How does God view children? What instructions should we give children? What are children’s roles?
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Children are blessings. As we have already seen, what is it? Five, six or seven were blessed up here? Children are blessings, and they're blessings from God — Psalms 127:3-4. (Clearing throat) Try to hold back my power for the end, if I have any left.
Psalms 127:3 — "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord..." They are a gift; they are a blessing, a possession given to us, but they are a blessing and notice he says, "And the fruit of the womb," children, are "...his reward." So, God blesses people with children, and children are a blessing.
Verse 4 — "As arrows are in the hand of a might man; so are children of the youth." They're an asset. They're a blessing to have. Children are blessings.
Do you realize that in the Bible God uses the term children sixteen hundred and fifty times — little children, children of light, children of God, the term child is used a hundred ninety times alone? Three of the Ten Commandments God gave to sanctify the family, to safeguard the family. "Honor your father and mother. Do not commit adultery. Do not covet your neighbor's wife or your neighbor's house." Those three commandments were given to sanctify and protect the family.
It's safe to say that God loves children, as we heard in the sermonette by Mr. Pinelli, that Jesus Christ took them up into His arms. He rebuked the disciples who said, "Ah, the Master doesn't have time for them. What are you bringing them to the Master for? He's got more important things to do than to take a little child in His arms."
But Jesus Christ rebuked them. He said, "You let them come to me." Little children are blessings.
How many parents enjoy just watching their children sleep when they have a new baby? Bring in the grandparents. "Come see, they're sleeping." Who looks at people sleeping and gets some great desire and delight out of that? But when you have little babies... I've been on an aircraft before when the crustiest looking man when he saw a little child sitting in front of him playing with his parents and smiling and goo-gooing — his grumpy outlook changed.
It is amazing what children can do and the blessings they are. They truly are blessings from God and we parents need to realize we have a responsibility to treat them and handle them as blessings. Also, you children in here, not just the ones who were blessed, because they're not hearing too much of what I'm saying, but all the rest of the children in here, remember you're a child 'till you're twenty according to the Bible. All you children in here need to do what you can do to maintain that status as a blessing from God.
So I'd like to share some of that with you today, but the main focus is going to be five points on how to treat our children as blessings.
How are children blessings to us? First of all, they're gifts from God. Who's going to refuse a gift from the Creator of the universe? They are a replica of yourself. You want to know what you do and how you do? Look at your children. They are a replica of you. You want a mirror of what you're like, that 's what they do. That's what they exhibit. Do we realize that our children, every day, three hundred sixty-five days a year, eighteen years of their lives, you know what they see? They see a movie. The movie is about dads, moms, husbands, wives and family. Their entire concept of family is formed at home. I'll show you that in a few moments.
They can't help it. That's all they see day in and day out, their model of a mother, their model of a father, their model of a husband, their model of a wife and their model of how a family functions, is what they see every day of their lives. I'll read you a comment by Woodrow Wilson when he was the chancellor at Princeton and what he said about that. "They're a replica. Children are a joy; children are a blessing of joy. Children don't hold grudges."
I remember our daughters would come home and say, "I hate this girl, Thumbelina, or whatever her name was, Pascalina.
"And why do you hate Pascalina?
"Well she did this to me."
"Well, okay, you should get over that."
And the next day, "I had a really nice day today."
"Oh, who did you play with?"
"Well, why are you playing with Pascalina? You just told me yesterday you hated her."
"But I don't anymore."
Children have a wonderful way of working through things because they have a sense of joy; there's a verve and vigor for life. Children also are warm. They bring a warmth to us. Many a grandparent, many a parent just melts; and though we all know as parents what it's like to walk the floors when our children are sick. When you can't get them to blow their noses because they don't know how. When you know they're congested, and they have a fever, and you can't do much about it except try to comfort them. We all know the strain that we have, but we also know the warmth that they bring into our lives when they reach their little baby hand up and stroke our face. When they sit and look us right in the eye. When they're a little bit older and say, "Daddy, I love you; Mommy, I love you." They bring warmth into our lives.
And of course, they bring love. They climb up our lap, and they're not ashamed. You know, we, when we get to be older, we become ashamed. Kids aren't ashamed. They aren't ashamed to express themselves, come up and hug their mom by the leg, or they'll hug their dad. They're not ashamed. Kiss their dad. Hug their dad. They're not ashamed of that.
We also have in children; one blessing is that we get practice in leadership and as teachers, because you know what? Our children learn in the home. They learn from you. They not only learn from your example, which we'll talk about later, they also learn what you teach them, what you tell them. Do you know if you grew up in a home that told you that red was really yellow, and that's all you ever heard, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, you'd come in here, and you'd think that someone wearing red like Nina or others, you'd say, "That's yellow." Why? Because parents told you.
I asked for an evaluation one time of my graduate Spokesman's Club. I said, "Look, I'm always evaluating you. You hear me every Sabbath, you know, be honorable, but respectful, go ahead, let me have it."
The guy says, "How do you spell first."
I said, "Let's see, how do you pronounce first? Firsht."
He said, "Is there an sh in that?"
"Well, how do you say it? First. You say first, and I say firsht. Why do I say firsht?" I was sure the dictionary would endorse my meaning, my pronunciation, so I run to the dictionary after the club was over; after thanking them for giving me that astute comment and then I looked, and sure enough, does not give that ... Where on earth did I get this from? Why would I ever say firsht instead of first?
A couple of months later my parents visited, and we're sitting in the living room talking and we said, "Well, now what do we want to do today?"
My mom said, "Firsht," —
I said, "Say that again." I heard her say that all the time, and my dad, too, and when I told my dad he corrected it. He said first because he knew I was asking for a precise pronunciation; but he'd said that all my life, and that's what I heard, and that's what I said. It took a long time to change that, but I do say first now.
Children pick up from their parents. Parents teach their children; and we get practice at that, which is a blessing because we'll be teachers in the world tomorrow. Children carry on our name. Children carry on our name, and many times our young people, you know, they go forth and "Oh, are you so and so's son? Oh, are you so and so's daughter? Oh, that's wonderful! Nice to meet you." They carry on our name. They either bring good to it, or they bring evil to it, but they have the opportunity to carry on our name.
Children are a blessing because they're extra hands. Can you help me with this? Can you do that? Can you lift this up? Can you reach that? Can you do that? Can you get that? Can you go there? And they are; they're blessings. They help.
And they really are — the last blessing I can think of is; they are really our fruit. You know the Bible says: "By their fruit you shall know them. By their fruits you shall know them." Your children are your fruit. They're the fruit of your womb, ladies. They're the blessing from God, and what they say to others is what you are. What you're about. Oh, sure, children can go astray and I understand that completely, but overall they are your fruits, and it's really what we bequeath to the world. When I die I will leave no statue; nobody will erect a statue for me, but what I will leave are my two daughters and my grandchildren and my sons-in-law. And that will be the legacy that I pass on. By their fruit you shall know them. It is important that we realize these children are blessings of ours.
I want to read you a comment, and this is also introductory because I will get to the five points in a few moments. Five ways to treat our blessings. This original paper of a young lady, 1985 summer camp at Orr. The assignment was "write something that if you were a ruler of the world, what changes would you make?" I was teaching Christian Education in Orr at that time, and this young lady wrote an outstanding one, and I want to read it to you because it has to do with family, and what a young girl, she was about fourteen or fifteen, what she thought.
She says, "As an appointed ruler of the world I would like to make my first change in family relationships. I think if the bond between family members was a stronger, more loving one, some of the most major problems teens have today would be solved. Problems such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, premarital sex would gradually decrease. Teens would be able to turn to Mom and Dad rather than speed, beer, marijuana or 'their chick.'
"The reason I think this would work is because the family members could learn to grow closer and express more love toward each other. They could grow to trust each other. Once they began trusting each other husbands and wives would stay together and grow in love. Teens would ask for advice and go to their parents for help rather than to the drug dealers. Most teenagers feel home is like a prison cell, and their parents are the guards so they look for an escape. These escapes only lead to death and trouble.
"I know family life isn't the only reason teenagers have problems, but maybe if the family bond was stronger the problems could be solved before they get started. From experience I know parents have good advice and by following it, all of us could save ourselves a ton of problems."
How about well spoken for a fourteen or fifteen year old at that particular time? Well, let's take a look at five ways to treat our blessings, our children.
Number one, understanding. You see, when you enter the world of a child, you can't enter it as an adult in a sense of adult thinking. Let's look at I Corinthians 9:19, the Apostle Paul's approach. The Apostle Paul's approach was that we should become all things to others.
I Corinthians 9:19 — So he says, "For though I be free from all men," I'm using old King James and I'm modernizing it as I go along. "Yet have I made myself servant to (unto) all, that I might gain the more.
Verse 20 — "And (he said) to (unto) the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews." His whole purpose was trying to look at it from their perspective, and as parents too many times we expect of our children an adult response when they're really children. We expect them to have adult actions when they're really children, and it's really important to treat your blessing in this sense of understanding them and giving them understanding. Where are they at this particular stage? Know that boys like strength. Boys like power; girls like beauty, and those are generalizations, but that usually is so. I'll share with you a moment about understanding.
If understanding of your children is not found in the family, pray tell, where is it going to be found if it can't be found in the family, the safest place that a child knows. I Corinthians 13:11 — The Apostle Paul, in this love chapter, brings out a very interesting point. He said:
I Cor.13:11 — "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." It's important when we deal with our children that we meet them where they are, not where we expect them to be. It's important that we recognize where they are as young people, and that we join them there in thought and understanding. I don't mean you want to become a child yourself, but you want to think like they do. You want to reach them. You want to understand that at certain ages children have certain needs more than others, more than other times. Let me read to you a quote, a couple of quotes here about understanding.
This one comes from a book called The Family and I'll read this section under "Friendly Understanding."It says, "Another quality needed is unselfishness. People should learn from childhood that to be dubbed selfish is the worst possible thing. A self-centered person is conscious only of his unsatisfied needs whereas the unselfish member of the family expands the others to touch a life at a multitude of points. The home is a place for gladness. It isn't enough to feed and clothe the children and send them to school. They need some poetry in their lives, some inspiration. If parents have been effective in coping with the ills of the family, they're equally obligated to show joy on joyous occasions and to think smiling thoughts as a background for their actions."
Listen to this one. "There are few gifts that one person can give to another as rich as friendly understanding." And if we can't get understanding in the home, where can we get it? It's important that we understand them where they are, joining with them, reaching to them.
I have another quote here. This one says, "As a boy he worked long hours in a factory in Naples. He yearned to be a singer when, ten years old he took his first lesson in voice. 'You can't sing, you haven't any voice at all. Your voice sounds like the wind in the shutters,' said his teacher.
"The boy's mother, however had visions of greatness for her son. She believed that he had the talent to sing. She was very poor. Putting her arms around the boy, she encouragingly said, 'My boy, I am going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.' Her confidence in him, her understanding of him, where he was as a child at that time and constant encouragement paid off. The boy became one of the world's greatest singers, Enrico Caruso."
Fulton's mom, "He was only three years old when his father died."
To that, he said, "I grew up under the care of my blessed mother. She developed my early talent for drawing and encouraged me in my visits to the machine shops at town."
Robert was a poor pupil at school, however, and the teacher complained to his mother whereupon Mrs. Fulton replied proudly, 'My boy's head, Sir, is so full of original notions that there is no vacant chamber in which to store the contents of your musty books.' " (Laughing) He had so many good ideas he doesn't want your stuff from your musty books.
"I was only ten years old at that time, says Fulton and my mother seemed to be the only human being who understood my natural bend for mechanics." Robert Fulton, Inventor — steam engine, right? I believe that was the case.
So the first thing we can do is give our children understanding if we want to treat our blessings responsibly.
The second one is communication. Communication, by the way, is a two-way street, and what worked with five year olds doesn't work on teens. Do you realize that fewer than thirty minutes a day are spent with their children by moms? I mean, actually in contact with them; not just being in the same vicinity, not just being in the same city or the same house, but actual contact with their children, the average mother spends thirty minutes. The average dad fifteen minutes a day with their children. When you work with young people you have to give them time, and they have to know you, and they have to know you like them. They have to know you want to be with them. I'll read you a couple of stories in a moment.
Let's go to the Bible. Deuteronomy 4:9 — how many times have we heard the statement, "Children should be seen and not heard." I think that's a horrible statement. What, are children born without mouths and all of a sudden get them when they turn eighteen or nineteen? Why do they have mouths? But teaching children to be respectful doesn't mean they never talk. And how many times are children left out of conversations because they're told to be quiet, never speak? Deuteronomy 4:9 — notice what God says here —
Deuteronomy 4:9 — "Only take heed," we have a responsibility to communicate, to teach, to reach out to, to share, "Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them to your sons, and to your sons' sons." A responsibility to teach, a responsibility to communicate, to reach the mind and heart of a young person. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 we read this:
Deuteronomy 6:6 — "And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
Verse 7 — And "You shall teach them diligently to (unto) your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up." You should be talking about God's way of life, talking about sound principles. That doesn't mean reading the Bible to them. I remember one lady, probably in my age range, was telling me, "Oh, you know, when I was a kid my mom read the Bible to me every day."
"What did she do?"
"Oh, she just took so many chapters and read them."
That's not a good way to teach your children. That's a good way to make them hate the Bible. You just sit 'em down and start reading, "he begot, he begot, they begot, she begot," and you know the kid just sits there and endures thirty minutes of being tongue lashed with scriptures instead of being taught from the scriptures. And parents have a responsibility to teach children principles, principles of life. Grandparents have a responsibility to pass on to their grandchildren principles of life, too. It's important that we teach. It's important that we communicate, that we share.
I want to read something to you. I probably read this one time regarding fathers, but I'd like to share it with you again. It's entitled, "A Son Gets an Hour a Day." A young, successful attorney said the greatest gift I ever received was a gift I got one Christmas when my dad gave me a small box. Inside was a note saying, "Son, this year I will give you 365 hours. An hour every day after dinner; it's yours. We'll talk about what you want to talk about. We'll go where you want to go. We'll play what you want to play. It will be your hour. My dad not only kept his promise, he said, but every year he renewed it. It's the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I am the result of his time."
How many of us are too busy to spend time with our children. I know in the ministry in the early years, ministers had to go here, there and everywhere. It's a wonder that any of us have children in the church, many disappointments. "Oh, we're going to go here — Oh, somebody calls, it's an emergency. I've gotta go take care of that. Sorry son, sorry daughter. Sorry I can't go with you. Sorry I can't do this. Oh, I wanted to buy you that but the store's closed because I was out visiting. I didn't get a chance. I'm sorry."
It's important that we reach our children, and it's important that we spend time with them because their view of God depends on their view of you 'cause you are virtually to them, as God when they're little. You provide for them; you love them; you teach them; you care for them; you direct their steps. It's important to take time to be with them, spend time with them.
I want to read you another one. It comes from Charlie Shed's book, Smart Dad's I Know, the title, and from the section "Time Together Alone."
"A dad in DesMoines, Iowa did an interesting thing last fall. He knocked on his daughter's door one night right after she had gone to bed. Then at her invitation he went in, sat down and made this little speech. 'Vicki, I want to apologize. I want you to know I'm sorry for a silly thing I've done. You're a senior in high school now, and all these years I've been saying that some day I'd take the time for us to get acquainted. So here you are with nine months left in our home and then you'll be going off to college and after that getting married, and the Lord only knows how far we'll be from each other.
" 'So now I want to ask if you'll do me a favor? Once every week in this senior year, I'd like to take you out alone for a meal when we have some time to talk together. I know you're busy lots of evenings, and I can't get away for lunch, but maybe we can get up early once a week, go out for breakfast, just the two of us, you and me.
" 'That's my invitation. Take some time to think it over, let me know how you feel.' So, she took some time, like thirty seconds, then she threw her arms around him. From there he said it's been so fine, what I found out is that this is one great kid. It really feels good to know maybe her mother and I didn't do so bad after all." Just giving her time, spending time together, because in order to communicate you must have time.
It also means you correct. Over in Proverbs13:24 correction really hurts when it comes from somebody who loves them. More than it does just when you spank them. When correction comes to a child from someone that they know loves them, spends time with them, does things with them, listens to them, teaches them, it hurts more, and it should. They learn a lesson quickly.
Proverbs13:24 — "He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him many times." So it does take correction. It does takes a parent willing to do that, but also to praise. How many of us grew up with parents who said, "I'll tell you when you do wrong, but when you do right, that's expected of you." I hear that a lot as a counselor.
People don't get appreciated like they ought. It's important for us to reinforce our children. To look at them and tell them what a good job they've done. What a good effort, even if they didn't do a good job, because you know what, coupling the first one, understanding. You say, "Go, wash the car." Well, they may have forgotten to do the wheels; they may have forgotten to do the tires; they may have forgotten to do the windows. But you know what? It was a pretty good effort for the first time, wasn't it? Do you get mad because they didn't do it the way you did it? Maybe you didn't teach them to do it the way you did it. But if you did, and they didn't measure up, they're still a child. They're learning. Do we look for the good or do we only criticize the bad? Because if you only criticize the bad, your children are not going to want to be around you. They are blessings that they need to be taken care of. Proverbs 3:27 says:
Proverbs 3:27 — "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it." And children, I can tell you, children get their self-esteem from you parents. They learn to have worth and value from you as they're growing up.
Once you get older, then you can learn to say, "Well, I did a pretty good job at that." You can look back and say, "I'm pleased, I worked hard today." And you can give yourself some appreciation, but when you're little, always listening to mom and dad. You ever watch little kids when they do something? They want to look and see if mom and dad approve. Mom and dad say you did a good job. Mom and dad thought it was good.
It's important that you remember to compliment them. It's important that you compliment them on the effort. I've had my little grandkids bring me something, and ah, well, look at this, let's see. What is that? Hmmm. Looks like you really used yellow well there, and I couldn't tell what it was, and they'd tell me it was a chicken, and I'd really have to stretch my imagination to get a chicken into that picture, but had I said, "Oof, what is this mess?" You see, they worked hard, and they thought it was a chicken, and then I just dashed them. It's important for us to recognize effort and to encourage our children. You know what? It's never too late.
A quote from "The Family." "William James, eminent United States philosopher said,'deepest principle of human nature is the desire to be appreciated. A compliment is an effective way of raising a child's ego. An ego is not wrong unless it's out of line and out of sync, then it's wrong. It is one of the greatest stimulants to renewed effort. It is mean to be stingy with the praise in fear that it will turn a child's head.' "
G. B. Shaw wisely remarked that, "To withhold deserved praise lest it should make its object conceited."
One lady proudly told me she never gives compliments. At that moment my respect for that lady dropped a great deal.
"I don't give compliments."
I felt so sorry for her because you know what? The same lady received compliments and liked it, but would not give it. That is sad. If you treat your blessings that way, you are abusing them. I don't mean abuse in the sense of psychological abuse; you are not doing your job.
He goes on to say, "To withhold it all because the person might become conceited is as dishonest as to withhold payment of a just debt lest your creditors should spend the money badly."
"I'm not gonna pay this debt because I don't know how he's going to spend this money. Well, you owe it to him. What he does with it afterward....
If I say you did a good job; if I compliment my children or my grandchildren and they get a big head that's their problem, but if I don't compliment them, that's my problem. I have done wrong, but it's important to look out and care. And you know what? It's never too late. It's never too late to help. I have one more comment that's from — I won't even go to that one. Let's move to number three.
Point number three is: Providing. And for this one I would like to share with you a basketball player named Alex English, his story. He said, "I want to tell you about a man who couldn't be at home with me as much as he wanted to when I was a little boy because he too worked hard to make a comfortable life for his family. Yet, I feel his influence to this day. This man was tall and strong; he drove a cement truck down in Columbia, South Carolina where I grew up. He worked long, hard hours all his life, maybe longer and harder than he had to.
"You see, he wanted to earn enough, not only to take care of our huge family; at times there were more than twelve of us, including brothers, sisters and cousins, but he also helped out anybody who needed it. If your great grandmother had a grocery bill she couldn't pay, or if a friend of his needed help with the rent he was always there to pay the bill or to put his name on the line to borrow the money to help him. That's the way he was. People in need had to be helped, no question. He didn't ask questions; he didn't talk much at all, but you couldn't find a more generous, gentle man.
"Even though our house could get pretty crazy with all the kids, I never heard him raise his voice. The respect and affection that flowed out of him spoke louder than any lectures I could have heard on how people should act. I hope I can pass to his example of quiet love unto you, Son. One thing I can't give you is the real feeling of what it's like to grow up poor, because I did. There was a time when I was little that food was scarce in our home, when Thanksgiving dinner was saved by a bag of groceries from a charitable organization. Every day I'd scavenge for soda pop bottles so I could collect the two cent deposit and maybe accumulate enough pennies to buy some extravagant treat like a chocolate milk or a honey bun."
But he goes on to say, "This man I'm telling you about never got to see me play basketball." Alex English played for the Denver Nuggets, a very good basketball player. "He never got to see me play. He was happy for me, pleased by whatever I accomplished, but because of his long hours at the wheel of a cement truck he could rarely get away to see me play. I knew though, that he was proud of me."
And he goes on to talk about his dad. "One time he was planning a trip and he fell ill and he died." He said he died, and he passed on to his son. He said he died before you were born, but his name lives on with you, William Paul English, and I hope to make sure that his values live on, too." His values of hard work; his values of caring and providing, but not only do we need to provide physical things for our family, a roof over their head, food on the table, and you know, it's relative, brethren.
It's relative what we have. I remember living on a farm in Claysville, Pennsylvania. You would never want to live where I lived. But you know I was happy being there. We had what, three rooms? Our bedroom had a curve in the floor. So my brother Dave and I could get marbles and race them. I'd get my marbles, his marbles and we'd throw it up under the dresser, which had a little gap in it. Throw it up and then it would roll back down and come across the finish line. You would never want to live in that, it was half a converted farmhouse. If you saw it, you'd say, "What, you lived there?" But you know, I was happy, and I never went without food. Our parents never shared their burdens with us. They shared when my dad lost his job one time, and I went out and got a job, but never did I come home and say, "Do we have any food in the house? Oh, there's no food here for us."
You know, what you do for your children in providing, that's great! But also in the home is a quote from Ross Campbell on How to Really Love Your Teenager. "The first responsibility of parents is to provide a loving and happy home, a loving and happy home. The most important relationship in the home is the marriage bond, which takes primacy over the parent-child relationship. The security of a teenager and the quality of the parent-child bonding are largely dependent on the quality of marital bonding." So not only providing the food, not only providing the shelter, not only providing the clothing, but also providing an atmosphere in which your children may grow up. I Timothy 5:8 — moving along just fine. Thank you for your prayers. My voice is okay.
I Timothy 5:8 — "But if any provide not for his own...." He's talking about widows here, but it applies to anybody that's our own. "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." So God puts the burden of responsibility on parents to provide for their children; to provide the warmth, the love, the care, the concern. To also provide the food, the shelter, the clothing. I remember one man in cold, wintry Canada, who needed a new coat. His daughter needed a coat, too. Guess who got the coat? The daughter, because he cared. I think it was an outstanding example. I remember that he needed a new one. His daughter needed one, too. She got it. I think it's a real blessing for people to have that type of an attitude.
Luke 11— See, giving good gifts to our children, doing things for them, making memories with them, doing little things with our children is so important, spending time with them, caring about them, providing for their needs. But over in Luke 11:11-13 He said:
Luke 11:11 — "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?" Child comes in, "Can I have some toast?
"No, here's a rock, I hope you can chew on it a little while, probably take you a long time to eat it."
"...or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent?" He wants a fish. "Could I have some haddock?"
"Oh, no, here's a black snake; hope you can enjoy that."
Verse 13 — "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children..." You see what God assumes? That parents are going to bless their children. That parents are going to give them things, that they're going to provide for them, not only the necessities, but they're going to provide the extras as they are able. And remember, it doesnÕt cost much to make some popcorn in the evening and sit together and watch a decent movie, when you can find some. But it doesn't cost much to have some lemonade and popcorn and sit together and watch, or hot chocolate. What you do is, you form memories for your children. You form memories; you make a memory. God expects we will be providing for our children.
Let's look at number four, four out of the five is example. I want to read you Woodrow Wilson's comment. He said, "When Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton University, he wasn't just a dean, he was president. He spoke these words to a parent's group. 'I get many letters from you parents about your children. You want to know why we people up here at Princeton can't make more out of them and do more for them. Let me tell you the reason we can't. It may shock you a little, but I'm not trying to be rude. The reason is that they are your sons, reared in your homes, blood of your blood, bone of your bone. They have absorbed the ideals of your homes. You have formed and fashioned them. They are your sons. In those malleable, moldable years of their lives you have forever left your imprint upon them.' "
Our example means so much to our children. We can say one thing and be another, but if you aren't genuine, your children will grow up with a very difficult time understanding.
Here's another quote. This comes from Family Perspective, page 131 — "Children acquire expectations about family life by growing up in families. Childlessness, for example, cannot be socially reproduced through parent's socialization of children." Why? Well, because no children, there's nobody to model after. "The growing percentage of children who spend time in single parent families implies that socialization favoring the conjugal system may be waning. As an increasing number of children spend less time in the traditional family units, they may be less inclined to create such units themselves, such that family decline also has an intergenerational dynamic."
So what they're saying is, "What children see, they see their families and they model after it. They can't help it."
I don't know how many people I've counseled for marriage. I've said, "If you don't talk to each other about what you like and don't like about your family, your family of origin, you will automatically do what they did in the same circumstances."
But if you talk about it, you say, "Well, my parents did this, they hopefully liked that; what do you think?"
"Well, Okay, let's do that." Or if you don't, you automatically bring it in unless you consciously think about it and make that switch. Children, seeing this movie day in and day out, can't help but follow those examples. They can't help it. It's too powerful.
I read to you about the descendants of Jonathan Edwards. He was the son of a godly home. His father was a preacher, before him his mother's father. Trace the history of the offspring of this godly man. More than four hundred of them have been traced. They include fourteen college presidents, a hundred professors. A hundred of them have been ministers of the gospel, missionaries and theological teachers, more than a hundred of them were lawyers and judges. Out of the whole number, sixty have been doctors and as many more authors of high rank and editors of journals. In fact, almost every conspicuous American industry has had as it's promoters one or more of the offspring of Edward's stock since the remote ancestor was married in the closing half of the seventeenth century. Why? Because he set an example for them.
Before I went to school, you know what they said? I had an older cousin, I had my brother, I had another cousin, and then I came, so I was number four in the same school. Antions make good grades. I dare not let them down. Their example was such that I had to measure up. That's the family. Antions play basketball. I played basketball. My older cousin, just older than I tried and he was not real agile, and he did not make the team, but three of us out of the four played basketball, and we made the team. So, why? Because of example. Example is powerful and example is important. Proverbs 17:6 — This is so important for you to be genuine and to set the right example for your children.
Proverbs 17:6 — "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers." I was waiting, Thanksgiving time, my freshman year at Ambassador College for one of my distant cousins who lived in California to come pick me up and take me to their place for Thanksgiving. As I paced up and down the cross street where I was supposed to meet them, I was walking in the opposite direction when their car pulled up. And they stopped. They said, "Hi Gary" and I kind of recognized them. It had been years and years.
"How did you know it was me?" I said.
"We could tell by the way you walked. You walk just like your dad."
It is absolutely amazing. Remember the movie that they see? That's what they see. And I have known of kids who walked with a limp even though there's nothing physically wrong with them because their dad walks with a limp. Now you go figure, why? Because they see that. Children want to be like their parents. They want to follow their parents. They want a model to follow after. It's very important and encumbered upon us that we make sure we set that right example. Proverbs 20:7 —
Proverbs 20:7 — "The just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him." Why would his children be blessed after him? Because they walk like their dad, who walks in integrity. They learn from what they see. They learn to be moms and dads and husbands and wives. They can't help it. I want to share with you what Douglas McArthur said. He said,
"Build me a son, O Lord,
who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;
one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
and humble and gentle in victory.
"Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds;
...one who will know you (Thee) — and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.
"Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high;
a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;
... one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
"And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.
Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.
"Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, 'I have not lived in vain.' "
He said, "The example is important."
Number five — Treating your blessings. Number five is to love your children. Show them affection. Care about them and agree. Children need to be loved. Children want to be loved.
I can share with you what one a book entitled, Caring, Feeling and Touching brings out. Perhaps the most shocking and conclusive evidence of all comes from a study that showed that babies who were not routinely touched, handled and fondled when they were fed by their orphanage attendants simply withered up and died. It's called mirasmus. The children just die because they have no reason to live. Of course, for years it was assumed that such infants were the victims of some rare disease, but today no well-run orphanage or day care center would think of putting a baby down with a bottle propped on a pillow or other substitute for holding them during the individual feeding.
You know what they do now, they rock; actually have little cribs that if you go into a preemie, where the preemies are kept, they actually have them rocking, some motion. They have little holes in there where the parents can put their fingers through and stroke, even though the child's trying to be protected from diseases, where parents can stroke them. It's important for them to be loved. It's important for them to feel that love and attention coming from people who are supposed to love them. I John 4:7-8 —
I John 4:7 — "Beloved, let us love one another:" And if you love one another as brethren shouldn't you love your children? God just assumes that. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.
Verse 8 — "He that loves not does not know God; for God is love." I think it's interesting, verse 19 —
Parents say, "Well, if my child just loved me maybe a little bit more, maybe things would be better." You know who has to reach out first? I John 4:19 —
I John 4:19 — "We love him, because he first loved us." As parents we need to reach out to our children and love them. Tell them we love them. Let them know we love them. Tell them often. That's like married couples, I say, "Okay dear, listen to me. I love you. Now, clearly, I love you. Now I'm not going to tell you the rest of our married life. You heard me and you believe that." Now how many women are happy with that? They love to hear "I love you" a lot. How much more for children do they need to hear that? It's vital. You always love; you may not always bless.
I remember one girl, one of the saddest situations. She said, "I just want my parents to love me; and another girl told me that in all of her life she never remembered being hugged by her dad, not once. I find that tragic. I find that tragic.
I want to share with you one other comment Ross Campbell brings out. He says, "As an infant, a child, he needs to be cuddled, hugged, fondled, hugged and kissed."
"Ooey, gooey love stuff," my eight-year-old son called it. This typical type of physical affection is crucial from birth until a boy reaches seven or eight years of age, and I mean crucial!
Research shows that girl infants less than twelve months old receive five times as much physical affection than boy infants. I'm convinced that this is why younger boys have many more problems than girls. Five to six times as many boys as girls are seen in psychiatric clinics around the country. As a boy grows and becomes older, his need for physical affection such as hugging and kissing lessens, but his need for physical contact does not. It goes on to talk about physical contact and eye contact are to be incorporated in all of our everyday dealings with our children. They should be natural, comfortable and not showy or overdone. A child growing up in a home where parents use eye and physical contact will be comfortable with themselves and other people.
You're teaching children to love people because they feel loved. Many serial killers, many psychopaths; you know why they kill people? It doesn't bother them. People are like toys because they felt no sense of bonding or love. It's vitally important that we take care of and treat our blessings in a proper way.
Now for children, I just have three points. Children, for you to remain blessings remember, God calls you blessings; you're a gift from God. For you to remain that,
1. You should really try to learn of God. Learn about God through your parents, through the church, and through the Bible. In your youth, remember God: Ecclesiastes 12:1, it talks about it. Remember, Jesus Christ learned of God at twelve years old. Remember that Timothy from a youth knew the scriptures, had heard the scriptures, had learned the scriptures. You can do it.
2. Be grateful. If you want to remain a blessing, be grateful to God for all the nice things that happen to you, and don't fail to tell your parents how much you appreciate them. Tell them, "thank you" when they do things for you. You know, clothes don't end up in our drawers automatically clean and folded. That's a surprise for some. Somebody had to do that, and when they end up in there did you ever think to thank your mom for doing your clothes? Did you ever think of thanking your mom for dinner? Well, it's expected, "They're supposed to feed me." But who had to do it? Did you ever thank her for doing the dishes? Spare her.
Anytime it was my turn to do the dishes, my brother went to college, my mom had two little kids, I ended up doing the dishes. Now the only way of getting out of it was to challenge my mom to a game of Ping-Pong. See, I taught her to play after my brother left and she became better defensively than me. The only way I could beat her was if I were offensively on, or if I just played her defensively, she'd win. So we'd go down, and we'd play. Best out of three, and best out of five, and seven until maybe I could win. Sometimes I won; sometimes I didn't, but she took the challenge, and we'd go down and play and I'll always have those memories. We still have the table, although neither of us plays anymore. Be grateful. Give thanks for what you have and what you receive. That's number two.
3. Dare to be different. Dare to be different. Be willing to stand up for your beliefs. As you go to school, young people, you can prove your beliefs. You don't have to hang your head for not keeping Halloween. You don't have to hang your head for not keeping Christmas and Easter. Your Bible says Passover. Your Bible says Tabernacles. Your Bible says Trumpets. You never have to hang your head. Can you dare to be different? Are you willing to stand against the crowd? If you are, then you're like David; you're like Daniel; you're like Jeremiah; you're like Mary, the mother of Jesus; you're like little Samuel who learned God's way of life. You're like Timothy. Most of all, you're like Jesus Christ who at twelve was found among doctors, questioning them and asking them back and forth. Stand up for your beliefs.
I'd like to read to you Parent's Prayer. I believe our men have either passed them out or they will. I'd like to read it in conclusion:
From Abigail Van Buren's column: "Oh, heavenly father, make me a better parent. Teach me to (better) understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, to answer all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me. May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power.
"Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal. And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all that I say and do that honesty produces happiness."
"Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue."
"May I ever be mindful that my children are children, and I should not expect of them the judgment of adults."
"Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions."
"Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests, and the courage to deny them privileges I know will do them harm."
"Make me fair and just and kind. And fit me, O Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children. Amen."
Children are blessings. Treat them as such. Children, remain blessings. Parents, let's treat them with the respect and with the responsibility. Because remember, they are the future leaders of the world and the church and most of all, the kingdom of God.