It's an unfortunate characteristic of our society that the word "discipline" carries negative connotations. When we think about it and children together, we tend to assume that punishment is at its heart. But the word comes from the same root as the one from which we get our word disciple.
Christ's disciples followed Him. It was Jesus Himself who said that if we loved Him, then we would keep His commandments. In the true sense of the word, therefore, discipline is about following a code of behavior within predetermined boundaries.
The responsibility to raise children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" lies on the shoulders of their parents. And that means that you bear the God-given task of fulfilling that duty.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways. In some homes, though it seems that this occurs less frequently than it once did, there are family devotions. The evening meal may be one of those times. Although members of a given household often eat breakfast and lunch separately, many people try to get everyone together for dinner.
Some people make the effort on a Sunday, a day set aside by God for worship and rest from the work of the week. Homes, therefore, are an essential ingredient in the "formula" for teaching kids to honor and obey God.
The church is an obvious way to teach children about God. Sunday Schools are designed to present the Gospel at a level that each age group can understand. It affords the opportunities for discussion – questions and answers. The purpose of the main services – two on a Sunday in most cases and perhaps once during the week – is to preach the whole counsel of God. Preaching is intended to convict the ungodly and to instruct, correct, encourage Christians. It is designed to unpack doctrines found in the Bible and to drive its principles into the heart of everyone who hears it.
The only area of life that remains outside of these two environments is in the world, a place where the tenets of the Christian message are not only ignored for the most part, but also despised. In this day and age, it's difficult to maintain a witness for God and the saving work of Christ Jesus on the cross for those who are outside of His Kingdom.
Children, many of whom are not Christians, are especially susceptible to the false teaching of this world. This is especially true in the pubic schools they attend. The teachers and administrators who work in them, the boards of education that oversee them, and the politicians who govern them want to eliminate God altogether. And that means that this essential leg in the trio of activities through which children are raised is broken from the outset.
Therefore, if you want to raise your kids in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," then you must do all you can to immerse them in the faith. You must make sure that until they are able to stand firm in the Gospel, that they have all the support from stronger Christians that is available to them. In other words, you have to place them in a position of discipleship so that the Person they follow is Christ Himself.
The busy lives that we all lead make it difficult to have regular family devotions, and other things often encroach on our best intentions to attend church regularly. School is the one place where children will develop their beliefs and values. If you want these things to be centered on God, then you can do no better than to place them in a Christian school because it is there that they will be surrounded by disciples who love Him above all else.
By Lisa Swonkowski
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