Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Growing Thankful, Giving Children

As mothers I believe our main concern is always the heart of our children. Sure, we get distracted sometimes with educational matters and extracurricular activities, but our focus usually goes back to the heart, soon enough. We dwell closely with our children and their hearts cannot remain hidden from Momma.

Momma knows.

Scripture tells us that God himself is like this.

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

But the Lord looks on the heart.

And when he looks on the heart, what pleases him there? A beautiful heart, one that shines for the Lord, believes and loves truth and obeys, by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Once a heart believes, loves truth, and obeys, it begins to grow spiritual fruit, pleasing the Lord exceedingly. 

Once our children come to know the Lord they need to understand that the Bible--the living, active Word of God--is the most powerful, transforming force in their lives. Our Heavenly Father dwells on those pages. That's what it means when we say the Word is alive and active. It isn't just ink and binding.

It lives.

Being truly and wholly concerned with our children's hearts means we are giving them the Words of Life, read aloud to non-readers, and assigned to fluent readers. Assign the study notes at the bottom of the Bible as well, so a child reads for comprehension.

Children are self-focused, by nature, but with our help they can expand their point of view and greatly impact their world for Christ. When they truly understand how rich they are in Christ, they can begin to love others with the overflow of their hearts. 

Consider the current season and how it might reveal your child's point of view. A child who doesn't know how rich he is in Christ writes a Christmas list of things he wants to receive. But the child who understands what the Lord has already given? That child writes a list of things he wants to give.

A Compassion employee went to a dirt-poor church in Burkina Faso to observe and measure the impact of a new Bible Study program. I think what he observed illustrates what I'm trying to convey:

We facilitate Qavah (Hebrew word for "binding together") through Bible studies held with new church partners and potential church partners. So far we’ve done it with 50 churches in six countries. It takes them through several different steps.

The first step is to help churches understand that God has placed them in their community for a reason. There are needs in their community that they can address, and children are a big part of this.
The second step is celebrating what we already have, and that’s a key distinctive. Often when you go into a community, you ask, “What do you need?” When you go in with a needs-based approach, you get a huge laundry list of needs. But through Qavah, we’re training churches to first ask, “What do we have? What has God given us already?”That makes such a difference in terms of a developmental mindset. 

I visited a church in Burkina Faso doing this Bible study. It was a dirt-poor area, and the facilitator had one blackboard. You could hardly read what he was writing on it. But he wrote on one side, What do we have? and the people were listing, listing and listing.
Then he wrote What do we need? on the other side. They listed some things, like a water well and other important things.

But when they compared the lists and saw all they already had, it was powerful.
The pastor asked, “Are we poor?” And the church all shouted, “We are rich, we are rich, we are rich!” They understood the new mindset. Full story here on Compassion's blog.

When our children understand what they already have, they suddenly realize..."I'm rich!" Their me-focus shifts and their hearts cultivate beauty for the Lord. They move away from consumerism and grasp what it means to love others with the overflow of their hearts.

To grow thankful, giving children, start them on a continuum:

  • Believe, love truth, obey...by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Read and study the active, living Word of God. Meet your Heavenly Father there and be filled to overflowing.
  • Make a list of what you already have in Christ (salvation, comfort, truth, fruits of the Spirit, etc.)
  • Bless others with the overflow of your heart (your love, your time, your talents, your resources)
How generous can a child be? How generous can a mother be? Our generosity grows in proportion to our grasp of what we already have.

Scripture tells us if we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, our needs will be met. Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

These things refers to food, shelter, clothing. So we don't have to fret about whether we're saving enough for ourselves. We can never out give God.

How generous was our Lord? 

Jesus Is Nailed to Cross

He gave it all.

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