Leaving fingerprints for God
Parents and pastors are in a perpetual search for the magic strategy, or a proven formula, for instilling faith in the heart’s of the next generation. That search is frustrating and futile. Faith is not instilled by magic words, faith classes, or a special sermon series. The birth of faith is a God thing, not a signed creed, or list of doctrinal convictions.
Faith is more than knowing about the God of the Bible; God’s enemy knows about Him and can quote Him, but the enemy doesn’t trust Him, or know Him. The believer on the other hand, has felt the fingerprints of God; he or she has experienced the Emmaus Road “burning heart.” God is more than a name buried in a book, He is the ever-present inventor of life…the source of everything good.
You can force kids to go to church, but faith can not be forced. The Apostle Paul says it comes by hearing, but that doesn’t mean there are secret words that make it so. The seeds of are visions of Jesus and HIS story embedded in life. Words that are lived, not just voiced; words that reveal transformation, not just information.
Genuine faith is not demonstrated by quoting Jesus, debating evolutionists, or demanding doctrinal correctness. Faith is seeing the invisible. When we see it, we remember, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
Jesus came to put skin on words, to show us how to live, not just tell us what to believe.
Whether you like it, or not, you are a faith shaper. You don’t have to speak any words to shape faith, you do so by living: your collection of frustrations, failures, celebrations, struggles, risks, concerns, ordinary stuff, and unexpected challenges. In short, if your “heart burns” you shape the faith of your kids.
So, how do you get more intentional about shaping the faith of your kids and their friends?
How do you up your influence? Over the years, the following ideas have proven to be fingerprint potentials. Remember this is a God thing, not a parent thing.
- Write a letter to your children telling them what God has done in your life. Tell them about how God healed you, changed you, challenged you, called you, and protected you–be the skin of God.
- When the time is right, share a repentance story–tell about wandering off track and your journey home.
- Talk about God during the week. Put in a good word for Jesus–Give God the credit for all that happens to you. Praise him in song at church, in the car,and at home.
- Talk about crisis times and pray about the crisis in front of your youngsters.
- Walk the walk…Show people around you how to promises, how to love, how to forgive, and how to accept.
- Practice paying it forward. Do good for people in your neighborhood…bring out the best in them.
- Read the Bible in their sight–read it aloud.
- Talk about communion. Tell your kids why it’s important to you. Hold communion at home as a family. Do it!
- Tell your faith story to your kids.
- Emphasize the power and place of forgiveness in life, and practice it.
- Keep the family rules and traditions simple. Rules give us the atmosphere of security and traditions help us know who we are. We still need both.
- Pray descriptively, telling God everything you know about a problem or concern. This type of prayer-talk is confessional and helps kids feel closer to their parents and closer to God.
- Make a covenant with your kids to encourage each other.
- Talk about God in little doses within your stories and meandering conversations.
- Share examples of people who, when faced with relationship problems, sought out help. Stuffing problems inside us drains the batteries and limits the ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
- Encourage your kids to listen to stories of faith, tell the stories of faith, and be the stories of faith.
Do it. Pick one that fits you and do it. This is just the beginning.