Hear then Proverbs 22:6 and may we with God s help take it to heart. Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

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1 Prescription for Family Health: Raising Children Proverbs 22:6 No Greater Delight, No Greater Challenge I have always said about raising children that there is no greater delight, no greater challenge. You are always on when parenting a child. Your actions have effect for the whole of life. Parenting is so important, so critical, that young lives are literally held in the balance. The wisdom we impart, the decisions we make, the example we set, and the love we share work together to form the lives of those with whom God has blessed us. Parenting is a 24/7/365 affair. It really doesn t matter what age your children are. That s why a proverb like Proverbs 22:6 rings so true. Hear then Proverbs 22:6 and may we with God s help take it to heart. Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. Greatly Thankful Training evokes regimen, almost military like. We were never quite that way around the Grieb household. That being said, I firmly believe that Cheryl and I were always training our boys in the way they should go. We tried to hold to the firm values of loving God and loving one another. We didn t always succeed, but we certainly tried with God's help. Cheryl and I have always seen our guys as a great gift from God, particularly with the uncertainties we experienced at both Brian and John s birth. In a sense we have always seen ourselves as stewards of two great gifts and because of that we have always wanted to do right by God and by our boys. We are thankful they are doing so well. In fact, we ve always been thankful for who they are and what they have been able to accomplish. Parents Serve as Instructor and Teacher Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray, says the scripture. The training spoken of here is as much as anything a matter of dedicating those we love to the Lord and to a right and true way of living. It comes to parents then to dedicate their children to the Lord and to the way of life he calls each of them to live.

2 The one who trains in this way is one who acts as an instructor. The Book of Proverbs begins with that sort of instruction in mind. From Proverbs 1:8 we read, Hear, my child, your father s instruction, and do not reject your mother s teaching. As parents we are always instructing, always teaching whether we realize it or not. Young eyes are always looking at us. And in so many ways are looking to us to offer instruction in the way they should go. Parents Impart Discipline The training spoken of in Proverbs 22:6 is also a matter of imparting discipline. Proverbs 13:24 is oft-quoted and just as often misapplied. Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them. The emphasis is often misplaced on the rod, instead of the loving act of creatively disciplining our children. Our kids need direction. They need discipline. Otherwise they will lose a sense of bearing. The most loving thing we can do for our children is to discipline them in ways that help set their steps on the right path. If you think about it failing to do so is tantamount to not really caring for them. The scripture puts it a bit more bluntly, those who fail to discipline their children actually hate them. God forbid. Setting the Right Foundation It used to be that in building a home the setting of the cornerstone was most critical. Setting the cornerstone incorrectly, all but insured that the rest of the house would be neither square nor plum. Things would be off kilter both vertically and horizontally. Setting the foundation correctly all but insured that the house would stand strongly, regardless of what came against it. Jesus closes his Sermon on the Mount with the admonition that whoever hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew against it, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Conversely, whoever hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house, and it fell and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)

3 You and I both know that there is so much that can come to bear upon our families from outside. The peer pressure alone on our children is enormous. The many outside influences that bombard them daily are daunting. Such makes it all the more important that they are founded upon the sure foundation that is Jesus Christ. Outside influences aside, we all know that a house can be destroyed from the inside out. Given that, all of us need to be on the lookout for things that work to erode our families from the inside. What are those things for you and your family? So much comes to bear when it comes to family. We bring so much into family some good and some not so good. Again standing upon the sure foundation that is Jesus Christ helps to combat the not so good. A Foundation of Love There are then certain things upon which we need to base our lives when it comes to raising our children. The first of these is love. Jesus himself claimed that loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength is the very foundation upon which we need to build our lives. His is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6:5ff. In turning to the Old Testament we read that these commandments are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) The importance of loving God with everything we are is something we are called to pass along to our children. Our Children s Ministry has established a set of Core Values around this very thing. Our priorities are focused on what matters most. Our ultimate goal is for every child to grow up having a dynamic personal and authentic relationship with God through Jesus Christ. These values extend to parents and the critical role they play. As parents and adults we are committed to putting our relationship with God first and our spouse second; only then can we lead and teach our children. It s about trust. All our children need to know we will never stop pursuing them or fighting for a right relationship with them.

4 The second of Christ s Great Commandments borrowing from Leviticus 19:18 is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This extends to family first and foremost. Our children need to know that we love them and that we love them deeply. As parents we need to love consistently even when that love is tough. If you think about, if we love our children consistently we will inherently build their trust. Again as written in the Core Values for our Children s Ministry, It s all about trust. All our children need to know we will never stop pursuing them or fighting for a right relationship with them. A Foundation of Right Expectation In building are a strong foundation for your children, let me encourage you about right expectations. I ve found that when expectations get askew frustration builds. Albert Einstein of all people once said, We have to do the best we can. This is a sacred responsibility. I ve always been a strong devotee of doing my best. It was something my parents encouraged me to do from the very beginning. I never felt though that they were encouraging me to go beyond my best. That s nothing but an exercise in frustration, if not futility. I am a firm believer, borrowing from the Psalmist that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) As has been said often, God made us and God doesn t make any junk. That certainly extends to our children. They are wonderful creations of God, miracles in every way. It comes to us as parents to help unlock all the potential God has bestowed upon them. That doesn t mean that we need to try and drive them beyond that. Expectations that are too high lead to frustration, expectations that are too low lead to unrealized potential. I have known far too many kids who lead lives of quiet desperation convinced that no matter what they do, they never quite measure up. Others act out such frustration by overt rebellion. I have also known kids who haven t tapped a tenth of their potential. Our schools are full of them. What a waste. Right and reasonable expectations are an important foundation for any family.

5 The Foundation of Integrity While we could talk all morning/afternoon about such things, let me offer one other foundation that I find critically important. It s certainly important in regard to this stuff of training our children in the way they should go. I call it integrity. As we said just a few moments ago, young eyes are always looking at us. We don t need to be one way outside of family and another way when we re in family. When it comes to our spiritual leadership at home, we can t live one way on Sunday mornings and another way throughout the week. Our kids see that and all it does is confuse them. It may even turn them off to the faith entirely. Wearing masks doesn t do anybody any good. We don t need to wear them outside the home and certainly we don t need to wear them inside the home. I m of the firm mind that a degree of transparency is healthy when it comes to dealing with our children. Now don t hear me saying that we need to visit upon them every emotion or, God forbid, transfer every hang up their way. What I am suggesting is exhibiting our emotions in a constructive and healthy way. Wearing masks all the time, particularly at home makes it tough to connect and build strong relationships. As our children see us expressing our emotions and managing our difficult feelings, they begin to learn to deal with theirs. Transparency takes off the masks and allows us all to be in a relationship built upon integrity. The disarming, if not challenging thing about family, is that those closest to us eventually see us for who we are and, miracles of miracles, they still love us. The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives The great thing about today is that when it comes to family it is the first day of the rest of our lives. With God s help, there is always opportunity for a new and brighter day. What s that going to look like for you and your family? What s it going to take to get there?

6 Some have got a ways to go. There is quite simply a lot of pain and dysfunction to overcome. There s nothing like forgiveness to begin healing the pain and beginning the journey toward true healing. Some stand as parents and quite frankly are scared to death. I ve been there. All along God gave Cheryl and me the strength to do the very best we could do. I am so thankful we had him to stand on. Some just need some help. We want to pledge that support here at Centenary. I have said it so many times, We will do right by our children and youth if we are going to do anything. Another one of our Children s Ministry Core Values speaks to this very issue. In Widening the Circle we realize that a father and mother are not the only adult influences our children need. We are committed to serving together to pursue strategic relationships for our kids. We will do all we can do to stand alongside parents and help in their God-given responsibility of raising children. I pray that all of us with God s help will be able to contribute to that. When it comes to family, Today is the first day of the rest of your life together. Be of good cheer. Be of good hope. Be of good health.

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