Category Archives: Series

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 6

(Read the previous parts of the series here.) A bright, blue Saturday a couple months ago as Nathan, Christopher, Joseph, John, and I were leaving City Union Mission, we saw a B-2 bomber making a thundering fly-by. We realized it was the weekend for the Kansas City air show. We had been told the air show had some incredible aircraft on display, and every male in my family would have loved the chance to look over the airplanes.

Unfortunately, the air shows around here always play loud rock music. We will not go to them since I have purposed that I will not trade a few minutes of aircraft excitement for the filling of our souls with the wicked audio influence of our world. On the way home, we decided we would ask a neighbor to record the portion about the air show from the 6 o’clock news. We did this, and there was no little excitement when the videotape arrived later that evening.

I put the tape in the VCR, and hit “play” to an excited crowd of young ones. Before I could get to where I could see, Sarah, who had just entered, exclaimed that the little ones needed to look away quickly. To my incredible disappointment, indignation, and mounting feeling of violation, there was a preview of some TV show with ladies in underwear, right before the 6 o’clock news began.

“. . . for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). A Christian home is a home where the things that are acceptable to the world are not present. It is a place of purity. It is wholesome. It is not defrauding. It does not entice lust. Is it any wonder that “Christian” youth, who have watched TV all of their lives, are as involved in immorality as the youth of the world?

In Acts, chapter 21, when the Jews thought that Paul had defiled the temple by bringing Greeks into it, they closed the temple doors. “And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut” (Acts 21:30). God’s home on earth, the temple, was to be pure, and the things that defile it were to be shut out. They pulled Paul out of the temple, and the doors were slammed shut!

Dads, are we owning this responsibility? Do we zealously guard the purity of our children and ourselves? Homeschooling our children is a worthy accomplishment, but if their souls are drawn away, what really have we gained?

Often I have heard the statement, “We are careful what we allow our family to watch.” Simply in light of the six o’clock news, how many believe that is even possible? Please, don’t receive this as judgmental; receive it as one brother pleading with another. There have been times when a brother loved my soul and encouraged me in some positive way that challenged me. If you watch any TV at all, would you receive this encouragement from me? Our every activity should be at the direction of the Lord Jesus. Have you asked Him?

Truly, the heart is full of every evil imagination and is the source of evil, but Satan uses vehicles like TV to stir it up. Why would any father ever hand Satan the tools to destroy the purity and innocence of his children, not to mention temptations for the father himself? David said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalms 101:3). Why would a father allow glamorous people into his home selling and promoting (selling through commercials and promoting through unwholesome programs) lewd dress, alcohol, immorality, squandering of time, and a godless worldview?

It was David’s lack of control over his eyes that led to the downfall of his family. Men, I see that happen in many “Christian” homes as well; don’t let it happen to yours. Like our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, Who guards His flock, the church, we are to protect our family from evil. “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). The shepherd was prepared to give his life for the sheep to protect them–are we?

Certainly, many, many other areas require our diligence as well. However, may I encourage you that cutting off the TV is a great place to start. May we all agree with Paul when he said, “. . . I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). It is not God’s way to teach both the good and evil. God’s way is for us all to be innocent concerning evil.

As I pointed out earlier, the temple doors were to shut out evil, and we are the “door” that shuts out evil to our home. However, it isn’t enough to shut out the darkness. If that is all we have done, it still is dark inside. It is only when we bring in the blessed light of Jesus Christ that we have light. Just as He was the focus in God’s home on earth, may the focus in our homes be Jesus Christ, not the TV. My heart breaks at the image of families huddled around the TV in the evenings. Even if there were no evil, what a waste of precious time it is. Again, dads, are we the head of a Christian home?

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 5

(Read the previous parts of the series here.) It is much better to ask ourselves this question now than when our children are years older and set in their ways. There are many aspects of a true Christian home that we have “discussed” for several months now. Something important to remember is that these are merely outward evidences of the fact that Jesus Christ is indwelling, and the Lord of Dad’s and Mom’s hearts. It is not enough to just demonstrate these outward characteristics. It all must begin with a changed heart when Jesus Christ comes into our lives.

Most of us would agree that one of the major reasons we homeschool our children is to raise up godly seed. “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed” (Malachi 2:15).

We expend much effort in setting the right example, and in consistent training, in our desire to teach children to be ambassadors of Christ. A great danger, though, is that the focus often tends toward outward exhibition of Christ-like character. If we dress them up and they act right, we have succeeded, right? Wrong! We know that God looks on the heart and man looks on the outer appearance. We don’t want to neglect the former because it truly is our hearts that God desires. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

It is interesting to listen to preaching on child training on the radio. Some would indicate godly character is caught and not taught. Others suggest it is the technique we use to train our children that produces the results. Yes, those two aspects are important, but probably the most critical aspect of raising children is often overlooked. I like to refer to the three aspects of raising children as the legs on a three-legged stool. Each one is dependent on the other two. But which leg of a three-legged stool is the most important? Obviously, it is whichever one is missing.

The first leg is the righteous, set apart, God loving/fearing lives of the parents. The second is a biblical-based, consistent approach to parenting. The third is faithful, fervent, intercessory prayer, asking a holy, righteous God to work in the hearts of the children as they grow. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10). “O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things . . .” (1 Chronicles 29:18-19). You see, it is God who works in the hearts of men, and we must cry out to Him to work in our children’s hearts.

I admit that prayer is the easiest for me to omit, and that reveals an area of character weakness in my life. It is pride that leads us to believe that, if we are a good enough example and train our children properly, they will become mighty men and women of God. I strongly believe that is why so many fail. The children look and act good, but their hearts really haven’t been changed. The same pride in the parent’s lives has reproduced itself into the life of the child. Our prayer for God to work in our children’s hearts is that hidden labor that only an omniscient God sees and hears. To the rest of the world, we may appear to have a wonderful Christian home, raising wonderful Christians. However, if the children eventually rebel or, just as bad, come to love the world and are effectively neutered as Christians, we see the real outcome of children raised without intercessory prayer.

Yes, God’s temple was a place of prayer. Jesus said that His Father’s house was to be called a “House of prayer.” In the same way, if we would say a “house of brick” or a “house of wood” or a “house of straw,” this implies what the house is built from. Are our homes built on prayer? Christian homes are. Is prayer such an integral part of our lives that we are pleading with our Lord about every aspect of raising our children? If we aren’t, sadly, it reveals the pride in our lives: “We can do it without God.” We may not think that, but when something is manifested in our actions it indicates the hidden core belief.

Dads, may we honestly evaluate whether or not our homes are homes of prayer–Christian homes.

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 4

(To read the previous articles in the series, please see this link.) I am amazed at all of the fantastic, fun things there are on this earth for our pleasure. I loved the challenge and sensations of flying small planes. I loved the wind and salt spray in my face as I would tack a small sailboat into the wind. I loved the rush of acceleration and breeze as the motorcycle gained speed on the highway. I loved canoeing down a spring rain-swollen stream with the sound of rushing water in my ears. It has been many years since I enjoyed those activities, because I know how easily my heart is drawn into them. Are any of those things sin? Most would say, “No, of course not! God gave us this world to enjoy.”

Am I saying that these things are bad? No, they are not inherently bad. I know many missionaries rely on small planes for supplies and might use canoes or motorcycles in their travels. However, they are not good if they are getting in the way of something better the Lord has to offer. You see, I know my own heart, how easily it is distracted from my Lord Jesus and what He has called me to do. Fun activities of self-indulgence get in the way of raising godly children and serving our Lord by stealing away the time God would want me to use for His work. So, what is the point of all of this?

As we continue our discussion on God’s blueprint for a Christian home, we see another aspect of God’s earthly home, the temple; it was a place of sacrifice. It was where a vivid picture of our Lord Jesus’ final sacrifice was presented repeatedly before the eyes of those present. I say final because His life was a sacrifice day by day and ended with the greatest sacrifice on the cross. The priests were involved in the bloody, messy work of daily sacrificing in the temple. Have you ever wondered why God chose to make blood red? He could have made it so that it didn’t stain the clothes of those involved in the sacrifice. However, because it was red, everyone knew who was involved in the sacrifice.

I see a wonderful picture for us dads in all of this. The Lord Jesus calls dads of Christian homes to a life of sacrifice. There are so many wonderfully fun things in this world to spend our time, attention, and money on. However, if we do, we can be sure we will create the same passions in the lives of our children. So, instead of raising children with a zeal for the Lord Jesus and serving Him with their whole heart, body, soul, and strength, we will have produced children with a love for the fun and entertaining things of this world. On the other hand, when our desire is to sacrifice our lives for our Lord, we demonstrate the spirit of God’s design for the father of a Christian home, and thereby reproduce children of like mind and heart.

God gives us good gifts so we can give them back to Him. Our family, our time, and our money are all to be laid on the altar for His glory. I desire to lay it all down before my Lord. I truly want God’s best for my life. I know that if I give it back to Him, He will make the best of it. If I give Him my right to recreation and having “time for myself,” I know that He will pour out such blessings as I cannot imagine. I look at the lives of true men of God such as Hudson Taylor and George Mueller. They wanted God’s best and abandoned their own interests. I see them as men filled with joy and a passion for their Lord.

Sadly, I believe that is what makes the distinction between a Christian home and one of the world’s. A worldly home is where the father has his attention on the fun things the world has to offer because he knows he has to “get all the gusto” he can now. The attitude that we can do whatever we want as long as we don’t “cross the line of sin” is wrong. The father of a Christian home is working here now, with the anticipation of eternity with his Lord.

Jesus did and said only what His Father told Him to. “. . . The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). As we read about Jesus’ life, we see no mention of His having His own time for fun. His was a life of sacrifice!

I’m humbled when I look at my Lord’s life and feel that I’m still holding on to so much of my own pleasures. I pray God would continue to work in my life as He reveals the joy of sacrifice. May we dads never settle for anything less than God’s best.

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 3

Is your home a Christian home? Do you desire to raise godly children? If so, why and how important is it to you? Would we say that it is the burning desire of our hearts? If someone were to ask you what God’s primary purpose for marriage is, what would you tell him? I believe how we answer these questions is key to whether we have a Christian home or not.

“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth” (Malachi 2:15). We read in Malachi that God’s purpose for marriage was to raise up godly seed, which means children who will bring God honor and glory. So raising godly children is not just a good idea, not just a popular discussion topic at homeschool meetings, not just for the pastor or elders, but it is what God intends to be fruit from every marriage. A Christian home is the necessary environment for such precious fruit.

Last month we saw that when the idols of the world invaded God’s home, the temple, it was no longer a place where His Spirit would dwell. We applied that figuratively to our homes. The next reasonable question is, when does God’s Spirit dwell in our homes? 1 Corinthians 3:11 tells us, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And then in verse 16 we read, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Jesus Christ is to live in us and to be the foundation for our homes. This is not a matter of simple preference or religious practice. This is the question for fathers to answer: “Is Jesus Christ my Savior and the Lord of my life?” Jesus Christ is the foundation of our life and our home.

We can’t expect godly offspring if we aren’t a child of God ourselves. Becoming a child of God happens when we repent of our sins and place our trust in Christ’s shedding of His blood for the remission of our sins. That takes care of the first part. Unfortunately, many never go beyond and make Christ the Lord of their life. That is often where idols enter. If Jesus Christ isn’t Lord of a man’s life, the man himself will reign over his life. When we are reigning on the throne of our heart, we will fill our life with the “things/idols” of this world. The love for our Lord will not be there.

Our focus, our joy, and our passion is to be the Lord Jesus. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33). Then in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Also, read in Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

This is a perfect picture of our homes built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and we, as fathers, walking as our Lord Jesus did. This is not talking about outward religious conformity, but a man deeply in love with his Lord and seeking to please Him in every way. It becomes clear that selling out to his Lord is not for the cowardly. It takes a real man!

However, some might say, “Why try? That is impossible. Jesus was perfect, and I’m far from perfect.” Yes, that is true, Jesus was perfect, but He lived His life in submission to the Father. I marvel that even though Jesus is God, He chose to do only what the Father told Him to do or say. “. . . The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). Then in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” Jesus gave us the perfect example of Lordship–surrendering one’s will.

Men, we can’t lead our family until we learn to follow our Lord. We have no hope of a Christian home, and resulting godly offspring, unless Jesus Christ dwells in us and is our foundation. He must be our Lord in practice, not just speech. We should seek the best always, and never settle for anything less. When we choose anything but God’s best for our family, we are leading our family astray. Christ chose to follow the Father’s every decision. May we choose what Christ says is best for our family. May we be men of God and provide our children with a Christian home.

P.S. One additional thought. In Malachi 2:15-16 we read, “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” Note in particular where God warns men about divorce. It is a very stern warning about breaking the covenant we made with our wives. God holds us accountable for how we treat our wives. Admittedly these men were divorcing their wives, but we are held to a much higher standard. We are to treat our wives as Christ treated the church. He died for her.

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 2

A word of caution before reading on! This month’s Corner is a tough one to share. It is possible there will be some reaction to it. Please don’t shoot the messenger! Take this before the Lord, and if you then feel God has intended this for you, receive it. If, after praying about it, you are convinced it isn’t of the Lord, just ignore it.

I laid a foundation last month by suggesting that God gave families the blueprint for a Christian home. That blueprint was His home on earth–the temple. The temple is a beautiful picture of what a Christian home should be like; we can model our home after His. Of course not literally, but God often uses “types” and “pictures” to help teach us. We can learn much from His home on earth.

First, think about what made God’s temple different from any other building. The temple was just stone, wood, and gold until the glorious Spirit of the living, holy, mighty God came down and filled it. So our house is just another earthly house until God’s Spirit is able to dwell there. (I understand that our body is God’s temple now, but this is just a discussion of types.)

Our homes (and our bodies), as the temple, are to be holy and set apart to the Lord. Isaiah 64:11 says, “Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee. . . .” In 2 Chronicles 3:8 we find, “And he made the most holy house. . . .” I think none would argue that the temple was a holy place.

I have been in many homes where I sensed God’s spirit. My pastor’s home is like that. I also remember an unbeliever from Holland resting comfortably in our living room and saying he felt such a sense of peace, as he had never experienced before.

Now notice Psalms 79:1, which says, “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled. . . .” Note the temple was defiled by the nations invading it. When the world enters the temple, it is no longer holy; it is defiled, and the Lord will not be there.

We defile our homes by bringing the world and its idols in. So the million-dollar question is, “What are the idols of the world that we shouldn’t bring in?” First, admittedly, anything can become an idol by usurping the supreme place in our heart that belongs to our Lord Jesus. There are necessary “things” such as jobs, food, and sleep that we can’t avoid, but must learn to control them lest they too become idols. However, there are other “things” that the American male has clearly made into idols, but as Christians, we don’t have to have anything to do with them. What are they? I suspect the top four are: team sports (participating or viewing), watching TV, entertainment, and alcohol. You may come up with more, but few would argue that these are very high on the list.

Dads, may we never allow the idols of the world in our homes. The Holy Spirit had some very strong words, which He spoke through James. “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). Friendship, in the Greek, is defined as only a fondness/friendship. That is far less strong than the word “fan” which many men use to describe themselves. The term “fan” is short for fanatic. God’s Word is really very decisive in this passage. We can’t serve two masters. To evaluate just what we value, we might ask our wives and children to list the top ten things that they see are important to us.

It has been over ten years now since we stopped watching TV. However, I can still remember the conflict the TV presented for me. Just having it upstairs dulled my desire for the Word of God. When we quit watching it, I felt a sense of freedom and renewed desire for His Word.

Dads, we need to live the life we want our children to model. I want my children to see each minute as a precious gift from God, to be used for His glory. That means when I am not working or sleeping, I want to be ministering inside or outside of the home. I want my children to enjoy serving others. If they learn to take joy in blessing others, they will never lack for joy. I can’t tell you the delight it gives me to go to the City Union Mission with my sons and have them all say they really enjoyed going.

May we never settle for second best. Let us always seek God’s best. A Christian home will be different from the world’s homes. Is yours a Christian home?

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 1

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Have you noticed how there are so many Christian “this” and Christian “that’s”? There are Christian radio stations, Christian music, Christian businesses, Christian schools, Christian curricula, and Christian you name it! Would you agree there are many things labeled Christian that it becomes an increasing stretch of the imagination as to whether they are any more Christian than the “world”? For example, many so-called Christian songs on the radio sound just like the world’s music. If you doubt it, turn the volume down until you can’t hear the words, and compare it to a secular song. Christians have welcomed the world so much there is little distinction between what most consider Christian and what they would consider the “world.” We must bear in mind that the Lord’s standard for judging is not as fuzzy.

Most of us have known Christian families where the older children have rebelled. People will then say, “I just don’t understand it as he/she was raised in a good Christian home.” Usually, the observation is based on a superficial judgment, and indirectly the Lord is being blamed in that situation. It is almost as if the Lord failed in some way. May it never even be thought! We can be sure that is not the case at all. God is always faithful.

I wonder if you have ever asked yourself just what is a Christian home. “Christian home” isn’t directly mentioned in the Bible, but the Bible does have plenty to say about what a Christian home is. Before we proceed, what do you say? Is your home Christian, yes or no (no lukewarm voting)?

How exciting to see that God’s Word is definitive on every aspect of our lives. Even though our concordance might not list “Christian home” as a selection, the concept is very clearly dealt with.

In 1 Chronicles 17, David is telling Nathan, the prophet, about his concern that God should have a fitting “house.” Then in verse 10, God said through Nathan the prophet, “. . . I tell thee that the LORD will build thee an house.” Here God ties David’s loving concern for his God to God’s blessing of David. God draws a parallel between His house and David’s house (family). If we want to learn what the basis is for a Christian home, we need only study God’s home on earth–the temple.

We will continue this for the next several months’ Dad’s Corners as there is much practical direction for our homes. Each step of the way I will encourage you to evaluate your home to see if it is really a Christian home or not. There is no middle ground. It is either a home where the Lord Jesus is glorified, or it isn’t. If it is in the middle, it is lukewarm. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Dads, may we provide a loving, nurturing environment, which is conducive for children becoming mature, equipped, dedicated Christians serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can Teen Rebellion Be Avoided? – Part 2

Television was removed from our home over ten years ago. Psalms 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. . . .” At that time the influences even “okay” shows brought into our home were often negative. Did the children treat their parents with respect? How did they interact with their siblings? What activities were they involved with? Those questions don’t even take into consideration what children see on commercials or other programs that are not “okay.”

Steve has been willing, as a dad, to invest time in his children’s lives. He has given up the recreation he would pursue during his free time in order to be with his children. About eight years ago, when Nathan was fourteen and Christopher was twelve, Steve and the boys began to finish our basement. Could Steve have done the job faster by himself? Perhaps at first, but with a few months of teaching and training, the boys had learned many skills to make their help valuable. Not only did they learn much about construction in the process, but they also experienced wonderful, manly fellowship during those hours of working together. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “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 . . . and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Steve has carried this policy on into car work and almost any other project or errand he does. He includes even the younger children in these activities. It would be much quicker to work alone, but he is doing more than a task. He is investing in the hearts and lives of his children. Turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children has continued to be one of our main goals in parenting children (Malachi 4:6). Proverbs 4:1-5, “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.”

Steve also will take a child with him almost any time there is a meeting or activity to attend. When he had a breakfast with our state representative, Nathan went along as a teen. Steve has made our children a part of his life. Proverbs 5:1-2, “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.” In addition to the fellowship that the children have experienced, they have been exposed to Steve’s insight and teaching on many spiritual subjects in a setting much more public than our home.

We have encouraged our children to be busy with work and ministry rather than entertainment. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Nathan and Christopher started a lawn mowing business when they were ages ten and twelve. They worked that business together until Nathan graduated from high school, whereupon Christopher continued it on his own for two more years. This work kept them profitably occupied. They worked hard in hot, uncomfortable circumstances. They learned to serve customers, to maintain their equipment, to cooperate with each other, and to manage a business.

To facilitate an appetite toward serving others, we include our children in ministry the Lord has given us. Steve and the six oldest children have ministered at the local county nursing home for seven years. Psalms 41:1 has been their ministry verse, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Also, James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” They have a “church service” every other Saturday afternoon, collecting up the residents who are interested in attending, wheeling them into the day room, and ministering to them.

Our children have helped with the homeschool group from the very beginning. One of them has always had the responsibility for the newsletter. They spend many hours preparing for the children’s programs that go along with the couples’ meetings. They also put on the spelling bee each year. Their hearts are being fed on the joy Jesus gives in serving Him and others, rather than self.

Nathan and Christopher each decided not to obtain a driver’s license until there was a need for them to be driving. For them, this occurred around age eighteen when their work required them to have transportation. Not only did they save a considerable amount of money by not having to pay car insurance from the time they were sixteen, but also the lack of transportation may have kept them from opportunities of immorality that could have resulted in failure.

We also suggested the boys wait until the need presented itself before purchasing a car. This happened around the age of nineteen for them. Here again, they saved money by waiting and kept their focus on preparation for the future, rather than self-entertainment that can easily lead to a rebellious heart and attitude.

Steve and I encouraged our children to consider courtship rather than dating. They decided this was a biblical way and have chosen not to date. Because of this, they have been spared from situations that can lead to rebellion and immorality. Their time, money, and hearts have gone to useful occupations such as work, ministry, and family activities rather than being drained by dating.

Before our children reached their teenage years, Steve and I decided it would be good to institute a “dress policy” for how the children were to dress whenever they were in public. We shared with them that, although God judges the heart, man looks on the outward appearance. While it may be true that we don’t have rebellious hearts, if the way we dress is worldly, or faddish, it can appear to others that we are. 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us. . . .” We wanted them to see themselves as ambassadors for Christ and suggested they choose a “classic style” of dress that would not cause others to assume they were rebellious when they were not.

Prayer has been a key factor in our children’s lives for avoiding rebellion. Steve and I could always have been more consistent and diligent in our prayer time for our children, but all through their lives we have called out to the Lord. We are asking for wisdom in raising them, for guidance in decisions we must make, for strength to stand by those decisions, and for Jesus to work in the lives of our children, molding and shaping their hearts for Him.

As we think and evaluate each of these areas that I have briefly discussed, there is so much more that could be said about them, but this is an overview. Some of these may not even seem to have anything to do with rebellion versus lack of rebellion. In the ones that are less obvious, we think the children have been protected from influences and temptations that could have caused their hearts to be turned toward rebellion rather than kept with their Lord and their family.

We believe our older children have been open to these choices because the Lord has enabled us to keep their hearts. Their focus has been on the Lord, work, ministry, preparation for their futures, and family, rather than peers and fun. Therefore, they are willing to listen to our counsel and look to Scripture for their guide.

We are not saying these children are perfect, anymore than Steve and I are perfect. We have discussions where we are on different sides of the fence. There are areas of need we see in their lives where we pray for the Lord to work. However, our relationship is sweet; we delight in our adult children, seeing them as blessings and friends. We have prayed for them, protected them, taught them, and counseled them. We now enjoy watching them as they learn to seek after the Lord with all their hearts.

We give all the credit to the Lord for the work He has done in these children’s lives, for the decisions He has led our family to make, and for His faithfulness to us in spite of our failures. We want to encourage other families who may struggle with some of these choices, who may feel they are too difficult and who may wonder if their children will suffer if they make them, that it is worth the sacrifices. What the world offers our young people is empty and vain, but what the Lord offers is full of riches.

As we make some of these decisions or changes, it is imperative that our hearts as parents are soft and open toward our children. We must approach the change with the right attitude. We should offer our time and ourselves to our children in return for anything we are taking from them. Our children learn from us, even what we are not aware they are learning. If our focus is on ourselves, doing what we love and serving our interests, then they learn that too. If we want to direct their hearts toward the Lord, then it must be obvious by not only our words, but also our actions, that our hearts are toward the Lord.

May we, as parents, evaluate each area that comes up with our teens and be willing to seek the Lord on it. May we make the choices the Lord directs us in even though they may be unpopular or difficult. May we continually call out to the Lord in prayer for His grace, wisdom, and strength in raising up children, who are mighty in spirit, to serve Him.

Can Teen Rebellion Be Avoided? – Part 1

Do you ever wonder what your choice to homeschool will do to your children when they are teens? Have you prayed asking the Lord to keep them from becoming rebellious teenagers? Have others told you that if you protect your children from outside influences they will rebel against your authority when they become teens?

As the parents of children ages 22, 19, and almost 17 (in addition to our five younger ones), we are asked what we have done in raising our children so that they have not rebelled as teens. Our two oldest, both adults, still choose to live at home, minister with our family, and prepare themselves for a possible future as husbands, fathers, and spiritual heads of their homes, if God so directs. This question concerning our children not rebelling has caused me to do some thinking. A simple answer has not popped into my mind, and a Mom’s Corner seems like a good opportunity to reflect on this subject.

Usually I write Mom’s Corners about my failures and what God has taught me through them. This Mom’s Corner is along a different line. Therefore, I hesitate to share these thoughts for fear it could come across as sounding prideful, and that is not my intention. My purpose is to encourage other moms’ hearts, from one who has already walked the path and discovered that teens do not have to be rebellious. I would like to relate that path the Lord has led us along, perhaps giving you some new ideas and food for thought.

The results seen in our children’s lives are not because of Steve and me. We are very human, not close to perfect parents, failing in various ways, day after day. It is only the Lord’s grace in our lives, and the lives of our children, that has made a difference. He is the One doing the work, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I write of these things because we are questioned on them. I see the fruit God gives of walking according to His Word, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). I want to counsel each of you to constantly seek the Lord as you are parenting teens or preparing to parent them.

Before reaching our children’s teen years, Steve and I did not have a “seven-step, fool-proof” biblical plan to raise godly children, nor even any plan at all; we still don’t! I can remember we discussed that we did not believe children had to go through a rebellious stage as teenagers. We were open to making decisions, even very difficult, unpopular decisions, for our family as the Lord led us. But that was the extent of our plan. Let me share with you, in retrospect, what I believe may have been used by the Lord to make the difference in our children’s lives. We don’t know for sure what the Lord Jesus has used, we can only look at where He has taken us and consider the possibilities.

Homeschooling became our choice when our oldest children were entering first and third grades. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 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” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). We had the opportunity to present Christ to our children all day long.

Fourteen years later, we continue on that path. Our children have been spared from many negative influences by being at home for school! “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Simply not being around other teens who have become rebellious has certainly spared our children from watching and observing, in their own friends, such choices.

The year after we started homeschooling, Steve began getting the children up early in the morning to have a family time reading the Bible and praying before he went to work. Reading Scripture through the years helped our children see the choices set before them of God’s way versus foolishness and rebellion.

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7). I know Steve’s spiritual leadership in our home, the importance he placed on his own personal time in the Word, and our family time in the Word has had a profound influence on our children.

When our boys were in their late elementary years, we made the decision to take them out of team sports. As we observed team sports and our sons’ interactions there, we became concerned that there was more negative growing from this than positive. We saw hearts drawn to peer influences, entertainment, competition, and pride. Any one of these could lead a child toward the road of rebellion since they are at odds with God’s will and parents’ desires. Surely, with all of them, we placed our boys at great risk if we allowed them to continue in team sports. Matthew 6:24, “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. . . .”

Steve prayed, sought the Lord, and knew the time had come to remove them from sports. He took each of the boys out for a soda, individually, to explain his heart in this situation. It was very difficult for us, because we all had pride and excitement in our hearts since these sons were excelling in their sport. James 4:6, “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” However, the boys could see their Daddy’s desire was for their good, and they were willing to trust his leadership, submitting to his decision.

We have felt that if we kept our children from peer influences by homeschooling them, we would undermine this if we placed them in church youth groups (or team sports) where many of these same influences would be felt. Proverbs 10:17, “. . . but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” Therefore, we have purposely looked for and chosen churches that did not have a youth group. We knew it would be hard for our teens to hear about youth activities and watch youth involved in them but be kept on the outside.

We have been so blessed these past several years to be in a church with no youth group by the church’s decision. The teens are growing in wisdom and stature under their own fathers’ authority, teaching, and direction. Proverbs 1:8-9, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Several families have shared how they have been drawn to this church by observing the young people and their ministries. They know in their hearts that this is the pattern they desire for their own children.

Not wanting to leave a void in the children’s lives when activities were removed or prevented, we chose to replace them with our time and activities, if possible. One way this was accomplished was in Steve instituting a weekly meeting with each of the three older children. This was done on Sunday before or after church with just Steve and one child at a time. They would discuss anything on either of their hearts. These meetings still continue; they are a private matter, with me seldom knowing what was talked about during this time. Often when issues come up during the week, Steve will say, “That would be a good topic for our meeting.” With a special time set aside each week to share hearts, the children have been able to approach their father with their concerns and vice versa–a certain opportunity for keeping the hearts of our children.