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Friday, March 24, 2006

"Teach Your Children Well"

"He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands"  (Psalm 78:5-7).

Among our interesting activities here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is assisting our Amish friends with transportation. The Amish are a religious group who normally choose not to use modern transportation. They are perhaps best known for their use of the horse and buggy as their preferred mode of transport. However for longer trips they will travel in cars and request that others drive them. This week Brooksyne had an interesting experience. I'll have her share the story, though she'll change the names of the children involved.

On Tuesday I drove Anna Ruth to the dentist and cared for her two young children,
Moses Allen (2 yrs.) and Sadie Ruth (1 yr.) while she was at her appointment.  I decided to shop at a nearby country store while babysitting the children.  It never crossed my mind that I could run into problems with Moses, who only knows Pennsylvania Dutch (a specific language used by the Amish in the home.)

As we began shopping he did what any average young child would do in a grocery store and began to select candy, soda, chips, small pie tins that he enjoys playing with and all his other "desirables". He placed them in the cart I was pushing with Sadie on board.   I knew he was seeing just what he could get away with, but eventually (much to his disappointment) I had him put the items back on the shelves.  I did allow him to keep a small package of M & M's.

When I got to the register to place my items on the conveyer belt I noticed the candy was missing.  I knew Moses would not have willingly put them back on the shelves, so with a little intuitive guessing I was certain that he had put the candy into his pocket.  I looked down at him and he knew exactly what I was looking for.  His eyes met mine and with his jaw set and lips fixed he very sternly shook his head. 

We had a line growing behind us with many looking on at this older "English" woman having a very strained discourse with a two year old "plain" Amish child (hat and all). Before the conflict arose I had been enjoying my time in the store when many were smiling and commenting on the adorable children I was caring for.  I asked if anyone spoke Pennsylvania Dutch and no one did, so I proceeded to communicate with "body language" to Moses as I tried to retrieve the hidden candy. 

Eventually, after a burst of tears and much physical prodding the hidden M & M's were recovered and laid on the conveyer belt.  Moses was intent that the candy was not going to be returned to store shelves and the best way to prevent this was to hide it.  You can imagine the story his mother (Mamm) heard when I met her at the dentist's office.  She said, "Just wait till Jessie (Datt) gets home to hear this story.  We're going to have to have a long talk with our son!"

I am sure they did as this young family is seeking to teach their children well.  The line still rings in my head from my pre-Christian days in the early seventies.  I believe it was a song by Crosby, Stills and Nash that had a line in it that said, "Teach your children well."  That's a great truth, although I certainly doubt the original writer and I would agree on what constitutes "well"!

Fundamentally, for the believer, teaching our children well embodies the essential truths of today's Scripture portion.  Within the Law of Moses is a very specific command in this regard, "Teach them (the commands of God) to your children and to their children after them" (Deuteronomy 4:9).  The Apostle Paul commanded parents (specifically fathers) "to bring them (children) up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  The phrase "bring them up" conveys "to rear up to maturity."  Notice the content of the teaching Paul emphasizes, which best describes what teaching "well" is.  It's that absolutely essential phrase "the training and instruction of the Lord."

Our main goal in raising our daughter Ester is that she might accept Jesus Christ as her Saviour (which she has) and live her entire life till her death or the rapture in a manner that pleases God, fulfilling God's purpose for her life.  Our secondary goals are that she will be a faithful wife to her future husband and devoted mother to her children, active in ministry, serving and giving of her resources and living a responsible life expressing faith and dependence on God. 

That to me is what teaching our children "well" means.  (I also expand this to grandchildren and others we may impact for the Lord.)  Have you considered what it means to you?  Are you taking your job seriously?  When life, as we know it on this side, is all over what matters most will be taking up eternal residence with our Lord and bringing our loved ones along with us.  What a glorious day that will be!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer:  Father, You've given us tremendous responsibility as we're commanded to train and instruct our children in the ways of the Lord.  There are many times when we've failed to be faithful in our godly duties as parents. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with the challenges our children present.  Lord, help us to sow seeds of Christian instruction so that we will cultivate children who grow into fruitful, godly adults.  Help us not to despair or give up in the present battles we face with our children, for in due time we will reap great blessing from our labor.

Brooksyne's Personal Note:  As I was writing the story about the Amish children earlier this morning I heard loud music from our Easter musical filling the upstairs.  Stephen and I were both blessed as we listened on while Ester was singing her heart out.  When I spoke to her later she reminded me of the many times she waited around as a small child while I would direct choir practice sessions for various musicals.  Finally she is old enough, along with several of her other friends at church, to join our choir for the Easter musical. How rewarding it is to see your children developing their God-given gifts that enable them to grow spiritually and to bless others!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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