Tag Archives: teaching

Talking About Sin

tree-145819_640When we talk about sin to our kids, it is common to go straight to the Ten Commandments. Yes, do that! You cannot skip these. In addition there are 600 plus commands  to follow in the rest of the Bible, hence a very great need to study it. Amazingly enough, with all of these commands, we still have difficulty deciding what is right and what is wrong in today’s world. Do I get that tattoo?  What about dating two guys at once?  Can I watch that R rated movie? These and other question pop up and rarely, if ever do kids and parents agree.

We talk a lot about discernment in our house. Discernment allows a Christian to recognized false prophets  and false teachings even when they are cleverly wrapped in the twisted Truth( 1 John  4:1). We also learn how to recognize when a situation is to be avoided. To practice discernment we are to question everything to see that it lines up with our biblical worldview. You can truly apply the Bible to almost every situation.There are commands on how to treat your neighbor, people in the Church, the needy, your children, your elders. We know we have to study the Bible in order to form our biblical world view ( Hebrews 5:14). We need to be studying everyday and we need to be questioning everything (Proverbs 3:1-3). These are both easy to let go of. We get wrapped up in the world and our habits fall. It is important to note that all people are not gifted with discernment. That is why it is so important to have counsel from those you have noticed with this gift.

Sometimes you may not know His commands enough to apply them to a situation and you  need to make a decision about right now. Other times you may not be able to identify the situation as falling under one of the ten commandments or any other commands you have learned. We call these ” grey areas”.  What do you do? Do you say no to everything in hopes of a Puritan style life? The kids will probably think that is what we are going for (wink). Do you say yes to everything and then find ourselves fallen without a clear way to get out or worse a lifetime of consequences? (Philippians 1:9-10)

I found that my children, who have a basic knowledge of the Bible and have not had the time to develop discernment, needed something to help them weigh certain situations and behaviors. In 1 Corinthians 10:31  we are commanded, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So we have learned to ask our children (and ourselves) when they are doing something that doesn’t obviously fit into the ten commandments, “Are you glorifying God (when you do that)?” This is a great way for kids to identify a sin quickly or weigh a “grey area” for something that they are questioning. See the practice of discernment there?

To my younger kids, I explained further to say that like clothing with tags naming the creator of that piece of clothing, we have a Made by God tag (Ephesians 2:10). When we do something, we usually have an audience. This can be said for any sin or “grey area”. The audience can be a sister, a brother, a classmate, a Christian or an unbeliever. What we do represents our Creator. Just like that t-shirt that unraveled the day after we bought it from the store, our actions speak loudly about our Creator. If our actions make someone question the awesomeness of our Creator, we have not glorified God.

   Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Proverbs for Parents

bible-102684_640 So often, I have read and then adopted the belief as my own, that the Proverbs are a great tool for teaching wisdom to your children, but today I saw them in an entirely new light. I was both inspired and humbled by the new understanding. I find myself looking at parenting as just one more avenue God is taking me in order for me to be closer to Him. My reading was primarily in Chapters 10-12, though some come from chapters 8,9, and 13. My suggestion is that you read all and let God speak to you as a parent. Don’t stop reading here. I am just a parent and still learning (and I am not nearly as eloquent as dear Solomon). This is how it spoke to me this morning.

The overlying message I saw  was that wisdom can only be willingly received when the one bestowing wisdom is righteous. As a parent, in order to be effective, I must consistently show my character as a godly one. Yes, I am going to make mistakes. As a parent, I may lose my cool, I may say something out of frustration or behave badly in other ways, and when I do, I must humble myself in apology. If my character is godly, it will be quick, it will be sincere, and an immediate change will be seen as I allow myself to transformed by His grace. My character, if godly, will be seen in the rest of my actions as well.

I am not going to get into the roles of the father and the mother here as they are different and could easily make two more separate posts Proverbs 10-12 specifically speaks of the righteous behavior that is needed for wisdom to be soaked up by another. God is this righteousness. Our goal is to imitate Christ, though we are lacking and still attempt to do as God commanded in Deuteronomy 6:7, teaching the way they should go in every hour of the day. If we are actively doing this, the Word that we use to teach will keep us accountable. For how can we constantly teach the Word and not be affected by it ourselves? Proverbs 12:15 points out that a wise parent will always seek counsel (and 12:1).

The mouth and lips are mentioned several times in chapters 10-12. It is not pointing out the obvious that we will use our mouths when teaching of wisdom, but instead telling us that what comes from the mouth is the a way that we perceive what is righteous (Proverbs 10:32, 12:17). It is also pointing out the product of one that is righteous. The words of the righteous give life. Proverbs 11: 30 uses the words, “tree of life.” This is the “fruit” of our righteousness, children that seek the Lord for life ever-lasting. Those hearing will hear, understand, and receive the Gospel. The mouth is….” a well of life, delivers from death, promotes health,  is truthful, shall be established forever (Proverbs 10:2 11, 11:4b, 12:18b-19). The righteous will direct them aright and will deliver them (Proverbs 11:5-6). The righteous will…cause those who love (me) to inherit wealth… they will receive blessing, life, and favor (Proverbs 8: 18- 21, 34-35). The wisdom bestowed will lead to leadership (Proverbs 8: 15-16, 12:24). Our words of wisdom (if mirrored by our actions) lead our children to the truth of salvation.

Righteous parents have power in their words of truth. They have a powerful influence because of the daily model of wisdom in their child’s life. Because they spend time in the Word themselves, parents have the understanding needed to teach wisdom. They understand submission and obedience and the shedding of personal desire. They understand confession and repentance, that we are human, that we will fail, and we continually need Christ’s redemption. They understand the accountability of the Word of Jesus Christ. That the more we meditate on it, the more we understand, and the more we will rely on the Word to keep our path straight. A full life with Jesus is dependent upon the time we spend with Him in prayer and in Word. If we lack understanding, if we only have knowledge, but do not apply this knowledge in our own life through word and action, we will be ineffective in teaching (Proverbs 10:13-14). However, if we are righteous, we will constantly feed them through the Word, and we will be able to influence our children’s desire away from sin (Proverbs 10:3).

While punishment is sometimes appropriate, the most of these proverbs focuses on teaching and correction.  Proverbs 13:18 and 10:13 point out that punishment would only follow wisdom and correction that has been ignored. This teaching is done without arrogance and glorification of oneself. (Proverbs 10:14, 12:23) A parent must be humbled as a sinner, equal in God’s sight, both equally sinful, and equally and gracefully forgiven.  Proverbs 8:22-31 shows that God’s wisdom is seen from the beginning of time with His grand creation, yet He finds his delight in the sons of men. God does not hold His wisdom over our heads like a feat that can never be accomplished. Remember His humility in the flesh. He is not an arrogant disciplinarian. He is constantly there guiding us, teaching us, correcting and rebuking us, showing His love in His patience and kindness though we falter daily. How can a parent not be moved to mimic this character of God for their children? Only if we parent with humility, will we see a product of wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). 

The proverbs compares righteousness to good citizenship (Proverbs 9-11). Let’s take that idea into the home. Through a godly parents wisdom, their children will be delivered. The Gospel will be heard, understood, and received ( vs. 9).  A godly parent will be the cause of happiness in the home (vs 10). The godly parent blesses the family with his/her mouth building  up the family  and encouraging them with their words. (vs. 11). They spread peace and joy (Proverbs 12:20)

The proverbs tell us that seeking wrath in our parenting is not our goal, but we should always parent while seeking God’s goodness and God’s approval of our own behavior (Proverbs 11:20, 23, 27)  The godly parent will only be satisfied if they produce the fruit of the same kind, a child who walks with the Lord (Proverbs 12:14) A godly parent will fear the Lord and hate what is evil, keeping it far away from him, not acknowledging it, not owning it (Proverbs 8:13, 9 :10).

paper-166853_640In contrast, the one who cannot be effective in teaching wisdom, is the parent that needs no counsel. This parent has all the answers and seeks no wisdom from the Word, from other godly parents, through the Church, or through prayer (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15 ). Chapter 11, verse 3 warns that if we are unfaithful followers that we will destroy those who we lead (and 12:18).  Countless verses emphasize the truth and sincerity of the words of a parent. Parenting should not be done with trickery or  manipulation.  In contrast the ungodly are characterized by their lies and deceit, honoring themselves, and twisting the truth to suit their needs (Proverbs 10:31-32, 12:10)

In chapter 11, verse 10, it is mentioned that an ungodly person’s reputation taints the perception of even the tender acts he attempts. (“But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” ) Often the struggling parent lashes out in anger, nullifying any wisdom that might to come from their mouth., therefore knowing the truth and speaking  it are pointless, when anger dominates parenting (Proverbs 10:11). Our words cannot be used to destroy our children, for when they do forgiveness is seemingly out of reach for them (Proverbs 11::9). A parent’s lips should not breed anxiety in a child, which may lead to depression or a perception of oneself that is unforgiving. (Prov. 12:15). If our righteousness produces the fruit of the tree of life, what is the alternative? We condemn them to an everlasting life of torment and separation from God. With all of our biblical knowledge, without applying it in our own lives are deemed ineffective and worse, destructive.

Proverbs 11:25-26 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?…” Penn Jillete

As parents, our integrity comes from using God’s standards as our own. To use them we must know them through study. To know them we must apply them, allowing God to transform our character. Whether it be teaching, correction, or punishment, all should be done as a humble believer, acknowledging our own sin, and the grace and forgiveness that we have found in Christ,  bestowing the same on our children. It is then, that the words that we speak in wisdom will be heard and understood, leading out children down the paths of righteousness (Proverbs 11:1-6). The idea is, that we need to look at ourselves as the ones who need the counsel of the wise, so that we are then able impress that knowledge on our children. It is not just the wisdom of the Word, but the wisdom of the Word working in our life. That is full wisdom. That is what will be understood and received by our children.

Teaching Them to Read

100_1027How do I teach my child to read? This is a question lots of new moms ask. I think that many think there is a secret formula. Special materials. A formal program. You do not have to have teaching experience. None of these things are needed and you really don’t need to start with a “lesson”. You  start doing what it is you are trying to teach. You need to start with reading. When I was a child my Granny sat with me and read.  When I asked her to read again, she read again. She loved to read and spend time with me. I loved her, and in the time we spent together, I learned to love the story. Although many of us read to escape and we do so in solitude, blocking out the rest of the world. Reading can also be something that you can do together, with a child, a spouse, a friend. My husband and I are currently reading through the Old Testament together. If we get busy, I miss it. I also remember a time when we traveled a long distance and read a Gothic Renaissance novel to me as I drove. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed someone reading to me as an adult. My children love to read with both of us and though my youngest two can read on their own now, they still very much enjoy being read aloud to.

So, start with reading books to your child, often. During reading you can point out characteristics of print, tracking from left to right, and from top to bottom. Point out periods, commas, exclamation points, and question marks. Talk about why theses marks are there and how your voice changes when you see them. Ask your child to notice how you take a break to breath, shorter for commas, and longer for end marks. Notice aloud, the high frequency words you see repeated in text. “This word is ‘me’. Can you help me find out how many we can find on this page?”

Explain a couple of new vocabulary words. Sometimes a detailed explanation is needed, but many times all that is needed is a synonym for the new word. This allows for the flow of the story to continue with minimal interruption.  At the beginning stages of reading aloud you will notice that your child may not want to discuss a lot with you. Children to know what happens next,  and what happens on the next page. They are learning to love the story. They are learning to visualize.

Retell difficult parts in simpler words. Make comparisons that help with the understanding of the text. “Have you ever felt that way? I felt that way when…” A similar situation is given in order to make a connection or to relate to the text, something the character does, says, sees, or feels. The connections can be made with other books you have read together, tv shows, Bible stories, news stories, stories you have heard in others lives, or your child’s own experiences. These are stories we remember when reading another similar situation. Connections help a reader understand new information with greater ease. Connections are the reason that we can cry about something that has happened in a movie, even thought we have never been in that exact situation. We relate to it because of another similar situations. The similarity does not have to be huge. A small likeness can help you compare to events. There is no need to make a list of questions before you read every book to your child. Use the connections that you make while reading. Share them or turn them into a question to get your child thinking. Start small start with one at the end of the telling. “When the character said that, it reminded me of Dad and how he always says…”, or “Does that remind you of someone who always says….?”

Ask open ended questions. “What do you think the character was feeling when that happened?” or, “What do you think the character will do now?” or, “What do you think…?”  Scaffold this (start small). Hold of on asking  your child to retell the events for you. They are still learning to love the story.  Before long  your child will be more and more curious about reading the words for his/herself. You child will be pointing out words before you ask. You child might start asking questions for you answer. You have shared your connection sin the past and now your child is seeking your help when a connection is hard to make or may just need confirmation they are on the right track. Often your child will simply mimic the questions and behaviors you have had when reading together. When your child is interested you can read along side her pointing out phonics rules little by little. ” the “ow” says /ow/ in this word. When your child shows interested in trying to read on his/her own, allow it, but be there for support. Your child will not have full mastery and will need you there to help decode some word still. “What’s this word, Mommy?” It’s okay to give the word to your child. At this point find some simple readers that your child can spend small amounts of time on reading aloud to you or silently. (I’ll be posting some this week in the public domain.) Don’t stop your read alouds with your child. You are still needed. You will continue to model inflection and speech patterns when you are reading aloud. You will still be entertaining and spending the close time your child loves.

Once your child is reading on their own. Continue the discussion. After your child reads, ask, “What happened in the chapter today.” Continue to ask your child to make connections with the book. Laugh over the characters. Empathize with them. Judge them. Befriend them. My children really like this time to discuss what they have read. It is a time to get their opinions out without risk of failure (It is not a multiple choice quiz). Their connections belong to them, and their judgement belong to them. The discussion will help you see whether they are understanding the text. If your child has little to say, consider that it is not the right book, whether it is because it is too difficult or not of interest. It does little good to have a child read something they are not interested in, and if it is too hard, it will lead to frustration. You can still continue your read alouds. You could also take turns reading or sit beside each other and enjoy seperate books, but  continue reading.

You can do this. You are all your child needs. Just read.