Updated: Jul 1
The cousins gathered this month. We told stories, looked at old pictures, laughed, and ate chicken salad. Storytelling was the connection. The way we remembered it. The colors showed in the telling. Flamboyant reds, fuchsia, gold, embellished with sequins. Bland, flat and utilitarian beige. It was all in eyes of the teller. And it was all truth. It's time to tell the stories. Not so much the private jokes, but the lessons learned. The good about the way it was and the unraveling of lies about the way it is. Truth is the story that must teach the next generations how to live and thrive. And even survive. It will take effort. A sacrifice of time. Thoughtful planning. Thinking future, and in this case not "in the moment." What is most needed? Two things.
Teach Them the Biblical Worldview
You shall teach them diligently to 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 (Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV).
When they stripped away daily prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America from schools, they did more than ask God to leave the classroom. They abruptly and stealthily erased Him from the worldview of the tender, spongy minds of the next four decades of children. Some of whom are the current and future leaders of nations.
Many of my well-meaning Christian friends try to thrust scripture out on social media with passion and frantic repetition, believing their actions will convict and correct the public at large. What they fail to recognize is that if you do not recognize God as final Authority, then all Wisdom that is from above will land on the same platform as human wisdom, leaving people to choose their "truth." Throwing scripture at people is not the answer. A change of heart is the only cure for a deceived and wrongly-programmed heart. This is why it is so important to plant the word of God firmly in the hearts and minds of children while they are under the authority and influence of Christian parents and grandparents.
Teach Them to Think
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:2).
The difference between the "credentialed" and the "educated" is the element of the ability to think for one's self. To be programmed by a global worldview, as perpetrated on students through the ruling class and Ivy League academia, is to be marginalized to a single vantage point. Unfortunately, in the name of enlightenment. Which is to categorize the Bible as an independent work that might as well be set alongside of Buddha, Walt Disney, and the Babylon Bee.
Teaching children to think will take some effort. A recent study says the average brain is "bombed" with 34 GB of data every day, which could potentially overload a powerful computer or a laptop in a week. (Tech21century.com). The only way to compete with that is to preprogram a child with the Biblical worldview early on, so that the word of God will be the filter, not the glut of competing information. If they learn to process information by thinking through a biblical worldview, asking questions, not merely regurgitating intel, they will find a safe passage through the world of opinions, lies, misinformation, and danger that a global society is pushing hard upon them to accept. When they learn to seek God and line up every choice with His Word, they will find the path for their life -- and out of trouble, in a "wicked and perverse generation..." (Matthew 16:4). It will be far more important for the generations that follow us than it ever was for we who have lived in relative safety and could trust the leadership of our parents, schools, churches, and government. It is a different world now. And it will never be the same. It is up to us to give them the tools and hard-earned wisdom they will need to be leaders, not followers.
How to "Train Up a Child" in a Biblical Worldview and Develop a Critical Thinker
1. Read the Bible Out Loud
Take time to read to your child. Don't relinquish that job to videos, school teachers, or even Sunday School teachers. Teaching children the Bible is in itself an exercise in critical thinking. Stories of both joy and sadness, success and failure, the foolish and wise give a full picture of the adventure of life choices and their consequences. Rather than accept an answer by rote, a child can be prompted by questions to process how Moses and Jonah both said "No" to God, yet ended up saving a nation from destruction. And how Mary said "Yes" and brought a Savior to the world. Choosing righteousness over evil, the meaning of true justice, has little to do with what man thinks about it. Righteousness has but one Authority and without the establishing of Absolute Truth and the Authority of the Word of God in the mind of a child, there is no plumb line by which to judge.
2. Tell Bible Stories
When my nephew, Jeffrey, was four he would not let me read Bible stories to him. He would shut me down and say, "Talk to me about David." or "Talk to me about Jonah." He put me to task! Not only did I have to refresh the story myself by actually reading the Bible, I had to animate it with sounds, colors, and clever illustrations that would not only demonstrate the point of the story, but challenge his imagination to believe it!
My mentor, Linda Potgieter, recently reminded me of the importance of pointing out the Beauty in the world around us. Sharing the world through a lens of Beauty instead of fear and mistrust will train your child to look for solutions, to view the world as full of possibilities, rather than the narrow broken window pane others may try to paint. The truth is the world is LARGE and GRAND and opportunities for ADVENTURE, and ENTERPRISE, and PROSPERITY still exist as they always have.
I recently read a book called, "Beauty Can Save the World," which describes this perspective. More about that later. The point here is to teach your child to recognize Beauty and find the Joy of every day extraordinary Life Abundant.
3. Answer Questions
Many parents avoid reading the Bible to children for fear they will not have an answer or understanding themselves. But remember, the Bible is the only book where the Author, Himself shows up every time you read it. He will help with interpretation as you speak His word back to Him. Reading the Bible and telling Bible stories can become a conversation and a demonstration to your child of how to develop a relationship with God through His word. Telling or reading a story and being ready to answer all the "why" questions can be daunting. But remember, you are not just entertaining here. You are educating, programming for success, planting right thinking, and training up your child for success in life -- in relationships, the marketplace, as future parents, citizens, leaders, producers, and sons and daughters of God.
What is My Part?
When I was five or so I relived my whole day in bed at night -- out loud -- hour by hour, conversation by conversation. Some nights this went on quite long -- if it had been an eventful day. In fact, on one occasion I recall still recounting its various episodes even long after my parents went to bed. Suddenly, from their bedroom came my father's booming voice, "LYNN!! GO TO SLEEP!!" To which I promptly replied, "I haven't finished remembering the day so I can tell my grandchildren!" It was important! I was sure it is what my Granny Lee must have done so she could recall all the stories she told me.
As it turns out, I don't have grandchildren. Or children, which is the most conventional way to acquire them. But I am writing children's stories using those memories, adventures, and experiences to tell lessons of the Proverbs through a grandfatherly character, Thaddeus Jeremiah Wisdom in my book series, Uncommon Wisdom. I believe it is my part. My "grandchildren" will find them. And me. Stay tuned for the next lessons and laughter of this kindly gentleman in an e-book series coming soon. That's my part. What's yours?