August 13, 2007

Delighting in the Day, Part 6: The Discipline and Instruction of the Lord

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6.4

When I was a boy, my parents expected me to attend church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday, too. This practice continued into my teenage years, too—sometimes in spite of my protest! I can remember dreading Sunday evening church because it meant I would miss the 4th quarter of the NFL football games. Somehow, the meaning of the Lord’s Day had passed me by…making life difficult for my parents, I’m sure.

Some of you can relate to this routine. Many a Sunday is less than it should be because of the protesting, poor attitudes, or general disinterest of our kids. Some of us argue with our kids. Others force church upon them with an iron will. Others have simply given up altogether. But none of these are the biblical picture. The idea is to “bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”—without making them angry. And part of that means cultivating a delight for the Lord’s Day in our children. If we succeed, our children will be eager to come to make Sunday special—and will keep us on track, too!

The question is, ‘How do we accomplish this?’ I’m not sure I have all (or any) of the answers. But I have a few suggestions:

1. Make Sunday Special Yourself. We all know children learn most everything by imitation. So logic says that children whose parents observe the Lord’s Day will be much more likely to love Sundays themselves. Your consistent attendance at church, your commitment to be prepared and on time, your hearty participation in singing and prayer, your eager attention to the preached word, and your proper use of the remainder of the day will go a long way toward making Sunday special for your kids.

2. Make family worship a daily routine. One reason why Sunday worship is boring for so many kids is that it’s so different from what they are used to the other 163 hours of the week. And if we parents are not leading our families in daily Scripture reading, thoughtful prayer, and singing praises, we can expect our kids to think Sundays are weird. But if we have ‘little churches’ in our homes, our kids will look forward to learning and worshiping with mom, dad, and friends on Sundays, too.

3. Don’t give up. If observing the Lord’s Day rightly is new to you, it certainly will be to your kids. They may gag at first. But do not let their protests keep you from being the parent they need! Help them keep the Sabbath holy. They’ll thank you later!

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