Teaching Your Kids to Think

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The questions mamas worry about are endless. Will Jenny make any friends when we move? Can Thomas find a job this summer? Would Sophia do better on a gluten-free diet? Should I wait another year before I teach Noah to read?

If we’re not careful, these endless questions shout so loudly in our brains that they drown out the really important questions. One of those really important, absolutely critical, you-had-better-not-miss-this-one questions is this: What does Jenny (or Thomas or Sophia or Noah) think?

While it’s true that we must help our children connect with others, prepare them for work, take care of their bodies, and teach them academics, of even more importance is what’s bubbling around in that little mind. How’s my precious child doing in his soul? So much depends on these questions — everything really.

Jesus says there is evil and good. He says that God is the One Who decides which is which. He also says that the good or evil in a person’s heart matters very much. One day Jesus encountered some scribes:

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said,
“Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?
Matthew 9:4

Would my child’s conscience say “Ouch” if Jesus said that to him?

One day Jesus taught His disciples:

The good man
out of the good treasure of his heart
brings forth what is good;
and the evil man
out of the evil treasure
brings forth what is evil;
for his mouth speaks
from that which fills his heart.
Luke 6:45

What is in the heart does not only come out of the mouth. What is in the heart comes out in actions, too. On another occasion, Jesus told His disciples:

For from within,
out of the heart of men,
proceed the evil thoughts,
fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
deeds of coveting and wickedness,
as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander,
pride and foolishness.
All these evil things proceed from within
and defile the man.
Mark 7:21-23

Peter (in 1 Peter 5:8) said that the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He would just love to catch your child — or your spouse — or you. The first step is to capture a thought. Just one thought will do for a start.

The truth of Peter’s words is evident all around us. Take the media for example. Aren’t we bombarded by people who are constantly wanting us to call evil good and good evil — or to try to banish from our brains that there even is a good and an evil at all?

Look at Jesus’ words in Mark 7 again. Think about mainstream movies, television, news, books, etc. — if you can stomach thinking about that for a minute. Jesus’ description is an apt description of the content of each of these sources of information and entertainment: murder, adultery, sensuality, slander, fornication . . . . Have you noticed those topics lately?

The roaring lion knows that, if we think about these sins long enough, we will be tempted to commit these sins ourselves and to approve of others who do. I remember the first time that I, as a teenager, saw something sinful in a movie and realized that I was glad that it was happening because of the way the movie had pulled at my heart strings. That was the roaring lion at work.

But — the roaring lion tells us again and again — isn’t it unloving not to approve of people doing what makes them happy? Jesus taught us what to do about that when He encountered the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Jesus showed up the self-righteous men who brought the woman to Him. Jesus also loved the woman — without compromising God’s will:

Straightening up, Jesus said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Did no one condemn you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said,
“I do not condemn you, either.
Go. From now on sin no more.”
John 8:10

The roaring lion shouts: “Do not condemn,” while leaving off the also important: “Go. From now on sin no more.”

Concerning the world trying to get us to conform to it, instead of to God’s will, Paul wrote:

And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

There is that mind of ours again. The mind has to change for the transformation to take place.

Jesus spoke of two ways — and only two ways — that all folks (and that includes our children) can go. I’ll quote what He said in just a second, but before I do, I’d like to share a bit of homeschool advice with you. I have shared before the homeschool to do list Ray and I adopted for our children. If I were writing it today, I would add this to the list: Be narrow-minded.

The world shouts at my kids, your kids, all God’s kids: you must be broad-minded. The roaring lion warns people everyday about being narrow-minded. Concerning narrow-mindedness and broad-mindedness, I’ll stick with Jesus. He loved us so much that He wanted us to know:

Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide
and the way is broad that leads to destruction,
and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small
and the way is narrow
that leads to life,
and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

A Narrow Way

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