God’s Story

God’s Story  Gods Story

A review by Stuart Brogden

 

This book is subtitled, A Student’s Guide to Church History. As one who has greatly benefited from studying church history, I was most eager to read this book as I think all Christians would learn much that is helpful by such a study. In the introduction, Brian Cosby says “knowing church history helps explain our identity … helps explain the present … guards us from repeating mistakes … testifies to God’s powerful working as HIS STORY.” Studying church history done well will have much in common with the historical narratives in Scripture – showing the brute truth about God’s people: redeemed sinners who still struggle with sin and obey with less than perfection.

 

In chapters 2 – 10, our author provides a quick overview of the history of God’s people from Genesis through the Great Awakening, giving details that should whet the appetite of any young – or older Christian – to discover more about the providential care for His people in all ages.

 

The last couple of chapters provide a warning to all who might be drawn aside from the study of the Scriptures. Church history shows that those who do not cling to the Bible as the Word of God inevitably drift to using human wisdom to determine eternal outcomes. In the 11th chapter (they are not numbered), Cosby details four categories of abandonment of Scriptures as the rule for life and godliness, with shipwrecks of faith being the inevitable outcome. First, he describes revivalism, headlined by Charles Finney – who gave us altar calls and myriad “new measures”. Dispensationalism arrived at about the same time. Second, Cosby tells us about liberalism – which denies the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. This leads professing Christians to deny the virgin birth, the creation account, and pretty much anything essential to the Christian faith. He names people so we will recognize them when we read other documents, so we are properly warned. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is known as the “Father of Modern Liberal Theology” and had many followers, including Henry Ward Beecher, Adolf von Harnack, Albrecht Ritschl, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, John Hick, and John Shelby Spong.

 

The third abandonment of Scripture is cults, which are typified by the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both of these cults have a heretical view of Jesus and the trinity, each has their own twisted version of the Bible. These factual departures from the Word of God does not stop millions of people from following these cults and leading many to a certain doom apart from Christ. The fourth and last category is evolution. I was happy to see this listed, as I have come to see this view as particularly incompatible with Christianity, yet accepted by many Christians who are too impressed by what men call science. There is no evidence of any evolutionary change in kinds – from non-dog to dog, etc. All the “proof experiments” document that environmental adaptation (known as micro-evolution) is common. Change in kind (macro-evolution) has never been documented, much less has evolution been shown to be the cause for the origin of any species.

 

The last chapter is a review of four influences in the 20th century that have encouraged or derailed many Christians: fundamentalism (reaffirming the essentials of the Christian faith), neo-orthodoxy (the Bible becomes the Word of God when used by God to draw a sinner to faith), Pentecostalism (a focus on experience rather than Truth), and evangelicalism (emphasizing the historic Protestant theological convictions). This last also brought a mixture of revivalism and new measures as churches experimented with different forms of entertainment worship.

 

This excellent book finishes with an exhortation from the author that should encourage every Christian, young or old:

 

As we look back through the history of the Christian church, we see God’s faithfulness to preserve his people in spite of their sin and rebellion against his truth. We see a great cloud of witnesses, generations of those who have embraced Christ by faith, beckoning us onward as we will one day be translated from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. And until that day comes, we pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

 

I say amen!

 

This is a very good book, easy to grab hold of. Parents should put this in front of their children, read it with them and discuss the attributes of God and the sinfulness of man that are always on display. This latter ought remind that none but Jesus does helpless sinners good. Flee to Him. This book shows us the way.

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.

Parenting – Making an Application – Part 3

Family of FourThe question we need to address now is how this problem of complacency or being hypocritical will look like in the home. Praise the Lord that this is not the case in every home, but these problems are found in many evangelical Christian homes of America. The problems exist because too many have gone too long with too little prayer, too little Bible study, and too little fellowship with other believers who will help hold each other accountable.

Listen to the solemn proclamation from God through the ministry of Hosea. Hosea 4:6 states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

What a solemn verse to consider. The truth is that God is speaking to those who were willfully lacking in their knowledge of the holy. They have rejected the truth of God’s commands and the laws that He gave for them to obey. The awful conclusion is that by forgetting the law of God, He will forget the children that He granted as a heritage to those who keep His ways. We cannot draw any conclusion other than that we have a responsibility to be biblical parents, not just biological ones.

So, where or what exactly is the disconnect between biblical parenting and biological parenting when it comes to life in the average Christian home?

Let’s consider a few thoughts to put our role as parents into perspective and see if what we are doing is striving to be merely a biological parent or a Biblical parent.

While we intend on addressing marriage concerns within the home in another article, I want to begin now with the fathers because God has ordained a certain order even within the home. Fathers, we are called to be leaders in every sense of the word. It is an awesome responsibility and when taken upon our shoulders helps our home to have the correct perspective of who God is and what He requires of us and then of our homes. We will make this simple.

First, I want to share a personal illustration to point out the problem facing the men in our churches. As a young married believer, we were at a July 4th celebration. My wife was sitting with the women and I was speaking with several men, all of whom claimed to be believers.

As we sat there at the park, a woman wearing very little clothing jogged by. Two of the deacons and the pastor were in attendance and after she had passed out of earshot, one of the deacons commented, “Men, just because we can’t touch or eat the candy doesn’t mean we can’t look!” The pastor laughed his own agreement. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. They had broken the law of Christ to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and then to love their neighbor as themselves.

Christian men, I want to encourage you to be a testimony to the young boys growing up very quickly. This means that we must be careful what we watch, read, and listen to as well. Things that appeal to the flesh such as violence, vulgarity, and pornography will destroy your soul. You cannot feed on the filth of the world and expect those young boys watching you to have respect for their mothers and sisters.

Fathers, if your time is being invested in the trash Hollywood produces, you will never grow in your faith and you will never be able to keep your mind, heart, and body focused on exalting Jesus Christ. You cannot expect your children to respect your authority if you are not pointing them to Jesus Christ even in what you do for entertainment.

Now to the mothers in the body of Christ, Christian ladies, I want to encourage you to be a testimony to the young girls growing up very quickly. This means you must be careful what you watch, read and listen to. Things like “The Twilight Series” and Harlequin romances are demonic and no true believer should be filling their mind with such garbage that is completely and totally dishonoring to Christ. We would never approve of our beautiful daughters dating an old man much less an old vampire who wants to suck their blood in order to gain immortality. Ladies, there is no possible way to read things like this and keep your mind, heart, and body focused on exalting Jesus Christ.

As a pastor in England, I remember visiting a home where a group of people had gathered for a party. With but one exception, every individual claimed to be a true believer. As my wife and I walked in, these “Christian” women were talking about how “hot” a certain actor was. The wife of one of the deacons said, “If I had a chance to go on a date with no questions asked with that person, I would most definitely do it.” Her husband sitting on the other side of the room turned red and made a smart-aleck comment about who he would go on a date with as well. I made a comment to those present that this was no conversation that true believers should be having but was ignored. We excused ourselves, and the party continued. How tragic and hypocritical the picture they were painting to their children.

Mothers, if you are struggling with what your daughters desire to wear, maybe it is time to check the closet and see if it contains something not pleasing to the Lord. If it is not right for our daughters to flaunt their bodies for the attention they can get from males, then it should be just as wrong for mom to do the same. Here is a great question to consider. Would you wear to church what you wear when you are not at church? Would you be ashamed of your clothing if God walked up to you?

Parents, what our children see us filling our heads and hearts with will ultimately not only come out in our lives but will show up in their lives as well. We cannot expect to have any credibility when telling them they should not listen to the vulgar rap and hip-hop lyrics of the day if we are filling our own ears with the country, soul, or jazz songs that speak just as flippantly of God and of illicit relationships. We are hypocrites if we watch movies that take the Lord’s name in vain or portray any kind of sexual activity and then think that our children will not do the same.

Parents, we cannot expect our children to keep their bodies pure until marriage when we allow them to give away their hearts and souls every time they move from one relationship to the next. I would also say that our children will see us as hypocrites when we tell them to practice full abstinence but in front of them we laugh and smirk our way through the titillating sex scenes in popular movies. Lord willing, the area of biblical parenting in the realm of relationships will be considered in a future article.

For now, I want to conclude this second article by way of illustration. Two of our children are adopted. They have different biological parents. These parents did not care for them and in the providence of God, these beautiful girls became a part of our family. Sadly, our girls carry the scars of abuse because the gift God granted to these parents was not cared for. The main reason is because they were not biblical parents. Had the biological parents of our girls sought to be godly parents, there would have been no need for us to adopt them.

In like manner, there are many children today who are being scarred in ways that are not necessarily caused by physical or sexual abuse. Children can suffer through emotional or mental heartache. Further, being created in the image of God, we are called to fellowship with Him. When we fail to point our children to Christ and teach them His laws, we are scarring our children spiritually. Yes, it really is that serious because as biological parents we are called to biblical parenting.

Consider the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “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.”

As we concluded the first article, we will reiterate here, “Parents, there is an answer to the problem, but it will not be an easy fix. If you are in any of the situations I have described, the first step to change is to humble yourself before God. Confess your sin and repent before Him. Then, make the time to humble yourself before your children. Parents, your children already see your failures but will gain respect for you if you will humble yourself in this way. Admit your sin to them and ask for their forgiveness where you have failed in your God-given responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

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.)

Parenting – Biological or Biblical? – Part 1

father-and-daughter-11291665285sopOne of my little enjoyments is sitting in a public location watching the faces of those who are around me. A person’s face often reveals a great deal about them. Are they sad, angry, glad, ecstatic, overwhelmed, discouraged, in love, or merely contemplating the world at large?

Many times, they can be so wrapped up in their own thoughts or their own little world that they probably do not even realize they are portraying a part of their soul for others to see.

In studying the faces of others, there is one factor missing – the personal factor. Most of those I see, I do not know. Are they sad because they have lost a loved one or a pet? Are they discouraged because of a job loss that same morning and they wonder how they will pay the bills? Are they overwhelmed because of all the turmoil in the world? If they show love to the person they are with, is it a true picture of what is in their heart or merely a façade? Do any of these people pretend to be something they are not in order to cover up what is deep inside?

As I observe evangelical Christianity today, there are many faces being portrayed to the world. A vast majority of the faces shown to the world seem to merely be a cover-up. We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when God changes us we become a brand new creation. All the old things pass away and we are in the process of having all things made new.

Sadly, much of what we observe today does not reflect a new creation. It reflects the cares of the world and a strong desire to look more and more like the world around us. The world does not look at most who claim the name of Christ and say of us, “They have been with Jesus!” More times than not, it seems that they look at us and are asking, “Why should we want what they offer since they are not any different than us?”

One of the areas that is a growing concern is the role of parenting. For far too long, the church has portrayed a face to the world that says all is well in our homes and with our children. The reality of what goes on behind closed doors is both shocking and overwhelming in its bleak outlook.

How could we become so blind in the West? Is it possible that we could not have seen this coming, or did we see it coming and just didn’t care enough to implement the procedures necessary to prevent it?

Let’s consider this problem a little deeper, first of all as it pertains to the local church. We start here because this, for all true believers, should be the first area of concern as it pertains to the public aspects of our own lives and that of our children.

Little Johnny and Susie give their parents nice little cards and gifts on the appropriate holidays like: Wedding Anniversary, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. The niceties of the card’s poetry is sweet but it often means little as the young people during the rest of the year disrespect their parents in just about every way imaginable. The face they are painting to the world is that they love the rebellion and depravity of their heart more than they love God and their parents. If our children truly loved us, they would be learning to respect our authority and learning how to be in submission as to the Lord.

But maybe this is part of the bigger picture. In our hurry to correct the problem, we want to “help” the young people put on a good face and often fail to realize the deeper problems that are at stake. Many of the children in our churches are hurting because of the attention they receive from their parents. Or, maybe we should say because of the lack of attention or the type of attention they receive from their parents.

For parents, the Scriptures are clear in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” The face that many parents are putting on in front of others in their local congregations is one of bravado. They may indicate that all is well but beneath the surface, the waters are roiling as though it were a little paper sailboat caught in a typhoon.

Here is the average picture that seems to be prevalent in far too many churches no matter where we have ministered throughout both England and the USA.

Families do not worship together in a corporate setting on the Lord’s Day because there has been no true worship of God during the week. The family gets up late on a Sunday after spending hours the previous evening filling their heads with the rubbish of the world and stumble into church late more than they are on time.

Sunday mornings, instead of being a calm assurance of the wonder of being able to worship with other believers, is hectic and full of chaos. The ride to church is often a reflection of the worship of self rather than of God. The parents argue and bicker while the children do the same in the back seat.

I often remember an illustration used by Dr. Jim Berg about a smoker coming on the Bob Jones University campus which is smoke-free. The smoker would go into a restroom and take a few quick puffs. Within a few minutes, everybody in the building knew that a cigarette had been lit, but the smoker would not even notice the smell of the smoke. Why? Because they had been smoking for years and had grown immune to the smell.

The same is true within the lives of many parents and children. They are like the smoker and can no longer smell the “smoke” of their selfish lives. Instead of parents even noticing the smoke of their children, they are all arguing over what brand of flesh they are going to smoke. Parents want their way apart from Christ and the children learn from the parents.

On any given Sunday, families rush into church with fake plastic smiles, the words to beautiful hymns and choruses are barely mumbled because hearts are not in what is on the page. Most are hoping the pastor does not call on them to offer a prayer of thanksgiving, read a Scripture, or serve in some other capacity.

Many want to rush the children off to fun, games, and a wee little Bible story because it is too “difficult” to have them sit all the way through a service that the parents often do not even want to be in. The main reason there is little to no desire to train the children in the ways of worshiping and praising God in a corporate setting is because there is little to no desire to train them in these areas at home.

Prayer meetings and additional Bible studies are normally attended by less than 10% of most churches. Rarely will a child be seen in either one and the excuses will often include statements like, “Well, it is a school night and we need to get them in bed early.” What is amazing is that parents manage to say this with a straight face as their children merrily watch television, play electronic games, or surf the internet until well after the prayer meetings or Bible studies have concluded.

So, our children start in the nursery then spend time playing games and eating cookies at church from age 3-10. By the time they are ten or eleven, they are normally involved in all kinds of sports or various extracurricular activities. In a few short years, they become teenagers and they quickly want nothing to do with church anymore.

Now, Dad and Mom have to make a decision. Capitulate to the children and let them stay home, or insist that, as long as they are “in our home,” they will attend?

To insist they go, though, requires that parents not seem like hypocrites. In other words, why should they show respect and go to church when they can often see the charade put on for the benefit of others? They know when parents only go to church as a social event on the calendar and provided nothing else is more important.

Teenagers know when parents have a true desire to worship God because they will see our love for one another and for being together with other true believers, but when they see more love for the world, for the television, for sports activities, and for gathering excuses one more time to miss a prayer meeting or Bible study, then parents should not expect anything other than rebellion to our authority.

The problem is compounded then when the children grow up and begin to get in trouble. Johnny gets arrested or is involved with drugs. Susie is sleeping around and comes home pregnant one night. Then, the scene changes and parents go weeping to friends for support and wanting prayers to be offered for their wayward children, all the while wondering, “What happened? We don’t understand because they were raised in a good Christian home.”

What happened?

The answer is actually quite simple. Parenting has been relegated more times than not to a mere biological process instead of a Biblical one. The parents raise their children by providing food, clothing, a roof over their head but have little to no desire to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
While they gladly meet the medical, educational, and personal needs and wants of their offspring, they have failed in the area that is the most important. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in Him (God), we live and move and have our being.”

Parents, if you fail to teach AND show this Biblical truth to your children, you will have failed as far as God is concerned. The children of Israel were commanded to teach their children every day of the law of God. It will not matter if your child grows up to be another Bill Gates or General of the Army or President of the USA or Prime Minister of the UK.

If they do not know the Lord, you are the one God will hold accountable for your words and actions. To do less than honor God by only keeping Him prominent and not pre-eminent, you are practicing idolatry. Yet, God is clear that His glory and honor He will NOT give to another.

The eyes of many parents have been blinded to the truth and the reality of what is transpiring because they have been smoking so long that they are immune to the smoke, that is, until it appears in a different format in the lives of their children. When they see it, instead of confessing their own sin, the end result becomes a battle of the wills. In the end, everybody still smokes and simply agrees to disagree over which brand they will each smoke.

Parents, there is an answer to the problem, but it will not be an easy fix. If you are in any of the situations I have described, the first step to change is to humble yourself before God. Confess your sin and repent before Him. Then, make the time to humble yourself before your children. Parents, your children already see your failures but will gain respect for you if you will humble yourself in this way. Admit your sin to them and ask for their forgiveness where you have failed in your God-given responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Lord willing, in future articles, we will consider other areas where we are called to be parents who serve the Lord and we’ll evaluate what we can do to change our focus. We will also consider how we can make a difference in our homes and in our churches.

“Teach Your Children the Fear of the LORD” by Geoff Kirkland

TeachChildren There is perhaps no greater duty in the life of a Christian parent than to raise one’s children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is our first and most important ministry, for God has placed these little ones in our care. If we fail to evangelize and catechize our children, yet diligently share the gospel with the world, we have failed to be obedient to Lord we proclaim as Savior. To that end, I would like to share a wonderful article I read from Pastor Geoff Kirkland who author’s the blog Vassal of the King. Please take time to read through what I believe are biblical and practical steps to raising up your children to fear and love the Savior.

Teach Your Children to Fear the LORD
The primary teachers that God gives to children to teach them the words, ways, and works of God is their parents. One of the highest duties that parents have is the delightful privilege and lofty duty to teach their children the fear of the LORD.

It should be noted that in Psalm 34:11, the psalmist gathers the children (“come”) and then commits to teaching them verbally (“listen to me”). This here lays forth a helpful model for parental instruction of children. Parents should gather the children and verbally instruct the children daily.

The book of Proverbs reveals why this is so important as it is the fear of the LORD that is wisdom (1:7-8). If a child stores up the words of God within him then he will know the fear of the LORD (2:1, 5; 3:1, 7). Wisdom calls out and begs for the naive to understand wisdom (8:4-5).To know God is understanding and to fear God is wisdom and this is the fundamental building block of all biblical wisdom, knowledge, and learning that parents must instill in their children’s hearts and minds (9:10).

So the question is asked, how do you teach a child to fear God? Here are a few practical suggestions to help.”

Read the rest of the article here.