Jesus tells a parable about a man sowing seeds. Some seeds land on the path, where they are eaten by birds. Other seeds land on rocky soil, where they wither under the sun. Other seeds land on thorny soil, where they are choked. Still other seeds land on good soil, where they produce a crop (Matthew 13:1-23).
This parable illustrates the different ways people receive the gospel. We can also use it as a paradigm for Christian parenting. It is our job to sow the seed of God’s Word into our children’s hearts. But there are forces at work against us in our attempt to cultivate their faith.
Sometimes the seed is snatched away by what they are taught at school. Sometimes it withers when they are made fun of or excluded for their faith. Sometimes it is choked by the pressure of preparing for their future and making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.
These forces only gain strength as our children get older. By the time they attend college, they can be overwhelming! When you consider the atheistic and pluralistic climate of many campuses, the hostility toward Christian faith, and the prevalence of temptation, it’s no wonder Jesus says only one out of four soils bears a crop!
Cloud of Witnesses
The author of Hebrews knew our kids would face difficulties in their faith. The church under his care was spiritually sluggish. He scolds them, “Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12).
In other words, his spiritual kids weren’t growing up in their faith. The same forces at work against our kids’ faith were working against theirs. They faced “a great contest full of suffering,” “insult and persecution,” and “the confiscation of their property” (Hebrews 10:32-34). Now they were engaged in a “struggle against sin” (12:4).
His solution was to inspire them. He told them the stories of famous Old Testament characters. Looking back over 2,000 years of Jewish history, he held up examples of great faithfulness. He surrounded them with a “great cloud of witnesses” (12:1) to give them new strength to persevere.
Our kids need such inspiration today. It isn’t enough to take them to church, read Bible stories to them, or tell them what to believe. They need to be inspired by examples of great faithfulness. Providentially, we too can look back over 2,000 years of church history. We can inspire our kids with the stories of famous Christians.
I’d like to share some resources we are using to surround our children with a “cloud of witnesses.” I’d encourage you to give them a try in your own parenting. May God use them to inspire your kids’ faith too!
Voice of the Martyrs has published their Courageous Series. This is a series of storybooks about six early Christians – three from the Bible (Paul, Stephen, Thomas) and three from church history (Patrick, Nicholas, Valentine). The latter are particularly interesting since they explain the origin of major holidays.
VOM also offers Torchlighters. This is a video series about sixteen well-known Christians spanning the entire history of the church. It includes a workbook filled with activities that reinforce the stories.
Christian Biographies for Young Readers is another helpful series. These attractive storybooks give well-rounded, historical accounts of famous figures throughout church history.
Not everything has to be a history lesson. There are fictional resources that can inspire your kids’ faith too!
Little Pilgrim’s Progress is a simplified version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. It tells the story of Little Christian’s pilgrimage to the Celestial City. He encounters obstacles and false pilgrims on the way. His story offers many lessons about the Christian life.
Jonathan Park is a series of audio adventures. These stories are filled with evidence for a Creator, the Bible, and Christianity. Audio resources are an easy way to inspire your kids’ faith while driving, doing chores, or any other time you have a chance to listen!
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Feel free to share any resources you’re using to inspire your kids’ faith with a comment below!