Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pint-Sized Armour of GOD

I HAVE BOYS. Little boys are loud, wiggly, full of action... and natural little warriors. And I want them outfitted with the armour of God!

Have you seen those "Armour of God" playsets at the Christian bookstores? You know, with the belt, helmet and sword for them to dress up in? Its soooo great. Kids learn so much through play. They love to pretend, and this is a way for them to really bring God's word to life. (Just be careful that your little "warriors" don't use their swords to chop down your fine china :-))

My kids also have a little castle and knight playthingy that they enjoy. If they are going to be roughhousing (and they will), I want them to be roughhousing for God. LOL.

My husband likes to paint, and is very artistic in many ways - so he painted three large canvasses for my boys' room... a helmet, a shield and a sword. And when he is tucking them in bed, he will point to them and ask what each is for. And to my delight, that will spark this great conversation (not that little boys "talk" - its more like excited yelling) about the Lord and how we can stand for Him... how THEY can stand for Him as tiny little men in a great big world.

God is so personal to each one of us. He is closer than our nearest breath. He is just as close and real and wonderful to our small children. Kids may not have big knowledge but they have great faith. Remember, we need to receive the Lord like a little child (with wide-eyed wonder and simple trust).... and let the little children come to him (Luke 18:16-17).

So lets play! Who knows their armour??? (Yes, I'm Canadian - armour is spelled with a "u")

Hmmm.... no one? Ok. Out with the bibles. Look it up. Ephesians 6:14-17 (I like to read 10-18)

"So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God's word."

I want to be one of those moms who brings their babies to Jesus to hold and to bless. :-) I'm so thankful that He wants to be the one to work in their hearts. I just have to bring them near. Thank You God. Thank You Jesus.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Teaching a Child to Pray

I believe in tiny prayers prayed by tiny people. :) My kids love to pray.... when they can understand what is going on and truly reach out to God. Their little hearts are huge in their capacity for faith, and I can learn from them every day.

"People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."" Luke 18:15-17

So the question is, how do I let my little children go to God, and not hinder them? I believe one way is by encouraging them to pray in a childlike way, a real way for their tiny lives. Here are some of our favourite ways to connect to God:

We make ourselves small on the ground in a bowed down "bubble" position, and give God thanks and praise for everything that comes to mind. Humility is easy for a child (usually) and this teaches them to be small before their BIG God. And its fun! My kids love to call out "Bubble Prayer!!!" and watch us all bow down.
Teach them this verse: "Come, let us bow down and worship him. Let us fall on our knees in front of the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6"

Sometimes I just cuddle up with my boys at night and sing a prayer while they listen. It has no particular melody but just is a "talking to God" prayer sung out loud. Amazing how singing captures the attention and hearts of little children. They listen to these prayers... and are always eager to sing their own prayers too.
Teach them this verse: "Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth." Psalm 96:1

I often start a prayer with, "Hi God! Here we are. Hope you are happy with what we have done today. If not, we are sorry. So... thanks for... this is what we ask... You are so nice to us... " etc. A real conversation with small words that little ears can follow and genuinely add an "amen" to.
There is a great principle in the verses
1 Corinthians 14:16-17: "Suppose you are praising God with your spirit. And suppose there are visitors among you who don't understand what's going on. How can they say "Amen" when you give thanks? They don't know what you are saying. You might be giving thanks well enough. But the others are not being built up."

My prayer is that I will be leading my children to God and building in them the desire to stay in His presence, because He is real for them, and loves them perfectly. Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What is Sin?

Oh dear... this is a tough question already. We live in a society that wants nothing to do with the word "sin" much less think about what it means. Its a tough one for us parents to tackle too, because it is our heart's desire to build up our children... make them feel good about themselves, and encourage their self esteem. How we fear that telling our children that they are sinners may somehow ruin their delicate psyche!

Take heart dear parents.... this isn't as impossible as it seems. In fact, it is a wonderful opportunity. It is our JOB to raise our kids... which means teaching them about pretty much everything, including themselves. If they don't know themselves, how can they know how to conduct themselves in a fallen world?

My greatest desire is to live forever with my King in heaven alongside my precious children. This means that they need to know that they are sinners. They need to know it, so that they will know their need for a Saviour.

Why am I saying that this is easier than it seems? Because children are not as sensitive as we adults are. They expect to be disciplined when they have done something wrong. And they expect boundaries and limitations and for you to be a parent.

"Sin" in its simplest definition is the act of not doing what God wants. A child can understand this. And it gives us the perfect basis for constructive discipline. Here is how it works:

EXAMPLE 1: My 4 year old son spills his milk on the floor for the UMPTEENTH time today and I have to clean it (and him) up again.
Is this sin? No. Was my child doing what God wants? Not applicable... this had nothing to do with rebellion and everything to do with immaturity and clumsiness. Best solution: bite my tongue, clean it up, and provide more instruction for my little man.

EXAMPLE 2: My 4 year old son wants a toy that my 2 year old has just received from Grandma, so he proceeds to forcibly remove the toy from the toddler and whack him on the head with it.
Is this sin? Yes. Is my child doing what God wants? NO.

So what do I do? Get excited now... HERE COMES THE OPPORTUNITY PART! There will be consequences to my child's actions - let's say its a time out. I go to my little guy's room after he's done his "time" and I talk to him. The conversation will go something like this:

First we will go over what happened, and then :

me: the bible says to be happy with what you have (Hebrew 13:5) and to love your brother (1 John :11) ((and I will show him these verses in a child's version bible (like CEV or NIRV)))

me: when we don't do what God wants, its called sin. can you say sin?

him: Sin.

me: God says that because we sin, we have to be punished and that punishment is to die. Isn't that awful?

him: Yes. :( (Its ok for my child to be sad at this point. I want him to be brokenhearted over sin.)

me: But God decided to take our sin away by giving it to Jesus, and Jesus died instead of us. Now, if we tell God we are sorry for our sins and believe in Jesus, we don't have to die. We can go to heaven, the most wonderful place ever. Isn't that great?

him: yes! :D

me: So lets pray together and you can tell God you are sorry and we can say thank You to God and Jesus. :-)

And we'll do that. And we will continue to do that over and over and over, because they will continue to sin (a.k.a. drive you crazy) for what seems like forever, just as we do. When my boys are throwing tantrums, I often wonder if that is what I look like to God??? Probably... oh dear. LOL.

Anyway, pretty soon my son is answering the questions for me and telling me the plan of salvation. And learning to recognize and confess sin. Yay! It only takes a minute, and you can also help them more by telling them what behaviours God would have liked instead, and be truly thankful to our merciful and great God!

Children need limits and boundaries to feel secure in themselves and their world... and by doing this, you are providing the ultimate security... leading them to the God who can and will hold them safely forever.

I'm praising God right now for being so merciful to me. :-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Its OK to be Different

My son turned 6 years old yesterday. He is a bit shy, a bit strong-willed, and a bit sensitive. A sweet little guy. Lately he's been worried about fitting in with the rest of his peers at school.

The other day, he had an intense experiential lesson on "being different". I walk the children a half hour to school. Being the good mommy that I am, I checked the weather forcast, and the rain that was falling heavily that morning was scheduled to continue until afternoon. So I got out the new rain gear. The bright yellow coats and yellow boots are all too cute on 4 little boys, and all too BRIGHT YELLOW, and shiny and.... did I mention yellow????

So we got all geared up (myself included, a bright yellow beacon). The boys were excited about walking in the rain until about 3 seconds past the "point of no return" on our walk to school, the clouds ceremoniously parted to reveal halos of bright sunshine and fluffy white clouds miraculously clearing every last drop of water from the sidewalk in seconds. I could almost hear the "hallelujahs".

And we had about 20 minutes left to walk...

... through crowded streets of school buses and kids and parents who obviously missed the weather forcast that morning, how lovely they looked in their shorts and tops.

My poor boy. He worried the whole way there. I didn't have time to stop, nor anywhere to put the rain gear even if we did want to take it off. We arrived at school and as he walked into his class, a darling little 5 year old asked him, "Why do you have to wear that outfit?"

"Um - my mom gave it to me", was his response. "Ok." came the answer. A nice 5 year old... especially with me, momma bear, staring him down. :-)

Lets face it... most of us are worried about what others think to some degree. But God doesn't want us to be concerned. He wants us to care about what HE thinks. But how do you teach that to a 6 year old? By going to God's Word.

First off - night time is a great time to talk to little ones! They will do anything to avoid going to bed, including having a heart to heart with mom. So I started by telling my boy that we ARE different and we are supposed to be. 1 Peter 2:11 says,

"Dear friends, you are outsiders and strangers in this world."

Please don't stop there... there is also good news. Ephesians 2:19 says that we still belong somewhere:

"So you are no longer strangers and outsiders. You are citizens together with God's people. You are members of God's family."

So we ARE different, even if we look the same on the outside, we are different because we belong to God, not to this world. But we still belong.... to God, and to heaven and the family of God... whom God has given us in good christian friends and family and church. But even if we have no one here... no one at all... we still have our true country waiting for us in heaven (See Hebrews 11:15-16) and this life is short.

These are difficult lessons but a six year old can understand them, and needs to understand them. This will probably be something we are talking about for a long time. So have a heart to heart with your little one, and post some scriptures on the wall for a reminder. We need the reminder too.

And if they ask you what they should do while they are here and now.... tell them about 1 Peter 2:1,12:

"1 So get rid of every kind of evil. Stop telling lies. Don't pretend to be something you are not. Stop wanting what others have. Don't speak against each other. 12 People who don't believe might say you are doing wrong. But lead good lives among them. Then they will see your good works. And they will give glory to God on the day he comes to judge."

And don't forget to remind them about the rewards we will receive in heaven. :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A new Beginning

Teaching my children about God is the beat of my heart... the purpose I've been given as a parent. These blessings of mine need nurture, care and leading toward the Saviour, Jesus Christ, for their faith must be their own and cannot be mine. As I pour into them the Word of God, it is my desire that they find within them their desire for the GREAT CREATOR who loves them, and love Him back.

The bible is such a big book. So much is given. And to us who have been given much, much is expected. So where does a parent begin? The purpose of this blog is to share my journey in teaching my little ones about this BIG God from His great book. I hope you find it encouraging, and that your bible babies find it inspiring ;-).

REMEMBER - Bible Babies are SPONGES....... they are always learning - so let's teach!
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