Children: Our First and Primary Mission Field

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Episode Synopsis

Heidi and Jani begin a new series on influencing the children in our lives for Christ. They look at how God values children and discuss the privilege of giving ourselves to the coming generation.

Audio Transcript

New Series! 00:23

Jani: Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in and we want to invite you to listen with us on a new series Heidi and I want to give you on children. This series is for anyone who has children in their lives: moms (of course), dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, just about everyone who’s over the age of 21 who lives in any kind of community, has children in their lives. So we hope this will prove helpful for all of our listeners.

Think you’re ready for kids? 00:57

Jani: You know, we want our podcast to have both laughter and some tears. We want it to be happy and meaningful for you. But today we want to start out with a little bit of humor. Heidi and I want to give you a test on whether or not you’re ready to have children enter your life in meaningful ways.

The “Mess” Test

Jani: Here’s the first test. I’ll call it the mess test. And here’s how you test yourself. Smear peanut butter on your sofa and curtains and then find some fish sticks and leave them behind your couch.

Heidi: Oh Jani, that makes me think of my car way too often.

The “Toy” Test

Heidi: How about the toy test? Obtain a 55 -gallon box of Legos. Have a friend spread them all over the house, put on a blindfold, try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen, but remember not to scream because you might wake up the child at night.

The “Grocery Store” Test

Jani: Or what about the grocery store test? What you need to do is borrow one or two small animals, goats are best, and take them with you as you shop always keeping in mind that they have to be kept in site, and you have to pay for anything that they eat or damage.

Heidi: Taking my kids to the grocery store always gives me a workout, Jani!

The “Night” Test

Heidi: Here’s the night test. Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag, and fill it with eight to twelve pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water at 3:00 PM, begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 PM, lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00 PM, get up and pick up the bag and sing every song you’ve ever heard. Make up a dozen more and sing these until 4:00 AM. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for five years. Look cheerful.

Jani: That’s so true. We feel like that sometimes, don’t we?

The “Car” Test

Jani: You had mentioned your car. What about the car test? Forget your BMW and buy a minivan. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone, and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Then get a dime and put it into the CD player. Take a family-sized package of chocolate chip cookies and mash them into the backseat. Oh yes, don’t forget this: run a garden rake along both sides of your car. There, it’s perfect!

The “Physical” Test

Heidi: Or the physical tests for women. Obtain a large bean bag and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for nine months. Now, remove ten of the beans and try not to notice your closet full of clothes. You may not be wearing them for a while. Somebody told me that you can expect it to take nine months to lose the weight just as it took nine months to gain the weight. That was always helpful to remember.

The Final Test

Jani: Well, here’s our final test. Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, their patience, tolerance, toilet training, and child’s table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

Heidi: Yes! That’s so true Jani.

Jani: Oh, laughter is good isn’t it, Heidi?

Heidi: It is. I love to laugh.

Jani: Yes, and we need to, when we’re relating to children. We all need a little humor as we invest in the children around us. Today we want to talk about how children should be our first and primary mission field and how we have the privilege of influencing them for Jesus Christ.

Heidi: Jani, it makes me think of the Dr. John Trainer quote. I’m not going to say it exactly, but it’s something like, “Children are not a distraction from the most important work. They are the most important work.”

Jani: Oh, that’s so good, Heidi. Yes, we forget that don’t we? We get bound up in getting ready for our podcast….

Heidi: …or getting the house clean or ready for guests, or getting groceries versus thinking, “This is the most important job the Lord has given me to do today.”

Jani: Yes. So Lord, we just ask that you’d help each one of our listeners to hear from you about the children in their lives and for Heidi and me too. We pray this same thing, Jesus. Thank you.

Children are OUR Most important eternal investment 5:33

Jani: We want to encourage you about the powerful influence you hold over the next generation. You’re leading and nurturing, you’re cherishing all those little people God has brought into your life, in your home or your neighborhood, your school, your church, your family, or your extended family. How we work with the children around us calls for the very best in us as women.

Jani: When we give ourselves to children, we’re shaping their souls and ultimately influencing the world. Children are our most important eternal investment in the future. We wouldn’t gain that insight from our culture would we? Our culture teaches us that children are an interruption; sometimes a mistake, an accident. These attitudes show a me first duty to self ethic that is totally opposed to God in his Word.

A personal story

Jani: Let me give you an example, an illustration from my own life. When we were living in Scotland, we moved over with three little kids, ages two, three and four, and we left all the baby things in America. We either sold them or left them here because we thought our family was finished. And so we had absolutely no baby things. Ray had to be in Germany for eight weeks to absorb German for part of his PhD. He had no access to any telephone. So we would write letters, and I thought he might have just left me a little present the week before he left in the form of a new baby! I thought I was pregnant, and I went down to our doctor there in our little village of Banchory, Scotland (it was quite little; they all knew Ray was gone). I told the doctor I think I might be pregnant and her eyes got big and the first thing she asked me was “Would you, like an abortion?” It just took my breath away and when she saw the look on my face, she said, “Oh, I’m required to offer that to any woman who tells me she’s pregnant.” But you know, it was just such a shock that that was her first thought with my husband being out of the country. She also told me this baby better not look like our Banchory postman. And so I was really in for a hard time that morning. I went home in tears. I told her, “Of course I don’t want an abortion. This baby is from God.” I went home and went over next door to my dear friend Fiona Brynes, and I started crying. She said, “Jan, what’s the matter?” I said, “I think I’m pregnant, Fiona, and I don’t know what to do.” She threw her arms around me and she said, “Oh, that’s the best news I’ve heard in ages! I’m so happy for you! Let me fix your cup of tea and we’ll talk.”

Heidi: What a gift from the Lord.

Jani: That’s what I needed, Heidi. She valued babies and we need to as well.

How does God Values Children? 8:48

Jani: What does God say? God says “it’s more blessed to give than to receive”—to give life, to give ourselves. We’ll be happier, we’ll gain more satisfaction and delight in giving ourselves away than in self-absorption.

Heidi: Oh, wow, that’s so helpful. I think especially because so much of our culture focuses on self-care, which the Lord has taught me is crucially important. But it’s sweet to remember that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

Jani: Yes. Let’s remind ourselves of that Heidi. You help remind me please and I’ll remind you when the going gets tough.

Jani: God places a very high value on children. He tells us how we’re to receive them in scripture. In Mark 9:37, he says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” He says to receive a child is like welcoming Christ in.

Jani: Or how about in Mark 10? Could you read verses 13 through 16?

Heidi: Sure.

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them and the disciples rebuke them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God, like a child shall not enter it,’ and he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Mark 10:13-16

Jani: I love that because it shows us Christ’s indignation when the disciples didn’t value children’s worth in Christ’s expanding kingdom. He values children, so we ought to. I love how he took them in his arms and touched them and blessed them. It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it?

How should we value Children? 10:42

Jani: Or what about Psalm 127:3? It starts,

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3

Do you see that word “behold”? That means, “Pay attention to this, you’ve got to hear this, listen up, this is important! Behold, children are a blessing from God.” He’s telling us he never sees a baby as an after-thought. Children come from God and are to be received as a privilege from him. He gives them to us as his heritage. Children are our inheritance from God. Children are his way of passing down his kingdom to the coming generations, of spreading his wealth of love and joy, delight, peace, significance, and faithfulness to the next generation. These are life’s real treasures. Raising children is well worth all the work. It’s kingdom work.

Jani: Think of the honor of guiding the spiritual and intellectual and social development of young hearts and minds. Children are sensitive. They’re pliable, they’re open to the gospel. They’re fresh and energetic, with years of service ahead of them to offer Christ. Think of teaching the eternal truths of God’s Word. Oh, that’s thrilling! Think of the delight of sending one more godly, vibrant, strong, and secure young person into this needy world with the courage to live well for Christ’s sake. Oh, what a privilege that is really worth it.

Jani: Remember that we are like mirrors to the children around us. We’re showing them what life is like. In us, they experience what the world should be. They will bear the imprint of the adults influencing them throughout their lives because nearly all human behavior springs from imitation. We teach the children in our lives. The values we believe must be passed on to the next generation.

What values should we teach them? 12:56

Jani: You know, Heidi, I see you teaching your children different values. Tell our listeners some of the values that you and Mike find worthy of passing onto your kids.

Heidi: I think that one of the main values is faith in the Lord and knowing who he is and how to have a relationship with them. We try to teach our kids that you can’t be perfect all the time. Mom and dad mess up and you guys mess up, but what is more important than being perfect is knowing how to repent and confess of our sin to one another and knowing how to forgive each other. That’s what we try to do. Even as I sin, I can strive towards perfection as a mom, but I have to remind myself the standard isn’t perfection, it’s repentance. Even when I sin in front of my little kids, I need to repent. We also are teaching them about self-control and we’re teaching them the value of how to work hard. We also really love the value of having fun, how to have a good time together as a family. What are the values that you prayed for your children, Jani?

Jani: Well, they’re very similar, but before I share them, I just want to share an experience that I had here in your home. I came and I spilled something, and it was kind of a messy spill, and immediately out of your mouth was this phrase, Heidi, say it!

Heidi: “No big deal!”

Jani: Yes, you immediately said, “No big deal!” and it lifted the shame from me and I really appreciate that. In this house, it’s okay to make a mistake.

Heidi: Yes, that phrase helps me. Instead of getting angry, it helps me to take a deep breath and say, “No big deal, accidents happen. We’re all going to make accidents.” That’s kind of you Jani, thank you.

Jani: Oh, that’s so good. I think we valued the same thing as our kids were being raised, and now as we try to influence our grandkids and as we teach other children, first and foremost, a strong love for Jesus. And we are going to take some time during this series to talk about bringing your kids to faith in Christ. So that’ll be fun. We emphasize things like honesty and integrity, generosity, self-control; some of those fruits of the spirit that are naturally difficult for kids and for us.

The Privilege of Influence 15:12

Jani: As we influence the children in our lives, we get to give them a taste of the value of commitment and the peace of security. We teach them to embrace all the moral obligations that build solid relationships, enduring marriages, and secure families. We have the privilege of developing a sense of self in the children around us. Self-worth is a reflection of how God and those around us view us. “Am I a burden? Am I unappreciated? Am I kind of unwanted or am I loved with a love that cannot be broken? Is someone totally committed to me? Do I bring someone joy?” Our role as adults in the lives of children is so valuable. We’re teaching the coming generation to form intimate, emotional bonds with others. Our sensitivity and availability, our devotion and responsiveness and unhurried attention are irreplaceable. We have the blessing of passing on a vibrant sense of God. We get to help protect children from evil. We get to give them intimacy and affection in their early years and then point them to find those soul necessities in God as they mature. We have the privilege of helping to set high standards of honor and morality for them to follow and then we send them out with a light in their souls to bless this darkened world.

Jani: Oh, Heidi and I pray that God will reawaken in each one of us here, our sense of purpose and conviction as we think about the privilege of influencing the children in our lives for Christ. May God restore your soul as you think about these things, may he give you hope and wisdom as you reach out to children in your life. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. To discover more about Jani and Ray, visit their webpage at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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