Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 007 Equipping Children
Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #007 – Equipping Children
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed and thrilled to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
The topic close to my heart today is one that is deeply personal. More importantly, it’s special to God. This episode is about children and those who influence them.
Although I realize I’m not the only mother in the world who has raised two separate families, I know it’s definitely not the norm. Some people consider us crazy; some admire us and lift us to reside on a pedestal of benevolence. Honestly, we are neither of those. The fact is that two of our children were brought to us biologically. Two of them were brought to us through adoption. Just as women achieve pregnancy and deliver babies through different ways, our family was built by two methods and stretched over a longer period of time than most. It’s honestly that simple.
Yet, I still consider my family a miracle and our story one that only God can author. But then, that’s true of all of us.
The most urgent desire I have in my heart after raising one set of children and now raising the next, is the absolute necessity of bringing our children up to know, love, and respect the Lord and helping other mothers to understand that importance. To raise our children to love and honor Jesus and to desire to grow their own relationship with Him is the best gift we can give them and the most important job we have.
I have found that those of us who claim to be Christians usually want to raise Christian children. But the truth is that many of us depend on the church to raise our child to know God and don’t take active steps at home to nurture the relationship we have with the Lord, let alone foster the growth of our children in Him. Many of us have also been deceived into thinking that once our child accepts Christ as Savior that we don’t have to be as concerned about our child. Both are dangerously blinding us with deceit straight from Satan.
How do I know this happens? It happened to me as a young, naive new Christian mother. I had good intentions, but lacked the wisdom I needed to grow and sufficiently nurture my own walk, let alone the heart journey of my children. Our walk was not the straight path I wish it would have been, although I honestly loved the Lord. I’ve also heard stories from others who have similar testimonies to share.
Many children from Christian families attend church functions anywhere from one to five hours per week. Families may go to Sunday school and church on Sunday mornings, then either go back to church Sunday night or attend a church function on Wednesday evening, but in our active and fast-paced world, fewer children attend that often. Many churches have stopped Sunday evening services and many children have school or personal activities on Wednesday evenings. Even if children were attending activities at the church at all of the mentioned times, simply being at the church does not make them a growing Christian. You absolutely cannot nurture and sustain a close relationship with Christ on a few hours a week.
A true relationship with God starts through a personal relationship with Christ and continues to grow and thrive in the home. It must be nurtured throughout each day. Children learn best when they see a beautiful and godly relationship with Jesus modeled daily in every action, reaction, and interaction they see their parents make. Even our mistakes can draw them nearer to God as they see the ways grace-filled and influenced parents handle living in this broken world.
Unless we purposely fix our minds on living with eternal perspective, this world, our pride and lusts, and Satan will distract us with anything to pull us away from Christ.
John 10:10 warns, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
When I became a Christian, I foolishly believed that my life would automatically be different, but just as everything else in life, that’s actually when the real work began. I had to learn about releasing my life to the One I now professed to follow. In the meantime, my children were maturing quickly and I missed opportunities to nurture them in and through Jesus the way I should have. It is vitally important to me to teach mothers the importance of maturing your fellowship with Jesus so that He will naturally be breathed into the lives of your precious children from the very beginning. You will never regret it.
Seeking the Lord and growing our relationship with Jesus should be as much a part of our existence as breathing. Just as we awaken each day with a craving for food and drink, our mind should instinctively desire Him and automatically draw to fellowship with Him throughout each day. I think of the hymn, “He Lives,” by Alan Jackson. Here are a few of the words. “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart.”
We are meant to walk and talk with Jesus through an internal dialogue that beautifully draws us nearer to Him. Jesus knows my innermost thoughts. He knows yours. He intimately cares about everything concerning me and concerning you. No matter where you are in your faith journey, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit is living within you to guide and move you to a deeper walk with Him. We create distance in our relationship with Jesus just as we do with people in our lives. If we don’t welcome Him and nurture the relationship, it will fade. Jesus won’t leave us, but we can drift away from Him. To grow and sustain our Christian walk, we have to be intentional and not let distractions take the place of commitment, just like with every relationship in our life.
Now let’s think about God’s word. When we read the Bible, we clearly see people who were determined to direct their own lives while making unwise choices that drew them away from God. Let’s use the very first example of shattered lives in the Bible as we discuss how cleverly the serpent (Satan) tricked Eve. It’s so easy for us to look back at her and think of Eve as foolish. She (and Adam) clearly understood the instructions God had given them. But we also allow subtleties to distract us from living fully in relationship with Jesus daily. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, He desires us to allow Him to sit as the Master of our life. It’s easy to say we believe in God and want Him to guide us. It’s harder to actually accept and allow Jesus to transform our life, giving Him direct access to our thoughts, emotions, speech, actions, and attitude. In other words, we are to release everything in our life to Him.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in intimate communion with God. He fulfilled their every need, giving them good and perfect gifts. They had peace of mind and deep joy. Gratitude filled their lives. They did not live with hazy minds tinged by lies or twisted truths - until they disobeyed. Then, they became estranged from God and the intimate bond they shared was severed. 2 Corinthians 11:3 states, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
We make the same foolish choices day after day. Either we follow our fleshly and selfish desires or we allow Satan to move in and destroy the good and perfect plans God has established for those of us who love Him.
James 1:12-17 is a longer passage, but bear with me as I read the important truths contained. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
We must not allow anything we think we desire in this world to undermine our growth in Christ. Distractions will always be around us. There is absolutely nothing here on this earth that will ever compare with the beauty of committing to the most important relationship we will ever have and in sharing and teaching Him to our children.
The best way we can tell whether we are allowing Jesus to work in and change our hearts is by His promise. Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit as He takes permanent residence within us as a guarantee of security that we are His. We not only believe His word and promise, but we also begin to see changes in the way we live. Our minds, thoughts, actions, and attitudes begin changing and evolving daily. We die to sin and the grip it once held over us.
Of course, we will still be tempted, but the way we face temptation begins to change. Because of Christ, nothing should have a permanent grip on us. Temptation is common to all men, even Jesus, but just as the Lord never sinned, He also provides us a way out of temptation. Temptation alone is not a sin, but succumbing to it is. A true, maturing Christian will hear the voice of Jesus daily, instead of looking for ways to get away with sin. A devoted Christian will also follow the path Jesus sets by example, not just doing whatever activity seems entertaining at the time.
As we grow in Christ, as we read His word, we crave more of it. We believe His truths and intentionally find ways to implement His instructions and guidelines in our lives. We desire following Jesus and when we fall into sin or make mistakes, we genuinely repent with a sorrowful heart that yearns for restoration and forgiveness.
John 10:7-10 says, “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Jesus is our door for eternal life. We are the sheep. He is the shepherd. In Biblical times, the sheep pen had one opening for sheep to enter. The shepherd would herd his flock into the enclosed pen and then actually lie down in the entry so that nothing could get in and the sheep could not get out. Jesus protects us in the same way. When we are His, we are saved from death. We live in intimate communion with Jesus, and are provided with perfect nourishment for our soul.
Why is all of this so important when talking about raising children? Because if we are truly committed to seeing our children flourish in their relationship with Jesus, we have to be so in love with Him that He seeps from our soul and spirit. We don’t want to teach our children about Jesus; we want to model a love and relationship so strong that they know Him because they see Him daily through us. We want to be the magnet that draws our children straight to the heart of Jesus. Without our own thriving personal relationship with Him, that will not happen.
Let’s stop and consider a few things absolutely vital to our walk with Christ. I believe we should all ask ourselves the following questions.
1. What do I believe about eternity? What I believe directly impacts the life of my precious children. What do I believe? How do I know my belief is true?
2. Am I living my belief? The time I have on this earth is nothing in comparison to eternity. James 4:14 says, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” I do not know what the next second will bring, let alone the next day. I have to take responsibility for what I believe. The time is now.
3. Do I surrender to Jesus daily so that my child will, too? Am I modeling my beliefs? Do I consider my beliefs important enough to make the sacrifice to die to myself daily and allow Christ full access?
4. What do I believe about the eternity of my children? Do my children know Christ yet?
5. Am I doing everything I possibly can to secure the eternity of my children? Do my children see my love for Jesus daily? Do they hear my prayers? Do we pray together? Do I teach them to rely on God? Do they see me read my Bible? Do we also read the Bible together? Do they see me walk the way God instructs in His word? Do they see me repent and change when I fail? Do I apologize to them (or others) when I do wrong? Do I discuss Jesus with my children? Do I walk and talk with Jesus each day and guide my children to do the same? Do I bring Him naturally into conversations so they see my relationship is real and natural?
Just as many people take time to contemplate life goals at the beginning of each year, we must reflect on our walk with Christ daily. Life is not simply about us; it should be a reflection of Christ that spreads out to all we connect with, especially our children. They were not given to us as a burden to raise to adulthood, but as a blessing that God considers a heritage. Our children actually belong to God. They are an inheritance from and for Him. We are caretakers for the Lord. While we have His children in our possession, we must make the most of every moment as we prayerfully guide them to know and love the One they will answer to for eternity.
If we are not intentionally living with an eternal perspective as we pursue life and parenting, we are making the choice to raise children of and for the world. We need to live set apart from what this world gives and seek what will truly satisfy the souls of our children. We have to purposely allow God to work through us to intimately know and understand each of our children. We must desire and allow Him to provide what they need to live a life that shines for Him without standing in His way. We must permit God access to our hearts and minds in order for Him to grow us and mold us into the parents our children require so they may be uniquely set apart in this world.
True Christian-centered parenting looks and feels unique because we believe, understand, and respect that His children are created in His image for Him. We live to honor Him with those He has lovingly and perfectly entrusted to us. What pleasure we will share with God when we are blessed to proclaim 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
What does living and raising our children to be “set-apart” look like? We should exist in this world as an active member in it, but not reflect the values of this world. Our beliefs and actions should mirror what God instructs in His word. It also means loving our neighbor as ourselves. We don’t judge or criticize those who do not seem to be following God’s truths as He instructs, but we don’t have to condone their beliefs or actions, either. It is possible to lovingly disagree and treat the person with grace and kindness. We need to see each other through the loving eyes of God.
As we strive to live in ways that honor God and display Him to our children, the choices we make are critical. We have to honestly assess whether the selections we make daily and the way we spend our precious time respect the guidelines and values God wants us to live by. We should be a mirror for our children to see Jesus clearly, through what and who we are, and do.
Luke 18:16 warns us clearly, “But Jesus called to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”
Do not make selfish, ignorant, or naïve choices that will ultimately impede your child’s walk and eternal future with God.
Checking the atmosphere of our home is mandatory when we desire to live lives pleasing to God and reflect Him to our children and others around us. It is difficult to control and eradicate some of our unwise choices and habits all at once, but starting with drawing attention to and possibly correcting one at a time will ensure that we are drawing nearer to the life God desires for us and our family. Here are some questions to begin with.
1. Does my speech reflect the way I would speak to God if He were sitting with me? He is, by the way. I just can’t see Him.
James 3:10-11 says, “from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?”
2. Do my actions represent the way Jesus would handle the joys and distresses of this life?
3. Are my activities pleasing to God?
4. Do my friends share my desire to know and please God more deeply? Are they reflecting Him in their lives, as well?
5. Does the way I dress reflect a modest and godly woman secure in the love my Father has for me?
6. Do I have to hide my occupation or is it a worthy use of my time to provide for my family?
7. Does the music I listen to enable my speech and values to be worthy of what God desires for me? Does it enable my speech and actions to stand against what God word requires of me as I grow my walk with Him? Should I be embarrassed for God to hear me sing the lyrics?
8. Does the entertainment I pay to see or participate in glorify God? Does the entertainment in my home show my children how important God is in our lives?
9. Do the books and magazines I read reflect the values and language God desires? Do the messages they lead me to believe stand against scripture?
10. Do the podcasts I listen to reflect values God desires me to learn and possess?
11. Do I spend more time in God’s Holy word than I do on social media? Do I intentionally spend time with my children to teach them to love God and learn His word?
Proverbs 24:3 teaches, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.”
It can be painful to go through this checklist. Life in this world does anything but guide us into the Father’s arms. We will never live a perfect life on earth, but we can strive to live as closely to the way God calls us as possible. We always have more ways we can purposely erase the influences of all this life leads us to believe we need. Strive to lean more closely into God’s beautiful desires for us instead.
John 15:9-11 promises, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Psalm 90:12 instructs, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
As we grow more Christlike, we desire Him even more. People begin to see the Lord through us and are drawn to become more like Him themselves. As we experience sweet fellowship with Jesus and savor the joy we receive when our children walk closely with Him, the attraction to the distractions in this world fade.
Matthew 13:44 explains it well; “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
May we all live with the joy, hope, and peace that only Jesus can provide and give our children the treasure of the kingdom of heaven so they can live a lifetime of sweet closeness with their Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thank you so much for listening to the Live With Eternal Perspective podcast. God has impressed so much on my heart to share. Living with an eternal perspective affects absolutely everything in my life. I am thrilled to delve into different areas with you. Since everything affects our eternity, we will have a lot to discuss! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you found value in this podcast, please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. I also encourage you to leave a review. In order for others to be able to find this podcast, I will need the support of listeners who will invest a few minutes in subscribing and reviewing to lift Live With Eternal Perspective higher on the charts so that the platform shows it to everyone.
Thank you again for sharing part of your day with me. Until next time, keep looking Upward and finding new ways to live with an Eternal Perspective.