Let Them Dream

When Caryn and Courtney were younger they had many dreams and aspirations.  They have both grown up, gone to college, and are now living on their own. Today I came across two photos of the girls when they were about eleven and thirteen.  It’s amazing how God gives us desire deep within our heart that when cultivated can grow into something beautiful.

Caryn, is living in Detroit, and her main source of income is photography.  Actually she is a very gifted and sought after photographer.  Take a peek of her creative work here.

Courtney, is living in La Jolla, CA where she works for a campus ministry.  She attended a blogging conference with me last weekend as she desires to seek ways to support her passion of being in full time ministry and writing.  She is creative in so many ways and blogs here. (Courtney is wearing her grandmother’s wig)

I was reminded of the importance of letting children dream as you never know how God will give them the desires of their heart. Also we should never stopping dreaming.

Who or What is Influencing Your Children?

Deuteronomy 6:5-9  The Israelites have been wandering for many years and finally they are about to enter the Promise Land.  Moses demands their diligent attention to the word of God, as well as, His statutes and judgments that were taught them.  The book of Deuteronomy shows the blessings of obedience and the curse of disobedience. God warns them to not be influenced by the sin of idolatry 4:16-17 Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape;    Idolatry would be everywhere they went and would greatly mess up their lives.  God knew the Israelites were going to be influenced by the many people and different cultures they encountered so over and over He implores them to let His words, promises and past deeds to not only influence them but also their children and future generations.   As I prepared for this it occurred to me that Moses wasn’t just talking to the Israelites he was probably extremely passionate, emotional, and almost pleading with them as he knows how important obedience was.  Everything depended on their obedience – life itself, possession of the Promised Land, victory over their enemies, prosperity, and happiness.

Imagine that you are passionately sharing the above with your children.  Hear/listen ___________ The LORD OUR God is the only one you need. ___________ love the LORD with everything you have. Make Him number one.  Please study His word daily to know what He expects of you and to know Him.   Remind other you love to keep God first and foremost in their lives by the example you live wherever you are. Share God’s goodness whenever possible.

The above passage is often taught in the context of parenting and home education but I want to challenge you to consider that this passage applies to us as teachers and Christ bearers. We all have someone who either looks up to us or will look up to us.  I’m sure you can think back to someone or something that greatly influenced you. I can vividly remember the first Christian couple/parents who discipled Jon and I after accepting Christ.  Their influence on my life was huge as I did not want to have children because of my childhood baggage but how this couple interacted with their young boys, as well as each other opened my world up to parenting and marriage unlike anything  I had experienced growing.  Likewise, the influence of those responsible for my care and nurturing negatively tainted my view on marriage and parenting.

We all have been influenced and have influence on others whether we realize it or not.  Through our influence we impart values, stimulate creativity, develop compassion, modify weaknesses, and nurture strengths.  We can open life up to another individual.  And we can open an individual up to life.  So what exactly is influence?   It is ability to indirectly control or affect the actions of other people or things. The meaning of influence therefore depends on who or what is being affected, and to what end.

Here is a powerful video called Children see – Children do  it is put out by an Australian children’s rights organization as a public service announcement.  It is easy to think that kids are not paying much attention to what the adults in their lives do and say.  However, I think you will agree otherwise.

Make your influence positive but how?  As Christians we have the greatest privilege to influence others for Christ which is what I would like to focus on today. 

Influence first begins with YOU v 5 ________ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  Then we are to take Gods words He speaks, and write them “on our hearts.” God says in various passages, “You are My people; I love you.  I have chosen you; I am always with you, I will protect you.  I am only asking you to obey Me for your good.  We need to make God’s words a part of our lives by letting His teachings reshape our values, attitudes, and our ways.  We are to love God ourselves and take His words to heart.  Because God’s people are His, He wants them to walk in the world in the way that benefits them, separating themselves from evil.  Once our lives are influenced by the goodness of God and His word we are to talk about them in the context of daily life, and so make them real to others.  Through our lives we set an example for others to follow as we no longer are merely hears of the word we are doers as well.

I will next will share the how, where, when and what of positive influence. The next step to positively influencing those in your life is accomplished HOW?  In Deuteronomy 6:7 we are instructed to impress (teach or talk) to our children diligently using the relationship-based model because to “teach” in the Hebrew culture meant building a relationship, spending time with a person in order to learn from watching him and interacting with him. WHERE? “When you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Today this may look more like as you drive all over town, at bedtime, during mealtimes and the many other teachable moments. WHEN?  Basically we are to be teaching and impressing truth 24/7.  Our children will learn from us – good or bad, positive or negative, be of God or the world.   Former NBA star “Sir” Charles Barkly said “I don’t want to be a role model”. Silly, that’s simply NOT his choice. We only have two choices in the matter; to be either a positive or negative role model, but it’s one or the other!

WHAT?  1) We are to teach and impress primarily that Jesus is Christ as seen in Acts 5:42 which says Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute   2) Scripture is truth – as opposed to fables, false doctrine, and genealogies (1 Tim 1:3).   3) Lastly we read in (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ; All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.)   So we are to use the Scripture to:

  •    establish doctrine by declaring what is right;
  •    provide reproof by defining what is wrong;
  •    make corrections by telling how to change wrong to right;
  •    to instruct in righteousness – applying truth to life’s circumstances.

The ultimate goal for the teacher is to see her students engage in good works.  Jesus is the example of what a teacher is to be and how to influence others.

We see that Godly influence must be consistent.  v8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Moses’ command here is a symbolic one, intended to emphasize the value of one living for god in their personal life represented by hands = (action/what you do/how you live) & forehead = (one’s thoughts); their private life/home life (doorframe of the house); and their public life (gate).  The idea here is that of consistency as one’s life of influence should not simply be to live for God in public, but in private, as well as in his personal affairs.  Who are you when no one is looking? People will know you are a Christian by the way you live your life.   If one is going to make a godly impression upon others, his life must be characterized by godly example and consistency. You see, it is unreasonable to expect others to listen to your advice but to ignore your example as people normally pay more attention to what we do, rather than to what we say.

Scott Adams, the cartoonist of Far Side said, “You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.”

Each day we are in immediate danger of falling prey to the influence of American culture.  The remedy is allowing daily influence from God’s word to penetrate our lives in order to counteract the bombardment of worldly influence.  Remember Godly influence must be Christ centered, it begins with you, and is consistent.  I challenge you to consider whether you are allowing God’s truth, His past goodness, and promises to influence more than the worldly god’s?  What god’s are you allowing to influence your life? Maybe it’s prosperity, successful, beauty, power, prestige, etc.  Choose today who or what you will be influenced by.    Make your influence not only positive but Christ centered.