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Preparing Children For Interesting Times
Discerning believers have sensed a decisive change coming for several years. If history truly repeats itself, we are heading into a season of judgment and serious difficulty which may last beyond our current generation. Whether judgment and difficulties are reflected in the current economic crisis, ongoing terrorist attacks, unrighteous leaders or a host of other combined circumstances, many believe we are on the threshold of very perilous times (II Timothy 3).
Our family ministry has done significant travel throughout the country over the past ten years, and we never fail to be in awe of the Great Shepherd’s faithfulness toward His people, regardless of denominational labels or minor doctrinal differences. As His people return to ancient paths, seeking truth rather than traditions of men, He speaks faithfully to His sheep, warning them of coming danger and teaching them to prepare. The same Almighty One who warned Joseph precisely how much grain to store, gave Noah dimensions for the ark, and walked through the fires of persecution with the three Hebrew children loves us passionately, instructs us clearly, and warns us faithfully of impending danger. As He is our perfect example of a prudent, loving Father, aren’t we also responsible to equip our own children for the days ahead?
This responsibility is not one that can be swept under the rug or ignored in ostrich-like fashion. Either our children will have strong spiritual foundations, proficient life skills, and Rock solid character, or they will perish in the days ahead. This is not a popular message. It is not being declared by most pulpits or keynote speakers. But ignoring the urgency will not lessen the need. It only wastes valuable time.
Many years ago, we revaluated the priorities in the education of our nine children. Our emphasis stopped being compliance with national test standards. We actually relocated to a state with few requirements and this allowed us to proceed with great liberty. If you find yourself jumping through extensive hoops of state oversight now, just wait a short while. I guarantee it will not improve in the future. Relocation is not the worst thing that can happen to your family. Ask the Father where He wants you to be. If He says stay, be content; if He says go, trust Him to make a way.
Upon relocation, we left behind our small scale experiments in urban homesteading and began a quest for rural self-sufficiency and a faith based on the simple truths of Scripture. This is an ongoing journey for us, with more to learn each day. Our adventures have helped us transition from two clueless young married city novices to a family team that includes nine children who are proficient in raising crops, building log homes, handling livestock, outdoorsmanship, ministry, and discerning truth from error. Over the years we refined our priorities into a form of education which will see our children, and hopefully many others, through whatever comes in their future.
Our primary priority in education is Spiritual Preparedness. This is foundational as we are told to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (our daily needs) will be added unto us.” The very first thing we do on a school day is to read and study Scripture. We are currently working through the writings of the Old Covenant prophets. We read a few chapters each day together, in addition to the personal reading and prayer we encourage each person to do in the morning and evening. One thing that has revolutionized our lives and doctrine has been the memorization of large passages and entire chapters of Scripture, rather than “memory verses”. The Word warns us of great apostasy and deception increasing in the last days; therefore we find it imperative to teach children not to isolate verses from their surrounding context. Verses are far too easily twisted and misapplied by dishonorable or biblically ignorant leaders and teachers. Even Peter warned of the tendency in his day to twist the words of Paul to justify lawlessness (II Peter 2, 3:14-17). Even the littlest child can be taught to memorize by adding a line per day, using rhythms, body motions, anything that makes it fresh for your children. And by all means, use real Bibles with children! The verbal rhythms and vocabulary of a KJV are not as hard for children to master as you might think. As they become older, continue memorization and add word studies from the Hebrew and Greek. Help them study and understand the Hebrew culture which places Scripture in its context. The important thing is that His Word must be hidden in their hearts to discern truth from error, right from wrong, and life from death. Our children must possess spiritual weapons which are sharp and well practiced to avoid the abundance of deception and confusion they will no doubt meet in the future.
The next priority under Spiritual Preparedness would be thorough instruction in the doctrine followed by the apostles and the earliest believer in our Savior (Acts 2:42). It has become increasingly clear to us that the roots of our faith are not in Rome, Geneva, Tulsa, Azusa Street, Lancaster County, or Brownsville. The roots of the faith go back to Jerusalem, and the Hebrew foundations of the earliest believers, prior to the hybridization which occurred after Constantine. We want our children to value and esteem truth above traditions of men or sensational experiences (even “signs and wonders”) which may directly conflict with Scripture; one of the warnings we have is that in the “last days” doctrines of demons will be rampant and even the elect will be vulnerable to deception. If our children are to be firmly grounded in truth, we must stop clinging to the words of man as if they were Scripture. Calvin was a man, Luther was a man, Menno Simons was a man, and Wesley was a man.
It is healthy for children to be familiar with the stories of heroes of the faith and movements in church history. It is sad that we have applied so much attention to the lives of the “Founding Fathers”, while neglecting to familiarize our children with Tyndale, Jan Hus, the Waldensians and others who surround us as “the great cloud of witnesses”. Preparedness for suffering for the sake of the Gospel comes from seeing our Father’s faithfulness and abundant grace toward those who have suffered before us. World history and geography come together when viewed through biographies of great men and women of the faith. However, while great men of the faith can challenge us and encourage us by their example, our doctrine must be firmly founded on the whole Word of YHWH, Genesis through Revelation, nothing added, nothing taken away.
Our second priority area in preparing our children for perilous times is mental/character preparedness. This can only be a building block laid securely on the solid foundation of spiritual preparedness. Developing attitudes conducive to sacrifice, rather than “survival of the fittest” is in direct opposition to the tendency of the flesh. A child who will not yield his favorite toy to his little sister will not share half of his last piece of bread when he is truly hungry and she cries for his mercy. These are NOT small issues of childishness to be ignored. Our children must be confronted with the ugly selfishness of their flesh, be led to full repentance, and taught to respond automatically with actions consistent with Kingdom living. In perilous times the ungodly and the superficially religious lose all courtesy and true believers become a candle in the darkness. Our children must understand that our provision is not dependent on selfishness, but the One who gave manna in the wilderness.
In addition to building relationship with the Almighty who provides manna, multiplies loaves and fishes, and turns water into wine, our children must cultivate an attitude of sober-mindedness, control of the tongue, and the ability to work cheerfully. Joking, impulsive speech, gossip, laziness, and quick over-familiarity are fleshly tendencies which may prove to be hazardous in the coming days if not kept in check. Healthy humor is part of the nature of our Creator, but He has no tolerance for mischief and foolishness and neither should we.
With the great increase in physical labor our children will likely face shortly, it is to our benefit and theirs’ to spend a significant portion of six work days in physically productive labor. However, without the ability to work cheerfully, maintaining a steady attitude of joy and peace even under great pressure, your home will become a breeding ground for resentment, rebellion, and outright resistance. Children can either be positively included in our work, or driven to exhaustion by manual drudgery. It’s all a matter of attitude, ours’ first, then theirs’. If we see ongoing financial hardship or disruption of services due to a change in the availability of fuel, our children will be needed to work alongside of us, rather than spending a great deal of time on recreational reading, running around to events, and other more self-oriented activities.
They will need to make fun out of real life accomplishments, rather than escaping to fiction on the screen or between pages. This is a good habit to instill now. Our children should be exposed to great and worthy books, given sparing time to appreciate the privilege of reading, and expected to serve others during the most productive hours of the day. By reading excellent literature, well written biographies, and doctrinal works the development of communication skills (writing, speech, etc.) will be a simple transition, rather than an artificial exercise in sentence diagramming. These communications skills will be of multiplied importance in the lives and futures of our children, as they will certainly be called upon to defend the faith as it was once delivered to the saints.
Children should be given thought provoking, open ended discussion questions, and then be challenged to defend their position from Scripture. They should NOT learn to simply parrot what we or any denomination teaches with out question. Their writing should become less like story-telling and more doctrinally apologetic, to prepare them to live in an increasingly antagonistic, openly pagan society. Surprisingly, most children of this generation have an inner sense that they will need these skills and disciplines; instead of becoming bored or overwhelmed, they rise beautifully to the challenge and shine as lights among their peers.
Our third and final emphasis in proactive preparedness education is upon life skills vs. storage of massive quantities of “stuff”. We certainly encourage all families to seek the Scriptures and His Voice of council in this matter. We have determined that skills are far more important than material storage, which can be lost to theft, impoundment (likely in a martial law scenario), or spoilage. One of the loud lessons we exhibit by massive storage is that problems are solved by throwing cash at them. It can be a false security, when not kept in practical balance. We can avoid the hard work of life changes and character improvement, by insulating ourselves from any imagined future discomfort. We are not against storage for a short term solution, but life skills such as finding food and water in wild places, making fishing equipment, gardening, or constructing shelters will be of far greater long term benefit and they cannot be taken away once learned.
Experience nature until it is a comfort zone. For special occasions, consider the gift of tools rather than toys. Equip the individual gift and interest of each child; take these interests seriously. Allow them to become very proficient until their skill is marketable, even in a barter economy. They may experience seasons in life where buying is not possible, but trading is.
This generation is the most likely to experience extreme hardship in our lifetime and has the fewest skills to successfully cope, thanks to our full acceptance of modernization and rejection of the simple agricultural and primitive life skills that served each generation prior to WWII. We have much catching up to do; our children need to be able to do simple things like start an outdoor fire and cook on it, travel accurately on foot in wild places, and avoid evil people or deadly diseases. They have no time for paper plate puppet projects or baseball unit studies.
For the health care needs of your family, help your children become proficient in first aid procedures, natural and herbal remedies, and sound nutrition. Even if there are no major disastrous events in the lifetime of your children (which looks increasingly unlikely), the corruption of the current medical system is widespread and ominous. We have seen a “Christian” (denominational) hospital conduct workshops to teach medical professionals to “read auras, channel healing energies, and use shamanism” without the permission of their patients as part of treatment. This is occurring all around the world. Even the immunization issue is in most cases a controversial violation of Scriptural principles of separating the clean and unclean; there is no precedent in Scripture for purposeful contamination of our blood. It is time for our children to seek healing of their bodies by the Great Physician and learn how to practically use resources He has clearly given for comfort, disinfection, and promotion of health.
After learning “front-line” top priority emergency skills, secondary skills should become proficient. As in recent examples brought on by fuel price escalations, transportation and shipping are not issues to take lightly in a crisis. A failure in food supply transport can mean serious discomfort and even total chaos. With the increase of imported foods from countries with low environmental standards, antibiotic and hormone contamination of meat, and the rise in genetically modified “Frankenfoods”, it is prudent to decrease dependency upon the grocery store. Activities such as non-hybrid gardening, seed saving, hunting, livestock care, butchering should include children as they have been included throughout the history of mankind. These highly educational activities are far more practical than textbook science. Ten years ago, our then ten year old naturalist son learned anatomy by dissecting (butchering) a mammal specimen (deer). He checked out butchering and anatomy books from the library; following the “dissection’ of his second deer he was able to correctly identify most organs, muscles, bones, and types of joints. All the while, we laughed and talked of pioneer history, and the faithfulness of the Creator’s provision.
We have a limited and rare opportunity to focus on practical, significant, and intensely indispensable education for the sake of our children and our families’ survival. By fearlessly teaching these lessons to our children, we equip them to grasp their future as overcomers and Kingdom citizens. Nothing frightens a child more than uncertainty. By giving them tools to stand with us, we alleviate fear and give them hope for tomorrow. It’s high time we stop home schooling, with all its bells and whistles and game playing, and turn our focus toward home discipleship. This model is what we are commanded to accomplish in Deuteronomy 6, and will prepare our children to occupy until He comes. Our children’s physical and eternal lives depend on it.
Jim and Robin Brashear home disciple six of their children in the beautiful Inland Northwest. They have been married for 28 years, have home schooled for 21 years, are parents of nine, grandparents, and ordained ministers. They mostly seek to live a quiet and peaceable life, doing the work of their own hands (except when Jim gets a bent to go down into the jungle to minister among the occasional cannibal tribe.) Robin is currently also studying to become a traditional midwife and naturopath, hoping to deliver at least some of her future grandbabies. They are the authors of Prepare and Pray! and Blessed Assurance unit studies. These are each one-year literary life skill manuals available at www.prepareandpray.com.
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