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In an airport one day, a couple with their little girl was waiting for the grandparents to get off the plane.

When a white-haired couple came down the ramp, the little girl started shouting, "Grandma! Grandpa!" Then she ran up to them, hugging and kissing them.

While waiting for the luggage, a man started chatting with the parents. He said, "I noticed how much your little girl loves her grandparents. They must visit you often."

"Oh, no," said the mother. "In fact, this is their first visit since our daughter was a baby."

"Then how did she recognize them? How could she know someone she hasn't seen?"

"Oh, we've been showing her pictures of Grandma and Grandpa almost every day, and we talk about them all the time."

No wonder she feels like she knows them.

You Are Your Children's Picture of God
After praying for your children, the most important thing you can do for them is to show them Who God is and make Him so real to them that they can know Him.

You are your children's picture of God. When they look at you, study you and watch you, they see what God is like. A child's mind can't grasp the immensity of a God he can't see.

But he can relate to God through his daddy who plays with him and through his mother who cares for him.

As a parent, you control your children's world. To them, you are all powerful. In their childish mind, you are like God and God is like you.

If you are loving and forgiving, your children see God as a loving and forgiving heavenly Father.

If you discipline your children and expect them to obey you, they will see God as a figure of authority Who also expects their obedience.

This principle is especially true for fathers. Because God is our heavenly Father, we interpret Who God is by what our earthly fathers are like.

So, Dad, the way you are is the way your children think God is.

One young man in New York City was being raised only by his mother. Whenever he heard his pastor talk about praying to our heavenly Father and loving Him, he couldn't relate. His own father had beaten him, used drugs and abandoned him and his mother.

Then one night that boy dreamed about God. He said, "In my dream, God told me He was my Father. He told me He loved me and wanted to take care of me and help me. Now I know Who my heavenly Father really is!"

None of us can always be a perfect parent. But if we can show love and forgiveness—if we can use our God-given authority in a loving and caring way—our kids will be better able to understand God's love, forgiveness and authority.

Too many of us have grown up feeling like we had to perform for our parents in order to be loved. We had to get good grades, clean up our rooms, or do what they told us to do in order for them to love us.

And when we didn't measure up—when we were "bad"—we felt like they didn't love us.

We often have that same image of God. When we are "good people" and go to church, we feel good about God and His attitude toward us.

But when we have sinned, when we have disobeyed God, we tend to withdraw form Him. We don't pray as much or read our Bible. We stay out of church because we don't see how God could love us as much.

But God loves us no matter what—whether we are good or bad!

Look at Israel. In the Old Testament they were always chasing after other gods. In one breath, God was correcting them; and in the next breath, He was loving them back to

No matter what they did—or did not do—He never stopped loving them.

And that's the kind of parent we should be.

God has given us the responsibility to be His representative to our children. The way we live and act and react reflects Him.

This is one of the reasons God created the home, because there is no better place for a child to learn the nature of God and his great value to God than at home.

And there are no better teachers than the child's own parents.

Set a Godly Example
Now, don't get us wrong. We don't want to put some heavy burden on you by saying you have to be perfect or your children will reject God. No one is perfect. And you will never be perfect at least, not in this life.

What matters is how you live over the long haul.

Yes, you will make mistakes because you are human. In fact, the way you act when you make a mistake, when you sin, can teach your kids positive things about God.

When you sin, do you come to God, humble and broken? Do you acknowledge what you did was wrong and that you are accountable to God and under His authority?

Do you get on your face before Him asking forgiveness for what you have done, and then accept His forgiveness?

You will make mistakes as a parent—we all do. The important thing is how you present yourself to your kids.

Are you loving, forgiving, merciful and fair?

Do you discipline and exercise authority in love? Do you forgive and forget? Are you patient, kind, humble?

Do you bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things?

Source: How To Raise Your Kids In Troubled Times
by Buddy & Pat Harrison
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Buddy & Pat Harrison
Web site: Pat Harrison Ministries
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.

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