A Follow Up to the Deception Series

After my recent series of Dad’s Corners called Protecting Against Deception, I received an e-mail with a very real situation that is regularly faced by families.

This is part of that e-mail.

“Oh the discussions that we have been having with the ‘fun’ articles being addressed in the Corners. Thank you for the salt!!!

“We don’t think we could have put into words what my soul was feeling, but this has been really hitting me hard. We fully agree with your words and are encouraged and challenged to consider our actions, activities, and time all the more. Our struggle in reading this is how to lovingly address our parents. Our parents confess with their mouths that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. However, they are very bothered with how our family operates—we don’t participate in sports, we have family devotions every evening, and (to them) our children go to bed way too early.

“We struggle so much with what to do with our parents. We know that we are to honor them. We have six children, and two of them are really wooed by the ways of our parents after being around them. They tell us how they sometimes feel in conflict because what Dad and Mom says is different from what Grandma and Grandpa say. Our parents want constant entertainment (and have the means to do just that), and so are constantly talking to the children about going to Disneyland, etc. They have recently retired and talk to the kids about how bad work is and how great it is to surf all day and play. Our nine-year-old says he wants to be just like that. 🙁

“How do you deal with this conflict? We feel like the souls of our children are at risk with the influence of their grandparents.” A Parent Following the Narrow Path

Isn’t that just how it is? There are always so many others who think they know best how we are to raise our children. The writer of this e-mail refers to grandparents, but it can be aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, or even those from church. Any of them might take it upon themselves to pressure us to conform to their ideas of how the Christian life should be lived and “our” children raised. Therefore, we must expect people to pressure us to conform to their way of raising children.

When the pressure comes, we need to quickly evaluate the fruit that might result from following that advice. Will the fruit be good fruit if we follow the offered counsel? “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). Will the fruit be bad fruit? “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

There are two pretty clear concerns shared in the e-mail. “Our parents want constant entertainment.” What is the likely fruit of this mindset? The fruit of an entertainment lifestyle will be those who are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4).

The second concern is: “They [our children] tell us how they sometimes feel in conflict because what Dad or Mom says is different from what Grandma and Grandpa say. . . . Our nine-year-old says he wants to be just like that [the grandparents].” Children will be pulled to follow their grandparents, especially when it is a fun-filled path. It becomes a very difficult thing to teach our children to respect their grandparents when the grandparents choose a worldly, entertainment, self-seeking lifestyle, while still wanting them to follow their parents down the narrow path of self-denial and serving the Lord Jesus. Jesus tells us plainly of this dichotomy: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). The fruit these parents are concerned about (and should be) is that the children will be forced to rebel against either the parents or the grandparents.

How does a Christ-led family contend with such a challenge while still protecting and raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Ignoring it in the hopes it will go away will most likely not yield good fruit. This is evident by the statement in the e-mail: “They [the grandparents] are very bothered with how our family operates.” This shows that the grandparents, even though professing faith in Jesus Christ, are not willing to follow Him in practice. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). In addition, the grandparents have taken their disagreement with the parents’ choices in how they follow Jesus directly to the children. That is serious.

All families will vary to some degree in the path they are following. However, when an adult takes his disagreement directly to the children, it conveys a total disrespect for the parents’ authority, and that is guerrilla warfare. We see clearly in our world when this sort of warfare is ignored by a country, the country’s leadership is usually eventually toppled. Why should we expect different results in a family setting? Understanding the seriousness of this situation is important in establishing a plan for restoring a proper relationship.

At this point, the difficulty of honoring the grandparents while protecting the children will lead to some degree of confrontation. Honoring does not mean we ignore our God-given responsibility of bringing our children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Raising the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is a responsibility the Lord has given to the parents not the grandparents. The question that must be answered is whether the grandparents will respect the parents’ responsibility before the Lord.

Therefore, one approach would be for the parents to ask to come over to the grandparent’s house to discuss something. If the grandparents tend toward anger, then a public setting might help temper their responses, so going out for dinner is a possibility. Begin the time with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the discussions so that the Lord is glorified, allowing the family to be strong and unified in the Lord Jesus.

After prayer would be a good time to ask the grandparents if they desire to see their grandchildren raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Tell them you would like to share with them the vision God has given you for your family so that you can do just that. This is why it is important that every family has a written vision statement and the Scripture to back up each item. Explain to them your vision statement, and read the Scripture that goes with each point explaining how you are intending to arrive at each goal. Then ask them if they will give you their full support in following the Lord’s direction for your family. Hopefully, they will affirm that direction.

If they can’t agree to what you are asking of them, listen carefully to why they reject your vision and the path you are choosing. Be willing to pray about it and seek the Lord. But if they clearly have a worldly focus, then comes the tough part. In our out-of-control legal society, grandparents have been given certain rights that vary by state, and one needs to be careful not to stir up a hornet’s nest. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Scripture affirms that we are to do everything we can to avoid conflict. However, we always stop short of compromise. Be careful, though, because I’ve known some parents who seem to be looking for reasons to “cut off” grandparents who are not like-minded. Rather than that, I would encourage you to be seeking ways to make the relationship workable. We all would appreciate supportive grandparents who encourage us in the decisions we are making. However, that is often not the case, and then one must seek the praise of God more than the praise of men even if it means difficult decisions with family members.

Parents must check their hearts very carefully. Look for ways to love and honor grandparents without compromising in what God has called you to do. When grandparents are not supportive, one can still honor them by fellowshipping together as a family. That way the parents are always there. They know what is being said and whether the activities being done together are consistent with the calling for the family.

It really becomes hard if there are still comments in the family fellowship setting by the grandparents that undermine the direction of the family. If so, make a simple private request that the grandparents restrict comments only to those that are supportive of the family’s direction. If the grandparents are resistant, then the parent can plead with the grandparents for support. “Dad and Mom, you were allowed to raise us as you felt right. Will you not give us the same freedom? We love you and would be so grateful if you could do this.” Always gentle, loving dialog conveying respect is how we are to interact, but without compromise.

Situations like these can be so very difficult. However, by following Jesus’ direction for the family, He will lead us in how to work with those who disagree. The very last resort is that it may be necessary to restrict the time that the children can be with someone who will not support the family’s direction. If it comes to that point, then may the dad be willing to pray, fast, seek a softening of hearts, and wisdom for Dad and Mom. The Lord will be faithful in showing a way. May we be faithful in following Him.

Scripture Memory and Bible Copying – Part 3

In the past few Mom’s Corners, I have been answering questions that were e-mailed to me concerning how my children memorize Scripture, how I memorize Scripture, and how we use Bible copying in our homeschool.

So far we have mostly covered how our younger children memorize Scripture, but in reality when I am helping them memorize, I am memorizing as well. This is memorizing that doesn’t take any extra effort on my part because I am already investing my time with the child with whom I am working.

However, I also desire to memorize verses and sections of Scripture that the Lord has put on my heart as having particular application to the greatest needs in my life. The places I choose to memorize come from my personal time reading the Word. When I come to a passage that is especially relevant to struggles and failures I am experiencing, I begin memorizing it if I am ready for something new on which to work, or I write it down in my quiet-time notebook to come back to when I finish memorizing the section on which I am currently working. Most of the time, I memorize from the New Testament, but I have also memorized various Psalms and a few other sections of the Old Testament.

When would one fit Scripture memory into a busy mom’s life? The Bible memory method I described in the first Mom’s Corner on Scripture memory, which I named the whiteboard-mealtime-grace method, is the simplest way to memorize without any impact to our time. I also find I can make steady, significant memorizing progress if I will just extend my scheduled time in the Word and prayer by five minutes. Those extra five minutes I spend on memorizing. In addition, I have used bigger chunks of time in the evening by going to bed ten to fifteen minutes early and memorizing while I wait for Steve to come to bed.

I do my personal memorization in much the same fashion as I shared in the first Mom’s Corner on Scripture memory, describing how I would help our pre-readers to memorize. I read the first phrase of the verse several times, and then I try to say it. If I need to, I look back at the verse. I keep doing this until I have that first phrase down. Usually this means I don’t move on to the second phrase that day because I won’t yet have learned the first phrase, especially if I am working on memorizing for only five minutes a day.

The second day, I will try to remember how the first phrase began, but generally it takes me a week or so to be able to start the verse on my own without looking. I am not discouraged by that, but I just keep plugging away, knowing that eventually I will be able to begin the verse without help. Even though I can’t start the phrase, by reviewing the first phrase the next day and working on it a bit more, I will be ready to move on to the second phrase.

When I have the second phrase down, I go back to saying the first phrase and attempt to add the second phrase to the first. If I can’t get it, I look back at the text for some help and go through the process again. Each succeeding day, I try to recall what I memorized the day before. Usually I will need to look at the first word or two to get me started. However, before long, I know the beginning of the newest phrase and no longer require the prompts to get me going. When I have a difficult section, I just stay on it until I get it. I don’t push myself because it is more important to me to really know what I am memorizing than to have covered a certain number of verses in a certain amount of time.

A key aspect that I discovered for my successful memorizing was to do it out loud. That helped me learn the verses faster and allowed me to be able to speak them when I wanted to say them. I used to memorize in my mind without speaking the verses aloud. However, when I tried to say the verses, I had trouble. I could recite them perfectly in my head, but when they came out of my mouth, they sounded different, and I would get stuck. When I moved to memorizing out loud, I then found the verses were at my disposal not only to recall in my mind but also to share with my family or someone else.

Reviewing memorized verses is important if we want to keep them in memory. I have memorized many verses in the past that I couldn’t repeat today, simply because there is only so much time that I can give for Scripture memory review. I didn’t choose to review those verses and eventually they were forgotten.

Even if I don’t keep verses in long-term memory by reviewing them, I have still seen benefit in memorizing them. When I choose a passage, there is usually a need in my life to which those verses speak. For example, I memorized 2 Corinthians 4:8-17 when I was struggling with depression. That whole passage spoke to my heart in the midst of the negative thoughts with which I wrestled. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). I couldn’t quote those verses to you today, but they ministered to me then. Because of memorizing them, I also know in a general way what they say and where to find them. In addition, even though verses I have memorized are forgotten, the Holy Spirit will recall them to me at times.

The sections of Scripture that I want to keep in mind, I will review. Obviously when I am memorizing I am reviewing what I am in the process of memorizing, but I also try to find other time to review previously-learned verses. One of those times is when I blow-dry my hair. I usually only take time to blow-dry my hair on Sunday mornings. I use those fifteen minutes each week to review previously-learned memory verses. I am currently working at teaching myself to go through memory verses when I shower. Right now, since it isn’t my habit, I forget more than I remember, but I am determined to keep trying. Eventually I will remember more than I forget, and then it will be my habit.

The Lord put on my heart that speaking His Word to myself rather than always thinking my own thoughts was part of what Colossians 3—a chapter I have memorized—tells me to do. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. . .” (Colossians 3:16). I also like to use some of the time that we are traveling to review memory verses. I am sure there are a few minutes here and a few there that we all have which can be devoted to reviewing memorized verses—if we will look for that time.

If you would like some suggestions for sections of Scripture to memorize, I will share with you some of my favorites. The three portions of the Word that I currently keep reviewed are: Romans 12, Colossians 3, and Philippians 4:4-19. Here are other passages that I have memorized, and I think you would benefit from as well: John 14:1-21, John 15:1-17, James 1, Hebrews 11, Hebrews 12:1-11, 2 Timothy 2:1-15.

I would encourage you to keep an ongoing list of what you memorize. I haven’t done this until recently, and it saddens me that I don’t have a record of all the Scripture I have memorized over the years. I have also begun to keep a list of the Scripture we learn as a family by reciting it after saying grace at our meals.

Once again, I find that I need to bring this Mom’s Corner to an end, and I plan to conclude next month by finally getting to the subject of Bible copying. In addition, I have received a couple of Scripture memory testimonies that I would like to share with you. I want to encourage each of us not only to help our children memorize Scripture but also to make it a priority in our lives as well.