At a recent holiday party, we adults played the whisper game, where one person whispers something in one person’s ear, who in turn whispers what they heard into the next person’s ear, and so on. It’s always funny to discover what the last person heard, and compare it to what was originally said!
A few days ago, I was pondering the future of my children’s children’s children; would they be taught about God’s love? Would they grow up to be strong, faithful Christians? I can only directly influence while I’m alive, and when I’m gone, it’s up to those I’ve taught to remain steadfast and to pick up the torch of God’s message, teaching my future descendants. This is when the parallel between the whisper game, and passing on God’s word hit me square between the eyes.
You see, the message in the whisper game changes because we are whispering the message quietly. If the message were written down, then spoken aloud, repeated a few times, and then the written message passed along to the next hearer, there would be very little room for error! Likewise, as I’m raising my kids, I must teach my children over and over the message of the gospel. I must train them to search the scriptures for themselves, and pass on the importance of living a godly life. If I am diligent in these things, then I have good reason to believe that they will, in turn, pass this on to their children, and so on.
Tragically, no matter how much I teach my kids, it only takes one generation of complacency for my future descendants to loose the zeal and reverence for God that I am so carefully planting right now, and I don’t like that thought one little bit! What can I do to ensure, as far as I am able, that this fire for God never goes out of my family line?
One, I must teach! I must teach and teach and teach! God knew how important daily teaching is, when He instructed the Israelites, “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19) Reading the Bible with your kids is so important. How will they learn if we do not teach them? Ask them about what they talked about in Bible class, and tell them what you studied in yours. Long trips can be a wonderful time of instruction. Keep CD’s of hymns and recorded sermons in the car, they can turn that 4 hour drive to grandma’s house into a time of devotion to God. We used to also keep a set of small song books, filled with youth songs from camp, in the car. My kids loved to choose songs for us to sing. In addition to formal instruction, I have found teachable moments while in conversation: driving to the store, walking around the block, watching TV, working in the kitchen, and everywhere else in between! When we stay open to teachable opportunities, we realize that they are endless!
Two, it does no good to impart knowledge, if I do not also pass along my fire and enthusiasm for God. My children must see the joy of a Christian life! There is joy in worship! There is joy in serving God! There is joy in helping others! We Christians ought to be the most joyful people on the earth, because we have the brightest future ahead of us. David wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1) Are you excited when Sunday morning rolls around? Do you HAVE to go to worship, or do you GET to go to worship? There is a difference! Worshiping God, assembling with the saints, is a wonderful privilege, and when we are happy and excited about it, our children will see and follow our example.
Three, involve your kids in service projects. Teach your kids the joy of serving others. Visit the sick. Visit new members. Invite people into your home and have your children help with preparing the food. Take your kids with you to visit the nursing home, then go out for ice cream afterward and talk about the sweet, elderly people they just helped to cheer. Teach your kids to hug widows. This teaches your kids that life is not all about them, and, your kids will learn that it feels really good to reach out and help others.
Four, seek outside opportunities for Christian fellowship. You may have to do some searching and traveling to accomplish this, but it is so worth the time and effort. Seek out area gospel meetings and lectureships and then take your kids with you. Find a good, sound Bible camp. (I can recommend a really great one!) Don’t just send your kids, get involved and go as a counselor, or in some other capacity! Our family has really benefited from being all together at Bible camp. If there is a Bible Challenge in your area, get involved. During the summer, in many areas, several congregations take turns to host a weekly youth series, where youths from all around come together to sing (oh, how sweet those voices sound!) and learn more about God, all while enjoying the fellowship of hundreds of teens. I must add, go with them, and keep an ear out for false teaching, which is sometimes present at these events. The important thing in all these activities is that your kids get a bigger picture of the Lord’s church. They learn that being a Christian is a way of life, not a weekend hobby.
One of my greatest childhood memories is of my dad, being so excited on Sunday mornings, as he belted out hymns while in the shower, preparing for worship. I saw his joy in being a Christian, and this has carried on through me, and hopefully on to my own kids. I feel my greatest job as a mother is to not only to teach my own kids, but also to create in them a desire and urgency to teach and pass on their own zeal to their kids. Oh how much sweeter Heaven will be, if I can be surrounded by all my future descendants, praising God together as we join our voices with the other saints around the throne of God! Oh, what a day that will be!
By Karla Sparks
Karla is happily married to Jason Sparks, who preaches for the Lord’s church at the White Rock church of Christ in Dallas, Texas. She is a homeschool mom of 2, Jody and Jayla. She loves working with her kids, serving the church, and doing some baking and crafting on the side.