Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I was speaking with a youth pastor recently who lamented to me that even the children of church members in his group were woefully Biblically illiterate. Having taught fifth and sixth graders for a couple years myself, I knew his pain. This brought to mind a question. Who IS responsible for training our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? I would contend that it is most definitely not the Church for two reasons.

First, given the fact that most parents are not Biblically training their children, most of the time spent in Sunday School is geared toward gaining and keeping control of the classroom. There is precious little time left to teach the Bible.

Secondly, one hour a week is simply not enough to counter the constant anti-Christ drone of the secular society in which we live.  These messages comes in many forms and fashions, some detectable, some well hidden.  It simply doesn't seem to me to be very realistic to think that children are going to be equipped to answer and navigate these messages on a diet of an hour or so of church a week.



What To Do? Five Suggestions:

1.
Never forget that the stakes are exceedingly high.

2. The stakes are exceedingly high and are in fact eternal. If we say we believe the Bible to be the very Words of God but are not living them out under grace before them , we shrink Him, His honor, His glory, and in fact eternity itself. When they don’t see us loving his Word, we teach them that loving his Word is not important. When they don’t see us pray, we teach them that praying is not important. When we are not being sanctified, we teach them that sanctification is no big deal. In the end, what they learn from us is that, really, God is no big deal. It should be no wonder then that the vast majority of children raised in the church walk away from it when they are older, never to return.

3. The stakes are exceedingly high. Parents who out-source the education of their children must realize these stakes regardless of who they out-source it to; whether it be a “Christian” institution or the government. With this in mind we shouldn’t wait for our children to be taught anti-Christ teaching before we attempt to un-teach it. Be the first to teach your children what the lies of the enemy will look like and be, then be the first to counter them. Learn what those lies will be. Be tenaciously on guard for new angles and attempts to subvert and supplant your teaching. Learn learn learn, then teach and live as if your children’s eternal destiny depends on it.  (more on this here)

4. The stakes are exceedingly high and your Church should function as if the stakes are high. Remember that you are a living part of the Church. (1) Put away the notion that there is the Church over there, and then there is you over here who attends as a consumer. Prayerfully and carefully choose your Church so that you will fit. Be vigilant against false teaching because you are a living member of that body and in as much are infected by it as well as responsible for its health. In the teaching of your children remember that the Church’s responsibility is to affirm what you teach and not the other way around.

5. The bottom line is that the stakes are high. It is the Western way to work hard and then coast. This is not the Biblical way. Your children are worth fighting for, and that fight begins with fighting for your own devotion. Just as with Paul who at the end of his life proclaimed to his spiritual son, “I have fought the good fight”, (2) so it must be with us also as an example to our children. To this end, the 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards as a young man wrote seventy resolutions for his life. Number 22 says: “Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.” (3) In the same way, it is not because we succeed in hiding from our children our failings and thus present to them a life that appears in our own minds to be exemplary, as if we had at some point arrived at our Christian-ness and that they should endeavor to do the same, but rather that we should live a life that endeavors to honor, glorify and exalt God; all the while knowing, as did Paul, that we will never attain it in this life. (4) In so doing we teach them from a young age that our walk with our Savior is a journey, that we are at times victorious in grace and at others defeated in grace, but still, though we have fallen, we are not cast down, for the Lord upholds us with His hand. (5)



Note 1:
Eph 2:19-22
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
NIV

Note 2:
2 Tim 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
NIV

Note 3:
The Words Of Jonathan Edwards vol. 16

Note 4:
Phil 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
NIV


Note 5:
Ps 37:23-24
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
24 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
NIV

21 comments:

Craig and Heather said...

Dan,

This was both convicting and encouraging for me.
I was just thinking earlier today that I need to make a more concentrated effort to actively train our own children in the things of the Lord.


...interestingly enough, we home-school, spend time in scripture as a family, don't have a satellite tv hookup, don't assume it's the church's duty to train our children, I'm home all the time...and it's still so easy to fall on my face in the task of guarding that which has been entrusted to our care.

Eternal perspective is so, so essential, here.

If you haven't yet seen this related post

http://elmersbrother.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/making-the-case-for-homeschooling/

...you might enjoy it.

God bless,

Heather

Dan said...

"And it's still so easy to fall on my face in the task of guarding that which has been entrusted to our care"

As I wrote this I couldn't help but think that I should come back and read it to myself. As you say, it is easy to drop the ball, even when externally we feel we are doing every thing right.

Thank you Heather for dropping by.

Stan said...

Lots there to think about, mull over, incorporate, and then ... follow to its logical conclusions.

Kathy said...

Truth-filled post. I also underscore Heather's comment that you referenced.

I grieve over those wasted hours, lean heavily on God's grace, and I get back up and move forward with a cleaner vision of my calling in Christ.

Z said...

"If he can save me, he can save anybody" makes me smile every time I read it here, thanks for that! (capital H, of course, in He)

Sadly, so many children become teens and are totally turned off if their folks or church beat them over the head to hard with this all-important lesson of the gospel.
Living our lives as examples and throwing in their seeing us reading Scripture from time to time, talking about it when it's a natural inclusion...? All that goes down well, I think.
it's a huge responsibility, the stakes can't be higher, yet our kids go to college and get the God hammered out of them, even from families I know gave them Faith before they left the nest.
So, we also have to work to prevent God from being ousted from the public scene, the disrespect has to stop.

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Dan,

Excellent word. I wrote a post a while back after attending the North Carolina Home-School conference where a speaker actually tweaked the phrase Homeschool to "Parent-Led Home-Based Discipleship". I like all that that descriptive connotes.

Oh, and by the way in answer to your question "Who is responsible for training our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?" As you know:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

You are absolutely correct, Dan, that as followers of Christ and in light of all that He accomplished on the cross how could we not have the wonders of His truth on our lips all the day. The fact that all of us are challenged to be in constant praise and worship is a testament to this fallen world and give us encouragement and hope that there is a day coming when we will labor and struggle with that no longer.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

timothymatters said...

Very good post, convicting too.

There are those of us who do not homeschool that feel all three entities need to say the same: family, church and school. Fortunately, we have a school that does so. But we are not leaving our responsibility up to the school or the church, even though I'm the pastor. It's my responsibility to train up my children... now... there needs to be some repentance on my part.
Thanks for the reminder.

Joe said...

Having taught the Bible for over 50years to both Youth and Adults (I presently teach a class of older adults), it is clear that Christians in general are Biblically illiterate.

Most know a verse here and a verse there, but have no idea that the Bible is God's revelation of His character, His love of His creation and His plan for its redemption.

They have "their own ideas" about God and woe be to you if you contradict them, 'cause their opinion is as good as yours.

I try to show them that everything you need to know about God is found in the Word of God; nothing you need to know about God is NOT found in the Word of God; and anything you THINK you know about God that is not in the Word of God, you just made up.

Alas, too often it all falls on deaf ears.

Dan said...

Z

Sadly, so many children become teens and are totally turned off if their folks or church beat them over the head to hard with this all-important lesson of the gospel.

As a former teen myself, I can still remember breaking into my friend's Dad's liquor cabinet. My friend would say as we were doing this, with a smirk, his Dad's remarks, "do not as I do but as I say to do". Of coarse this guy's Dad didn't claim to be a Christian but still, like anything else, the Gospel lived out in our lives will have a profound impact on us personally and subsequently on our children...; beyond following a set of rules. If we are having to beat our children over the head with the Gospel I would suggest that we have not sufficiently beaten ourselves over the head with it.

Good point about college hammering God out of them. We pray and work everyday toward giving our children resilience to those who are going to attempt this in their lives. We started when they were born and, with God's grace, we will be victorious.

Dan said...

Jeremy

"Parent-Led Home-Based Discipleship"

I've heard this and I agree. We don't see math, for example, as something separated from God, nor do we see the learning of math, as separated. There have been many times even in our math lessons, that we would consciously change gears from "this is a math lesson" to "this is a character lesson" without ever leaving off from the subject of math. In the end it is all discipleship.

Dan said...

Timothy

Yes, indeed, family church and school should say the same things. This would define the idea of "culture". I say often that if the only thing a culture has to offer is its proposition that all cultures are equal, which is the same thing as the culture saying that it itself has nothing to offer, that culture will not stand for long. It will be overtaken by something that offers itself as worth coalescing around. I pray that revival will provide that very thing.

Still, many Christians in the world live their lives in cultures that are hostile to their existence in some form or another. As Christians in America, I think it is imperative that we wake up to the truth of this here. It is a worn out cliche, but at some point, we must realize that, if it hasn't happened already, it is getting dangerously close to the frog no longer having the strength to jump out of the pot.

Dan said...

I try to show them that everything you need to know about God is found in the Word of God; nothing you need to know about God is NOT found in the Word of God; and anything you THINK you know about God that is not in the Word of God, you just made up.

I love this Joe. That reminds me of Shaeffer who talked about Jesus as a symbol upon which we could place anything we desire to make up, then worship the name that represents these made up things like an idol made by our own minds.

Craig and Heather said...

I try to show them that everything you need to know about God is found in the Word of God; nothing you need to know about God is NOT found in the Word of God; and anything you THINK you know about God that is not in the Word of God, you just made up.

I really liked this statement, too.

H

Z said...

a lot of great comments here, Dan...thanks for this post and thanks to the commenters; very good stuff.

timothymatters said...

Dan,
That is an excellent way of thinking about culture. I do have a problem with the culture saying that all cultures are equal. I don't believe this at all. The more the gospel takes hold of a culture, the more it is defined and refined by the gospel and the more superior that culture becomes. So, no, the cultures of Third World countries without the gospel are not on an equal footing with those that have been saturated by the gospel.
Blessings

Susannah said...

"Living our lives as examples and throwing in their seeing us reading Scripture from time to time, talking about it when it's a natural inclusion...?"

Very good stuff, indeed. Thanks, Dan, for this post. I never have particularly thought it was the Church's responsiblitiy, though I had hoped the church would take this more seriously, & with more conviction.

While the Church does have a responsibility, ultimately, the Lord gave these children to my husband & me. And like Heather said, 'falling on my face' before the Lord, offering my children into His presence...

christian soldier said...

decided to Educate my - still in the somb - off-spring because I knew the schools were not teaching the basics--then - attended my first HS convention -off-spring was 8 months old-
listened to a man named Marshall Foster-
first heard the truth about this Nation's founding- did an 'about face' --and have never turned back!!--
(even saw life as LIFE-thus pro -life) and eventually became founder of LA Lutherans for Life...
True HIStory always wins out!!!
Carol-CS

christian soldier said...

that would be ..womb!--
fingers not as fast as my brain!!:-)
C-CS

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron

Susan said...

Thanks so much for your comment on the blog, Dan. I also got the fb note from Mary that Kathy sent telling us you guys were praying for us and Suzette. You KNOW how very much that means to us. And you KNOW how much we'd love to "see" you guys. You are both so much in our hearts already. ((hugs)) to you both.

mike said...

that's a very good post Danny, I was so surprised at how when I started to read it I could feel the conviction and truth that must have poured out of you when you wrote it. I think it is so true that we should teach our children way before they even have a chance to see what the world has to offer, but i agree with you at the same time we need to keep teaching them not just leave it to the Sunday School teacher like myself teaching 1st and 2nd graders which like you said i would be surprised if they understood most of the stuff we taught them and actually took it home, not to say that we shouldn't teach Sunday school or anything.

Some parent just try when the kids are young and "easier" to teach but the minuet the world gets to them it gets harder and harder to teach them, and I think some parents give up and eventually they are no longer not teaching , but just flat out ignoring the things in which they should be teaching.

I defineatly need to get back in the word and I am very glad that I grew up in a family that did try to always get in the word and pray because I think that that helped to stear me in the right direction as I grew up to figure out for myself if God was who my parent told me about. As i grew older though it got harder for my parents to teach and like I said the harder it gets the easier it is to give up.

Very good post danny I think this should be given to every father and mother that are raising their children and hoping to raise them to be God fearing children. And it should be given to mother and father that raised their children and are wondering why their children still aren't coming back. i need to save this for later when i actually have kids of my own.