This probably won’t be my most popular share 🙂 but I love this story today:
My son is home for the summer – hoping to answer God’s call and become a missionary one day, he is attending a ministry school/bible college out of state. We love having him home, and it does this mama’s heart good to see the twins under the same roof again! (It might have been harder seeing them separate from each other than seeing them separate from me, but we’ll keep that for another day!).
One thing I’ve been especially thankful for this summer is that fact that my children LOVE church. They come when we have service, they come to visit when we don’t have service. They are our best volunteers and biggest supporters. They are our biggest fans in ministry, and as they grow up, they are starting to minister themselves. Words cannot express what a joy that is – to serve the Lord alongside my sons and daughter!
Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts”. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”. We’ve received these as mandates, not suggestions, as parents. Though we are far from perfect, we’ve tried to model a Christ-like lifestyle before our children, and a HUGE part of that is church attendance.
Faithful church attendance isn’t easy. We come when it is convenient, we come when it is inconvenient. We come when we feel like it, we come when we don’t feel like it (yep, me too ). We came when they were babies (Sundays were tough then – hard to get a nap in between two services and Sunday School!). We came when they were toddlers (yep, dragging a cranky 3 year old through the sanctuary wasn’t the best fun – much less 2 of them!). Thursdays were a tough day as well – we had kept them up past their bedtime for church on Wednesday evening. We determined that the Lord gave them to us for a purpose, and that they must adhere to our worship schedule – not the other way around. I wasn’t supposed to let my babies or small children dictate when we attended church – I was supposed to model faithfulness before them and get them accustomed to our family’s schedule of worship.
As we came into elementary school years, we had to be purposeful in choosing activities that did not interfere with church, keeping our “end game” in mind. Church was a non-negotiable in our schedule, and it was a non-negotiable in our children’s schedules. We didn’t choose sports or other activities that may present a conflict, because that didn’t propel us toward the goal, and it may have sent a message to our children that there was something more important than being in church on Sunday. That would have been a mixed message – Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is”. Church is important.
In the teen years, we had to be purposeful in looking for jobs. Teens need gas money and fun money for sure! It’s not easy to find a job that allows Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings off, especially when one doesn’t have a degree or special skill set. We turned down lots of jobs, and we budgeted allowance from mom and dad to make up the difference until we found jobs that fit our schedule. It was a sacrifice for sure (but the Lord even honored that and all three of our children are gainfully employed AND regular church attenders!). Not only jobs, but still choosing activities: we stayed out late for prom on Saturday (fun!), but guess what? We came sleepy-eyed to church the next day. If we had to make a choice between two, we chose church.
I mentioned the “end game” earlier. Know what the “end game” was? It was to raise Christians. I wasn’t trying to raise a professional athlete or teacher or social worker or CEO (though there’s nothing wrong being any of those things at all – but I was determined that successful adults in any profession raised in my house would value church). The goal was to raise young men and a young lady who loved the Lord. The goal was to surround them with godly people, with a body of believers who prayed for them, supported them, encouraged them – and we find that IN CHURCH. IN CHURCH, they heard the Word of God, reinforced what we taught them through the week at home. IN CHURCH, they found godly relationships and Christ-like examples to follow outside of mom and dad. IN CHURCH, they learned outreach and found for themselves the value of coming to the Lord for “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19) and then living out their faith in the world throughout the week.
Church is a big part of our life. I love seeing my children worship and minister. I love seeing my children laugh over a good game of Risk or Monopoly around my table. I love seeing them go out with friends or hang out at the pool. I love the relationship they have with us, with each other, with the church, and with the world. Life is full and happy and fun! They are going to be successful people. They are going to contribute something great to their communities. They are going to be known by their love of others (John 13:35). I made lots of glad sacrifices and lots of decisions as a mother, but one important decision, made daily, was to have them IN CHURCH. I am thankful for the Body of Christ, and beyond thankful that my children value this as well.
Who are you raising? What is the “end game”? Determine what the goal is and be consistent! Today and every day, my children’s faithfulness to the Lord is one of life’s greatest treasures. I’m praying that you will determine your goal. I know that the Lord will help you to achieve it, even if it means sacrifice or discomfort. Pushing through to the goal – that’s a treasure too!