You know what I love about God?
OK, there are a lot of things, but one thing I like is that He is always using word pictures and symbols. God describes himself as a bird that will hide us under his wings, he tells us His Word is like snow, our sins are scarlet and encouraging words are like apples of gold.
He also commands the Israelites to do all kinds of symbolic acts that help them remember and understand Him and His Word. Think about the Jewish holidays—Passover with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the Feast of Tabernacles where they built little booths outside to live in and remember their journey through the wilderness and Jesus, of course, builds on these with the bread and wine of the Last Supper.
Why such symbolism? Why such visual signs? Michelle Anthony, author of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family says, “Ours is a God who has placed symbols, rituals, and community celebrations in our lives intentionally to help us remember.”
We need visual reminders, we need tactile learning, we need seasonal signs to help our little hearts hear over the roar of sin in the world.
This is why I’m so convinced little things like doing crafts, making up motions for Bible verses, singing Scripture songs, and making Bible verse posters is critical to raising kids that love Jesus for a lifetime. They need–WE need those little signs, those little reminders around every part of our lives!
Of course, I’m already amped up about this because of Sense of the Resurrection happening and parents are actively making signs and putting up reminders of Jesus, but I just finished the aforementioned book by Michelle Anthony and she got me all excited again.
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family focuses on six dysfunctional parenting styles–double-minded, driver, micro-managing, criticizing, absentee and I-can’t-say-no parent. Sadly, I found myself in each of these styles at one level or another. And as I looked back through my underlines, stars, exclamation points dog-ears and double underlines, I noticed a theme.
It’s my heart-cry and my…well, my new focus over the last few months. It’s easily wrapped up in this quote from Barrett Johnson, “The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive.”
Anthony expands on this quote and says, “the child’s heart matters–not just his or her actions…really good people are not what Jesus asked for. He asked for people of faith. And faith is so much messier (and harder to measure) than moral behavior.” (emphasis mine)
Am I parenting in a way that leads my kids to BE GOOD? Or to be full of faith? Am I bringing my kids down a path of morality? Or down a path of relationship with the one true God? And am I growing with my children? Helping them graduate from “basic moral formation to a more vibrant spiritual formation” so they don’t miss out on a lifetime of faith?
Are you hearing this?!
It’s such a call to me as a parent. Not so I can be The Perfect Parent, but that I have my heart in the right place. Am I leading my kids to Jesus because I want them to have authentic faith and a relationship Him? Or am I teaching them platitudes that will make my kids behave in public and make sure they don’t do drugs or get knocked up before marriage?
Anthony’s book is full of great, practical ideas to help parents grow spiritual healthy families and not just lead our kids to be “Christian pagans”. She explains concepts like formal times of blessing, crafting a family mission statement, and gives real life examples of celebrating spiritual milestones. I loved how God-focused, Bible-based every chapter was.
The book ends with a quote from Jon Nielson that calmed my am-I-ruining-my-children question,
“In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their homes with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church.”
I almost want to put that on my wall.
Love Jesus VIBRANTLY.
Serve the church ACTIVELY.
Saturate with the gospel COMPLETELY.
It’s not something I’m making my kids do. It’s something I am doing. As I seek to grow spiritually myself this will have a positive impact on my children. Whew. It makes me want to get going–not on raising my kids better but just loving Jesus more. Vibrantly.
Not only did I really enjoy Michelle Anthony’s book, she’s also the Family Ministry Architect at David C. Cook who produces the TRU family ministry curriculum and Homefront Magazine. Homefront Magazine is free online and is absolutely gorgeous and full (I’d say “chock-full” if I liked that word) of awesome ideas for growing a spiritual family!
I am a part of LitFuse’s tour associated with this book. I was given this book in order to do a review. I only signed up for it because of Michelle Anthony’s reputation and my excitement to read the book. All words and opinions my own. Affiliate links included. When you purchase anything via these links, I make a small commission. Very small. But very appreciated. Thanks for loving ohAmanda!