Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guard Your Children’s Hearts (Part 2)

Guard Your Children’s Hearts (Part 2)
       I would like to begin this post by asking you to go back and read Guard Your Children’s Hearts (Part 1) if you have not yet done that.  Everything in this post will be in relation to that post.   If you have read Part 1, then I am thrilled that you have chosen to move on to Part 2.  Thank you!  This blog is like a church service.  If you don’t like what the preacher says, you don’t have to come back.  So, thank you for continuing with me on this journey.
          In Part 1, I Iaid out the perils of today’s culture and the ways in which we often fail as parents because we do not effectively protect our children from that culture or teach them how to grow in their relationship with Jesus.  I connected this heavily to our own relationship with God.  I would like to make it clear that what I am suggesting as a problem that needs to be corrected is not necessarily a simple task, at least not under our own power.  If you feel burdened in trying to raise your children, exhausted by the daily grind of just making life happen, I understand.  In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus states, "Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your cares on Him, because he cares for you".  Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need".  So you see,  I understand the challenges of parenting as I am a parent myself.  But Jesus, our High Priest, the Son of God, feels our pain and is available to us at all times to help us through life's trials if we will just turn to him and let him show us how to do what is best.
        Let me be clear, it is impossible to successfully raise Godly children without the involvement and support of Almighty God.  If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus, then I encourage you to do so.  I am not talking about praying a prayer and living life as usual.  I am talking about making him Lord and King over your life.  I'm talking about getting in the Word and letting Jesus change your life.  You CANNOT teach your children that which you are not walking in yourself.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary and should be central to Christian child rearing. Especially in today's culture.
     As I said toward the end of Part , I would like to apologize for the church in regards to their unintentional misleading of parents regarding their involvement in training up their children in the Bible and what living for Jesus is all about. Organized church shares some of the blame for this by creating children's ministries and youth/student ministries and then not reminding parents that these ministries play a supporting role, NOT the primary role in teaching our children about Jesus .Parents, make no mistake, you are the primary vessel by which God wishes your children to be trained up. 
     Not only are we as parents responsible for teaching our children.  We are responsible for shepherding our children.  A shepherd protects the sheep from harm. A shepherd says, if a wolf is gonna get one of these sheep, it will not be on my watch.  It’s not enough to teach them a few truths, or read them a few stories from the bible or quote them some scripture.  We have to expose them to the depths of scripture.  Teach them to memorize it and meditate on it.  Teach them that Christianity is not some religious thing that you do.  It is a life you lead.  It is a relationship with Jesus that you have to cultivate through a prayer life and time spent in the word daily.
     We have to teach them that Salvation and Lordship are not two separate concepts.  They go hand in hand.  We have to teach them that Jesus said, “if you love me you will obey my commands”(John 14:15).  That they don't just say yes, I accept  your salvation and be done.  They must walk out the love of Jesus in their lives.  They must take care of the least of these.(Matthew 25:31-46)  They must understand that "the only religion that God considers pure and undefiled is to help care for widows and orphans and to keep oneself unstained from the world"(James 1:27).  Unstained from the world.  This reminds me of Romans 12:1-2.  to paraphrase it says that we are to be living sacrifices, Holy and acceptable to God.  That we are not to be conformed to this world but transformed, by the renewing of our minds (by studying the word) that we may discern God''s will. To know what is good, acceptable, and perfect in his sight.  These are two very clear commands that we are to be different from the rest.
      Is it bad to learn to be successful in this world.  Of course not.  However, today's culture tells us that the IN thing is to be athletic, enjoy romantic relationships, get good grades, and get into a good college.  Then we can get a great education, have a successful career, have a nice home, have 2.5 kids, and that is the American Dream.  Perhaps another version if  you are gifted in the arts would be to pursue a career in music or movies and gain the American Dream that way.  To get most of what WE want in this life through hard work and determination.  That is not the life we are to pursue according to the gospel.  Some of that may come to pass, if it is part of God's will for our lives.  However, teaching them that success in this world is hinged on financial and material gain is not scriptural.  Jesus said, "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily,  and follow me".(Luke 9:23)  He says in Luke 9:25, "What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole  world and loses or forfeits his soul".  Doesn't sound much like the prosperity message that we hear from Pastors that embrace the merging of the American Dream and the Gospel, does it.  We must teach our children to be successful in this world by God's standards, not man's.
      Our Children must, in whatever they do, whatever their specialty in life may be, they must know that their number one purpose is to glorify God and to fulfill the Great Commission.  If you have never heard of The Great Commission  that's ok, I will tell you.  In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended into heaven, "All authority has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age".  This was not a command to preachers, teachers, or evangelists.  This was a command to all of his disciples.  This was a command to all believers.  Notice He didn't say, do this, unless you are gifted to be a plummer, nurse, doctor, teacher, park ranger, zoologist, etc. He commanded this of everyone who accepts his gift of salvation.  Make disciples, baptize, teach.  Notice He said that He is with us.  His Holy Spirit comes in the second chapter of Acts to endue power from on high that we would have boldness and passion to share the Gospel.   We must teach our children that when they accept Jesus's salvation that the Holy Spirit comes into them and is there to lead, guide, and direct them, assisting them in everything they do if they develop a relationship with Him.
     We have to protect them from all of the things that today’s culture says are acceptable and yet are in direct contradiction to the Word of God.  We must teach our young ladies how the bible describes the characteristics of a biblical woman of God.  We must teach our young men how the bible describes a spiritual leader of a home.  We must teach them God's purpose and design for relationships and that they are not trivial or easily set aside. We must teach them to guard their hearts (Proverbs 4:23) in regards to relationships and to consider the relationship that any person they are interested in does or does not have with Jesus(2 Corinthians 6:14). We must teach them their identity in Christ so that no matter who says what about them, they know who they are and they have a heavenly Father who loves them and has great plans for them(John 1:12, 1 Peter 2:9).  We must teach them to pray for their future according to God's will, not their own.(1 John 5:14).  As teachers and shepherds we have to teach them in the way they should go and yet protect them from the many spiritual and physical pitfalls along the way.
     Yes, we must understand that our children will have to make mistakes.  But that there is no excuse, even if there is a reason. That even though they will not achieve perfection until Jesus returns that they must strive for it.(Philipians 3:12-14) We have to understand that they will ultimately have to “choose this day whom they will serve” and continue to pray and encourage them to serve the Lord.(Joshua 24:15) However, whatever stumbling blocks they encounter should not be because we did not do everything we could to guard/guide their hearts along the way.
     They shouldn’t stumble because we let them listen to the clean, popular, yet secular music, that glorifies romance between people of any age but says nothing about romance between people and God, at an early age.  They shouldn’t stumble because we decided that G, PG, PG-13, and R were appropriate standards for us to use in deciding what we should let our children hear or see in a movie.  Why is it that when our children are young, we have a G rated mentality but as they grow we decide that they are old enough to handle "the more grown up things in life". The material in movies that helps create these ratings are things that are NEVER pleasing to GOD.  The fact is that God has a G rated plan for all of our lives.  No matter the age of a person, GOD's standards for our lives are G rated. If it is not ok for a 5 yr old to think about it, hear it, or see it by most Christian parental standards then it is likely not something that we as adults should be digesting in our spirits either.  And last but not least, they shouldn’t stumble because we didn’t pay close enough attention to who their friends are and what company they keep.  Association makes assimilation. You tend to become like the company you keep.  This is a proven fact and scripture speaks to this as well.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived, Bad company ruins good morals/character".
       Listen, I am certainly not an expert on parenting.  I also know that the Bible does not provide an answer for every little detail of raising children. However, as you have seen, their are many Scriptural references in both parts of this post speaking to the good and the bad aspects of parenting. While all books and seminar's available today on parenting are not bad, allowing them to have more authority and receive more attention in regards to our parenting than God and the Word get is unacceptable.  God's Word is sufficient.  I gaurantee you that God did not take a look at today's culture and decide he had made a mistake by not putting more info in the bible regarding it.  His Word is perfect and will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent.
      God made each of our children for a purpose unique to them.  He entrusted us with the responsibility of cultivating an environment that would influence them toward Jesus.  It is so easy, when we as adults are so easily swayed by today’s culture, to drop the ball, to set the wrong example by our own choices.  It is scary how easily we as parents can mess it up.  It is also encouraging to think of the tools God has given us and the change we can make if we just love Jesus.  If we truly put him 1st and make him Lord of every aspect of who we are and how we live our lives, minute by minute, day by day.  He can do amazing things in us and through us.  He can do amazing things in our children and through our children.  Things we would never have thought of for them.
     So let's start to trust Jesus and obey His word.  Let's begin raising our children with the Bible as our guide and primary tool for setting the standard of expectation for our children. Teaching them how to make the Bible their guide for living a life that is pleasing to God.  Let's raise the bar by being a Holy example of what God expects from His children.  Then our children will be set on a path for eternal success that will provide a greater hope for their future than anything in or of this world.

As always, with the love of Christ as my motivation,


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