Monday, May 22, 2017

When Children Go Astray, It May Not Be the Parents' Fault

It is a good and godly thing for Christian parents to strive to have a godly home and to raise their children under the restraints of God's Word. Though some parents go overboard at times in their fear that their children will be given over to the world, there should definitely be a difference between worldly homes and those of believers.

Yet, Christian parents may do all they can according to the best of their knowledge, ability, and the grace of God in giving them wisdom in child rearing and still have children who chuck it all out the window when they reach adulthood, sometimes even before then.

Those looking in from the outside will almost always shift the blame to the parents. They were too strict, they were naive, they didn't socialize them enough, and on and on. Whispers, gossip, and slander often abound even among their peer families in the church.

But, one of my favorite preachers of all time, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), says in his message "The Monster Dragged to Light,"

"Another strange thing I have often noticed — as a proof of sin's power to gather poison from the most healthful flowers — is that some transgress all the more because they have been placed under the happy restraints of godliness. Though trained to piety and virtue, they rush into the arms of vice as though it were their mother! As gnats fly at a candle as soon as ever they catch sight of it, so do these infatuated ones dash into evil! Young people who are placed in the Providence of God where no temptations ever assail them — in the midst of holy and quiet homes where the very name of evil scarcely comes — will often fret and worry themselves to get out into what they call 'life' and thrust their souls into the perils of bad company.

"The sons and daughters of Adam long to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their very preservation from temptation grows irksome to them. They loathe the fold and long for the wolf! They think themselves deprived because they have not been born in the midst of licentiousness and tutored in crime. Strange infatuation! And yet many a parent's heart has been broken by this freak of depravity — this reckless lust for evil! The younger son had the best of fathers and yet he could never be quiet until he had gained his independence and had brought himself to beggary in a far country by spending his living with harlots." [emphasis mine]*

No parent is without sin — those who think they are let them cast the first stone! — but there are many Christian parents who have done all they can in good conscience to raise their children in the fear of the Lord only to have them jump ship as soon as they get sight of the shore. For those parents, I hope you will take comfort in Spurgeon's assessment of this reality and stop taking on the false guilt of the Accuser and his minions, both in the world and the church.

If you have a prodigal, never stop praying and looking for their return. If there have been errors or sins in your parenting, confess them to your children and ask their forgiveness. Love them and witness to them as the Lord gives you opportunities, always keeping in mind that the prodigal is actually running away from God and is ultimately accountable to Him. Yet, we are His ambassadors, begging them to be reconciled to Him. While there is life, there is hope.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Balanced Biblical Advice on Child Training From Melissa Kruger

Through the years, I have read stacks and stacks of books on child training. As a parent, I wanted with all my heart to "get it right" with our kids. However, though much of what I read was helpful and biblical, I often interpreted it through the lenses of my own experience.

You see, I was reared in a home where child discipline hinged on spanking. Those spankings which were, unfortunately, most often administered in anger, just as my parents' parents had taught them. I thought it worked for me, so it must be the way to do it.

Yet, I didn't want to do it in anger like my parents did, so I justified my angry discipline as righteous indignation, meting out justice in the name of the Lord. I was so confused and wrong. I am thankful that along the way somewhere the Lord changed my heart about that, and I was able to become more balanced in my child rearing.

Then I read this article on the Gospel Coalition website which finally brought it all into focus. In her post 5 Principles for Disciplining Your Children, I believe Melissa Kruger has indeed given some of the most helpful, balanced, and biblical advice on child rearing I have ever read. And I have read A LOT!

I have already commented on the article on the GO website and commented on, liked it, and shared it on Fabebook, but I thought I should also give my blog reader a heads up and get the word out about this fantastic post. I hope you will also pass it on to others who might benefit from its sound teaching.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Faith and Courage From the Sidelines

I saw something in church yesterday which I have rarely seen before. The text was Hebrews 4:14-16, which in itself is a charge worthy of any spiritual battle the believer may face, but it was the pastor's response to the preaching of it which blessed my heart.

You've seen how teammates on the sidelines will lean forward ready to jump to their feet for joy as they witness their comrades gaining ground on the opposing team. That was the pastor's posture yesterday as he listened intently to another lay minister delivering the message. He simply could not hide the inner excitement of hearing once again the truth of the exaltation of Christ who opened the way for needy sinners to come boldly before the throne of grace and find mercy. To say the least, by the close of the service, he was pumped for the communion celebration!

That's how it should be among ministers of the Word, and it is one thing I truly appreciate about Ventura Baptist Church​. The humility of the men who lead there and the love they have for Christ and one another is such a breath of fresh air! There is no vying for the pulpit; the pulpit belongs to Christ. There is no vying for the love and loyalty of the congregation; the congregation belongs to Christ. The men who teach and preach there are on the same team in the battle against sin and Satan. And that is as it should be.

Truly, the battles we face every day against the devil, the world, and our own flesh (indeed our strongest foe!) are much better fought and won when we've been challenged to remember who our Conquering Savior is and who we are in Him. I rarely leave a service at Ventura without feeling ready "to charge Hell with a water pistol," as the old timers used to say. Indeed, I, too, felt the anticipation of the win as I came home with a renewed vision and courage to fight the sins which so easily beset me.

The pastor's excitement during the sermon reminded me also of a scene from Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989). If you choose to view the clip I've included with this post, take note of how the posture of the men changes as they are encouraged by King Henry and how they look on one another with a light in their eyes with renewed courage by the power of his inspiring words. Though they knew not the outcome with the odds against them, yet they were ready to fight!

And, yet, we have a more sure outcome in our spiritual battles whereby we may gain courage. We have a Leader, a commander of the people (Isaiah 55:4), our mighty King Jesus, who encourages us by His Spirit through men of God called to that ministry. Truly, this is what the cowering, struggling church needs today.

However, the Spirit of God cannot move where there is pride in vying for position in leadership or bickering and infighting among the warriors. We need a new vision of who the enemy is, who our Leader is, and who we are in relation to one another if we are ever to see the conquests which our Commander has promised are possible. We must pray for it, pray for our pastors and leaders, pray for one another, put down our own pride, and then expect God's blessing on the battle.

"God be with you all!" Amen.