Summary: Sermon for pre-Vacation Bible School on the importance of training children
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: ¡§Don¡¦t push these children away. Don¡¦t ever get between them and me.
These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God¡¦s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you¡¦ll never get in.¡¨
Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Mark 10.13-16 The Message New Testament
There is abundant advice and insight floating around about children-raising. One bit on the Internet caught my attention recently¡Khere is an excerpt:
1. If you have a ceiling fan, there is no such thing as child-proofing your house.
2. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42-pound boy wearing pound puppy underwear and a superman cape.
3. It is strong enough, however, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20-foot room.
4. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on.
5. However, if you choose to use the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.
6. When hit just right, a ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way. The glass in a double pane window does not stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words, "Uh-oh", it is already too late.(1)
Parenting certainly is not a science -- it¡¦s an art. Dr. James Dobson once wrote, Those who think they have somehow graduated to expert status are like the picture of an elegantly dressed woman who is holding a cup of coffee. Her little finger is cocked ever so daintily to the side, and her face reveals utter self-confidence. Unfortunately she does not yet know that her slip has collapsed around her ankles. The caption reads, Confidence is what you have before you understand the situation!(2)
Confidence is actually a good thing; it is self-confidence that will get you in trouble. Eric Hinkle sent me a picture this week¡Kit is entitled SELF-CONFIDENCE. It shows a line of German Shepherds, sitting still, ears perked at attention, every hair standing on edge, ready to spring into action, and all eyes glued to a cat that has casually wandered right in front of them. Considering the lineage from which Eric has descended, we understand his fascination with a cat who is about to make (or be) history!
How can we develop appropriate confidence for raising children? Proverbs 22.6 is a wonderful place to start. The words of this little verse are that to which every Christian Mom and Dad should cling.
Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
One short disclaimer about that statement. It doesn¡¦t mean that you can be a perfect parent, do all the right stuff, take them to church and tell ¡¥em all the stuff a parent should tell ¡¥em ¡V and then they will be perfect children. John Wesley, the great Methodist reformer understood that:
"We must not imagine that these words are to be understood in an absolute sense, as if no child that had been trained up in the way wherein he should go had ever departed form it¡K.The words, then, must be understood with some limitation, and then they contain an unquestionable truth. It is a general, though not a universal, promise; and many have found the happy accomplishment of it." (3)
And so, this morning, let¡¦s look closely at the training-up of a child; let¡¦s take the attitude of Jesus when he took them in his arms and blessed them. Let¡¦s bid the children come!
THE PROCESS OF CHRISTIAN PARENTING
The process is to train a child. This is a primary root word, which means to narrow, or throttle. The throttle controls engine speed. That¡¦s a good analogy for dealing with hyperactive children! A young boy prayed, "Dear Jesus, sorry for the mess we made in the yard today." After a slight pause, he concluded, "Thank you for the fun we had doing it." (4)
Narrowing the focus of what a child learns is very different than today¡¦s popular approach ¡V let the child choose anything and everything he wants. That forces children to grow up very quickly ¡V and it creates havoc in many a home. Training, however, is the art of bringing along a child in the art of being a person. That takes --
Athletes train with varying degrees of discipline. Those who are highly motivated go to higher levels of proficiency. Those with low motivation hire a personal trainer. This describes a parent. You are the personal trainer to which God has entrusted the training of a child.