Summer Camp?

Christian camp or conferences for upper elementary and teens can be an affirmation of parental instruction.

When I was a teenager (this is Carol), I was a counselor at a girls’ camp.  It put me in contact with some Christian women who looked at things differently from my mother…especially social issues and food.  I’ll never forget the white bread, peanut butter, jelly, and applesauce centered on each table 24/7!  In addition, some of their applications of scripture made me start thinking scripture our for myself.  I’d never been exposed to their particular slants.

The lesson here is that it is good for teens to hear others’ views.  It helps them sort things out for themselves.  I had been well-grounded in the Bible as the only source of truth.  I had already been urged to think about what I heard from others and evaluate whether it lined up with scripture.  But, I hadn’t had much practice.  I had not heard many adult opinions outside of those of my aunts and uncles and Sunday School teachers.  As a result of this new exposure, I did some thinking for myself.  Thus began a life habit of searching the scriptures when controversies came up.  So camp was a valuable experience.

Don’t rob your own children of exposure to other’s ideas.   Discussions around your table can teach them to reason and think about spiritual and social matters within the boundaries imposed by God.  That is IF you have cultivated a safe haven for all…not a controlled environment where only your ideas are “right.”

They need to hear about “matters indifferent” as well ….where the Bible leaves things open to opinions. It seems to me that a parent’s responsibility is to pose questions and facilitate thoughtful discussions on controversial subjects as a means to teach thinking skills.  This is far different from isolation and shutting teens away so they won’t fly toward sin.

Mind control won’t work; it often causes a strong will to burst the chains that bind them.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t have clear boundaries and show that consequences of one’s choices can hurt.   The Bible certainly draws clear boundaries.  Sexual purity is one.  There is no ifs, ands, or buts about that marital boundary no matter what society may debate.  In contrast, modesty is a different story.  What has to be covered varies with the culture and climate.  I am wearing sandals and shorts today.  My great grandmother would never have done that.  Why is it okay for me and not for her?  A good question to pose to your daughter along with a few more to stimulate thought.  Does she know the definition of modest?  Why should fashion designers set our standards?

Anyway, you get the two points.  Summer camp can be a valuable experience.  Learning to think through their own application of biblical principles produces young adults who are more equipped to stand on their own two feet.

Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

Would you like some tools for improving your devotional life?  My on-line book, “Building A Devotional House”( available at www.carolbrandt.com) lists tools for applying biblical principles to how you live everyday.  These tools also stir your own emotions so that you respond in gratitude and praise to our great God.  Then your “house” becomes far more than just a theology storeroom!  Your heart will be touched.  And your children and grandchildren will profit as well. Who wants to be a cold-hearted Christian?  One of those tools is singing.

SING

I would be very remiss if I failed to mention the importance of singing in building your devotional house.  My experience is that this is one of the most important ways to stir up the heart to love my Savior and King.  I hope you will not neglect it.

Why not put together your very own hymnbook?  Include those songs that come to your mind when you least expect and also planned ones you need to sing to strengthen your foundations.  Be sure these are doctrinally sound.  Find them from a trusted source.  Use it.  Keep it handy!

When I was growing up, we had a family hymnbook like the one we used at church.  I practiced the piano from it.  This example isn’t very spiritual, but it is funny.  We had neighbors across the street who frequently sat in front of their picture-window and “made-out” as we called kissing in those days.  I would alert the neighborhood teens by banging out “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.”  Everyone knew to come running to watch the show!

The point is that the song still comes to my mind.  The tune and the words have served me well, not only as a good laugh, but as a true biblical principle that warms the heart to remember my security in Christ Jesus.  I still have that worn old hymnbook, and even though it is from my Arminian roots, it has served me well in building my devotional house.  Even some of the doctrinal hymns are in there as well.  Who could forget, “Holy, Holy, Holy” or ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” or “Eternal Father Strong to Save”?  We sang from that songbook Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night.  And I banged away from it every day. What a treasure I received by learning those songs.

Nowadays it is not in vogue to use hymnbooks at church.  So I would recommend you make your own.  Try to keep it and use it from childhood to old age.  You need the tunes and the words.  John Wesley used to urge everyone to sing heartedly, learn the words, memorize the tunes.  Regretfully, melodies aren’t as prominent as they once were in the musical arrangements. Melody is important because it helps you learn the words; the beat doesn’t do that as well.

Congregational singing is very important.  We used to even sing in Sunday School with a piano available in every department.  I once taught the “old ladies class.”  They even sang together at their monthly class meetings.  It warmed my heart to listen to their voices as I prepared to teach those who knew far more than I did about the realities of God’s faithfulness to those who are called according to His purposes.  Colossians 3:16 tells us this will happen:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

“Singing with grace” means that the Holy Spirit teaches us and even shows us our sins during our singing.  He uses the melodies and the biblical truths expressed through the words to stir us to wonder, awe, and repentance.  It is His unmerited favor using a “means of grace” to bring us gently along the narrow path.  He does this in our private singing and in our family singing as well as congregational singing..

Singing is also a very effective way to happily instruct your children.  Choose your songs well.  When I worked in Children’s Ministry, I put together a hymnbook for the children.  You could have a family hymnbook as well.  You want the words to be filled with sound doctrine. Avoid flippant words that reduce God to one of us and destroy any fear of Him.  Remember, fear and respect help a child to turn from his sinful habits.  Don’t use a song if the melody isn’t pretty and easy to remember.  You want them humming that melody in the night or at the park without realizing what they’re doing!  For some reason, “Holy, Holy, Holy” is one of my grandchildren’s favorite songs.  Who would think of that as a “catchy tune” for pre-schoolers?  This is, of course, a way of bringing to their minds the words that teach truth. Then Psalm 15:2;5 will be true of your child or grandchild, “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart” (italics mine)… “He who does these things shall never be moved.”  Singing to himself is a way for him to speak truth in his heart.

You will find that when you least expect it, you will be singing these tunes and speaking truth in your own heart as well.  When the hurricanes of life hit hard, it is really nice to stand firmly, leaning on the everlasting arms