When the all-wise, omnipotent God established His nation, Israel, He knew that the future of the nation lay in the hands of its parents. Our God is the supreme visionary, ever looking far off into the future, predicting the end result of human behavior. Thus, when our heavenly Father gave to His chosen nation, Israel, the very foundation of all true knowledge, His own revealed Word, He also gave parents of the children of that nation a special responsibility.
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou lies down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
Note that the Eternal God told the Israelites to write down His laws and even to hang them in prominent places. To this day, many homes in the Israelitish countries of the British Commonwealth and the United States keep that tradition by displaying framed, printed copies of the Ten Commandments. Yet sadly, some of the judges in these countries have fulfilled Zephaniah’s prophecy by doing “violence to the law” (Zephaniah 3:4)—enacting judgments that preclude schools from displaying the Ten Commandments in classrooms! In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that posting the Ten Commandments in schools violated First Amendment protections against government promotion of religion.
The effort of some to bury the heritage of their own nation has led to some mind-boggling legal decisions. Perhaps the starkest of all was the judgment of a federal appeals court, which found last April that the state of Ohio’s motto, “With God, all things are possible” (a quote from Matthew 19:26), is unconstitutional.
In a similar case in Kentucky, David Friedman, a civil liberties lawyer, stated, “Government must remain neutral to religion” (emphasis added throughout). That was obviously not the intent of the Eternal God when He founded the nation of Israel upon His own laws, statutes and judgments. God’s government is undergirded, linked together and threaded throughout with the constant acknowledgment that He alone is the supreme Deity to be worshiped by all! It is the first and foundational law upon which all knowledge proceeds—see Exodus 20:1-3.
As the wisest man conceived of human flesh stated, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man”! (Ecclesiastes 12:13). (Note the word duty is an insertion by the translators and does not appear in the original text.) Without the firm foundation of God’s law, all knowledge ends in an ethereal nothingness—there is no real understanding of the purpose for human existence!
What did God promise to the parents in Israel if they taught His law to their children? “That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21).
The choice which God gave to Israel was a simple one—as simple as choosing between life and death, blessing and cursing! (verses 26-28).
Once, in this modern society, when Britain possessed a vast empire and the U.S. was the mightiest free single nation in the world, their peoples had a concept of God. Once, they taught those Ten Commandments to their children. Once, their very constitutions, laws and statutes were based upon those 10 basic laws. Once, their children stood before the nation’s flag and honored God, king and country. Once, those nations prayed to their God for deliverance from their enemy, and their merciful God heard them and delivered them. Half a century ago, that was the way it was in the U.S., Britain and its dominions.
Time and a liberal-socialist agenda within government and education have since changed all of that.
Seizing upon Einstein’s theory of relativity as it applied to physics, godless Darwinians sought to apply it to moral values, coming up with the theory of moral relativity to replace the unchangeable law of God. They declared in their gross ignorance that there were no absolute moral laws! There developed the theory that the concept of God was dead. The “God is dead” school of thought ran rampant through our institutions of learning in the 1960s and ’70s. The generation spawned on the campuses of higher learning in those decades are today’s parents and grandparents. The results of the moral vacuum imposed upon our schools, colleges and universities have not been pretty. Two million U.S. citizens currently reside in America’s jails!
Aware of this horrendous statistic, Gen. Colin Powell recently declared in a speech before the Republican Party faithful in Philadelphia, “It’s time we got back to building children and stopped building jails! The burden is on the parents. It begins in the home. Children learn from watching the parents in their lives! Our children are a gift from God—not only to their parents but to us all!” Pausing, he added with emphasis, “Education is the keystone to it all!” (msnbc, Aug. 1, 2000). But what kind of education?
Where It Begins
Colin Powell could well have had in mind God’s admonition to Israel, for the heavenly Father had invoked a requirement on all parents that they see to the responsibility to educate, to teach their children true knowledge: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
God especially told these parents to teach their children and grandchildren that the source of all true knowledge comes by revelation from God Himself! “Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (verse 10).
The education of a child simply begins with the parents accepting the God-given responsibility to teach their offspring!
Parents in God’s Church have a special responsibility to carry out this commandment from their heavenly Father. We know that Israel was a type of the Church—the physical temple in the wilderness. How much more does the command to teach and educate children in true knowledge apply to parents in the spiritual temple, God’s own spiritual nation, His firstfruits God-children? “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
Unlike the carnal Israelites, the spirit-begotten members of God’s Church do have the capacity to remember and live by His commandments and to teach their children so! “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
The Order of Things
In this series on parenting, there is a definite reason why the instruction has been ordered in a particular way.
In Part 1, we went back to the beginning, back to the very meaning of life, of marriage, of the reason we have children. Then, in Part 2, we sought to fit godly parenting into its major framework of reference in the Church: the fulfillment of the incredible human potential, within the God Family vision!
In Part 3, we looked at the perfect method of parenting, the method by which God raises His children. We sought to explore that perfect, unsurpassable method of parenting in detail, noting that godly parenting is only possible with godly revelation. We saw that God requires obedience from His children and chastises them in love for disobedience.
In Part 4, we learned how to apply God’s methods to modify the natural behavior of a carnal child so as to instill responsible habits of behavior. How effective we are in training the child to behave respectfully and responsibly will determine the rate at which it succeeds in the next step—education!
It is generally understood that the first three years of the normal child’s life under responsible parenting is largely spent receiving behavioral training. This is so necessary in order to create the foundation for receiving education. From age 4, the average child is ready for preparatory education—for example, the teaching of simple skills in reading, counting, color recognition, etc. By age 5 to 6, the average child is prepared for receiving formal education.
The average person in Western society will spend over 12 years at school, between the ages of 5 and 21. Most of the problems that inhibit the rate and quality of learning that takes place over those years may be sourced back to parental mistakes made in the first five years of the child’s life. Physical parallels abound. A badly broken horse will carry the scars of his spoiling; resultant bad habits render it of limited use as a fully developed animal generally for the rest of its life. A well-broken horse, trained with true sensitivity to the abilities and limitations of the animal, will be a delight to its owners for the rest of its life.
Poor preparation, or lack of it, in any human endeavor yields less than desirable results. Thus it is with parenting.
The first five years of life comprise the period of preparation. Most sensible behaviorists recognize that the child is best-off spending those formative years in the home, receiving instruction from Mom and Dad. In our heavily technical and industrialized information society, the father is often separated from the home during work hours. Thus the lot falls to the mother to carry the burden of most of the training in those early years. Conscious of this imbalance, a good father will gladly rush home from work to relieve his wife and tend his children, giving them the balance of a truly masculine presence in the evenings and on weekends. The affection shown between mother and father and by mother and father to the children in these elementary years will have a huge impact on the young child. These are the years largely devoted to the behavioral training described in Part 4.
Now, having established that foundation of responsible behavior in the young child prior to the school years, the parents may breathe a little easier when the child starts his school life—his formal education. If you’ve done it right, then your child will willingly sit for hours, concentrating with little difficulty on absorbing knowledge at school rather than being distracted. If you’ve done it right, your child will have proper respect for teachers, other parents, elders. Your child will be confident socially, able to look his fellows in the eye, greeting and responding to adults with confidence and respect. Other children will perceive the quiet confidence of a child who is self-assured in the knowledge of its behavioral boundaries, who has a good grounding in God’s law, and a sound, beginning understanding of where things came from and where they are headed. Other children will be attracted to such a balanced child.
The diligent parent will have taught the average child by age 5 to read and comprehend simple stories, have developed the child’s motor skills by playing ball and other fun games, have exposed the child to quality music, even to a wide array of foods so its palate will be conditioned to appreciate God’s abundance in that area. But we must stress: The speed and quality of comprehension, of true learning that takes place in the child from this age on, will be either enhanced or restricted by the effectiveness of the behavioral training that has taken place up to that point.
What Is Education?
Education is simply systematic instruction. It refers to a process by which the person is generally placed in an environment conducive to learning, surrounded by various stimuli that enhance the ability, desire and motivation of the individual to learn, and is taught by one having an ability to teach. Every parent should have the ability to teach, otherwise the Eternal God would not have commanded the parents in ancient Israel to “teach your children.”
For decades, governments and the public have expressed concern in the U.S., Britain and the Commonwealth countries about the lowering of achievement levels in schools and colleges. One interesting fact is that children of Asian and Oriental parentage within these countries have a tendency to achieve levels of learning higher than the average Caucasian, or average child of American or British heritage.
Why Is This So?
It has largely to do with elements that exist within the social structure of the families in Asian and Oriental cultures. Asian and Oriental children are usually less gender-confused, more disciplined, more conscious of respect to elders; they exhibit a higher degree of motivation to learn, compared to their Caucasian counterparts. This has to do with family values. As the social engineers foisted their godless, Darwinian, feminist theories onto the Western world, the average family became more feminized, less structured in terms of parental leadership (particularly fatherly leadership), less disciplined in terms of generally acceptable behavior and more geared to fun and entertainment than gaining a quality education. This has all occurred as our society has revolutionized its approach to learning via electronically driven devices geared to simple viewing as compared to the methods of half a century ago which were heavily geared, as they had been for centuries throughout history, to the employment of all five senses in the process of learning. Of a truth, Alvin Toffler’s prediction of 30 years ago has come true: We have become a generation of passive viewers instead of stimulated thinkers!
One clear fact shines through in all effective studies on education: The more senses employed in the learning process, the greater the level of comprehension (understanding that which is taught) and retention (remembering that which is taught).
These days, much learning is dispensed via the touch of fingers on keyboard and the viewing of data on a screen. This process of electronically dispensing information has, for the most part, clinically sanitized the traditional learning process—the joys of searching and researching information by the exploration of a subject employing all five senses.
At one time, a student had to walk to a library stoked with colorful and exciting information in print. He or she had to search a reference index by hand, walk to a section of the library, thumb through the books on the shelf, maybe even climb a ladder to reach the uppermost shelves, to find that particular book, by that particular author, on that particular subject, published by that particular publisher. The student became familiar with the famed, international Dewey Decimal System of library indexing in the process. The book or books were then taken to a table where one opened them, turning the pages by hand, reading and absorbing print on paper, digesting the colored plates and diagrams. The student opened a notebook and took notes to review and memorize. A whole section developed in their mind’s memory bank comprising the sights, sounds, smells, views, tactile sensations and even tastes (be it bubble gum or whatever excited the taste buds during the stimulating experience of learning) associated with that particular exercise. At the end of the process, books were either returned or borrowed from the librarian, involving conversation. The borrowed books were placed in a carrying case and the student walked through the doors of the library to walk home. Libraries became meeting places for students on the hunt for knowledge, stimulating and enhancing social activity during the process of learning.
Now, too many children sit in darkened bedrooms with their computer, tapping a keyboard and viewing a screen as high technology does all the legwork of search and research for them—and the levels of knowledge absorption, comprehension and retention are reduced in direct proportion to the unemployment of the senses being stimulated by an inspiring learning environment.
This is the culture your children will be exposed to as they develop: the subculture of the high-tech information society. It does have its positive aspects, but is has significant weaknesses when it comes to your child’s education.
One of those weaknesses is the grave danger posed to your children by them being only a click away from the sleaze that corrupts minds. Perversion peddled by those who deal in pornography, witchcraft, weird concepts and false information on the Internet. Always make sure that if your child has access to a computer that it is safeguarded by being locked out of all websites of a doubtful nature.
Teach Right Habits of Learning
By the time your child reaches first grade, not only should you have lovingly taught him all of the habits of responsible behavior that lead to his acceptance into civilized and ordered society, you should also have prepared him for the decade and a half of education to which he will now be exposed by teaching him right habits of learning!
Again this involves training your child in the correct and habitual employment of his senses so he becomes alert to and desirous of maximizing his education. These right learning habits involve teaching your child to:
- Listen well.
- Observe in detail.
- Cultivate a vivid imagination.
- Respond readily when questioned.
- Ask, when in doubt.
- Read widely.
We’ve all heard that learning can be fun. Yet too often education either becomes drudgery for the child, who then can’t wait to leave school, or instead of making true learning real fun, the “fun” replaces the true learning. As education curricula are “dumbed down” to levels that call for lower achievement, there is a balance, which every parent and every teacher should strive for.
God gave to the human being a tremendous ability to imagine! The employment of imagination matched with memory in tune with all five senses devoted to maximizing the learning process in an uplifting, stimulating environment is the goal of all good teachers.
“And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6). As this scripture infers, the problem is that man has the habit of misusing his imagination, with less than desirable results. “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined” (Psalm 10:2).
In his helpful book on the subject of imagination, Psycho-cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote: “A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. This is a basic and fundamental law of mind. It is the way we are built.”
Herbert W. Armstrong was a visionary! He could see the wonderful World Tomorrow in colorful and graphic detail in his mind! God’s prophets were true visionaries. God empowered them to see in great detail, in their imaginations, future events yet to unfold. Pastor General Gerald Flurry is a servant of God to whom the Eternal is conveying in unfolding vision, through images engendered in the imagination, the reality of the God Family vision!
Imagination is the tool which God has given us to picture prophetic events in our minds and to fix them as the goals of this life!
Imagination is perhaps our most poorly utilized instrument, yet the instrument with the greatest potential to enhance effective learning!
Parents, you need to capture the imagination of your children early and direct it to visualizing right concepts, the greatest of which is the God Family vision! Though many a parent in the Church has captured the imagination of a young child and directed it early toward vividly imagining the World Tomorrow, too few have!
One of the best methods of cultivating a young imagination and directing it toward a right foundation for effective learning is to read early and regularly to the child. My 2-year-old granddaughter likes nothing better than to curl up in her parents’ or grandparents’ arms and have them read to her. She cannot yet read herself. But she can already visualize the ideas, the concepts, the events being read outloud to her, particularly if graphic, colorful pictures accompany the story. By contrast, my preteen grandsons like nothing better than to have Grandpa come into their bedroom, turn out the light and spin tales of the exciting escapades of James the adventurer as he roves the planet dependent upon the protection of God’s angels to get him out of the various scrapes he seems to so often get into. You see, they have developed their imaginations to the point where they can vividly capture in their minds’ eye the details of African jungles, Congolese swamps, Amazonian rivers, taming wild animals, and all that goes to stimulate a healthy, adventurous mind.
But most of all, it is the old Bible Story series produced under Mr. Armstrong’s administration—bringing to life the color of biblical history and the wonder of the time in the future when lions shall eat straw, and children will play with wolves and not worry about a slithering snake biting them—that gives these young minds real hope and confidence in their future!
Use this festival season to make God’s future world come alive in your child’s mind. Take excerpts from our booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will be Like, simplify the language, color it with vivid examples, and enrich your child’s mind in preparation for really enjoying, truly rejoicing at this year’s Feast of Tabernacles. Teach them to listen to the sermonettes and sermons as they reach the age of possessing the ability to have their attention held for either the 12-minute sermonette time, to begin with, or the full service as they advance in age and level of comprehension.
Does your child read and write? Then why doesn’t he or she do so at Church services?
Experience has shown that a child can memorize all books of the Bible by age 7. By age 7 to 8, they can concentrate, taking down notes and biblical references during a sermonette. By age 10, an average child should be able to concentrate on the whole Sabbath service, taking notes and referring to all given scriptures.
Remember, Jesus Christ was teaching in the synagogue at age 12, even surprising the most learned men with His knowledge (Luke 2:42-47). By this age parents should be having stimulating question-and-answer sessions with their children on biblical subjects.
Avoid the Sin of Parental Neglect
Parents, ask yourself the question: Am I restricting my child’s ability to learn and to really enjoy learning by spending insufficient time teaching them?
If your child spends five days per week at a school in this society, that’s an awful lot of hours away from the haven of a godly home! That’s a significant amount of time out there exposed to Satan’s society and all its unhealthy influences! You need to counteract that societal influence by counterattacking it in the home, by sacrificing your time to spend time with your children!
It’s not good enough for Dad and Mom to say, “I’m too tired,” at the end of the day, avoiding stimulating opportunities with their children in evenings, only to watch three or four hours of television. Too many fathers in our society go and spend time with other men on weekends or weeknights, avoiding healthy family interaction. Our heavenly Father is constantly on call for His begotten children—we can go to Him at any time, day or night, and never be turned away! He’s never too tired to hear us! Does the same apply to you, fathers?
Let This Feast Be a Turning Point in Your Life as a Parent!
Resolve now to spend time educating your children in the things that matter, that which gives them real hope, joyful anticipation of their future ahead, and real blessings of the assurance of knowing their moral boundaries in this life here and now!
Teach them God’s law! Teach them His statutes and judgments.Read and explain the book of Proverbs to your children and teach them the lessons of life that abound in its verses. Teach your youths the profound lessons of the book of Ecclesiastes. Give them vision, give them hope. Enhance their joy in living by showing them the reason for living and the wonder of the great reward that awaits those who obey God.
Educate your child now in the great God Family vision!
Mr. Flurry has said that vision can get us through any trial! Your children need that vision very early in their lives. Teach it to your children and your children’s children. It’s the perfect foundation upon which to build their education for life! And it works! Ask the parents who taught their young children well about the wonderful World Tomorrow! They are the children who have bridged the gap between Laodicea and Philadelphia to become the true hope for the future of that wonderful World Tomorrow!