Session 6- Part 1: Next Grade Level - Spiral of Education
Audio File

So the testing is over... I hope you got a passing grade, but wait, what's that looming in the not too distant future? Could it be? No! It can't be!! Not another test!!!

How can it be that after passing a test, there are still more tests ahead? If God is a loving God, why doesn't he give us a break? And speaking of breaking things, didn't we teach Johnny to keep his hands off things that don't belong to him? How come the vase Aunt Ethyl gave us for Christmas is broken in pieces? Not only that, but it looks like someone tried to clean it up and hide the evidence.

When I was in grade school, the teacher taught me about verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. The next year, I had a different teacher (she obviously didn't speak to my previous teacher) who taught me verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. Another year went by, I had still another teacher who taught me......... verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. Does anyone see a pattern forming here?

Some educators refer to this repetitive process as the spiral of education. Simply put, it means that we go over the same basic material year after year. Hopefully we teach each consecutive year at a higher level so that in the same fashion as an upward spiral, after a measured period of time, we retrace our steps at an ever-increasing level.

The spiral of education applies to spiritual matters too!

Children learn very well using this method. Let's see if we can pick apart some childlike thoughts in order to better understand why the same lessons seem to need repeating.

Let's say your first child is a boy. Immediately, dad goes out and gets him a baseball, and a bat. What exactly can an infant learn from a baseball and bat at say age six months? He can learn what the texture of a ball is like, or that it is different from that of the smooth skinned bat. The child is not interested in the function of the ball and bat, rather he likes or doesn't like the feel of the things. There will come a time, when the nature of the game dawns upon him. Then there will be another set of things to learn. No longer will it be a matter of texture and fascination with a rolling object, he will find the joy of accomplishment and the challenges of sportsmanship.

When children are given Geometric shapes to play with in pre-school classes, the intent is not to begin developing advanced architectural designs, or even to teach geometry. We are teaching colors and shapes. If the same items are used in tenth grade, we now have different goals.

If your four year old comes to you and asks where babies come from, he/she probably wants an answer like - "from Mommy and daddy". All of life's lessons are relative to our experiences. Teaching on the right grade level is essential, and re-teaching the same lessons on ever increasing levels is normal. God teaches us that way doesn't he? The lessons we learn about trusting him get deeper as time goes on.

It is natural to build in levels. You don't put the roof on the building until the walls are up! If you do not have a foundation, the upper structure will be able to shift in times of trouble. This is the way God builds everything, including the human soul. We are the product of our life experience. Thankfully our spiritual experience comes from Him, although they are worked out in our life on fallen earth. The Apostle Peter, while writing about suffering all kinds of trials (and aren't trials tests?) states that we are receiving the outcome (or goal) of our faith... the salvation of our souls. (1Peter 1:9 NAS)

As your children grow in age and experience, they will need to learn many lessons on different levels as they mature in knowledge. If this weren't true, than once you trusted them with crayons, you would also trust them with permanent marker pens. If you felt they were mature enough to bring you Mom's scissors, why not Dad's hunting knife, or how about the twelve-gauge shotgun?

Obviously the last example is silly, we all know that there are levels of learning. Why is it that we find it so easy to understand this simple example, but are unable to understand your four year old trying to "put one over" on you when he/she certainly knows better? Don't we do the same things to our heavenly father? I know that I certainly have tested and tried him when I clearly knew better. Yet, many a parent feels they are a failure because their children continue to test them.

Being a parent means that you are your child's personal trainer. Your job is to expose them to, as well as protect them from life situations with the goal of teaching the ways (not just the deeds) of God. In the course of doing this, you will be called upon to teach the same materials over and over again at different grade levels. Don't let the Devil lie to you and tell you that you are a failure because your child is sinning (of course they are sinning, they are sinners! Just like you!). You are there to turn their sinful behavior into opportunities for repentance. Natural lessons become spiritual lessons. As far as I'm concerned, no discipline or training is complete without prayer! This teaches your children that you truly believe. Furthermore, they realize that you are willing to share this faith with them and any others who will listen. You are then also able to give them direction on how to live while their hearts are softened from the correction.

In the world today, there are several philosophies that teach positive attitude as a way of coping with life's difficulties and disappointments. I am in no way promoting these ideas. They only mimic and copy true faith. Paraphrasing the words of Paul the Apostle, they have the form of godliness, but deny that God is the source. What I am saying, is that we need a vision of what the finished product is supposed to look like! Success in this world is not necessarily a good job and a big house. Many people have those things and are miserable, and then they die and go to hell!

What are we trying to produce? Kingdom lives require kingdom life! Tests are not roadblocks they are really stepping-stones. They force us to higher ground. That is what we are doing when we raise the standard for our children. The Bible is the standard for all measures of life. There is a lot in it regarding training and what to expect from children and adults alike. It goes way beyond whether or not to spank!

Just because society says something is good, doesn't make it so! God's finished work is full of the Holy Spirit. His end goals are the Fruit of the Spirit worked deeply into our hearts and minds! Christians should be producing children who are respectful of their elders, and able to function in life according to God's word. Signs of a healthy Christian life are young people able to be faithful in marriage and having an accurate view of themselves and God. These things demonstrate his ways. They are produced through disciplined education.

A problem many parents encounter is that they are overly aware of their children's shortcomings. This is due to what I will call the Acne principal. That is where everyone looks good from a distance, but up close we are able to see their blemishes. You are supposed to be able to see the flaws of those you love, and work with them to correct them. Nowhere is this more important than in child training. There are going to be times when you just don't feel like continuing in the battle. You are tired and frustrated and want to give up. Perhaps you are thinking that it isn't working, or that your child is different or whatever lie the Devil may be spouting that day. It isn't true!!!

You see the shortcomings because you're so close to the situation. God knows your circumstances. Listen to what he wrote to you.... "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal 6:7-9 NIV)

Joy and I have successfully raised six children through the seventies, eighties, and nineties (boy, that sure makes us sound old!). When I wrote this book, we still had two teenagers, and there were times when we want to cave in and go down the easier road. But the choices we make will produce fruit.... and we want it to yield a harvest of eternal life. There are few things more gratifying to a parent than someone else telling you what a wonderful child you have. Often the first response we give is "you should see them at home, or they're always better with someone else". Believe me, if your children are getting compliments, they are demonstrating good behavior. Don't allow yourself to dwell on the negative! Imagine what your relationship with your heavenly father would be like if every time you failed he discussed your shortcomings with the angels around his throne. Or perhaps he might write a list of your sins on the clouds at sundown. Yuck!! What a thought!! Ask God for the grace to demonstrate his love to your children and press on. One day they will graduate and begin to train their own children. That day comes very soon indeed.

Session 6- Part 2: True Family Life - Opportunities to build family unity

It's Eight o'clock Sunday evening and the Hutcher family is gathered in the living room preparing to watch.... Dad read a book out loud to the family. Does this sound unusual to you? In our current society it is rather strange I admit. Two teenage daughters… (that's all we had left at home when this was written) one wife, and one husband sitting around reading a novel. Let me assure you that the groundwork for this scene was laid many years earlier and reinforced over and over again.

Evolution is not a principal of the universe. In reality, all things created go from order to chaos. To prove this principal, go out and buy a brand new shiny red bicycle (this scientific experiment can also be done with a new car, but it is more expensive) and leave it out in the sun and rain, wind and cold. In six months time the paint will be fading and at the end of one year your tires will be flat. Deterioration will continue unchecked until someone steps in and exerts an effort to change the way of nature. This is the result of sin upon the earth, and its influence is also felt in the midst of human relationships.

Families will be pulled apart by the effects of sin even if the individuals are walking with the Lord if nothing is done to prevent it. This is the work of the enemy. He seeks to divide and conquer, to sow seeds of discord and discontent. It is the job of the parents to prevent this from happening. To that end, God set up spiritual authority in the home as well as in the Church.

In the home, God has put the father in charge. I don't care if you are not happy with this statement. You have already read too much of my book to stop now! Besides, I didn't say it, God did... if your not happy with his decision, one day you will see him face to face and you can tell him at that time. Clearly this is his plan as is confirmed in many scriptures (see Eph.5:22-26, 1Cor.11:3). In the two, which I have listed, the man is specifically mentioned as the head of the woman, in fact, he is expected to be an example of the Lord in a marriage. In first Peter chapter three verse seven, Peter says we husbands need to be considerate when dealing with our wives because they are the weaker partners.

Now I am in no way belittling or demeaning the position of the woman in a household. I simply am stating a fact about godly authority. You can jump up and down, shout out opinions voiced by the American court system or any other human authority that you choose. The fact still remains that God has an order to the things of life and whenever and wherever possibly, we would do well to follow it.

In the case where there is no father present for whatever reason, God takes over the position himself! He often will install an "uncle" or two to fill the gap as well. You should be looking for this to happen if you ladies find yourself in this position. God cares more about your children than even you do!

It is not my desire to discuss spiritual authority or order in the home at any length in this volume, I only mention it because it relates to our current subject.

Fathers, if you let this God given position slip away, you will have done a very great disservice to your family. I have noticed that in most cases, women want leadership from their husbands, it is the man that drops the ball. You are called to set the tone of all matters of direction. In most cases your wife's position is to be your conscience. Wives are not nags... they are heart feeling, information gathering, antennas that are all to often ignored or given too little attention. This also causes a great loss to many families.

God in his infinite wisdom has declared that it is not good for man to dwell alone! He has included a few exceptions in his word, but they are always special conditions for which He has
provided additional grace in order to accomplish his will.

My wife has initiated the best "family times" we have had in my home. Those that have lasted are the ones, which she convinced me, were my idea (just kidding). What I really mean to say is that when they were instituted under my authority with her most valuable input, we succeeded in producing an experience both interesting and useful. For that reason, these family activities lasted much longer and were more productive than those that were fabricated out in any other way.

We have played cards together, done art projects, read books, watched movies, fixed things, broken things, wrestled, laughed, and cried together. We have become and always will be a family founded upon the rock that is Jesus. This is because whatever things we have chosen to do, our Lord and King has been first in the plan.

When we consider family time only an opportunity to see that our children have the doctrines of our faith placed firmly between their ears, we often miss the chance to put it where it really belongs.... in their hearts.

When trying to place God's word between your children's ears,be careful you don't miss putting it where it really belongs… in their hearts

Please do not go away thinking that I don't believe in teaching sound doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I am trying to get across here is that as we previously stated, we learn a little by what our teachers say, more by what they do, but mostly by who they are!!! The quality time you spend with your children is what will prepare their hearts for a relationship with Jesus, and you can be assured that if you walk with him in truth, they will experience this and want it for themselves.

Discussion Questions: Session Six - The Spiral of Education and True Family Life

1. If your child asks you where babies come from, is the same answer required for the ten year old as for the four year old?

2. What is the "Spiral of Education? Does it apply to Spiritual things?

3. What is the Acne principal

4. Do all quality family times need to be Bible based?