Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preparing the soil of our children's hearts to recieve God's Word part 2- Watering the seeds

I've been studying the parable of the soils and how it relates to parenting our children in such a way as to prepare their hearts to hear the Word of God.  Part 1 examined tilling the soil, but it's not enough to just soften their hearts. 

"Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture."  Luke 8:6

My husband bought a fancy tiller last year.  He's so proud of that machine and has tilled the heck out of our soil, but it doesn't matter how well-prepared the soil is to receive his vegetable seeds.  If my husband doesn't diligently water his garden, it will all dry up.  (Especially here in West Texas where rain is scarce.)

The same goes with our children.  We can strive to keep their hearts soft and tender to receive God's Word, but then fail to nurture the Word implanted.  We must "water" the seeds of their faith so that their faith will grow into a healthy plant.

The other way I water my children : ).

What is the water and where does it come from?

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not whither; and whatever he does shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."  Psalm 1

According to Psalm 1 in order to be firmly planted by the water, we must delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on God's law day and night.  The key is delighting in God's Word.  The delight leads to the meditation and the meditation leads to being firmly planted.  The water is the Word.  And as we're watered by God's Word we become fruitful plants.

So the second principle is like the first, we must keep our children saturated in the Word of God so that they can become firmly planted and therefore bear spiritual fruit.

Sometimes our children enjoy being watered.
And sometimes they don't!

And sometimes they'd just as soon not get wet : ).

At this point, let me say something that might seem technical or a matter of semantics.  One way of thinking of salvation is in terms of it occurring in stages- past, present, and future.  The terms for these three stages or tenses of salvation are justification, sanctification, and glorification.  The thing is, they all depend upon our immersion in God's Word. 

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  Romans 10:17

This seems obvious, but the reason I want to separate out these tenses of salvation is because of the erroneous belief prevalent in many churches today that we can sort of set aside the Scriptures after we're justified and rely upon personal experience or extra-biblical communication from God for sanctification.  As if God uses one medium to impart faith and another to impart progressive holiness.  I'm afraid many parents have rejoiced prematurely over their children's faith only to be shocked later when their grown children walk away from church or even the faith completely.  The Bible is clear that all of our salvation, past, present, and future is conveyed to us through God's Word.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."  Ephesians 5:8-10

How do we find out what is acceptable to the Lord?  He tells us in His Word, of course.

"His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."  2 Peter 1:3-4

Where do we find this knowledge of God and these great and precious promises?  In God's Word, of course.

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overlow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.  But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."  James 1:21-22

Sanctification is nothing more than becoming doers of the Word.  And how do we do that?

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."  Philippians 2:12-13

God supernaturally works in His children to enable them to obey His Word.

And why is obedience important again, seeing as how I'm saved by faith not works (Eph 2:8-9)?

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."  John 15:1-4

This passage brings us full circle back to the importance of watering and roots.  We cannot be obedient to God without abiding in Christ and we find Christ in His Word.  Can I even know Christ apart from God's Word? Is there any experience that can match or supercede the experience of Him in His Word?  For Christ is the Word! (John 1:1-14)

If we want our children to grow up into men and women of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must give them a steady diet of the Word of God.  I'm not talking the average 6 minutes per week common amongst professing evangelicals.  We have to do better than that.  Our faith is nurtured by the Word.  1 Pet 2:2 says we should crave the Word of God like newborns crave milk.  My 5 month old would not be satisfied with 6 minutes per week of nursing and neither should we be satisfied with 6 minutes per week in God's Word.  John Piper has a saying when someone tells him they're just too busy to have a daily time in the Word.  Piper asks them, "Did you eat breakfast today?  Then you're not too busy."

Again, we cannot make our children trust Christ, only God can do that.  We cannot make them bear fruit, only God can do that.  But we can plant the seeds, and we can water them!

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."  1 Corin 3:5-6

We are those ministers to our children.  I have to constantly remind myself that the time my husband and I spend with our kids each day in the Bible is more important than their math lessons, more important than language arts, more important than their reading, and even more important than their chores.  As Christian parents, it could easily be argued that our main purpose in parenting our children is to pass on our faith to them (for what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36).  The primary means we have of doing this is by reading, talking about, and living out the Word in our families each day (Deut 6:6).  We have to stop skimping on the main course!  If anything needs to be cut from our daily menu, it should be one of the sides, but not the main course!

The same Scriptures able to save our souls are able to mature us. 

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16

 God could have chosen any means to work in us, but He has chosen His Word.  His Spirit works in conjunction with, not apart from, His Word.  We cannot neglect to water the immature faith of our children with the Word of God.  There is no other way for their faith to grow!

Next time I'll talk about those pesky birds that try to devour the seeds we so painstakingly plant.    

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.