Nothing is more powerful than the memories created by a child's experiences. The child's memories fashion the adult's life. Every day of adult life is touched by the memories of childhood experiences.

Our greatest adult fears were created by childhood memories. Our greatest adult anxieties were produced by childhood memories. Our most negative adult views of ourselves are the product of childhood memories.

Our most important adult goals have their roots in childhood memories. Our most powerful adult drives have their roots in childhood memories. Our adult attitudes, adult perspectives, adult expectations, and adult view of life are all powerfully influenced by our childhood experiences and memories.

Help me conduct an experiment. I want each adult to think about your life during the period from four years of age to twelve years of age. All I want you to do is think. First, I want you to remember a bad childhood experience. This is something that you don't allow yourself to remember very often. It is one of those memories you don't want to think about. Second, I want you to remember one of your best childhood experiences. This memory is a real joy to think about. It makes you feel good to think about it. Third, I want you to remember one of the funniest childhood experiences you had. This is a memory you like to share because it is funny to tell.

Now stop remembering and think with me. Did you struggle to pull up a memory? Could you remember the when, the place, the situation, the who, and the circumstances? Let me tell you the incredible thing: the older you become, the more vivid those memories become.

  1. When we remember our childhood, we think about things we rarely recall.
    1. When I was about ten years old, a neighbor needed Mom to drive her to town.
      1. We lived on a farm six miles out of town (which was much further than six miles today), and few people in the community had a car or truck available.
      2. It was summer, so Mom left my brother and me at the house.
      3. Soon after she left, we heard a noise in the attic.
      4. The more we listened the louder the noise grew.
      5. The louder the noise grew, the wilder our imaginations grew.
      6. In a short time, we decided someone was in the attic; then we decided that it was dangerous to stay in the house.
      7. We finally stood by the highway until Mom and the neighbor came back.
      8. With grave concern, we told Mom about the man in the attic.
      9. Without laughing, Mom took a baseball bat and led the troops into the attic to confront the man--only to find an empty attic.
    2. I remember when Jack and I played cowboys in the barn.
      1. We roped a young calf and tied the rope to a beam in the stall.
      2. The calf immediately pulled against the rope and began to choke itself.
      3. We quickly had a serious situation: the calf pulled on the rope so hard that we could not untie the calf; the calf choked until it's eyes rolled back and its tongue stuck about six inches out its open mouth.
      4. And I knew the calf was dying; and I knew what would happen if it died.
      5. So I ran to the house screaming that the calf was hanging itself.
      6. And Mom grabbed a butcher knife and out ran me to the barn--she thought I said that my brother was hanging himself.
      7. Other memories are associated with that occasion, but I choose not to recall them.
      8. We never roped any more calves.

  2. Allow me to illustrate the power of childhood religious memories on the adult.
    1. This is not intended to be a negative statement.
      1. I am not trying to make a broad commentary.
      2. I just want to illustrate the power of religious memories from childhood.
    2. The most difficult spiritual adjustments that I face as an adult are adjustments that confront what I was taught as a child.
      1. My mother and father were a source of many blessings.
      2. I deeply value the spiritual education my mother conscientious provided me.
      3. The small, rural congregation of my childhood rarely could afford a preacher, but good men with good hearts that shared what they knew.
    3. God has given me incredible blessings in the form of wonderful opportunities.
      1. I have spent my entire life studying, learning, and teaching.
      2. I deeply value my opportunities to study scripture in college and graduate school.
      3. I deeply value learning how to study scripture.
    4. It would be a cruel injustice to expect the adults of my childhood to have my understandings without my opportunities.
      1. Yet, it is still difficult to let scripture's actual teachings replace anything that I was taught as a child.
      2. You and I are much alike in that; it is very difficult to learn something scripture actually teaches if it contradicts what you learned as a child.
      3. That is how powerfully childhood religious teachings influence the adult.

  3. I heard that a person will learn more from birth to age five than he or she will learn the rest of his or her life.
    1. When we consider all we learn from age five to death, that sounds ridiculous.
      1. But the day we were born we knew nothing--not even know how to focus our eyes.
      2. We did not understood any language and we could not use any language.
        1. We learned to understand.
        2. Then we learned to talk.
        3. Then we learned to communicate.
      3. Look at a day old baby for a few minutes, and then immediately watch an active five year old for ten minutes, and you realize that a baby is an incredible learning machine.
      4. In fact, a child from birth to adolescence is an incredible learning machine.
    2. May I ask a question? How much spiritual input does your child receive in this period of incredible learning?
      1. How does the time he or she spends watching television compare to the time he or she spends in receiving spiritual input?
      2. Don't stop with that comparison.
        1. Think about the different types of learning experiences occurring in your child's life.
        2. Think about the learning experiences you deliberately, by intention and plan, provide your child.
        3. Does any learning experience in your child's life receive as little time as his or her spiritual learning experience?
      3. In years to come, when your child makes critical moral and ethical decisions and choices that will affect the rest of his or her life, what is the likelihood that his or her smallest learning experience will have the greatest influence?
    3. I understand that the essential, most critical foundation blocks in building faith and spirituality in any person's life are the Bible's stories.
      1. For centuries, Christianity built faith in a world that could not read, in a world that had no printing presses, in a world where few people saw a book, in a world that had no mass media.
      2. How is that possible? Christianity built faith by teaching people the stories.
      3. Spiritual understanding and faith begin by learning the stories.
      4. Our preschool, primary, and elementary children have excellent opportunities to learn and understand the stories.
        1. Bible classes are taught for each age on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
        2. Kids for Christ has an excellent program for them on Sunday evenings.
        3. We have an excellent vacation Bible school program.
        4. And at least six times a year there are special activities for these ages.
      5. As we continue to develop our education program, the opportunities will just get better.
    4. I offer this challenge to the parents of preschool, primary, or elementary children.
      1. Bring your children.
      2. Make it a point to have them in class before class begins.
      3. Bring them regularly.
      4. Study with your children at home.
    5. I offer this encouragement to the teachers.
      1. Teach to build memories.
      2. Never, never forget the continuing power of a child's memory.

  4. During his ministry, Jesus was incredibly busy.
    1. He was busy doing important things.
      1. He was training twelve men to be his apostles.
      2. He was traveling to every town and city in Israel to prepare the people's hearts and minds for Christianity.
      3. He was informing people that God's kingdom would come soon.
      4. He was giving hope and forgiveness.
      5. He was constantly teaching adults, constantly performing miracles.
    2. Listen to what happened one day.
      1. First, listen as Matthew wrote:
        Matthew 19:13-15 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After laying His hands on them, He departed from there. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      2. Listen as Luke wrote:
        Luke 18:15-17 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      3. Listen as Mark wrote:
        Mark 10:13-16 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      4. Consider two things.
        1. First, this very busy man who was no less than God's Son took time for children.
          1. The disciples thought that Jesus was much too busy with important matters to be bothered with children.
          2. Jesus rebuked his disciples saying, "Stop preventing the children from coming to see me!"
        2. Second, just like miracles were important, and preparing people for the coming of the kingdom was important, and teaching all over Palestine was important, bringing children to Jesus was important.
          1. Years after Jesus died, I wonder how many adults said, "I remember when Mother took me as a child to see Jesus. I remember when he laid his hands on me and prayed."
          2. I wonder how that memory touched their adult lives.


I am not trying to embarrass you or make you self-conscious, but if you attended Bible classes as a child, would you hold up your hand? Thank you! Do you have a good memory of a childhood Bible class teacher? Can you remember her name (I am certain that the majority of you remember a her)? Was she a blessing?

Parents, don't rob your children of those memories. Those memories will be important in your child's life as long as he or she lives. Teachers, help parents build such memories.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 January 1999

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