– Henry Neufeld

When your child asks you, “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments that YHWH our God commanded you?” (21) you will tell your child: “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and YHWH brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. (22) And YHWH provided powerful and terrible signs and wonders in Egypt against Pharaoh and against his whole household while we watched. (23) But he brought us out of there so that he could bright us here and give us the land which he swore to our fathers. (24) And YHWH commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear YHWH our God, for our benefit all the time, and to keep us alive to this day. — Deuteronomy 6:20-24 (HN)

How about it!  A set of instructions on providing your testimony to your children.  Should your child ask you about God’s will and God’s laws, here are some keys to your answer:

1.    Start with God’s saving activities
2.    Bring yourself into the story.
3.    Include the whole community
4.    Affirm God’s power and activity
5.    Affirm God’s faithfulness
6.    Only then do you talk about the rules

Imagine what would happen if we started our personal testimonies with a testimony to God’s saving power and how it has impacted our lives!  I’m not talking about the formal testimonies we give in church; those we plan, and we know what we’re supposed to talk about.  You know — the three points:  What it was like before, how Jesus came into my life, how things are different now.

But we have a problem in the church with passing on the faith from generation to generation.  Our young adults leave and often don’t return until they have children of their own if they return at all.  Could it be that the problem is that we answer our children’s questions with lectures on the rules instead of taking them back to the solution—God’s saving power?

Is the question about drugs?  Talk first about the Savior and then point to the wonderful opportunities he has provided for us to find joy in his presence.  Sex?  God has provided us with such a wonderful opportunity for love, pleasure, and joy in the institution of marriage.  Instead of listing the rules, we can talk about how God wants such wonderful things for our lives that he has provided us with such a positive set of laws to help make us happy.

Come to think of it, why don’t you review the rules you have for your household.  Do they fit the pattern?  Do you have just a list of things the kids aren’t allowed to do or are there some household rules about being a family (perhaps we go out together to eat once a week)?  Are you a supervisor at work?  Have you thought about your rules in the light of God’s plan?  Could you present those rules positively?

If you’re stuck with just following the rules, have you asked yourself how they got to be that way?  One of the differences between a permanent follower and someone who is moving up to be a leader is that the leader learns something about the “why” of things.

With thought and effort, rules can even be a good thing.

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