Walking in the Light – Part 1

One of the most frequent problems we hear of from families is their feeling of being different. Certainly they are different from the world, but most generally they are also different from other Christians. Here is a recent request we received concerning these situations:

It would be great to have an encouraging Corner, one about how our walk is so very different from what even other Christians’ walks are.

It’s not easy making conservative Christian choices, even more so for a single, conservative Christian mom—there’s got to be more than one of me out there—a mom who’s the mom and the earner, who requires her children to obey, has modesty standards, limits outside influence and has her focus on the raising of her family, and having to do that alone.

Yet what’s really interesting is that every time I’m about to give in to what the world tempts, God steps in to remind me, usually through somebody else or somebody else’s situation, that the conservative choices I, or we, have made, are the right ones.

What I would like to say concerning the encouragement of our hearts when we are different from others around us will apply to women who are single as well as moms who have husbands. Those of us who face our uniqueness in raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) as a husband and wife team will struggle with the peer pressure of other Christians. For the single mom, it will be even harder because she doesn’t have the benefit of having a husband who will lead and support her.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

In these verses, we see the importance for a single mom of her relationship with the Lord Jesus. He is that One Who will lift her up and warm her heart. If, in her busyness with life, she doesn’t make time to spend in the Word, she will flounder in her personal spiritual walk and in her commitment to what the Lord Jesus is calling her family to in obedience to Him.

In a threefold cord that is not easily broken, we also are made aware of how needful it is for a husband and wife, even though they are in agreement, to have the Lord Jesus Christ as that third part of the cord.

The foundation for maintaining an obedient walk with the Lord Jesus Christ is in our personal and family time in the Word. The more we are in the Word, the more we will know the direction the Lord Jesus is calling our families. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). We are often amazed when we come into contact with likeminded families that the one thing they have in common is a love for and hunger for the Word, which manifests itself in a commitment to having daily time in the Word as individuals and as a family.

Time in the Word helps us to know that our choices are biblical. We are basing those decisions on Scripture, not on what others are saying and doing. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

Time in the Word will allow us to discern if we begin to follow another family, a person, or our own whims rather than the Bible. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Finally, time in the Word is the basis for the spiritual growth we need if we want to walk in obedience to the light the Lord Jesus has given to us. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The only way to stand firm when others criticize what we are doing or try to conform us to what they think we should be is to be spiritually strong and grounded. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Being different from other Christians can cause us to doubt what the Lord Jesus has called us to do. We might wonder whether we could truly know what Scripture is instructing us to do when so many others are making other choices. That is why being in the Word is non-optional for us. We have to know the basis for what we are doing so that we can be committed to it with steadfastness. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).

The starting place for how we deal with our feelings when we are different from other Christians is in our commitment to being in the Word. This time in the Word gives us direction for our lives, grounding in decisions, and spiritual strength. May we be women who make time for the Word and delight in what it brings to our lives.

Worldly Friends – Part 1

A brother in the Lord recently asked me a question that deserved far more attention than the brief answer I was able to give him due to lack of time and thought. If we hadn’t been leaving when the question was asked, I’m sure it would have sparked a great discussion. The question was, “How do we teach our children to love others who choose a worldly path, but not embrace what they are doing and not condemn them?”

Every dad who understands the need to love others and yet has purposed to raise his children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) should be concerned about this. We want to show the love of Christ to all we come in contact with and teach our children to do the same. We should teach our children to shun what Scripture says is wrong and worldly but to embrace what is of the Lord. In doing so, our children will view others through our grid of teaching and deem their conduct, activities and dress as good, bad, or in between. It is a very difficult challenge for our children to choose to live for the Lord Jesus, but not be influenced by other’s lifestyles and also not condemn them.

First, we dads must realize that being worldly is ungodly and dangerous to our children, otherwise this whole topic is a moot point. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12). The word “friendship” in this verse simply means “fondness.” James is saying that even just a fondness for the world makes one an enemy of God. I don’t want that for myself or for my children.

James 4:4 seems to be a very black and white statement in a black, white, and gray world. How does a parent decide what is too much worldliness? I, personally, would rather not be even a little bit of an enemy with God. Isn’t it better to remain on the side of righteousness and to make sure we don’t have any kind of friendship with the world? Each dad needs to think hard about this and the ramifications to his family. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

Next, it is important that we understand the danger associated with our children having worldly friends. If our children spend time with worldly children, will that worldliness “rub off” on them? “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). In this verse, we are told that we should no longer be children because children are easily influenced by others. Children are the example used in this verse of those who are being easily led away. This verse is very clear. It doesn’t limit those who are led away to children who are simple or gullible. ALL children fit this category of being tossed to and fro. We want to think our children are different—that they are strong and stable. However, Scripture says children are led astray. This is the nature of children, and it is critical that every parent believes what Scripture says. If we don’t apply this truth to our parenting, our children are in danger.

Whoever are children are around will influence them. That is one reason why we are told in Deuteronomy 6:7 to be with our children. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” If we are with our children we have the opportunity to influence them ourselves and to protect them from unwholesome influences. Because of the preciousness of our children and how easily they are led astray, the Lord is telling us to be with our children.

Parents attending conservative churches frequently tell us of a struggle they have. They are pleased with the church in that it is conservative and doesn’t have programs that split up the family, yet often other parents will not oversee their children. After the worship time, the children are allowed to run loose, away from the parents, and negative “fruit” prevails with the children.

I know some parents think their children will conduct themselves properly even when among those who are acting inappropriately. That might be true, but I have seen many times through the years groups of men drawn into foolishness when they never would have acted that way with their wives present. I think most will find that even more “mature” youth will tend toward folly when among the “right” group of peers. It may not be as bad as worldly children initially, but it will all lead in the same ungodly direction. To avoid this influence on our children, we will need to be with them, and that will impact our time. As adults we want to enjoy fellowshipping with other adults while letting our children have “fun” with the other children. However, the fun they are having is often not for their edification.

It is common to hear about a family who has tragically lost their home to a fire. Even if everyone escapes safely, it is a terrible thing for a family’s home to be destroyed. Yet, many families choose to have fireplaces and woodstoves in their homes knowing fire presents a great danger to life and property. Why? It is because they are choosing to put safeguards in place to manage the danger of the fire. In the same way, it is important that each family understands the seriousness of exposing their children to worldly children and that they choose appropriate safeguards.

Now that we are in agreement as to the seriousness of friendship with the world, what does Scripture say about teaching children to love others and not condemn them? We are called to love others, but how we do that and protect our family is the key issue. We will continue this important topic next month.