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“Sharing Faith With Your Kids"

Brenda Norris
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000 

Brenda Norris has been writing a column for the Religion and Spirituality page in the Bangor Daily News since January 2006, and is a 2008 Amy Writing Award recipient.  She and her sister, writing as Sophie & Sadie Cuffe, have recently signed a five-book contract with Desert Breeze Publishing.  Their first book, Arrow that Flies (Christian suspense), will be released as an e-book in August 2011; and their bully musical, Stick Together, was a 2010 Northern Writes winner.  Brenda is a member of the Worship Committee, active in children's and nursing home ministries, choir director at the West Lubec Methodist Church, and likes to swing with the Orange River Jazz Band.  She enjoys being a writer, musician, farmer, daughter, sister, mother, and grandmother. Jeremiah 29:11

There are a ton of self-help books available today on parenting, from potty training, to surviving the terrible twos, to how to talk to your teen; but the greatest training manual on the market is often overlooked. Who's better qualified than the Almighty Father-of-all to offer guidance to His children? He has written more advice columns than Dear Abby, Ann Landers, and Dr. Phil, yet His guidebook often lies covered in dust on the bookshelf, unopened and unused.


This is Father's Day weekend so let's see what the Bible has to say about dads. Most fathers take their children's nutrition and hygiene seriously; how much more should they want the kids to have healthy Spiritual habits! In Deuteronomy 6, the Israelites were commanded to take God's words into their hearts, and to teach them diligently to their children. Are we doing this?


My father was a wonderful mentor and a great proponent of memorizing Scripture. I remember when he was helping my little brother learn Deuteronomy 33:27; "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…" Dad would lift him high in the air, much to my brother's delight. The memory still brings a smile.


We can all recite "One Fish, Two Fish," and a host of nursery rhymes we learned before we could read. We'd do well to see that our kids learn the 23rd Psalm, 1st John 1:9, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." And Isaiah 26:3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee …" Why? Because if they're ever in a foxhole (and we know there are no atheists in foxholes) with bullets flying overhead, the color of fish isn't going to be much comfort.


A good father is present with his children. My dad attended untold band and choral concerts, accordion and piano recitals, plays and musicals, and he never made me think there was anywhere else he'd rather be (although I do remember him saying something about deserving an oak leaf cluster after a particularly long band event).


Our Heavenly Father is present with us. In Hebrews 13:5 God says, "… I will never leave you nor forsake you." The Greek rendering here uses a double negative to drive the point home; in other words, "I will never, no never, not ever leave you …"


A good father leads by example. He doesn't just tell his children about God, or drop them off at Sunday School, or wait for them to figure it out on their own. He attends church with his family. They read the Bible and pray together. This enables him to show grace in every situation, knowing God's got him and his family covered, so that when someone comments on his positive attitude, he's ready "… always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [him] …" (1st Peter 3:15).


A good father wants his children to have eternal life. God does, too. I like the BBE version of 2nd Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his word, as he seems to some, but he is waiting in mercy for you, not desiring the destruction of any, but that all may be turned from their evil ways." Yet God is so gracious He's not going to force you into a relationship with Him. He leaves that up to you.


Have you noticed the father's position in the parable of the prodigal son? Luke 15:20 "… But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." This man had no idea when, or if, his boy would ever return, so it's unlikely he just happened to be looking down the road at the precise moment the child decided to come back home. He was watching and waiting every day, just as God is waiting for you. And the best part is, He never says, "Go ask your mother." He says, "Call upon me and I will answer …" (Psalm 91:15).


On a social networking site someone recently posted, "Sunday morning in the garden, planting, weeding, and landscaping. Who needs church?" One of his friends responded with, "Hey Stephen, it happens to be Monday :-)"


The humor of the post notwithstanding, I was saddened by the question, "Who needs church?" There will always be those who claim they can be closer to God on a golf course, or in a garden, or anyplace other than a church full of hypocrites, but can a hole-in-one bring the same joy of shared faith and fellowship? Can any flower patch comfort in a time of loss the way a hug from the church family can?


God knows we need this faith family connection and in Hebrews 10:25, offers these words: (WNT) " … not neglecting -- as some habitually do -- to meet together, but encouraging one another, and doing this all the more since you can see the day of Christ approaching."


We do our children a huge disservice when we fail to give them the safe haven of an extended church family who will love them, teach them, care for and protect them, and pray for them throughout their lives.


Christian fathers, you can't force your kids to believe, but you can give them every reason on earth to want the joy, peace and love you have. It's all about time; there's no time like the present to share your faith with them; and there's no present like your time.


Miss you, Dad; wish you were here, but know you're watching and waiting. Happy Father's Day!


Printed June 19-20, 2010; The Bangor Daily News;  Bangor, ME

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