Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Teaching Your Child to Worship (pt 2)

I wanted to finish writing my thoughts about keeping my kids in the church service and not sending them to Sunday school. (Read the first post here.) I wanted to explore the New Testament about why we need to keep them with us so that we could teach them about worshiping the Lord. I discovered something I did not really expect. In the New Testament, we are to take our example from our children! Jesus uses children as the example of how we are to worship. It is awesome to me how he designs life. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. As adults, we think we know everything when in reality God reveals himself to our children in order for us to learn from them. How awesome is that?

Matthew 21:12 - 16

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"

The adults had turned the temple in Jerusalem into a market place. The priests saw Jesus overturn the tables and perform healings to the sick and they were upset but the children praised Jesus when they saw him. God has perfected the praise of our children. I want to be with my children so that I can learn from them as they worship. Yes, it is my responsibility to teach them how to worship but we can also learn from them. I believe God designed it that way, to him children are just as important as adults are. He never looks at age, stature, or position; he looks at the heart.

We can learn something from our children’s prayers. Children pray with such innocence and get straight to the point. Have you ever gone to a prayer meeting where someone is long-winded while praying? I have, and I have even been guilty of uttering those long-winded prayers. We, as adults, could take a lesson from the children. I believe God wants us to. That is why he perfected the praise out of their mouths. They are not praising to impress others. They are praising out of their sincerity to the Lord. If they don’t feel like it, they wont’ praise. I watch my little ones during worship and can tell when they do not want to sing, because they do not they will not sing just to impress someone. They only sing if they mean it. Now, as a parent, it is my responsibility to teach them to worship out of obedience and allow God to change their desire to worship. I have had to tell my kids to worship even though they do not feel like it. They will sing at first only to obey but you can watch the transformation as God works in their heart and draws them unto him. You can see the transformation come over them. I have watched many people worship, some will worship like crazy with their hands up, and clapping, however, I have to wonder if they are really worshiping that intensely or if it is just a show to impress others. As adults, we are very capable of pretending to worship to impress. We care what those around us think; we will tame our worship if we are self-conscience at a new church that does not worship they way we are used to. In order not to look like we are out of place, we will become more or less animated in our worship. Children are not like that. I watch my kids and know when they are excited or when they are just worshiping out of obedience.

Mark 9:36&37

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me."

Jesus spoke these words immediately after telling them that to be first you must be last and a servant of all. Often times the children get pushed back as being the least among us. “Oh don’t listen to them they’re just children.” Jesus put a child in the middle of the group, in a place of honor. We need to follow this example and receive our children with honor. I am not just saying our own, but all children. When we put the children in their own little service, are we putting them in a place of honor? Or, are we sending them off to do their thing while we do the important stuff?

Mark 10:13 - 16

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

What do you think the disciples were thinking when they sent the children away? Do you think that maybe they thought the children were too young to understand who Jesus is? Or, maybe they thought that Jesus was too busy to deal with the children. However, Jesus says we are to learn from the children. He says that we need to receive the kingdom of God as a child does. Children believe what we say without question. Have you ever seen their faith? They have great confidence in their parents to provide for every need they have and completely take care of them. Many kids believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus without any doubt. Why? Because their parents said, they were real and that was all they needed. So, if God says to us not to worry about loosing your job because he already has it taken care of, then do not worry. A child would not, so we should not. Amazing faith.

When our son was two years old, we decided that it would be in our kids’ best interest to have them stay in service with us. This was not an easy decision to make. We were going to a church that had a full-scale children’s ministry and a full-scale youth ministry. We had some friends who kept their kids in service and they were our inspiration but we struggled with the decision. The turning point was when our son escaped from the toddler room two weeks in a row! That was the decisive factor for me, knowing that they could not keep track of my overly active energetic son. So, into service he went. I am not saying it was easy to keep him still for the whole service at first; it was hard. And we caught so much flack from everyone else but we held our ground. It seemed so right, not because I knew that he would not escape me but because it was all of us in service as a family together. The kids love worship and as they grow they are really enjoying what they are learning. We are blessed that our church believes that children belong in service too. Next time, how I keep an active two-year-old quiet and still for an entire church service.


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