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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Passing It On

Psalm 78:1-11
(1) (A special psalm by Asaph.) My friends, I beg you to listen as I teach.
(2) I will give instruction and explain the mystery of what happened long ago (I will utter dark sayings of old).
(3) These are things we learned from our ancestors,
(4) and we will tell them to the next generation. We won't keep secret the glorious deeds and the mighty miracles of the LORD.
(5) God gave his Law to Jacob's descendants, the people of Israel. And he told our ancestors to teach their children,
(6) so that each new generation would know his Law and tell it to the next.
(7) Then they would trust God and obey his teachings, without forgetting anything God had done.
(8) They would be different from their ancestors, who were stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful to God.
(9) The warriors from Ephraim were armed with arrows, but they ran away when the battle began.
(10) They broke their agreement with God, and they turned their backs on his teaching.
(11) They forgot all he had done, even the mighty miracles...

The "dark sayings of old" is the speaker's way of beginning the discourse. It's a way of getting the attention of the audience, gain their focus. He is about to explain something very deep and it requires their thoughtful attention. He will be breaking down a deep spiritual mystery and helping them to study it and apply it to their lives but this requires their attentive participation. His action is to teach and explain, exhort and admonish. Their action is to listen carefully, think deeply and apply it to their lives. A teacher often uses allegories, parables, riddles, enigmas, posing perplexing questions to force the students to stretch their minds to encompass and learn the studied material. Jesus used these teaching aids too. In this Psalm, Asaph is the teacher and wants to recount the main historical points of the birth of the Israelite nation but he also wants them to see the spiritual truths behind the history.

Matthew 13:35
(Jesus speaking) That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

One of the Ten Commandments is: Honor thy Father and thy Mother so that thy days may be long upon the earth. A child can show his parents honor and respect by listening to them as they teach them. It takes a teaching heart to give and a listening heart to recieve.

The Israelite nation was suppose to teach their children about God, His Commandments and the story of their history. This commandment by God insured that the Israelite nation would forever remember all that God had done for them and give them no excuse for disobeying His Commandments. They were taught in their home by their parents and grandparents. This teaching was supplemented by their extended family, Jewish community, Synagogue and Rabbis but it is to the family that the responsibility begins. It didn't matter if the parents were educated or not, illiteracy does not preclude them from orally passing down the love of God, His Ways and His Story.

"Our great care must be to lodge our religion, that great deposit, pure and entire in the hands of those that succeed us." -Matthew Henry Commentary

Colossians 3:16
Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

Ephesians 6:1-4
(1) Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says,
(2) "Obey your father and your mother,
(3) and you will have a long and happy life."
(4) Parents, don't be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.

“Do not provoke your children to wrath." Though God has given you power, you must not abuse that power. You must use restraint and self control because you are the adult and they are the children. As the adult, you should use your power and authority to teach and train them from your experience, higher knowledge and understanding. You must use mercy and love but discipline is just as important.

As an adult with education, experience, maturity you cannot say to a baby, "STOP CRYING!" and expect that baby to understand what you mean. Their minds have not developed sufficiently to understand your command much less obey it. As they mature they will learn language skills and understand better. And yet a 2 year old Toddler may ask "How much longer?" but they cannot understand the concept of "15 more minutes". Their minds have not developed enough to understand the concept of time. A 10 year old child may think they can take a flying leap off the garage roof like Batman because their minds have not developed enough to comprehend the consequences. They cannot fly like Batman and the pain of a broken bone or paralysis is beyond their understanding. And so it is with a 14 year old. They may think they have arrived and aren't a child any more but as adults we know better. They can physically participate in sex but that doesn't mean that their minds are developed enough to understand the full consequences of their actions. They are not capable of seeing, with complete understanding, their future if they are sexually active. They basically have a problem anticipating their next Math test much less the rest of their lives with an STD or illegitimate child/single parenthood/financial problems. Making grown up choices that end with grown up consequences. And the parents are usually the ones who have to pick up the slack by taking on the responsibility of their child AND grandchild. So even if the teen thinks they are grown up and "not a kid any more", you, as the adult, know they aren't and it is up to you to try to protect, lead and guide them in the right way until they really are old enough to make adult decisions and live with their decisions. An adult takes on the responsibility for their lives and the lives of their family - physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally. (Please know that I understand when an adult has encountered extenuating circumstances that lead to having to rely on their parents or others such as disabilities, extended unemployment that is not their fault, deaths or illnesses within the family that lead to a circling of the wagons, etc. But as the norm...) And we should behave as an adult. We should be a good example for our children (or the young around us). We should teach our children tenderly but persistently. We should recognize them as the loves of our life but that doesn't mean we should spoil them but rather teach them to be self sufficient, responsible, dependable adults. If we want our children to be happy as adults, we should train them how to live in a way that will bring about the best chance at a good life. Teach them how to be the kind of people other people love to be around.

No one likes to be around a spoiled, whining brat especially when he is 35 yrs old.

No husband would stick around if his wife is a demanding, selfish bitch.

Junior will not have any friends if he is mean, snide, sarcastic, rude and self centered.

Your children will not love and care for you in your old age if you abuse them as children.

If you don't train them, who will?

Our society is sending our children the wrong kind of messages. Have you see all the T-shirts, bibs, wall plaques, coffee mugs, etc.? "Diva In The Making"; "You Say Diva Like It's A Bad Thing"; "I Am Not A Bitch, I Am The Bitch"; "It's All About Me, Me, Me, Get Over It"; "I'm Not Rude, You're Insignificant"; "Stud"; "Hard work has a future payoff, Laziness pays off now"; "Italian Stallion"; "Bros Before Hos"; "Cougar Bait"; "Avoid Hangovers, Stay Drunk"; "Did You Eat A Bowl Of Stupid For Breakfast?"; "Sink Puts, Screw Sluts"; Blah, blah, blah.

These might seem funny but it's the kind of messages our society is giving to our kids every chance they get! We have to counteract this stuff with the good teachings of God or our children are in trouble! What kind of life will they have if they are spoiled, selfish, mean spirited, bullies? A lonely, bitter life filled with anger and hurt! What kind of life will they have if they are forgiving, loving, tender, dependable, responsible? More than likely they will have loving family, good friends, respect in their career, a peaceful home. It's not a guarantee, but it sure ups the statistics!

In teaching our children the knowledge of God, we repay to our parents some of that debt we owe to them for teaching us. My parents raised us right, and we, in turn, tried to raise our nieces and nephews right (their parents did, but so did we as their uncle and aunt, and so did their grandparents). My Grandparents were Christians and steadfast in their church. My parents taught us about God and took us to church and exampled a loving Christian life in our home. We tried to do this with the next generation. Now that generation is having children (at this time we have little Brett and coming this winter is little Savannah) and we hope and pray that they too will raise their children right, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We need to pass down the great spiritual heritage that was passed to us from our forebears. But even if you didn't have a Christian family, it can start with you! You can be your great grandchildren's spiritual heritage!

What are we suppose to teach them? What do we pass down to them? It's a greater treasure than any amount of money. Parents always want to have something to pass down to their children. Most want to have money, a trust fund, something that will help their children so they don't have to work as hard. But a spiritual heritage is worth far more than rubies and diamonds, gold and silver, investments and mutual funds! A spiritual heritage is something that every parent can give whether they every have a dime to their name or not!

What is this great treasure? The knowledge of God is this great treasure. His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ which insures their eternity. His Commandments. His Word, His Story! The hymns and songs of praise. The knowledge of how to praise, worship and lovingly commune with God. The experiences of church and service. Teach them how to study the Bible and meditate on it for themselves. These are the things we need to pass on to our children.

So many children today don't know the difference between Moses and Noah! They don't know the books of the Bible. They have never memorized John 3:16, the Golden Rule, the 23rd Psalm. They don't know the Ten Commandments or the story of David and the Giant. We are talking college graduates who have never read a single chapter in the Bible, much less read the entire Bible. They've never been to church and don't know how to behave in church. They don't know the words to the Lord's Prayer or Amazing Grace. Those who think they are intellectuals and have spent vast sums of money on Ivy League educations but have never studied Christian tenets or doctrine and have no real idea of what our beliefs are. Recently we went to a church service and some of the people were obviously totally new to the experience. Their children ran down the aisles, talked out loud, couldn't sit still, showed no respect for the speaker. I could understand it from toddlers and pre-school children. Teaching young children how to behave is the job of the parents and this training takes place during a service. What was amazing to me is that their parents weren't trying to stop the children. These parents were just as ignorant as their children on proper behavior in a church setting. They didn't have a clue as to what is considered proper behavior. They didn't know the words to the songs or the flow of the service or what to do when someone is praying, etc. It really brought me up short to see ignorance in action. An adult who is so ignorant of what we consider basics in a church. We visited a street church with people who had basically been raised on the streets and knew no better. As experienced Christians we have to be understanding in that kind of situation, at least they are at church and trying to learn now. But it's very sad to see the lack in Christian teaching whether it is people raised in a godless street environment or those who are raised in godless nice homes and schools. They are simply never taught and have no experience. It's a glaring and shocking hole in their education.

As parents it is a great responsibility to teach our children about God. Even if we don't have children, we can teach and example to the younger generation. Stan and I don't have children but we always tried to help teach our nieces and nephews about God and His Ways. I taught Sunday School for children from 2 yrs old to junior high age for 20 years. Stan helped me many times. We aren't perfect but we have tried to be good examples and to show love and forgiveness and to be explicit when talking about salvation through Jesus Christ and Him alone. Now our nieces and nephews are adults and it's up to them to begin to teach the next generation. They were raised right, given a good education and were raised in church. Now the baton is passing to them and I hope and pray they continue with the spiritual heritage they were given and pass it down to their children.

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