Most parents could tell stories of their children’s spiritual awareness. It is from the spirit that a child’s imaginations arise. Children use their imagination to wander far beyond anything our adult minds might comprehend. They often sense the presence of good and evil spirits, sometimes seeing angels and ghosts, in spite of parental unbelief, much like the popular movie “The Sixth Sense”. Children need to find a way of expressing what their spirits sense. Parents need not suppress a child’s imagination as something unreal or unimportant, or they will effectively teach their children not to trust their primal intuition and imaginative gifts. As parents, we need to treasure their imaginations as valuable assets, which will eventually teach them to sort between the seen and unseen world. With imagination being one of the most valuable gifts God has given to humanity, Christian parent’s need to learn to shepherd their children’s imaginations more than any other capability. Parent’s who believe it is their responsibility to hold back their children’s imagination and intuition often hinder their children’s future response to a visionary prayer life. Yet the Holy Spirit wonderfully restores to the children of God the creativity of the spiritual realm of the imagination.
In Mathew18: 3-5 Jesus said, I say unto you, except you be changed and become as little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever is humbled as a child will be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And whoever receives such a child in my name receives me This verse illustrates the importance of maintaining our spiritual inheritance in child-like ways, that is, in unwavering acceptance of God’s truth.
When children are young, they may not understand the theological implications of faith. They don’t reflect on the theoretical intricacies involved, but they do associate a word with an experience. Spiritual words that are experienced in a consistent spiritual context advance the atmosphere for the spiritual development of children. If they experience repetitious inconsistency between what they hear and what they see, the confusion they experience will ultimately be spiritually wounding to their souls. If children hear words about love and truth, but live with parents or others who contradict these, they will be spiritually disadvantaged. Children need a consistent environment to be able to associate the words of the gospel with a clear and positive experience. As they become older, children go beyond basic associations of experience into an experience of belonging to a faith-based community. When children feel they belong to a community of faith, they see that being a Christian isn’t just an idea in the mind, but that it’s a change of heart and a way of life.
Women in Christian Ministry
A Journey of Faith
Authored by Sis. Kimberly M. HartfieldWomen in Christian Ministry is the culmination of my writings on women’s ministry and related topics of concern. It is a reflection of my personal journey into Christian Ministry and my search for truth in questions concerning a woman’s place in ministry, types of ministry, and whether or not she should be ordained for that purpose. It was an answer to God’s calling on my life and God’s confirmation of that calling. I hope that my journey of faith may help you in your search for truth and encourage you in your calling. This book includes samples of a Baptism, Wedding, and Funeral ceremony. God bless to all!
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God holds adults responsible for presenting our children with an environment in which their souls may spiritually thrive. That environment should be one with Biblical guidelines. Some appropriate verses are: Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother for this is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4. Suffer the little children to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew19: 14)
Spiritual maturity comes to children sooner than some people want to believe. At a young age, they can understand about themselves and God, and they have a consciousness of sin. As they mature spiritually they will understand that they have a choice in their sin. The concept of repentance then follows. They have to understand that they have chosen to sin and genuinely feel regret that they did it. They must have this appropriate guilt and not just be sorry they were found out. At this point children can understand the concrete concept of Jesus’ redemption for us on the cross, that is, that He took our punishment in our stead in order to give us eternal life with the Father.
Another important passage describes a biblical scene, where a friend goes to a neighbor requesting food to set before a traveling friend who has come in the night. Don’t trouble me: the door is shut now and my children are in bed with me. I can’t get up and give you anything. Luke 11:7 During this period of time, children often slept along side their parents, and the time before going to sleep was a respected time for sharing God’s truth with children. It was deemed inappropriate to interrupt this special time. And yet Christ said that because of the friendship, he should rise up and give him whatever he needs. Yet too often, we sacrifice our children’s time with us for causes that seem more worthy. We need to be careful about neglecting their time with us for spiritual growth, even though we must sometimes do other worthy things.
Parent’s must build their own relationship with God, and then nurture their children’s relationship with God; or their children will inevitably feel the absence in every area of their lives, especially where spiritual growth is concerned. When peers test children’s concept of who they are, sometimes compelling them to have loyalties which often conflict with the spirituality they have been taught at home, those children need parents who have both understanding to know that their children must become their own persons, but who will also discipline consistently and firmly, so that they know while they are free to make their own mistakes; they are not free to escape the consequences of those mistakes. Discipline must have as its foundation our responsibility before God to build morality and spirituality. Both fathers and mothers must be strong in the discipline of the Lord. An inability to be pleasing and acceptable to others can be far more wounding to children than what we believe. They need the security of their parent’s discipline and love openly and consistently expressed.
Learning the demands of social life is the first step in the development of the conscience. Positive emotions when parenting and parental reliance on negotiation rather than direct control have also been connected with the development of children’s consciences. When parents find themselves refereeing between sibling rivalries or quarrelsome playtime exchanges, they must know when and where to enforce rules, but not fight their children’s battles for them, taking from them the lessons of the struggle. Parental love should not endeavor to take from a child the growth skills needed to live peaceably with others.
When parents want to teach the spiritual values of the sexual relationship they need to become the primary instructors in sex education. When parents answer questions openly and honestly, without embarrassment or anxiety, sexual being and functions will be communicated as a natural and healthy part of everyday life. Warnings and restrictions can be presented in that context without being interpreted by them as forbidden fruit to be partaken of outside of a spiritual union. If parents want children to know the facts of life within a Christian context before they have been significantly influenced by misinformation of peers and before being wounded by immoral media influences, they need to teach accurate and sensitively communicated information on sex before the child reaches puberty.
Continuing the line of thought in Mathew chapter 18, verse 6 goes on to say: But whoever offends one of these little ones, which believes in me, it would be better for him that a stone was hung around his neck and he was drowned in the depths of the sea. Current statistics show that one out of every three girls is molested or raped before the age of eighteen, many times by a father or father figure, or other close male-relative. Any kind of sexual abuse usually has a negative effect in a girl’s spiritual development, because of the reflection that relationship has on building trust in a Godhead that is primarily understood as masculine, though God in actuality is neither male nor female. Young girls have a great need to feel they are a pleasure to their father. A girl’s inner hope from her life with her father may either prevent or enable future relationships, including her spiritual relationship with God. A father’s most important duty is to create a sense of value and beauty in his daughters. His hugs and kisses need to be given generously in an implicit father-role with absolutely no sexual connotations for the spiritual growth of his daughters to develop in a healthy pattern.
For Further Reading:
*Restoring the Christian Family by Paula and John Sanford
*Parent’s Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children: Helping Your Child Develop a Personal Faith Ed by John Trent, Rick Osborn and Kurt Bruner
- Awake, Children of Light (gofishministries.wordpress.com)