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Discipling the Littles (part II)

Hey! Hope you're having a great Friday! Many of y'all have started back to school this week! It's probably my favorite time of year and I look forward to sweaters, boots, football, cloudy days, and mugs of hot coffee. Living down here in south Mississippi, it will be a while before it gets chilly, but I still like this time of year anyway. I'll just pretend it's cold. New school years also mean new beginnings, so as your little babies, go to school for the first time or for the last time,or somewhere in between, take some time to encourage them in their lives with Jesus.

READ.LISTEN.WATCH: Paul writes to the Philippians in Philippians 4:8 to think about things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and whatever is commendable…” It matters what we fill our minds with. Implement Godly stuff in kids’ lives using ordinary, daily activities. Reading a Bible passage from a fun kids Bible each morning, saving Sunday School handouts to read during the week, reading books that discuss how much God cares for them before bed each night. Playing fun Christian music in the car fills their minds with lyrics that teach them about Christ, even if they do not comprehend the words at the time. Few moments in life are more joyful than seeing a toddler dance to music and laugh. It becomes even better when they are memorizing words that they will understand later that teach them about their Savior. Even a toddler can bump to some Toby Mac! When it’s entertainment time, we can put wholesome television and movies to reinforce Godly values.

DO: Serve others. Paul teaches in Galatians 5:13 to “serve one another through love.” It is obvious that society is an introspective, “me first” place to live and as humans, we do not have to be taught to be selfish. They call it the “terrible twos” for a reason! It is uplifting to watch children learn to empathize and watch out for other children. Siblings can begin by learning to serve each other at home. Sometimes serving family is more difficult than serving strangers. Helping someone else with chores, helping a brother or sister when they are sick, helping mom or dad complete a task. For the little babies at home, surprise the mailman with a treat. Take a meal to the local fire station or police station and thank them for their service. As kids grow, the easier it will be to go beyond home and serve others. Pets and babies put a smile on most peoples’ faces, so visiting people in the hospital is a great family activity and means the world to those stuck in a boring hospital room. Grab a list from church and visit them! Participate in family church activities that serve those in the community.

TALK: Keep conversation open! In Psalm 78:4, as a lesson from Israel’s past, David encourages parents to “tell a future generation the praises of the Lord,His might, and the wonderful works He has performed.” Be purposeful and enjoy conversations with the little ones in life. Look them in the eyes and let them know they have full attention for every conversation possible. When Godly conversations come up, they already know that their parents care about all the other stuff in life and can be trusted with Godly stuff as well. Ask what they learned in Sunday School around the dinner table so everyone has a chance to talk on their level and learn from each other. The depth of conversation also depends on the developmental level of the child. For babies, as they get picked up out of the crib, point out the sunshine outside and thank God for it together. Rock them to sleep and sing “Jesus Loves Me.” Tell those littlest ones that God loves them. Help toddlers learn simple chores at the same time as simple phrases such as “we work together.” Elementary school students are deep thinkers. Ask about church, school, and friends. Asking open-ended questions after school or while doing housework together promotes good conversation and teachable moments. Also, it is a great opportunity for them to ask questions and explain their thoughts. Through conversations with children, we can be reminded of Godly lessons as they teach us. Some of the best conversations come at bedtime. They may be stalling to avoid sleepy time but it can be a valuable time for them to ask questions about God. Teach them how to have quiet time. Even the littlest ones can have a special time each day to be read to and pray. Preschoolers can be led through a special book to spend time with God each day. Those kids who can read can be encouraged to take a few minutes at some point each day to read an age-appropriate book to spend time with God. As they learn to spend time with Him and grow, they will learn to value that time as they reach adolescence and friends and activities take more time and attention.

A child’s brain grows to 85% of its adult size by age three! We hear in commercials, formula ads, and parenting websites that this stage in childhood development is super important. In fact, we know that between birth and age three is the fastest rate of brain development in our lifespan (Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education). It is never too early to teach children about God’s love for them! We have just a brief bit of time to instill a foundation of Godly knowledge. It is also never too late either! As a parent, start today by creating this atmosphere of discipleship at home. We cannot expect children to naturally become devoted disciples of Christ unless we as parents are first, and then become intentional to teach them to love the Lord as well. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes intentionality. It is so worth it. So rock those babies and hug those kids as they go off to school each day! They can be the changers of the world.

Happy Friday! Congratulations on a new beginning. If you live where the weather is already getting cooler, I'm a little jealous, but enjoy it for me!



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