Encouragement in Parenting – Part 4

We begin with the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9, and we will consider it in detail later in the article. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Parents, we have addressed some major concerns that are facing our homes and my prayer is that those who read will give serious and prayerful consideration to what was commanded of the children of Israel. It is in these words that we will find an answer to how we may correct what is missing in our own homes. As I share these thoughts, I address them from my own personal perspective as well as from the problems we have sought to deal with in our home in the raising of our children.

Reading these words it may seem that we have managed to figure out all the answers. You may wonder how we managed to raise five almost perfect children who obeyed us every single time the first time we asked them to do something. You may even be astounded that all five of our children always obeyed us with a heart full of gratitude for parents who loved them enough to raise them to joyfully accept responsibilities no matter how long it took for them to achieve those household chores.

Before you stop reading, let me hasten to assure you this was most definitely NOT a picture of our home. We are not and never were perfect parents. We do not and never have had a perfect home. Further, I can testify that we are the proud parents of five fallible and loveable children; however, they are also five children who were each born with a totally depraved sinful nature. What this means to us is that we are still a work in progress as we learn to depend more and more through the process known as progressive sanctification. What this means to you is that you can hopefully learn from our mistakes as we have had to learn from the lives of others who have gone before us.

My wife and I have been blessed with three boys since conception and two girls that were born in our hearts but that we were not able to add to our home until they were around 2½ years old. Our oldest is now almost 23, married and has a two year old son of his own. He is having to learn to be a parent and he is making mistakes just like his dad did, and his grandfather did before him, all the way back to Adam.

One of my biggest concerns as a young father was whether I would be a good dad to whatever children the Lord gave to our family. Over time that concern became much more than whether I had the ability to provide clothes, food, and whatever wants their little depraved hearts may have desired. My concern turned into something that only became a poignant reminder of the depravity of my own heart when our grandson was born a little over two years ago.

All of a sudden, my role as a parent became far more important than the biological implications. For years I had hoped and prayed that I would learn from my own mistakes and sins before God. I had changed in so many areas, and had learned even from the times of being made to humble myself to the Most High and toward my children when I had been wrong or had handled areas of discipline very wrongly.

Now that I was a grandparent to a very handsome grandson (must take after his grandpa!), I began to realize how much I had actually missed when raising my grandson’s dad – my son.

You see, while I was raising my son and making mistakes, I was also doing something else that I could not truly begin to comprehend until he got married, left home, and started his own family. I had spent almost 20 years training him to be both a husband and a father. It was impossible to go back in time and redo what I should have done from the time he first entered our lives as a cell that then split into two.

Today, I have to watch my son making his own set of mistakes as he raises our grandson. Through this time of watching from afar, due to the distance of where they have made their home as he proudly serves in the United States Air Force, I have learned more and suffered pain in my heart as I recognize over and over how much I let down my grown sons. You see, I had failed to wholeheartedly learn the truths found in the Deuteronomy 6 passage.

Now I am left to wonder if the results of my role as a father will come home to be a blessing in the life of my grandchildren. Or, will the results of the times of my selfishness be a burden to my son as he struggles to learn the things I failed to teach him? Yes, there are many things I taught him. I played ball, helped homeschool him, took him to church, made him sit still as I preached another message, helped instill discipline through the use of chores, but is that all I taught him?

While my son is responsible for his own actions, I also am responsible as his dad to continue to be a godly example and correct areas that are or were lacking my own life. Only when I have been brought to the point where I learn these truths am I now able to not only make things right with him, but also to help encourage him to be the kind of dad that God wants my son to be.

Fathers and husbands, it is at this point that we must rightly consider the words written by Moses through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who alone can guide us into all truth and the truths in this passage will help us to be what we should be. If we fail in our responsibility of being a godly husband and a godly father, then we will have failed most miserably in the most important task we have been given as a parent. If I have only taught my son how to be a man, but failed to teach him how to be a godly man, then I have sinned before God and against my child.

We have mentioned Acts 17:28 where the apostle Paul tells the people at the Aeropagus in Athens that “it is in God that we live, and move, and have our being.” This must be what drives each parent, and especially those of us who are blessed with the privilege and awesome responsibility of being a father. Paul was reiterating much what he had most definitely learned as a child growing up in a religious Jewish home and all that he had learned as a prelude to becoming a Pharisee of Pharisees.

With his forward progress arrested by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he learned the hard way that “in God we live, and move, and have our being” is much, much more than mere philosophical words. These words became a reality of great spiritual import. Jesus Christ was real and for Paul to be what God required of him, he would have to put these words into practice.

A little over one thousand years prior to Paul learning a valuable lesson and passing it on to his listeners, the wise king Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” If the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments, then we must spend the time necessary to learn how to obey this duty.

Moses knew that it would not be easy following and obeying God, but he also knew what it would take in the home in order for families to head in the right direction. First, it must be noted that he directs the attention of his words to the man, the husband, the father of the home. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God had instituted both marriage and the home. The man is to be the spiritual leader of each home, not because he is the brightest or smartest, but because this is what God has ordained.

The divine order is vitally important as we will see throughout our consideration of Deuteronomy 6. Woe to the husband who fails to live up to the expectations that God places on him to be a leader to the lady of the house, the woman God has entrusted to his care. Woe to the father who fails in the role and responsibility given to him by God to train and teach his children the ways of a holy, righteous God.

However, there is great joy that comes when we disregard the poor examples the world seeks to conjure up. Men, as husbands and fathers, we must learn to accept that God has made us to be men. We must learn to take a stand as true believers who are called to true manliness, a manliness that says, “God will be the ultimate head of this home, and I, as the husband and dad, will learn to be to my wife and children an example of Jesus Christ to you.”

Let’s break this passage down further to see how we can do this. But as we do, we must learn to accept that we will not do it perfectly because we are sinful creatures. We can only respond in a way that glorifies God when we are willing to take up this challenge.

Part 2 – Complacency or Hypocritical?

***** – The title is a work in progress as the post actually deals with more than parents. For now, this is the second in the series started last week. – *****

ComplacenyToday, many who call themselves Christians have a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be a part of a church. Some within this demographic have merely relegated what church means to simply being part of a religious service an hour or so a week. Everything that needs to be done within that hour timeframe is what seems to have become church. We give a few dollars, sing a few hymns or praise songs, hear a prayer or two, and then listen to a message about God.

Rising from our comfortable seats, we mentally pat ourselves on the back and give God a high five for the privilege He gained in having our esteemed presence for another week. Going out the door, we collect our children and then wrongly assume that our week can finally begin now that the “God and church” thing has been checked off our weekly social calendar.

Sadly, the church-at-large has in recent decades done a very poor job of acting in a way that reflects to the world a commitment to sound Biblical doctrine and in a way that reflects to its members a foretaste of the glory and fellowship we will know in Heaven. Pastors and teachers have long failed in their calling and many even serve without a calling or an anointing from the King of kings. They are messengers in name only because it is certain that their message often bears little to no resemblance of the truth of Scripture.

While this article will not deal at length with the doctrine of ecclesiology (the church), it is important that we remember that the church is not the building where people congregate. The church is and can only be comprised of true born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. These believers are those whose faith is in Christ alone for their salvation and they have been brought to a point where they have confessed and repented of their sins which alienated them from the holy righteous God of the Universe.

If the church styles itself as being a place for the world, it will be required to do whatever is necessary to ingratiate itself to those who ultimately hate Christ due to the nature within them. The world will never love the true Church because Scripture is clear that it hates the Lord of the Church first.

The gathering of believers that wants to attract the world will soon be using plays, programs, ungodly music, more programs, skits, even more programs, and worst of all, preaching that is not preaching at all. It will be devoid of words like sin, hell, judgment, damnation, and the need for repentance. Instead, the average attender to a social club on Sunday morning will hear hip, cool, relevant sermonettes that will leave you feeling good about yourself but will not demand a change, nor will the sermonettes point you to the Sovereign God who demands our worship and praise be centered on Him.

So, leaving a service where God was not exalted and glorified, where worship was mostly absent, where true believers were not exhorted and built up in their faith, and where there has been practically no conviction of sin, parents leave to begin their next week. Nothing has changed from the week before, and the home front continues to look more and more like a battlefield than it does a home where the fruit of the Spirit reigns.

Many problems of a spiritual nature can often be traced to a lack of thorough Biblical instruction. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Thus, when the Scriptures are not adequately proclaimed from the pulpit as being from God then the results we currently see are to be expected. Poor orthodoxy (doctrine) will inevitably result in poor orthopraxy (Christian conduct).

It would be wrong though to leave the problems found in the home solely at the feet of the minister. He must proclaim the truth in love and with a great deal of mercy and compassion, but he cannot live out the necessities of the Christian life in all those who attend. As a minister, I am ultimately responsible for what I proclaim from the pulpit and also responsible for what is practiced in my home.

At the same time, parents who are true believers are responsible for what they allow to be taught to their children from the pulpit and also what they allow to be practiced in the home. True believers who desire the truth of God throughout every aspect of their life must learn to be a Berean Christian. These faithful men and women searched the Scriptures daily to make sure that what they were being taught truly was the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

While the breakdown between the pulpit and faithful exposition of the Scriptures is often too easily identified, what is not so easy to see is the breakdown in the home. The home is often a castle where we hide away from the world, and sadly, from other believers as well. Thus, there is a great lack of accountability and discipleship – until, that is, the wolf comes knocking on the door and parents wonder where it all went wrong. Divorce, rebellion, drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity outside of marriage is just as rampant inside the church as it is outside the church.

Yet, the problem is compounded when the church instead of acknowledging its sin and failure to be a true community of believers begins to shift the blame in every other direction. Therefore, when a person struggles through a particular sin in their life or in the lives of their family structure, the church is often nowhere to be seen. The individual or family often goes through their struggles alone and will normally fall away from the one place that should have been there for them all along.

The sad reality is that the church is often happy taking the offering and praise for one hour on a Sunday morning, but it remains conspicuously absent the remaining 167 hours of each week. How pathetic and tragic it is that this one hour is supposed to be a reflection of the joy of fellowship with Christ and His Bride that will be found in Heaven for all of eternity.

The true church of the living God has a very poor understanding of its role and responsibility towards one another, and outside of the church this has never been so evident than in the homes of those who claim the name of Christ. Our problems at home are often merely carried over to the church, and people wonder why they struggle to worship together more than one hour a week.

Believers must understand what is transpiring in the home in order to see why revival tarries and so many churches are operating as merely a business instead of a fellowship of believers that is a lighthouse to a dark, sin-filled world, and why there is no power or anointing from the Spirit of God.

If the connection between the true church and the home is this vital, then we need to consider why the church looks the way it does. If judgment is to begin in the church, then the warning must also include the truth that it is true believers who make up the church and therefore, by extension, judgment will surely hit us where we live, namely, in our homes.

(…to be continued.)