How to Guide Your Child from Knowing to Loving God

March 26, 2024

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Today's question says, "My kids have an excellent book knowledge of God, but how do I move them to a love for God when I ask them if they feel like God loves them, they say they are neutral."


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "My kids have an excellent book knowledge of God, but how do I move them to a love for God when I ask them if they feel like God loves them, they say they are neutral." Really interesting question to think about our children's love for God and then their belief in God's love for them. It's really important for us to think through this.

But before we do that, I would ask that you would just invest the few seconds it takes to give this podcast a five star rating if you think this is five star content. Also, if you're watching on YouTube, if you could give us a thumbs up or write a comment that just helps more people discover this content.

Now, as we're thinking through this question, the first thing I want to address is the questioner wrote when I ask them if they feel like God loves them, they say they're neutral. And so that's the first thing I want to talk through is that I would argue that feelings, our feelings are a poor gauge of either God's love for us or our love for God. Now, please don't hear me saying that feelings are a bad thing. Feelings are an important thing. We teach this directly in our Biblical Worldview curriculum at Foundation Worldview, that feelings are part of being created in the image of God. However, on this side of Genesis three, our feelings do not always point us towards what is true.

For those of you who are listening and you are married, think about this with your spouse. Is it wonderful when you have deep feelings of love and affection and admiration for him or her? Yes, that's a great thing, but on the days when you do not experience those emotions, does that mean that you don't love your spouse or that your spouse does not love you? No. I would even argue that love is deeper when those emotions aren't there, simply because then we are actually choosing to give of ourselves for the good of our spouse when we do not feel like it.

And we see this throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms. That love, understanding God's love towards us and our love towards him, is not always going to align with our feelings. A great passage for this is Psalm chapter 13. It's a Psalm of lament, and in Psalm chapter 13 verses one and two, the psalmist writes, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" So does this psalmist feel like God loves him in the moment? No, he does not. And I'm fairly that most of us have experienced this from time to time. Times when we do not feel as if God loves us, but that does not mean that God does not love us.

In fact, we know throughout the entirety of Scripture from the entire canon of Scripture that God has a deep and abiding love for us, and that was exemplified on Calvary. The fact that God willingly chose God, the Son willingly chose to take on human flesh to become sin for us, as 2 Corinthians five tells us and to be crushed for our iniquities as Isaiah 53 tells us, so we know that God loves us, whether we feel really happy and joyful and excited about God and his love for us, or whether we feel like God isn't there or he is against us, like this, Psalmist feels in Psalm 13. But then the end of that Psalm, Psalm 13 verses five through six, model for us what to do in these times when we don't feel as if God loves us. Psalm 13, verses five through six says, "But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." So what the psalmist here chooses to do is he chooses to recount the truth of who God is and what God has done for him rather than rest in his feelings. And that feelings are great followers, but they are terrible leaders. Or as my friends at Mama Bear Apologetics like to say, feelings, emotions are a great check engine light. Okay? So they're a great check engine light to let us know, okay, something is wrong. We need to figure out what's going on here. But they're a horrible driver. We don't want emotions in the driver's seat.

And so that's what we want to help our children understand that God's love for them rests in the truth of who he is, not in their changing subjective emotions. This is exactly what we teach children in our Attributes of God curriculum at Foundation Worldview that we talk about that God is love, and we also teach that God is immutable. God never changes. And because God is immutable, that means his love for us never changes. We as humans, we are not immutable. We are constantly changing. Therefore, our emotions are constantly changing. Our ability to love others is constantly changing, but it's not like that with God. God is immutable. God doesn't change. So therefore his love for us is immutable. It doesn't change. It remains constant whether we feel it or whether we do not. So that's the first thing I think we need to help our children understand that our emotions are a very poor gauge of God's love for us as well as our love for God. Still, we do want to help cultivate the affections of our children's hearts. We don't want children who have hearts that are just cold towards God, that know a lot of things about God, but don't ever choose to do anything with that knowledge.

And so the first thing that we can do to really help cultivate the affections of our children's hearts is pray. Pray for them. Pray that God would change their affections, that God would draw them to himself,. That God would reveal himself to them. That God would give them a passion for God's word. That he would give them a passion for prayer. That he would give them a passion for the people of God because it's only God who can change the affections of our heart. It's only God who can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Now, there's things that we can do. We can put the elements of growth in place, but we're not the ones that can actually cause the growth. Only God can do that. So what are some of these elements for growth that we can actually put in place to try to stir the affections of our kids' heart towards God? The first thing I think we can do is talk about the things of God throughout the day. Do we only mention God when we are reading Scripture or when we are at a corporate worship service on Sunday? We need to be talking about God and his goodness throughout the day. When things happen that we're pleased with, we need to pause and thank God. Thank God when things happen that scare us or are out of the ordinary or something that we weren't expecting. We need to pause and ask God for help and to give him thanks that we know that he is in control. Before mealtimes, do we actually take time to pray and thank God for our food to help our kids understand that we would not have food on our plates. If God did not sustain the laws of physics throughout the universe, if he did not sustain the sun, which gives us light and holds us in orbit, if he did not sustain the ecosystems that actually these plants grow from and that animals eat, do we actually talk about the things of God throughout the day? My parents did a great job of this when I was growing up, and I know a lot of times I hear people talk about how they kind of just forget about the things of God throughout the day, where with the way that my mind works, it's really almost impossible for me to forget about God or the things of God throughout the day just because my parents were constantly talking and using language that was reminding me in every area of life, the biblical worldview.

Another thing that we can do with them is we can encourage them to read Scripture on their own. Now, are they going to always feel like reading Scripture? No. Do you always feel like reading Scripture? I know I don't always feel like reading Scripture. That there are some times where I'm really excited about diving into God's word and God's Holy Spirit illuminates things to me as I'm reading that have always been there, but that I just haven't seen in the text before. And then there's many times where it's just a discipline that I'm used to that I don't get up and feel really excited about diving into God's word, but I know that it's important. I know that Jesus is the bread of life and that I need him, his word to sustain me throughout the day. So we can do this. We can encourage our kids to read Scripture on their own by as a family, all reading the same passage throughout the day at different times, just on our own looking for truths that are revealed about God in that passage, and then sharing what we found at dinner time. Okay, so we can say, okay, tomorrow we're all going to be reading Romans one. So everybody's going to read through Romans one, jot down some truths that revealed about God in that passage, and then we're going to talk about them at dinner.

Another important thing is to really encourage relationships with other members at your local church who can encourage your children towards God. Now, I know a lot of times this is traditionally the youth pastor, the children's pastor, and hopefully if there's a youth pastor or a children's pastor at your church that they are people who love God and love his word and have a deep and abiding relationship with him and love your children. But the youth pastor and the children's pastor can't disciple everyone. And a lot of times what's way more valuable than that is just finding an adult in the body of Christ who's an average, ordinary adult who loves Jesus, loves his word, and has lived life faithfully for Jesus for several decades.

I just saw this recently just a few days ago, I had lunch with a friend from church, and during lunch I was asking her how her kids were doing, and I asked her about her oldest son, and she was telling me how great he was doing how she has just seen his love for God and his love for God's word grown so much through meeting with one of the men at our church who has just been teaching him how to study the Bible, teaching him what it means to be a man of God, and this is what we want for our kids. So highly recommend that you start forging those relationships a great way to do that. Those of you who are faithful listeners can probably already guess what I'm going to say. A great way to do that is through practicing biblical hospitality. Start having people from your local church into your home on a regular basis.

Another thing that we can do is seek to intentionally foster a relationship with our children. When our children are really little, when they're under the age of seven, those relationships tend to come very naturally just because our children are so dependent upon us, physically, that we're with them all the time and we know them in and out. But once they reach that age of eight and they start to gain a little more independence. They start to gain more of their own personality. They start to critically think. That relationship isn't necessarily so natural. So a few things that I recommend doing is look for what their love language is. How do they most naturally give and receive love and seek to meet them where they're at. You might be a person like, I'm somebody who physical touch is my primary love language. So you might be a person who loves hugs, but that might not be how your child gives and receives love. Maybe your child receives love through spending quality time together or through acts of service. So look for what their love language is. Then intentionally seek to invest time with them. That's one thing that I think is such a big lie, especially in the US. We live life at such a rapid pace that often the best and most important things in life get squeezed out.

My sister right now, she and her husband, her husband is in the military, and right now they are stationed overseas in Europe. And just recently as my sister and I were talking about, they're probably going to be moved back to the US soon, and she was like, one thing that I'm really going to miss about being over in Europe is that people over here take their holidays very seriously and they take time off to actually rest and to spend time with their families. She's like, that's just not something that's really valued in the United States. Just actually resting and not doing anything and spending time together as a family. And so that's something we need to make sure that we're doing with our children. Especially as our children grow, when they reach about the age of 10 on up, an important thing to do is to ask them their thoughts on things because we want them to know that we respect them and we value their opinion. It will give us an opportunity to challenge some of their incorrect ideas, but it's important for us to ask their thoughts on things, so that they know that we genuinely value and respect them as a person.

And then the final thing I'm going to recommend that we need to do to have in place to really try to serve the affections of our kids' hearts towards God is to pray. I say, I'm going to sandwich this with prayer. Start it off with prayer and end it with prayer, because again, God is the only one who can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh. And so we need to pray, pray, pray that he would stir the affections of our kids' hearts toward him, and this is a prayer that should even continue on into adulthood. My mom just told me several weeks ago, she was like, I'm constantly praying for you and your brother and your sister, because just because you're your adults who love Jesus doesn't mean that you're always going to be faithfully walking with him. And so this is something we should be praying for our children always.

Also, I'm just realizing as I'm about to wrap things up that there's something that I forgot to mention before when I talked about intentionally fostering relationship with our children and investing time in them. The reason that that is connected, I believe, with stirring their affections towards God is in the role of Dad and in the role of Mom, God has given us the responsibility of reflecting his heart towards our children, and God is all about relationship because the entire canon of Scripture is about God reconciling us, bringing us back to himself. And so if we want to reflect the heart of God well to our children, we have to make sure that we are actually stepping back from the busyness of life and in investing time in building relationship with them, because again, the gospel is all about relationship.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode, but if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that by going to As we leave our time together, my prayer for you is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

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