Is it enough to share verses and outline rules? Will our children be able to functionally realize the Lord’s will for their lives just because we told them they need to obey God? Join AMBrewster as he discusses five ways to apply Truth to your child’s life.
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You know what? Today I’m rejoicing. God is so good! My life is so blessed because I get to be part of a family. God’s gift of salvation is the most precious thing I have. Being a part of God’s family is my greatest calling and highest pleasure!
But in addition to that I’m honored and blessed to be the husband of Johanna and father to Micah and Ivy. My Lord and Savior has entrusted this broken vessel you’re listening to right now to be an integral part in the sanctification of my wife and kids. That is a weighty and glorious calling.
And it just keeps getting better. Every day I get to meet searching families and point them to the God they’re looking for. I encounter hurting families and introduce them to the only Person Who can heal their pain. I interact with growing families and am privileged to pour the water of God’s Word on their already fruitful lives. And I get to bear up broken families with the only Divine support guaranteed to keep them from falling.
I cannot praise God enough for the infinite joy it is to serve Him in His family, my family, and your family.
And you know what? That’s your glorious calling too!
That’s right. You have been or are being invited to join in God’s family by following Christ and trusting Him for your now and your eternity. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re likely married, and God’s gifted you your spouse and all the beautiful responsibilities that accompany that. And you probably also have kids . . . and that’s a reward beyond comprehension that He would entrust those lives to your care. And He’s also equipping you to be a help and blessing to other parents in the body of Christ.
Isn’t today a wonderful day?!
Alright, abide with me a minute longer and we’ll tackle today’s topic.
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Okay, not back to the amazing privilege we have of applying God’s Word to our families’ lives!
Application is the single most difficult part of life training. To understand this topic we need to separate out the two parts of training. The first part is Instruction. Instruction is similar to teaching or lecturing. It involves simply giving information. Application is the process of using that information to solve, create, or change.
Profitable training always includes these two elements. In the martial arts I need to instruct the student how to throw a correct punch, but then I need to teach them why and how to use that punch in a self-defense situation and why it needs to be used in those ways.
Webster defines application as “(1) : an act of putting something to use – application of new techniques (2) : a use to which something is put – new applications for old remedies“
As I alluded to earlier, there are basically two kinds of Application: “How-Application,” and “Why-Application.”
How-Application works like this,
“Verb tenses communicate when the action of the sentence took place. Now, here’s what you have to do to utilize the correct tense . . . .”
In the home it may sound like,
“Your room needs to be clean. Theses are the steps you need to take to accomplish that.”
In the second example, I provided you with information. The info was pretty straightforward – your room needs to be clean. But every parent understands that our version of clean and our children’s version of clean rarely coincide. Therefore, a wise parent will apply that knowledge to their children’s actions. “I am going to show you how you need to clean.” And you can be super-specific in this step – all the way down to how they store their shoes to how they dust their shelves to how they fold their clothes.
The more specific the application, the better the outcome.
Why-Application is equally as important, but often harder to do. When confronted with “Why do I have to do it this way?” We often respond, “Because that’s how I want it done.” When asked “Why do we have to diagram sentences,” too many teachers reply, “Because it’s in the book.”
By the way, it’s good for children to ask why. They do that naturally because God created humans to learn and no true learning can take place without application. They desperately want to know what all this has to do with their lives!
It’s also valuable to acknowledge that if my children are incessantly asking me why, it’s partially due to the fact that I may not be training well. If Why-Application were part of my daily parenting, I would usually answer their questions before they’re asked.
This is what Why-Application sounds like,
“Here’s how you diagram a sentence. Diagramming is important because it shows me that you understand what every word in the sentence is doing. If you don’t know what the words are doing, you can’t use them well. And if you can’t use them well, you won’t communicate well.”
I’ve now helped my students apply the concept of diagramming to their daily communication.
As you would expect, the Bible illustrates many powerful ways to apply Truth to life. There’s no specific chapter and verse that says,
“My beloved Timotheus, make it your daily exercise to couple the glorious Word of our God to one another’s lives by the sincerest undertaking of illustrations and . . . .”
But the Bible does provide us numerous examples. Today we’re going to quickly look at five.
1. Know God’s Truth
You can’t apply Truth you don’t know.
And you can’t teach your children to apply Truth if they don’t know the Truth.
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
You can’t teach or admonish in wisdom if the Word of Christ isn’t dwelling in you richly.
And that leads to number two.
2. Utilize God’s Wisdom
As I mentioned earlier, good parenting involves instructing our children in philosophy – which is why you do what you do. So, by teaching philosophy this way, you’re teaching your child to be wise; you’re teaching them to apply.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
This same truth applies to training as well. We could say, “The application of Truth is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Wisdom itself is application. When your child takes your instruction and correctly applies it to a situation and makes the Christ-honoring choice, you would say he’s being wise or mature.
So, if we’re going to teach our children how to be wise, we’re going to need to be wise ourselves.
3. Pre-answer Concerns
In one of the most difficult passages in the Bible (Romans 9), Paul unveils powerful realities that he knew his audience would struggle with.
So he put himself into their shoes and while presenting his information, he asked questions of himself that he knew would eventually dawn on his audience.
Recently we had to remind the guys who live at Victory Academy for Boys that it’s never appropriate to be disrespectful. Showing disdain for an authority’s decision is never right.
While explaining this, I answered a potential objection that may have then been on their minds, or may pop into their heads later.
I told them this,
“I know it’s easy to think we have a right to say whatever we want because we live in America and we all value freedom of speech. But think about this: Are we free to say whatever we want in God’s kingdom? It’s true we have the freedom to say anything and everything that would glorify God in the moment, but we never have the freedom to gossip, complain, tear-down, or disrespect with our words.”
I pre-answered their objection that they should have the right to say whatever they want and that we need to listen to it.
Quick Review: 1. Know Truth, 2. Utilize Wisdom, 3. Pre-answer Concerns, and 4. . . .
4. Use Dynamic Stories
I love how Jesus taught. His parables are divine genius.
We are story-telling people. Plot, characters, settings, and visual images resonate with us because that’s how God created us. And He created us that way because He’s a storytelling, narrative-building, plot-unfolding God.
I use parables and illustrations all the time. It has revolutionized my parenting, teaching, preaching, and friending.
You can’t really understand how powerful it is until you use it.
It’s the difference between throwing a bucket of paint against the wall while it’s still in the can, and purposefully applying the paint to the wall with careful brush strokes.
And, yes, that was an illustration.
And the fifth and final way to apply Truth to your child’s life is . . .
5. Be More Specific
May I say, it’s nearly impossible to over-communicate to the average child?
I’m not suggesting we say the exact same things over and over in one conversation – though it’s abundantly true that repetition aids learning.
What I’m suggesting is communicating in concentric circles.
For example: I can tell my child he needs to obey God.
What I said is true, but if I left the instruction there, he’s on his own to figure out what that means and then decide how to apply it to his daily life.
So, I make my focus a little narrower. I turn over to Galatians 5 and we discuss peace and patience and kindness and love. Now, we’ve gotten more specific. For example, we can see that to obey God we need to be loving.
But, what if I stop there?
Does my son know what it means to love?
So I get more specific. I take him over to I Corinthians 13 and we start to understand that in order to obey God we need to love and in order to love we need to stop being prideful, irritable, and pessimistic.
But what does it look like for my child to be optimistic in his love for his sister? Because I try to live with my son according to knowledge, I’m fairly certain that – left to himself – he will either misunderstand this concept or wrongfully apply it.
So I drill down even farther, helping him to see that when he says, “She always breaks my stuff, she’ll never change.” he’s not being loving.
And then I can take him to Ephesians 4 to help him put off that sinful behavior and put on the righteous responses. Instead of refusing to let her play with his things, he should gladly share his toys. And, of course, this needs to be specific to my son and his sister. Some things I might have them do may not work for your kids.
But is that enough? Did I successfully apply Truth the best I could?
I think many parents make it to this level in their parenting, but if you were paying attention, you realize that I missed a step from Ephesians.
Many of our children do the right things in the right ways. My son may let his sister play with his toys, but but doing the right thing in the right way isn’t necessarily obedience if you’re not doing it for the right reason. Remember, philosophy is “why you do what you do.” That’s the core. Wisdom is taking God’s Truth and applying it to life because the wise man fears the Lord. That should be the motivation.
But what if my son is sharing his toy simply because it’s expedient, because he’s afraid of consequences, because it’s easier than arguing, because he wants her to like him, because he wants mom and dad to be proud of him? Those are terrible motivations if they’re his only motivation.
I need to teach my child to do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons. And few people come to those conclusions naturally on their own.
At this point, I’ve tightened my circle almost as small as it can go.
So, I tell my son,
“In I Corinthians 10:31 God commands us to do everything in life for the sole purpose of glorifying Him. Glorifying God means that when we do or say things, people have a higher opinion of God because of what we did or said. That means that when you share your toys with your sister, you need to do it because you love God and you want your sister to think highly of Him. In other words, you want to show His love to her. You need to share toys with your sister – not for your sister, and not even because your dad told you to – you need to share your toys because you love God and want to please Him with your life. And that’s one little way you can know you’re obeying God.”
That’s what I mean by being “more specific.’
All of that was a mix of Truth and application where I showed my son how God’s Word needs to change how he lives.
And because he’s a human child, I know that he will likely forget or choose not to live out our conversation. And because God called me to be his parent, I know I’ll have the opportunity to use that conversation as a touchstone in future conversations.
So, those are five ways we can apply truth to our children’s lives. I need to know God’s Truth, utilize God’s wisdom, Pre-answer concerns, use dynamic stories, and be more specific.
I don’t know about you, but my biggest hurdle is parenting laziness. I’d much rather tell my kid to obey and leave it at that. It’s easier. I’m sure he’ll figure it out.
But when I do that I’m setting my child up for failure. My kids souls are knotted with foolishness, and I need to help them embrace God’s perfect philosophy of life by helping them understand why they do what they do.
As always, I’ve included this information on today’s Episode Notes and linked them in the description.
Next time we hope to discover the most potentially destructive influence in the life of your child. Don’t miss it. It may surprise you.
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There is nothing we need for life and godliness that God’s Word doesn’t give us. But sometimes our children need a little more help living the truth. Have fun giving them that.