Teach them… Part 2

This past Saturday we attended a wedding.  One of my cousin’s daughters was getting married and it gave us a wonderful opportunity to see some family that we haven’t seen in many years.  I’m pretty certain I could write several posts on different observations I had at this wedding but I’m going to stay focused on my children for this article.

I want start by asking a question.  What do you expect from your children when you go to an event such as a wedding?  Or have you never given this any consideration.

I’m sure most parents will give the standard line, “now we want you to behave while you’re here today…” or something similar to this.

…And I could ask the question why do you want them to behave?  Is it for your benefit, their benefit or some other reason?  Maybe I’m getting off track already, but I’d like you to think why you want your children to behave?

One of the things I’ve began to focus on is the intentionality with which we instruct our children.  If we are to teach them diligently in the ways of the Lord and do this when they rise, when we walk by the way and when they lie down, that includes the whole day.  So as we drove to the wedding I asked the girls what is our purpose here today?

In short our purpose is to represent Jesus Christ, to be different, to be set-apart (holy), to bring all things into submission under the Lordship of Christ.  This is a biblical mandate for the Believer (Matthew 28:19-20).

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

My job as a parent to my children is to instruct them in “Biblical” wisdom, to give them a purpose for their life.  I need to instruct them that life is a battleground and not a playground.  I would make an assertion today that if you are not intentionally training your children for battle they are still on the playground.

This became very evident to me this weekend as I spent time observing the behavior of a number of the children at this wedding.

I want to be careful not to throw this as a blanket statement over all of them and I can only speak to the moments in time I observed them.  I don’t know all of their lives very well.  However, to see those walking with the wise and those that are a companion of fools became very clear.

I considered what is the desire of most children?  It appeared to me many of them would desire more time with their IPhones than trying to learn anything from someone wiser than they are.  If you ask one of these children a question will you get more than a one word or at best a one sentence answer?  Do they quickly turn back to Temple Run, Facebook or their next text message?

One of the criticisms most people make about children that are Home-educated, is the “socialization” stigma.  People are “concerned” that these kids are somehow being sheltered and can’t engage society.  I see a couple types of socialization that we can discuss.  One is the negative aspect of being socialized.  This I’m willing to bear that stigma.  I don’t care if my children are ever socialized into the culture of this world.

Are they companions of fools?  Do they only want to be around their friends, spend time playing video games, communicating with their smart-phones; do they despise their parents?  This type of socialization I’m more than happy for my children not to have.

Then the other type of socialization that I just don’t see in the Home-school families I’ve been exposed to is the ones that can sit and have an on-going conversation with an adult.  These kids don’t have their face planted in a phone all day long.

I would like you to really take a moment and think about your children in this manner.  Does it happen by accident?  Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 instruct parents and fathers specifically to train your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Part of this training is gaining a mastery of the language, through reading, writing and speaking.

Not speaking to their friends via text messaging…

Talking face to face with someone, knowing how to discuss the topics of the day or more importantly how to give a defense for their faith and the hope they have in Christ if they are a Believer.

Jen and I had a great affirmation of our diligent efforts to train on Saturday.  We asked our second daughter Madeline to come outside with us and take a picture.  We left our oldest daughter Grace inside to stay with my Aunt Jan at the table.  Grace quickly agreed and smiled as we left.  She was sitting with one chair between her and Jan and as we walked across the room we looked back and watched Grace slide over to the chair directly next to her to so she could be more engaged in the conversation.

Are we proud of this because Grace’s actions made us look good?  This is the desire of most parents I would assert.  No, we want it to open up the door for the gospel to be preached.  It is the only thing that holds value in this world.  It is the purpose of raising our children.

Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he-for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness.  Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, even if he lives a thousand years twice-but has not seen goodness.  Do not all go to one place?

If you want your children to be successful so they can have a better life, you might want to reconsider your purpose and theirs.  That might have some temporary value, but does it have eternal value?  Does it matter without eternity in mind?

Kevin

Child warriors

Prepare-4-Battle-Land-Copy

Throughout history children have been used in warfare, through either direct combat roles or in support roles.  Can you imagine strapping an AK-47 onto your 12 year old and sending them out into the field to fight?  Seems crazy, yet this is not uncommon in parts of the world that are entangled in fighting for freedom, or at least what they view as freedom.

Today I’m asking Believers to do the same thing with their children.  Today I’m asking and telling myself, my children need to be engaged in war.  I don’t own much in the way of firearms.  I have a shotgun that I’ve missed a few pheasants in my day.  In fact I’m not sure I’ve actually killed anything with this shotgun, but my poor shooting is not the point of this article.

Today I hope we’ll consider the purpose of the training and equipping of our children.  Why did you have children?

Psalm 127:3-4 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.

The first thing we see is that children are a reward.  We recently attended a conference and one of the speakers was telling a story of his father and how his father had discussed this with a couple that were committed to not having children.  He said to them if God wants to give you a gift, why would you refuse that?

Most of society views children as a nuisance, not a reward.  Something we are obligated to have.  Two and out is the general rule of thumb, unless you have the same variety twice and then it’s okay to have a third to try for a boy or a girl.

Verse 4 tells us children are arrows in the hand of a warrior.  The first question to ask, are you a warrior?  If you’re not a warrior, there’s no need to have arrows in your hand, they will only hurt you.  Have you ever watched someone untrained try handling a weapon; they look clumsy doing it.  If you are not being trained for battle you have no business training your children, you are incapable of this without being this yourself.  Note: this does not absolve you of your responsibility, and if this is not you then I would encourage you to read my articles on A Sure Guide to Heaven.

Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

So what is the battle?

Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

This battle, this holy war, is against things seen and unseen.   Our only offensive weapon in this battle is the word of God; verse 17 goes on to say, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

To engage this battle we must be saved and we must be training in the word of God.  This word is sharp and it cuts and it divides.  It discerns the intent of one’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).   Have you experienced this before?

This article draws a clear line in the sand and I’m hopeful exposes our hearts before God.

Are you bumping through life with no clear purpose and no clear vision for your family?  Do you have purpose in your own life?  Please don’t pass over this question today.  Sit and think today about your purpose.

Society is training children very well for the playground of life.  A Believer should be training children for the battleground, to take ground for the Lord Jesus Christ.

What simple, practical steps can you take today if you’ve failed in this endeavor?

Repent.  Gather your family together tonight and confess your lack of vision and leadership and explain to them their new mission.

Create a vision statement.  Write something out on paper.  Have them help and develop a plan.  Have you heard the worn out financial advisor cliché, “nobody plans to fail, they only fail to plan”.

Turn off the television.  The word “amusement” means to NOT THINK!  How can you be engaged in a battle if you turn off your brain?

Have family worship consistently.  Sit around a table and talk with your family.  Have deep and meaningful conversations.  Learn to know your children and your spouse.   We’ve benefited from a study in Proverbs by Kevin Swanson.  Other ideas are going verse by verse through a book of the Bible; we’ve done this with most of Paul’s letters and parts of Matthew.

Today we were discussing Proverbs chapter 11 and with tearful eyes my daughter Grace said, “thank you Dad for reading this with us”.  Praise God for His grace.

Don’t be lazy.  Just do it!

This call is primarily to men.  If you are a man that is concerned about your family and wants them to be warriors for Christ, you must take action.  The world will quickly scoop them up and take their hearts if you don’t.

May the Lord bless you today as you fight for His kingdom!

Kevin