Raising Godly Children – part 4

The best way to raise godly children is to lead by example. Do Mom and Dad portray a strong commitment to their marriage? Life has its peaks and valleys. The valleys are filled with tough times. During those times, do your children see you and your spouse coming together as a team to weather it out? Or, do you let those same times buffet you, leaving you worn and frayed – taking it out on your spouse with anger, disrespect and threats of divorce?

If it’s the latter, you are showing you children that love, marriage and family is fragile and does not last. They lose their foundational grounding for dealing with life. If you don’t want to send those messages (and who does), turn to your spouse and ask them how you can be a better mate. Re-commit to your vows.

Do your children see that you and your spouse love each other, and do you demonstrate it often? You are the first example of godly love that they are exposed to. When an altercation arises (and they will), do you get over it quickly with respect, forgiveness and engage in the search for solutions?

Children do what they see. If you argue and show disrespect, they will do the same. Worse, they will come to think that this behavior is normal, and actively seek it in a future mate. Doomed to failure.

Your partner should be your best friend, as well as your lover:

This is my beloved and this is my friend… Song of Solomon 5:16 NASB

Listen first, to understand. Be loving in speech and have your words reflect your integrity. Do not shut your spouse out (silent treatment) to either manipulate or avenge.

If one is aware, they know that their ‘silent treatment’ has the whole family walking on egg shells. We have been talking extensively about how communication is everything. The silent treatment is the antithesis of that.

Teach your children about money through your own frugal example of godly application wisdom with regards to finances – how you save, spend, investment and give.

Be available and be patient. Let your child speak all of what is on their mind before answering.

You and your spouse must present yourselves as a solidified team with regards to discipline, already having decided on what the consequences will be. For this to be fair to the child, you must have clearly defined the rules for the home and defined boundaries for behavior. Consistency for transgressions is vital; don’t let them off the hook at times. Have the punishment fit the crime. And always deliver it with love.

The focus of all discipline is to build their godly character.

Let them know that your values are God’s values, which is what you expect them to have as well, and teach them. For example, have the sex talk when they are approaching puberty! Show them what God says. Give it to them piecemeal, matching their level of understanding. Listen to their feedback.

In the end, if we want to raise godly (conscious) children, we ourselves must become conscious first. We don’t want to infect them with our old ways of the world. How does that look?

There would be a mom and dad who co-create a home that provides an environment of peace, love, joy and exhortation for all. The home would nurture a thriving family where hostile conflict would be a foreign concept. It would also afford a space where children could immerse themselves in the experience of being a child for as long as possible.

Besides being committed to each other, mom and dad would also be committed to the children: spending time with them as they grow up, rather than shipping them off to preschool, after-school programs, or forcing them to play organized sports that they have no interest in – just to satisfy a parent trying to live vicariously through them to fill some perceived hole in their own childhood.

We don’t want our children to suffer the pain of unconsciousness that we had thrust upon ourselves. That’s we don’t engage in, and discourage in our children as well: criticism, sarcasm, nor disrespect. Instead, we practice selflessness and compassion, hopefully instilling it in our children’s hearts, so that they are filled with a desire to reach out and help others work through their pain.

Children are mini versions of us – but not extensions; we are all unique. Even so, we all want the same things: love, acceptance, and acknowledgment. The kids need to see Mom and Dad give that to each other first.

Breaking bread as a family at the dinner table is essential. It provides structure, routine, bonding, increased communication, lessons in civility, better vocabulary, healthier eating habits, and a deeper understanding of who they all are as a family. It also provides a forum for problem-solving.

It is sacred time – not to be interrupted with any type of media distraction, which only promotes inattentiveness, aloofness, and a loss of connection with the juice of life.

Give your children reasons for wanting to stay home – making it fun, interesting and exciting through your interactions with them. Strive to make their experience of childhood better than your own.

A child cannot get too much love. Praise them for who they are, letting them see the joy that they bring you. You are their world; they are lost without you. That’s why it’s such an abomination when unconscious parents choose to be cruel to them. The child does not blame the parent for the cruelty, they blame themselves.

He or she needs to know that you are a safe space to go to in times of trouble. If they don’t, they will go to someone or something else for what they think is comfort.

Give them your full attention so that they learn to live in the present moment. Channel their interests into beneficial and moral pursuits. Teach them to love learning.

As we teach, we must evaluate the contents by asking ourselves, ‘How is my child likely to interpret what I”m saying? ‘What will it cost my child to do what I want?’ The answer to both should be, ‘In ways that will make them grow.’

Finally, teach them to trust the guidance of their hearts – seeking their true value from God.

We cannot be a perfect parent, but we can give them perfect love…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Raising Godly Children – part 3

Our children are extraordinary gifts. God did not create them to just be ‘acceptable:’

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirt of God dwells in you? 1 Cor. 3:16 NKJV

If our children are doing their best to walk in God’s ways, they don’t have to bother with questioning themselves – other than to make sure they are in alignment with Him. Moreover, when they have questions about living that godly life, they will look within, rather than outwards to the opinions of the world.

We can also help our children to realize that all life consists of and is contained within relationships; and that here too is where they want to bring their inner Guide into play:

“HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others]. Mt. 19:19 AMP

…let each of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:33 ESV

“You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the aged…” Lv. 19:32 AMP

A man who has friends must himself be friendly. Pr. 18:24 NKJV

“…give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven;” Mt. 19:21 NKJV

“Judge not, that you not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Mt. 7:1, 2. NKJV

Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger, and it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. Pr. 19:11 AMP

God created all people to be equal, and He loves them the same way – equally. God shows no favoritism. (Rm. 2:11) And in our quest to be godly, we do our best to emulate Him. So, we exhort and honor all people: friends, parents, spouses, other family members and all other acquaintances, regardless of age, gender, race, etc.

If we have a chance to lift someone from their station in life, or out of an unfortunate situation, we are called to rise to the occasion.

Teach your children not to pass judgment, so as not to bring blame. Tell them that when they judge, the only thing that they define is who they themselves are being. When they can suspend judgment, then the burden of self-judgment is also lifted.

That creates the space for forgiveness – first for ourselves, and then for others. After all, everyone is subjected to their humanness, and will slip out of their goodness from time to time. We all have need of forgiveness, and we are required to forgive:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Col. 3:12, 13. ESV

Healthy relationships only form, take root and flourish if they are founded on love – love that is freely given. And relational love must come from the love that you have for yourself. You can never find what you don’t already possess in your own heart. Thus, you must become what you seek. The good news is, that deep down, you already are that lovable person. You only have to let him or her come out to express themselves.

Happiness is what happens when you experience peace, love and joy.

You are the only one who knows exactly the how you need to be loved. Love yourself that way first. Then, you’ll be able to go ‘out there’ and have loving relationships with everybody else. As you bring your love, bring too your acceptance and compassionate understanding.

Begin each day by asking yourself, ‘How can I make this day extraordinary for your friend, family member, partner, etc?’ The only way to true personal happiness is to share with and contribute to, the happiness of others. Give to them first, what it is that you want for yourself.

When you fill yourself with love, you create an open space for others to choose whether or not to love you; and it will not matter to you what choice they make. If they choose to love you, you have an opportunity to co-create a new love relationship; if not, you won’t take it personally. Instead, you’ll bless them inwardly with your love and wish them the best life possible.

When we do enter into relationship, we cover our partner with our gratitude. Relationships only break down when one or both partners aren’t thankful. Everyone needs appreciation and acknowledgment. Gratitude brings healing.

Even in the best relationships, there will be times when you don’t feel love for your partner. You need to have the freedom to feel that, because then you can make the free-will choice to love them anyway. Anything else is slavery.

All relationships have conflict from time to time. The partners must look for ways to live with each other’s differences, constructing new ways to find clarity in the conflicts, instead of running away.

However, NEVER stay in an abusive relationship. If someone tells you in one breath that they love you, but in the other they try to control you, treat you with disrespect, or become violent, that is not love. You never deserve to be mistreated in any way. Be thankful for the lesson and go!

Healthy relationships have solid boundaries, where both partners’ yes and no are honored.

Teach your children that ultimately, the keys to successful relations are:

1. Stay in present time and drop the past; love and forgive.

2. Let go of guilt and shame; acknowledge your mistakes and take responsibility for making amends.

3. Always search for truth.

4. See the differences between you and your partner as building blocks; don’t try to change yourself or your partner.

5. Free yourself from the need for approval and from the concern of the opinions of others.

6. Choose healthy partners, someone with good character, not a potential partner looking to have you heal their wounds.

7. Be responsible for bringing 100% of your happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment to the relationship and hold your partner accountable for bringing theirs.

8. Finally, release any form of dependency – you don’t need anyone. It only puts you in a position where you are always preoccupied with the potential loss of them, and it robs you of your ability to be present. Just be thankful for each moment…

We’ll wrap it up next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Raising Godly Children – part 2

All problems are rooted in self-induced episodes of spiritual deafness where our hearts are concerned. It likewise applies to our children. At these times, we can calmly sit down with them, and help them see where the right and wrong sides of their issue lie, as well as help illuminate the ‘rightness’ in pursuing the correct outcome.

When a child can wrap their head around the quest to grow as a person on the journey that God has laid out for them, he or she will find God’s favor everywhere. Life just works better. Moreover, your child will begin to internalize this correlation and act accordingly. For the parent to help facilitate this, it’s always about stopping whatever they are doing, and communicate with their child until they can recognize how they are being.

If they can clearly see that they themselves went astray from their path for having the highest and best life, they’ll take ownership of that, and make the necessary corrections.

Most assuredly, calling them ‘stupid’ won’t accomplish that. Again, who they are being will determine what they are doing; and every action has a consequence. In their hearts, all children would rather that it be a good one.

Another important foundation to teach our children, is about present-time consciousness. The past has passed and cannot be changed. With confession and repentance, that past is forgiven. So, other than remembering the lesson, the event is in past tense. The future is unknown and fretting over it changes nothing. All of life happens only in present time.

There may be times (will be times) when your children will point out your mistakes in life, to justify wanting something that is not good for them. Those are the times for frank honesty – pointing out how you were not listening to your heart. Give them the reason why and tell them of the undesirable effects that had on your life. It would also be a great time to share how you eventually overcame that situation, how you forgave yourself, and how you made amends for your transgressions.

In addition, it’s a wonderful time to point out that you just don’t know everything, and never will. So, you’re letting them know that the school of life is never ‘on hold; it always has to be dealt with and grown into.

This is also the time to suggest that there is great joy in learning, because all new wisdom promotes a better life.

These discussions make you human and gives them the room to confess and repent for their own humanity.

Children too, bring guilt and shame upon themselves. They need to know that they can clean that up with God in a moment’s notice. It brings them back to a place where happiness and joy can thrive:

“I , even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.” Is. 43:26, 26. NKJV

Help your child understand that who they are in God’s eyes, is what’s paramount. If they’re doing their best to walk His walk, He has everything covered – they will be walking continually under His love lamp. This assurance armors them from anyone whose opinion of them is contrary to what God thinks; and He thinks immeasurably good things about His children.

The godly child is also the one who is engaged in life. In today’s world, they meet with continual challenges against that engagement. The media is telling them how to think, how to dress, to smell, what mores they should align with (many of which are far from godly) – passing all of this excrement to our kids through a vast array of electronic devices.

Ever seen families out to eat, where everyone at the table is staring into their phones; or teens at a table texting each other instead of having verbal conversations? It’s a wonder that their tongues are not atrophied from non-use. Eventually they’ll be able to lift barbells with their thumbs.

Because so many kids (and adults) stare down for hours at these toys of distraction, they are losing the proper curvatures of the spine in their neck – similar to a presentation of one who has had a rear-end auto collision. Not good…

It’s so important to try to encourage our children to read enriching material – first by reading to them when they’re young. And to impart the skill of critical thinking. They sure as heck aren’t going to get that in what passes for public education these days.

‘Definitions change as knowledge increases.’ Carlos Castaneda

The art and use of conversation is vital to one’s mental health. At the heart of mastering it, is the ability to listen and ask questions. They are also the key to learning. This is how your children grow and shift their focus from themselves and place it on others – by shedding self-obsession.

Our primary tool for communication is language. In fact, you can’t think of anything without putting a ‘word’ to it. All reality is based in language. Coming from the mouth of an awakened person, communication becomes a tool of limitless, loving creativity.

We teach our children to speak with kindness, love and compassion, by impressing upon them the need to give these same things to themselves first. As they fill themselves with these godly traits, it will naturally spill over onto others as they nurture their innate desire to share their love.

Tell your child about the solidity of words, how they can inspire and exhort, or downgrade and injure. Inform him or her that when they’ve said something unkind to another, that those words are etched onto the hearer’s spirit. Thus, they must admit their error and restore the love.

Teach them about the negativity that surrounds complaining and tell them to avoid the people that they complain to – those who enable them to play the victim. Moreover, help them become self-questioning sleuths so that they can find out why they are bringing the things to their lives that they complain about and what their payoff is for complaining. Perhaps it is to bring attention to themselves, to express an assumed helplessness, or to hide the fact that it may be their actions / inactions that are at the heart of their needs not being met.

Communication works the best when it is infused with love. In that context, we can teach our children that they don’t have to worry about always ‘being right’ in their opinion, and not having to defend their position. It is always best to stop blaming outwardly, and instead to look inside to see what is in our hearts.

Help your child see that if a communication problem presents itself, that they are far better served if they ask themselves, ‘How can I communicate more clearly?’ ‘Is there a hurt in myself or in my listener that I can help me / them get past?’

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! Pr. 15:23 NKJV

In addition, we can impart the need for integrity within our child’s speech. Life only works to the degree that the one living it, aligns with their word.

We all fall out of integrity and break agreements at times. Without self-judgment, we just need to acknowledge that we broke a commitment and make the necessary corrections. Then, we can recommit to our agreement and go on with life. Every time we keep a commitment, our ability to stay in integrity gathers strength, which also grows our self-confidence.

Obviously, to remain in integrity means that we must stop telling lies.

Finally, real communication begins when you realize that you don’t know what’s true for another person. That’s why you must first listen and seek clarification so that you can understand ‘what is so’ for them.  If a particular communication is not progressing well, look for what might be ‘missing’ in the conversation rather than what is ‘wrong,’ and be willing to change your approach.

When your child grasps these principles and masters them, then any conversation they have (with God, themselves, and others) with be steeped in joy, meaning, revelation, enrichment and growth.

More to come…

Goodnight and God bless.

Raising Godly Children

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Ps. 127:3 NKJV

Children are a gift from God. In addition to that blessing, God has a personal stake in them as well:

…she is your companion and wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. Mal. 2:14, 15. ESV

Why should our children be godly offspring? The entire Bible tells us that living a godly life yields the highest and best life – both in this life and the eternal extension that is afforded to those who do so.

So as parents, we have a heavenly mandate to bring them up that way:

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], even when he is old he will not depart from it. Pr. 22:6 AMP

If you plant the seed within the child and nurture it, he or she will blossom as godly fruit. However, you cannot plant that seed unless it has first flourished in you:

The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs – how blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow]. Pr. 20:7 AMP

After all, after a child has reached the age where they have grasped their innate knowledge of right and wrong and come to know the gospel, they too are responsible for their deeds:

Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right. Pr. 10:11 NKJV

As far as we are able then, we must help them grasp all of God’s promises:

“For the promise [of the Holy Spirit’ is for you and your children and for all who are far away [including the Gentiles], as many as the Lord our God calls to Himself.” Acts 2:39 AMP

They have the promise to share in all phases of the kingdom, e.g:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy…” Joel 2:28 NASB

As parents, it is our duty to prepare them, to strengthen them, by teaching them to draw upon God’s strength when they go out into this hostile world that is clamoring for their souls. We will be held accountable. Today’s world is not any less formidable than it was in the days of old, when some were devil-driven to sacrifice their own children:

“I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name.” Lv. 20:3 NASB

We are responsible for beginning to teach our children how to acquire their spiritual armor.

How do we begin this journey? First, we lead by example, which will in itself confer a blessing on them – through our obedience:

Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. Dt. 12:28 ESV

So, we must begin biblically educating our kids, weaving the gospel into the everyday events in their lives:

You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Dt. 6:7 AMP

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Ps. 78:4 ESV

Yet, we have to be wise and clever about our instruction. While we teach, we want to help them experience and preserve what should be the joy of childhood:

Therefore, remove sorrow and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, for childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. Eccl. 11:10 AMP

But that joy, wonder and awe doesn’t have to be fleeting. You have surely seen that those who live life the largest, are those who have never lost that sense of child’s play. Moreover, they position themselves to be closer to God when they retain some of those child-like traits, e.g. faith and trust:

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self – your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18:3 AMP

Yes, we must be an authoritative figure for our children, but in a way that we are not lording it over them, so as not to foster rebellion – a war of the wills. We slowly begin to relinquish some of the authority by leading our kids into the direction of listening to their own hearts, that spiritual center of their souls.

We are not here to ‘clone’ our children. God has given each child unique gifts, and we want to help them on their path to the discovery of them. Where we help lead them, is in the realization of themselves; and we can only do that through effective communication. We have to talk to them. What a concept!

But while we are talking, we have to lead them in such a fashion that we present the information and guide them into realizing the answers for themselves. That is the best way that all people come to learn and believe.

Moreover, we have to help them grow their godly character. Their actions are borne out of who they are being. So, we need to assist our children in developing and embracing their authentic self – not some twisted derivative thrust upon them by the world view and its purveyors.

It all comes down to getting our kids to see that all choices must be first examined before acted upon; and that all choices should be made within the framework of a single question: “Am I honoring God with my goodness and obedience at this moment?”

I would wager that in most if not all situations, the answer will always be a no-brainer, i.e. the answer will be clear. Let’s face it, when you honor God, it’s because you’re doing the right thing; and He then honors you and your situation.

Children need to be inspired by their goodness. So, we have to appeal to their good character and commend them when they exercise it. Oh, they’ll make bad decisions, just like everybody else. And we must discipline them for their own sake; but hopefully, our previous leadership in their upbringing will minimize the damage:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline [correction administered with godly wisdom and lovingkindness] will remove it far from him. Pr. 22:15 AMP

Yelling, cursing, or shaming never produces long-lasting desirable outcomes. In fact, it can result in the undesirability of rebellion and / or flight. When we do that, we are only giving in to our exasperation. Instead, we can teach them the godly foundations for obeying their parents, as well as their own hearts, which hopefully are on the same page:

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive, nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken]. Col. 3:21 AMP

Children, obey your parents [as God’s representatives] in all things, for this [attitude of respect and obedience] is well-pleasing to the Lord [and will bring you God’s promised blessings]. Col. 3:20 AMP

They have to learn that there’s stuff we don’t want to do, but that the outcome for doing them is far more favorable. If we help them build godly values, it will strengthen them against the wiles of those who follow the ways of the world. They will regularly tap into the innate virtues and graciousness that God placed within their hearts, all of which will be reflected in their actions.

Ultimately, the best parent-child partnership will come down to Mom and Dad using as many of their child’s decisions and experiences as opportunities for learning, by stopping whatever you are doing and giving him or her your undivided attention. Let them speak all of their mind. Reflect it back to them for gaining greater accuracy of your understanding and pray together to see what God has to say about the situation.

You know, it will take some of the heat off of yourself if you ask for God’s help. Duh!

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:29, 30. NASB

To be continued…

Goodnight and God bless.