Happy Father’s Day!
By Sam Nadler
In Messianic congregation planting we teach that a congregation, despite its leadership, can be no stronger than the families involved. We need spiritually strong families for a spiritually strong congregation. For strong Messianic families, we need spiritually strong Messianic fathers that can reflect the love of our wonderful heavenly Father.
So, dad, your most important ministry from the Lord is to your family, and the scriptures instruct every believing dad on how they can be a positive influence in the home. Concerning children, it is your privilege and responsibility to “train up a child in the way he is to go” (Proverbs 22:6). No one cares more about your child’s spiritual development than the Lord. A section from the V’ahavta, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 instructs us, “These words that I give you today are to be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.”
The Hebrew word for children (b’nai) in Deuteronomy 6:7 is used elsewhere in the Scriptures referring to disciples – sons of the prophets (2 Kings 2:7, 15). This verse not only applies to your personal discipleship issues, but also to raising your children in “the reverence and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1). In fact, our own children should be our number one disciples. As they grow, you will spiritually grow with them as you minister to them in grace and in the Word of God.
In order to raise healthy children, there are two primary needs: to love your children unconditionally, and to give them consistent scriptural discipline. Think of a home where there’s a lot of love, but no discipline: what would the child be like? Yes, a prima donna – thinking the world revolves around her or him. Now think of a home where there is heavy discipline but no love, what would that home be like? Like boot camp. What would a child be like who was raised in that environment? Probably stressed out, rigid, constantly seeking approval based on their performance. Now imagine a home with neither love nor discipline. What would the child be like? This is the classic sociopath – unconcerned for others and lacking the self-discipline to restrain their own lusts. But, in a home where there is both unconditional love and consistent discipline, we find children who have the wisdom to be concerned for the needs of others, yet also have the discipline to restrain their own desires in obedience to the Lord.
Notice carefully what the text of Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs each dad on discipling our children:
Do it PERSONALLY: “You shall teach them.”
Sending our kids to Shabbat School (or in some cases, Sunday School) is no substitute for teaching God’s truth to our kids at home. Though your children should be properly taught in Shabbat School, this does not replace your responsibility to train up your child in the way he is to go (Proverbs 22:6). Shabbat School cannot replace, but only reinforce what the kids learn at home.
Along with giving thanks for your meals, start having a family devotion time right away. Teaching our kids at home involves reading the Bible to them, even when they are little. Sometimes a children’s Bible on their level will be quite helpful. As they get older, read stories to them from daily devotionals, or perhaps share a personal insight from your own Bible study with them at meal time. A lengthy, theological discourse isn’t necessary, just consistently share from your heart simple truths from God’s Word. Shabbat School will hopefully compliment and strengthen the values your child is learning at home. You’ll be amazed at how meaningful this time will become, and you will rejoice that through your life the truth of God is passing from generation to generation.
Do it CONSTANTLY: “…and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
If His words are upon your hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6), talking about Him becomes an everyday, ordinary occurrence (Deuteronomy 6:7). We demonstrate how God’s Word permeates our lives whether we realize it or not – as we shop, as we are at work, or at play. God’s Word is the key to successful living in this world (Psalm 1:2-3; Joshua 1:7-8). As you discipline yourself to apply God’s Word to your own life, you will be able to teach your children, as well. One additional thought: whether your kids go to public or private school, or are home-schooled, stay involved in their lives. Become acquainted with their adult teachers – and know what they are teaching. You have the responsibility, and the right, to know.
Do it CONVINCINGLY: “teach them diligently.”
“Diligently” in Hebrew is the word shinon, meaning sharp or pierce, as a sharp sword or piercing arrow (Psalm 45:5). The emphasis is on teaching God’s Word in such a way that the truth pierces their hearts and impacts their lives. This occurs only when God’s Word has the pre-eminence in your life – the truth must first be upon your heart. To the degree God’s Word is upon your heart – personally – and permeates your everyday life – practically – is the degree to which it impacts the lives of your kids as well – persuasively.
May Yeshua bless you and your family in and through His Word.
Happy Father’s Day!