a speaker at a church camp. It was a wonderful time. They had me speak about the ‘Outpouring and Outworking of the Holy Spirit.’ We saw many people baptised in the spirit and prophesy for the first time. I started by sharing the spirit enables us as God’s children, to be “a city on a hill.” I ended by saying that as we are filled with the spirit (See Ephesians chapter 5), so our family life, working life, and church life can be fruitful. Then, we take new ground.
Each day, I showed them a videos of my kids to highlight things. These videos were not staged or scripted. For example, I used a video where my seven year old recently shared her faith from a bible tract she found, in the car to the twins, without being told. She helped them understand the gospel and then had them pray carefully to receive Christ, his forgiveness and dedicate themselves to God. Later that night we heard the twins laughing in their room and repeating key words. It was very cute. The church members loved it. If we seize the day, God will seize hearts.
Seize the right boundaries for kids.
Do we let our seven year old watch telly? We do, but only certain things and times. We sometimes watch the news. I want my daughter to understand the world we live in, and educate her as we see things unfold. Do we let our kids listen to Michael Jackson or other artists? We do, but we explain that not everyone believes in God and lyrics may not always have good words. But, we celebrate humanity! We dance! We see good in the world, not just bad. God is good!
Having said that, I feel we must be very strict on boundaries to shape character. The old covenant in the bible teaches the fear of God and obedience to his ways. It is especially important to penalize wilful disobedience. For example, we will tell our kids, ‘Jonah got time-out in a fish!’
We also must seek to keep heart strings of relationship and love in everything we do with our kids; that’s new covenant love. If our parenting equips our kids from young, we will not only seize the day, but the hour! (Note: I seized this Melbourne photo just before the storm.)
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years, from 1990. He has been working as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years in Hope International Ministries. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within,’ available on booktopia.com.au. He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a public speaker in various community groups, organisations and churches. He has a special grace to help people find and release why they were born and enjoys supporting indigenous peoples. See iconiccolours.com for more information about Mark’s services.