I was in the finishing stages of my first bookmark on the topic of the gospel as it relates to righteousness by faith. During a visit, a friend was reliving the nightmare of when her brother was murdered years ago. She’s a practicing Christian who believes in the hope of the resurrection, but she doesn’t have a true understanding about death. My heart went out to her because I know there is more comfort in the truth, but the door wouldn’t open to more than a few simple thoughts. That’s when it occurred to me to do my next bookmark on what really happens when we die. That way I can just hand it to her and let her read about it in a more comprehensive way.
However, the Lord has His own agenda. I also know a young couple who are exasperated with their three year old. I meet with them once a month, and every month it’s the same sad story. He is a rowdy little thing and strongly self-willed. Apparently, he has never been taught what it means when mommy says “no.” I have offered little bits of advice here and there, and she’s been willing to listen, but it’s a business relationship and I must tread carefully. That’s when I knew the Lord was leading me to do a bookmark on Biblical child training for my next project. It is a race against time in this instance because that little fellow isn’t getting any younger, or respectful.
Thankfully, the bookmark is finished. The next time I see this young mother I plan to have something tangible to offer her, and give all the glory to God.
The text of this bookmark
Biblical Help for Child Training
Parents are constantly challenged with raising healthy, well-behaved, moral children. “Why does my sweet Johnny throw such a tantrum?” The reason little Johnny is selfish and wants his way is because it’s his nature (Eph 2:2-3). He inherited that nature just like everyone else (Ps 51:5), thanks to our great, great, great… Grandpa Adam (Rom 5:12-14). It’s called the carnal nature or “the flesh” (Rom 8:6-8).
Adam’s fall from the spirit of grace separated him from his Creator and brought a condition upon the human race where everyone born is born of the flesh (John 3:6), with a self-serving sin nature (Ps 58:3). We see the evidence in even the smallest of children.
Doing “good” by following rules is just temporary window dressing (Gal 3:10). Eventually, we will always resort to the flesh because the truth of who we are is on the inside, in our hearts and minds (Jer 17:9; Rom 7:18).
What we need is a new nature. That’s why Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3-5). And that’s why He died on the cross – to take our old sin nature to the grave (Rom 6:6; John 12:24-27) and to raise us up a new man (2Cor 5:17) with a new nature – Christ’s own divine nature (2Pet 1:4). It is only Jesus Christ who can accomplish this (Eze 36:26-27) because He is the new man that we must “put on” (Gal 3:27; Eph 4:22-24). Indeed, He accomplished this for us 2,000 years ago. All we must do is believe it and accept it (Joh 3:16; Rom 1:16-17; 10:8-11) and let Christ live His perfect life within us through His Spirit (Rom 8:9-10; Eph 3:16-19).
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Pro 22:6).
In the meantime, little Johnny is too young to understand he has a sin problem and needs a Savior. It’s your role as a parent to stand in his stead and choose for him until he is old enough to choose for himself. He will need training and discipline to hold him in check and teach him about Jesus until he’s old enough to choose for himself (Deut 6:6-7).
But how do you prepare your child to give his heart to Jesus Christ?
- Start with your own relationship with God: you too need a Savior (Rom 6:23; 1John 5:12).
- Pray and study daily to keep that relationship alive (John 15:5; 2Tim 2:15; Ps 55:17; Jer 32:39).
- Pray for wisdom (1Cor 1:30; Jas 1:5; Pro 3:5-7).
- Teach your child daily to pray and read from the Bible (Gen 18:19; 2Tim 3:15). Draw him near to God and God will draw near to him (Jam 4:8).
- Love openly: apply hugs and kisses daily. (Mark 10:13-16; 1John 5:1-2).
- Unplug: guard the avenues to your child’s mind. Avoid TV, video games, cartoons, etc., which are a source of influence and stimulation that can negatively impact his attitude (Pro 3:21-24; 4:23; 1Joh 2:15-17; 5:19-21).
- Face Time: instead, engage him in 1-on-1 learning activities for precious bonding time. Children are happier when learning: supply a steady stream of healthy options (Ps 127:3-5).
- A child only knows what you teach him: avoid negative reinforcement, such as saying he’s bad or “getting on your nerves”, etc., either to him or within earshot. Instead of telling him what he’s doing wrong teach him what he should be doing right (Pro 1:8; 29:17).
- Discipline consistently (Pro 13:24; 22:15). Use age-appropriate methods that fit the offense: spanking (a.k.a. “the rod”: Pro 29:15) is a training tool, not punishment, and must only be applied with patience and love, never anger; timeouts are quiet time (no talking or playing), customarily with 1 minute of time-out per year of age. Afterwards, calmly explain what he did wrong and why he was disciplined (Pro 15:1).
- Never abuse your child (Matt 18:6, 10; 7:9-12; Ps 103:10-18), not even verbally (e.g. yelling: Pro 15:18). If need be, step away while you cool off (Jam 1:20). See Rule #5.
- Don’t taunt or provoke your child (Col 3:21).
- No Sassing Zone: teach respect for you and others (Ex 20:12; 1Pet 2:17; 1Ti 4:12).
- Rule your child, don’t let your child rule you (Pro 19:18; 29:17; Heb 12:11). You’re not a friend, you’re the parent – act like it and be the adult.
- Go long: plan for eternity (Mal 3:17; 1Joh 2:28).
- Never underestimate the desire of Satan to destroy you and your child (1Pet 5:8).
- Never underestimate the desire of God to heal and restore (1Joh 4:4; Luke 1:37). It’s never too late, start today (Rom 13:11; Isa 55:6-7).
(Contact us to receive your own color copies. Pat is in the process of preparing more bookmarks on various topics. Editor)