Tag Archives: Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome?

Trade Ya

Everything in life involves a trade, and what you trade for is based on what you value. You will trade your money for something once you perceive it to have sufficient value. Many trades don’t involve money but time.

My greatest worldly passion was flying small, private airplanes. Back in 1979, however, I traded flying for my family and I haven’t regretted it. Flying was expensive and pulled my heart away from my family. I felt the Lord asking me to give it up and to seek Him first and my family next.

There are many “good” things that can pull our hearts away from the best things. We have one life, and every day is priceless. One dad’s moto was to make every day count because you are trading a day of your life for it. May we be found faithful.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” (Matthew 24:45-46)


Don’t Be a Squirrel

Go. Dont go. Go. Dont go. Go–lights out. If squirrels were as indecisive and had such poor success in trees when jumping from limb to limb as they do when crossing streets, we wouldn’t have any squirrels.

Dads are faced with a myriad of decisions. For the good of their families, it is essential that they make wise, God-fearing, Spirit-led decisions. We guide our families by learning to listen to the Spirit and obey Him. Small decisions are good training for the bigger ones we will face. There really shouldn’t ever be a need for a “leap” of faith. If He says “Go,” we go. If not, we wait.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)


Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 9

(If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so.)

Teri and I were eating dinner with another couple earlier this year at a homeschooling event, when a sixteen-year-old young man asked if he might sit in the empty seat next to me. I said, “You are welcome to as long as you don’t mind me asking you a ton of questions.” He told me that was fine as long as I didn’t mind him eating. I chuckled as I thought about what he said while looking at his plate. It was what you would expect of a young man with an appetite, lip-lopping full without a square inch of empty room. As Randy sat down, I observed in him a young man with a confident smile, who looked accustomed to working hard. True to our words, he commenced to eat, and I began launching questions his direction. How old was he, how many in his family, how did he spend his time, what did he like to do, what sort of friends did he have? As soon as he answered one, I had another one for him.

His replies were not just courteous but also full of respect. The more I listened to his answers the greater appreciation I had for his parents and what they were doing in his life. I could hear how much he enjoyed his family. He truly loved his parents and his six brothers and sisters. The average sixteen-year-old young man would feel his siblings were a nuisance, to be avoided at all costs. Randy clearly loved his family.

His favorite person to be with in all the world was his father. He had one friend outside the family, a young man in his twenties who had a construction business. He really enjoyed working with his friend and learning the trade.

He was always busy. Most boys his age would be on every sports team they could find. Not Randy. His time was filled with working with his friend, helping, and being with his family.

I told him I really wanted to meet his father. He pointed with his chin and said he was sitting right behind me. Unfortunately, as soon as I was finished and ready to meet his dad, he had already moved on to some responsibilities. I was disappointed but hoped I might run into him before we had to leave.

God is so good. The next morning as I was on my way to check out of the hotel, I saw Randy’s dad having breakfast. I went over, introduced myself, and asked if I could visit for a short while. He smiled and welcomed me to sit down.

I told him about my conversation with Randy and how impressed I was with him. From my brief time of discussion, Randy really seemed to be a godly young man of character who enjoyed his family and working. Was this really the case, how long had Randy been like this, and what was this father doing to have such success with his son?

His dad then shocked me by what he said. Just four years ago, Randy was a very angry boy such that, those who knew him were well aware of his problem with anger. Over the last four years God had done a mighty work in Randy’s life. He isn’t perfect, but he is a young man who dearly loves his God and his family and enjoys working.

I asked Tom, Randy’s father, how the Lord had worked in Randy’s life. Tom said that one of the first things that changed was that he was shown that his (Tom) focus needed to be on his family and not himself. The principle that the family applied to how they spent their time had become (aside from Tom’s job), “If we can’t do it as a family, we won’t do it.”

Tom said his golf clubs have about four years’ worth of dust on them now. He loves to golf and did quite well in tournaments. Even now some have encouraged him that they could golf as a family, but he knows that the passion would be rekindled. It wasn’t worth pulling his heart away from his family again.

I expect their family would have been a very typical “religious” family. The children were in private school and in all the normal activities. Besides school activities, Randy was on basketball and baseball teams like all his friends.

However, God started working in Randy’s parents’ lives. They decided to homeschool the children and made other changes. They sought solutions to Randy’s anger and were willing to do whatever was necessary. The parents continued to be obedient to the Lord’s leading and over the past four years have seen God do a mighty work in their family.

I interrupted Tom a few times as we talked with an exclamation of praise for the Lord’s goodness and mercy. These parents responded to the Lord’s leading and what a marvelous work is in process. Tom is quick to say they aren’t perfect and still have some consequences from their earlier lifestyle, but the change is welcome and continuing.

This home is a wonderful example of Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” How the futures of so many children could be positively changed if only the father’s heart would be turned toward his children. I believe that the parent usually thinks it is his child’s problem. “He just won’t listen to me,” or, “I’ve told him a hundred times, and he won’t obey me.”

It all begins with dad and mom’s hearts. Are they turned toward their children? I asked Tom what he would have said if someone had asked him years ago if his heart was turned toward his children. He said he wouldn’t have known what that meant. I then asked him if he had his own activities and the children had theirs. He said, “Yes, that was true.”

I wonder if many dads think their hearts are turned toward their children, when in fact they aren’t. If I were to ask you right now, “What has your heart?” what would you say? If you said, “my children,” do a reality check on that. Aside from Dad’s work time or Mom’s daily responsibilities, how do you spend your time?

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Face it. There are a myriad of “important,” or fun, things that can take every minute we have. Then we toss our children the scraps of time that are left over, when it should be the opposite.

Even as I write this, I’m convicted of some things that need to be reworked in the way I allocate my time. I feel that I need to make better use of the way I’m spending my time after our evening family altar time and before the children go to bed. I can’t tell you what is going to change, but I know I need to pray about it and see how the Lord will direct me. I cherish these years of raising my children, and I desire to have no regrets when I look back on these years.

I delight in spending time with my children. Next to Teri, they are my best friends. The time I am with my children is a treasure that doesn’t rust and can’t be stolen. I have a passion for flying private planes, and yet I haven’t flown for over twenty years. I laid that use of time and money aside for something of far greater value—time with my children and a heart focused on them. So many things will creep in to steal away our time and attention.

A daddy’s heart focused on his children is an amazing thing. God used Tom’s change of heart direction in a mighty way in Randy’s life. The promise in Malachi is real. If we will turn our hearts toward our children, they will turn their hearts toward us. Families all around are experiencing awful consequences due to not having hearts turned toward each other. Are you? If so, are you willing to turn your heart toward your children?

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 8

(If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so.)
Sitting on my desk in front of me is a “gold brick” with the words “Outstanding Performance” engraved on top. I was awarded this treasure in 1983 for my many hours of “meritorious” work at my corporate job. My gold brick has become very meaningful to me, but not, perhaps, in the way you might think. The brick is actually solid brass, even though it has the look and feel of gold. Funny what a striking analogy it is, being as deceptive in its true value as my hours to earn it were deceptive in their true (eternal) value.

For me, it has become a symbol of how my normal daily work is about as worthless as a fake “gold brick.” It has become a frequent reminder of how easy it is to have misplaced priorities. When it comes to eternity, the hours we men spend at work are basically wood, hay, and stubble. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Just think, the work we believe is so important that we spend eight hours a day on (and then some) is all going to be consumed in eternity. This work, which becomes most men’s identity, will burn. It won’t even give off bright colors and fancy sparks that dazzle the eye like we have just seen on the Fourth. The flames will simply devour all our precious effort, and nothing will be left of eternal value as we stare at the ashes. Of course, it is our responsibility to provide for our families, so the real work of eternal value can be carried forth. Plus the money we earn can be used to further the Kingdom of God. In general, however, the work we spend so many hours a day doing will count for nothing in eternity.

How easy it is to be deceived into thinking our important work occurs during the for-pay job, but the work we do at home isn’t as important. That is backwards! Finally, when we come home to our family, that is when we have the opportunity for gold, silver, and precious stones. The question is—are you creating more wood, hay, and stubble when you come home, or is it gold, silver, and precious stones? We each have a choice with our hours at home with our families.

I have come to realize that the time I spend with my family, leading them in the ways of the Lord Jesus, is when something of value is produced. Discipling my family for the few hours I have available in a day is the primary investment I have for something that will last for eternity. I feel that even if I were in the ministry full time rather than having a secular job, my time with my family would still be my opportunity to spend those minutes on something of the greatest value.

I would have to put high on my list of time spent well, with an eye on eternity, as our family altar. I absolutely love those moments and look forward to them. I know that when I’m discipling my family and washing them in the water of God’s Word, instead of a fake gold brick, I’m building using gold, silver, and precious stones.

I believe a lot of dads want to lead their family in evening worship, but next to misplaced priorities the greatest roadblock is that they don’t know how to do it. I would like to make this Corner practical and share how we have ours. I’m sure there are other, better ways, but for the sake of being brief, I will tell you what I am familiar with doing.

I will usually have our family worship time right after dinner is cleaned up. That way I know nothing else will get in the way. We do first what is most important to us, and so it makes sense that devotions occur in our first available time after dinner. However, the main point is to find a time that works for you and to which you can be consistent.

We only use the Bible for family altar even though we have a wide range of ages. I have come to realize through the years that even the young children will learn a great deal from Bible reading although some of it is beyond their understanding. Whatever book of the Bible we are in, I purpose to do my best to make it interesting. I constantly try to reveal Jesus Christ to my family and show them how Scripture applies to our everyday lives.

When we first began family worship almost twenty years ago, I would read the chapter we were going to read during my personal Bible reading time, before our common worship. I would jot some notes down and think about the verses so I was prepared. I used a study Bible with comments, and they helped me feel more comfortable in understanding what we would be reading as a family. Even now there are times I won’t know an answer. I think that is something we dads have to come to peace with and share with our family. We don’t have all the answers. However, I am willing to do some study and see what I can find. Even then, with some questions, I may have to wait a few years, or perhaps even until heaven, before I finally get an answer.

Frankly, if you are at all unfamiliar with the Bible, don’t let that stop you from leading family devotions. Go out and buy a good study Bible. Ask around for recommendations, and then buy one. It is worth the investment. Just do it.

Where to read is simple. Start at the beginning of the New Testament and read a chapter a night. I prefer to go slowly and have everyone enjoy it, rather than to race through several chapters. We come away with new understanding rather than plowing ahead simply to cover more ground.

Everyone reads two verses as we take turns around the room. For fun, Jesse, our youngest reader, always gets to start, and Anna reads the last verse. It is a little silly, but when it works out perfectly that the last verse falls in sequence where Anna is sitting, visitors have been surprised to hear the word “perfect” being uttered around the room as we realize it has come out perfectly for Anna to get the last verse. There is nothing real spiritual about that; we just have a good time in the Word of God.

As we read, everyone is supposed to be looking for a special verse that they would like to apply to their life. For variety, we cycle through the family, starting with the youngest, so that each night someone different gets to share his verse first. Then, after telling everyone his verse and application, he gets to pick which way we go around the room for the others to share their verses.

After everyone has had his turn, I ask if there are any confessions. It is my desire that when we wrong another during the day, we would confess that sin to the other person right away, but that doesn’t always happen. This provides an opportunity to confess sins, forgive each other for sins committed (Matthew 6:14), and avoid bitterness in the home.

Finally, the person who shared his verse first is the one who gets to pick a hymn for us to sing. We sing that song, and our family altar is over. Many families will pray during family worship, but we have chosen to have our time of prayer when we put the children down for bed. However, that is the beauty of it. Do what fits your family and is pleasing to the Lord.

Do you love the Lord Jesus and His Word? If so, then a daily family time in the Word is just a natural extension of your love. It is not difficult, but it does require consistency, which will come from proper priorities. What are you creating with your time—wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones?

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 7

(If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so.)

I was sitting in the car doing some work while Teri was inside the dentist’s office having her teeth cleaned. There was a large, nicely mown tree-shaded lot in front of me. I glanced up, and my eyes caught sight of a black bird walking through the grass. His head disappeared for an instant, and then with his beak, he began flinging leaves into the air. He would take another step, and more leaves would explode into the air. After every leaf or two, he would find a bug or worm; I couldn’t tell which. I would see him eat it and begin looking under more leaves.

A short distance away, a robin was looking for breakfast. I was much more familiar with the way a robin finds his food. He would take a few steps, tipping his head to listen. Then he would either jab his beak into the ground, trying to spear a worm, or he would take a few more steps.

Both birds were gathering food the way God had directed them, even though their technique was quite different. I wonder if that might be a fitting analogy to a man’s personal time in Bible reading and prayer—a quiet time or, as some might call it, devotions. We all should have spiritual nourishment from the Bible, yet we have different needs based on what is going on in our lives and where we are in our spiritual walk. Therefore, God will direct us to various places in Scripture. Then our study may involve individual methods of hunting for the tasty morsels that we need to grow and lead our family.

From the informal questions that I regularly ask men, I’m confident that less than 10 percent of conservative Christian men read their Bibles each day and pray. I believe one reason is that many need a brother who loves them enough to get in their faces to confront them. This brother would tell them that they can’t live without a daily quiet time and give them some idea how to have one. The purpose of this Corner is for me to be the brother in your face. I want to give dads an idea of what they can do for their personal devotions and stress again how critical it is. 1 Corinthians 3:11 tells us, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

First, I pray that no dad ever senses a spirit of judgment or condemnation from me if he isn’t spending time in the Word and prayer. I want him to sense a great amount of my passion as I plead with him to meet with his Lord daily. This Corner should be immensely practical, as I will try to be very specific in giving some ideas about how to have a quiet time. Just like the different techniques of those birds, there are many ways to spend daily time with the Lord. However, to make it simple, I’m suggesting you try it this way until you are comfortable, and then ask the Lord Jesus to direct you.

How often should you have your personal devotions? “Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God” (Isaiah 58:2). If we would delight to know God’s ways, then we must seek Him daily.

When in the day should we read our Bibles and pray? I believe you can never go wrong by doing it first thing in the morning when you get up. If we have our personal devotions first, they will always get done. We know how the urgent often crowds out the important. That doesn’t happen with your Bible reading if you choose to do it first. Set the alarm so you will have time to get up and have your devotion before other daily scheduled commitments. DON’T CHANGE YOUR ALARM. That way if you want your sleep, you will go to bed on time.

If spending time with the Lord Jesus is important to you, you will make yourself go to bed at night in order to get enough sleep to get up with the alarm. If babies will wake you in the night, then go to bed earlier so you can still get up and meet with the Lord. I would encourage each of us to treat ourselves like men and not children. If we want sleep, we go to bed earlier, but we don’t move the time we get up. Soon you will see how easy it is to consistently wake up and have your devotions. What would we think of a co-worker’s frequent excuse of being late to work, or missing work, because he was tired and slept in? We would say, “If work is important to you—get up!”

How long is good for your time with Jesus? That is like asking someone, “How much gold would you like?” However, we must deal with reality in that there are limits. I would encourage no less than twenty minutes per day no matter what—ten minutes reading the Bible and ten minutes praying. There was a time when I took an hour and a half, but currently I’m spending forty minutes. The time investment will pay such dividends in your walk with the Lord. Give as much time as you can.

Where should you have your Bible reading and prayer time? “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). Jesus suggested you go into your closet when you pray. The word “closet” means an inner chamber or someplace hidden away. The idea is that we are to get alone with the Lord. We can’t effectively concentrate on Him when there are distractions around us. That is another advantage of getting up early when everyone else is asleep. It is easier to find a quiet place.

Currently, I go to the living room since I can be alone there. Find a quiet place, and if need be, ask others not to come in during that time. If there are sounds from elsewhere in the house, then I would recommend foam earplugs to reduce the ambient noise. I’m easily distractible, and I use earplugs fairly often when I need to concentrate. Whatever it takes, for the good of your soul—do it!

Where in the Bible should you read? If a person isn’t very familiar with the Bible, I would encourage him to first read the book of John. I ask the Lord where He wants me to read. Lately I’ve started back through the four gospels. When I am close to finishing them, I will ask the Lord where He wants me to go next. There was a time when I read Jeremiah three or four times in a row. Ask Him during your prayer time, and He will show you.

A number of times I have been led to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. There are many read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year programs out there, but I have come to where I don’t encourage my family to do them. Don’t misunderstand me, reading through the Bible in one year is great, but often it requires a person to hurry through their reading to complete the assignment. I want my family to read slowly during this time because the goal is to grow in intimacy with the Lord. If a person has an extra hour a day when he could read the Bible, going through it in a year would be great. However, don’t let the goal crowd out a time of savoring the Word. The purpose of our quiet time is to experience the Lord Jesus, grow in greater intimacy with Him, and apply His Word to our lives.

A side note I feel important to share is that I would not suggest that anyone read the short daily devotionals for their primary Bible time. I wonder if reading them isn’t like eating something that someone else has chewed first. I desire that God would speak to me directly through His Word and that I would learn it more and more. I don’t believe either of those goals is accomplished by reading some warming anecdote and two verses of Scripture each day. That is fine for reading while you brush your teeth, but I would implore everyone not to consider that a substitute for spending quality time with the Lord Jesus.

After “where” to read is “how much” to read. I would not necessarily read a given amount each day. Read with an open heart. There are days when I read a chapter and other days when I read a handful of verses. I read slowly so I can understand what I’m reading. At the same time, I don’t get bogged down if I can’t understand a verse. I may continue on and return when I can study it further.

Lastly, what am I trying to get from my time in the Word? I want to know the Lord and how I can apply His Word to my life. I ask myself questions about what I’m reading. “Why might Jesus have said that?” “Why did they do that?” “Lord, how do You want me to apply this to my life?” Questions, questions, questions! Why, why, why, why, and why? Through the years I have seen the Lord answer so many questions. I love it when He gives new and fresh insight to a passage I have wondered about for years.

“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalms 119:2). “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes” (Psalms 119:10-12). The blessings, the wisdom, the protection, and the promises that are buried in the Bible are critical to our spiritual health and our ability to lead our family. Dads—we can’t afford not to have a daily time in the Word and pray. Won’t you begin today?

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 6

(If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so.)

There is a wonderful elderly man we know at the nursing home, and we love him dearly. We have known him for close to ten years, but I’m afraid he won’t live much longer. The biggest problem seems to be that he doesn’t eat and therefore is wasting away. I don’t see how such a thin person can continue to lose weight. The food seems to be good there, but I’m told he just sits in front of his food, picks at it for a while, and then quits. He will die without nourishment.

I recently had a very engaging discussion for about an hour with a young man in his early teens. He was strongly opinionated, and I was enjoying asking him questions in trying to understand what the basis was for the decisions he was making. He was intelligent and articulate, and yet there was a major disconnect in his reasoning. I then asked him about personal and family devotions. He said he was having personal time with the Lord, but his family didn’t have a time when they would look at Scripture together. After hearing himself say that and realizing how that appeared, he thought for a moment and said, “Well, I guess I’d have to say, that our family devotion is sort of all day. It is the way we live.”

Have you ever thought about the fact that God did not have to make our bodies to need food? God could have easily created us never to require food, but He had a purpose in it. “Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). We require continued sustenance to keep our focus on our Provider.

The reality of physical food is used by the Lord to teach us about our need for spiritual food. In John 21:15-17 we read, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” Jesus was not talking about Simon Peter physically feeding sheep but rather spiritually feeding the flock.

Notice how Jesus related Peter’s love for Christ with Peter’s feeding those for which he would soon be responsible. Peter would soon be leader of the church in Jerusalem, and if Peter loved Jesus, Peter was to feed them spiritually. If Peter loved the Lord, he could demonstrate that love by feeding the flock. In asking the question three times with slight variations, Jesus was making His point very clear. “Peter, if you love Me, you will feed My sheep.” That is true of us dads as well, if we love the Lord Jesus, we will spiritually feed those He has entrusted to our care.

In John 10:3-4 we read, “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” The shepherd leads the sheep out to find good pasture. He is careful that the sheep only eat what is beneficial for them. He cares about the sheep and wants to see them grow and be healthy. A shepherd may be negligent in several areas and still not devastate the flock, but if he is not feeding them, they will suffer. That is so true for our families. We may fail our families in many ways, but if we aren’t feeding them spiritually every day, they will suffer.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalms 23:1-2). What a beautiful picture of a caring Shepherd Who pastures His flock in lush green fields where they will eat well and then may rest. Do we fathers make our daily family devotion time appetizing? Does our family look forward to dining on God’s Word together? Is it something we are excited about like a hungry man with a steak dinner, or do we force ourselves to take a few bites when we really aren’t interested? If we aren’t interested in God’s Word then we need not expect our families to be excited.

Ezekiel 34 is amazing as God blasts those shepherding Israel. “. . . Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock” (Ezekiel 34:2-3). “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock . . .” (Ezekiel 34:10). God harshly judges the shepherds who will not nurture their sheep.

Can we be serious about our desire to raise children who will be men and women of God without feeding them the spiritual food that they will need to grow spiritually strong and healthy? How can they resist the world if they are not spiritually strong?

A homeowner who says he is working hard to grow a nice, healthy lawn and never feeds it is only fooling himself. All his neighbors know the truth by merely observing his lawn and what steps he is taking. They can see that his actions aren’t consistent with his words. In the same way, those around us who observe our children and who visit our home will soon come to understand what emphasis we place on spiritually feeding our family.

Feeding those we are responsible for is critical. Just as we can expect repercussions from the government if parents don’t physically feed their children, there are consequences when parents don’t spiritually feed their children. Why is it so many dads don’t lead their family in daily Bible reading when this is such a serious matter? There are probably a myriad of answers, but NONE of them matter. I believe if dads realized the consequences they will experience (and observe in the lives of their children) for not spiritually feeding them, they would get serious (and excited) about daily feeding their family God’s Word.

The Lord is our example. He says, “I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 34:14-15). Men, we must feed our families (see Feed My Sheep). I would encourage every dad not to eat a meal the day following a missed family devotion. Let your physical hunger spur you on to feeding your family’s spiritual hunger.

When I started leading the family devotion, I knew Teri could have done a far better job. But that was okay because I knew I needed to do it, and God would enable me to improve over time. The Lord has been so faithful through the years in teaching me how to lead my family. He will do the same for you if you will begin (if you aren’t currently). So Dad, what are you feeding your family tonight?

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 5

Teri and I have had our hearts broken to see parents close to finishing the job of raising a child then lose the child to the world. I have to admit that quite a few years ago I actually said, “Homeschooled children don’t have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” From the large group of homeschoolers we interact with, I can’t say that is true anymore. Now my thoughts run this way: “Homeschooled children don’t have to have problems with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and rebellion.” I don’t believe it is a matter of whether you “get a good one or a bad one.” The issue is this: “Dad, what are you doing with what God has entrusted you?”

We continue with this heavy subject (read the previous months here). The topic was originally broached by a father, and we’ve been looking at what he wrote. I’ve copied the last half here again for reference.

What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to letting them see “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now, that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self employment and some kind of family businesses.

Space no longer permits revisiting all we have already covered in previous Corners. However, each piece is critical to our parenting.

I firmly believe that if you do everything else and not this next area we will discuss, your children are at great risk. Please don’t think that I’m exalting my opinion to such a high place that you need to follow it. Read this Corner, and study the Bible passages to which I refer, to see if it is true. May the Holy Spirit confirm in your heart truth.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1-2). “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7).

In verse one, we see that all who don’t enter the sheepfold by the door are thieves and robbers. Then in verse seven we see that Jesus is the Door. The Middle-Eastern shepherd was so concerned about his sheep that after bringing his sheep into the fold for the night, he would sleep in the doorway. The shepherd, literally, became the door. Nothing could get through the doorway that the shepherd didn’t allow. He would give his life for the sheep. Therefore, a thief knew the only other way to get to the sheep was by climbing over the wall. In doing so, he was still likely to be confronted by the shepherd as he entered the fold.

The protection of the sheep was of utmost importance to the shepherd. He would have carefully constructed his fold so that the sheep would be safe. I can picture him building the walls so that nothing could easily steal away those who depended on him for safety. Even though the sheep knew his voice and not the voice of the stranger, he still took great care in protecting them. Was it because he didn’t trust the sheep? Of course not. Scripture says that they knew his voice and wouldn’t follow a stranger. He knew, however, that others presented danger to the sheep.

This example is critical for dads who love their children. We are the shepherds of those God has entrusted to our care. We are to be the door to the family. No one gets by us to our children. Is it because we don’t trust our children? Absolutely not. It isn’t a matter of not trusting our children. Rather, it is a matter of our responsibility to protect them from others.

Recently, a dad was telling me that he didn’t have a problem sending his children off for further training because they had proven themselves trustworthy. Unfortunately, I believe, he is basing the future of his children on his evaluation of their being trustworthy. Their trustworthiness is important, but maybe as important is the issue of WHO they will encounter.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a school or religious organization of stellar credentials. I’m not even assuming there is evil intent on the part of the other person. However, something happens when the right two people get together. Suddenly all logic and self-control are gone. I expect that most have heard of pastors who have become involved in an immoral relationship. Likely those who have been ensnared like this never thought it would happen to them. It is contrary to everything for which they had lived. It is just that they found themselves in a situation that soon was out of control. If it can happen to those who are highly respected and have proven themselves “trustworthy,” then how is it parents think it can’t happen to their young adult children?

Even if the child isn’t “lost to the world,” but only fallen and morally scarred, is it worth the risk? I expect most parents of children that this has happened to don’t even know about it. We have heard many a Christian mom share how she failed when out from under her father’s protection. Might their fathers have done more to protect them? Could it be that their fathers trusted them when they should have protected them?

That is why the shepherd isn’t content knowing that he has his sheep’s “hearts.” He knows there are others out there who may cause him to lose the ones for which he is responsible or who may actually cause them harm. He values his sheep so much that he is not willing to take any chances with them. No matter how confident we are that we have our children’s hearts, they are still flesh and blood. They have to deal with the appetites of the flesh. Is it a matter of trust, or is it a matter of prudence and responsibility?

Remember what Jesus said was in the heart of EVERY person. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). If we ever think our child is strong enough and cannot fall, I believe we have put him in great jeopardy.

Remember the pastors or other people I referred to earlier—the ones in high spiritual positions who ran away in an immoral relationship, often leaving a wife and family? These are people who “had” proven themselves to be of certain moral character and spiritually trustworthy—enough to earn the positions they held. They wouldn’t have been given their positions if others hadn’t had confidence in them. Not only had they given their hearts to their spouses in marriage, but they also had made a covenant before God to be faithful to that spouse. That was not enough to stop them. No matter what explanation is given or what warning signs there were, trust was breached, testimonies blackened, and lives shipwrecked.

Then how is it that, if pastors and others in high spiritual positions fall, parents can so easily “trust” their children putting them at such risk? I challenge you to evaluate whether it is really a matter of trust or value. Teri and I trust each other completely. However, we value our relationship so much we are not going to put it at risk. That is one reason why I don’t have business lunches with women. There are more safeguards that we have put in place, but those are sufficient examples. We believe what Jesus said about the depravity of the human heart and that if we can fall, certainly our children can. May we value our children so much that we take our responsibility to protect them seriously. How is it that parents who have poured out their lives into their children and homeschooled them to protect them from the world will put them in situations where they are at great risk? If they were going to lose their children anyway, wouldn’t it have been much easier on the mother to have sent the children to public school in the first place and spared herself the years of great effort homeschooling them? By putting our children in situations that may lead to their falling, I believe the parents have become their own enemies. Their actions have betrayed their goals. Instead of the father being the door, he has invited the wolf in to spend the night with the sheep. Oh, dads—may it not be!

To prevent any misunderstanding, let me give you some examples. If your desire is that your children would remain pure until they reach the marriage altar, then is it wise that they date or have friends who are dating, and should they spend time with others (of the opposite gender) to whom they may be drawn? Youth groups, ministry projects, short-term mission trips, joining the military, anything that involves young men and young women spending time together will likely stir up emotions. May each of us carefully evaluate the activities are children are involved in as to whether they are consistent with our goals. If you let your young adults participate in any of those activities even while you claim to be committed to courtship, do not be surprised if your children don’t court. We hear too many tragic stories from people who have let their young adult children go down those roads and have experienced great disappointment.

If you don’t want your children to rebel, then is it wise to let your children associate with rebels? Where might you find rebels? Youth groups, friends (even from great “Christian” families), sports teams, vocational technical schools, junior colleges, and colleges (Christian or secular) should all be viewed with great caution. Even if someone uses the word “Christian” to describe the organization, this does not mean that everyone there is a Christian living for the Lord. As the one called to protect our families, may we be able to look our wives in the eyes and say, “God is telling me that I must send my son/daughter there.” If God isn’t telling you clearly, do you really want to send them? Just because everyone else “is doing it” or your son or daughter really wants to, this is no reason to let them. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child . . .” (Proverbs 22:15). Often we hear the excuse that the child REALLY wanted to do something, so the parents let them. Dads, that is no reason. We are the ones who are accountable to the Lord for our decisions. Our children should only do what we are convinced is God’s best for them—nothing less!

Being the “door” is not a very popular position. There will be times when some of the sheep want out, and the door is stopping them. There are other times when a wolf wants in, and the “door” has to mount a defense. However, the Lord didn’t ask us to do it because it is fun. It is our responsibility.

May I encourage you to get alone with your Lord and determine what His goals are for your family. Then critically evaluate your decisions in light of those goals. You may be surprised to see that you have invited Mr. Wolf to spend the night. Evict him before it is too late. May we be the men God has called us to be.

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 4

How deep is the sadness when parents lose their young adult children to the world. To lose them at a time when the sweetness of the parent-child relationship should be close to its peak makes this a high fall. To lose one’s child after years of investing heavily into his life through homeschooling makes the fruit of the loss all the more bitter. To most of us, it would make more sense to lose our children if they weren’t homeschooled. How is it that some homeschooled Christian children are being lost to the world? Is there nothing that we can do as fathers to train up God-fearing children who will love and serve the Lord? We continue with this heavy subject (read the previous months here).

I’ve copied that last half of the message the father wrote again for reference.

What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, a two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to them seeing “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now, that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self-employment and some kind of family businesses.

First, I would like to make a comment to answer the implied question this father asks, “How and at what age should I expose my children to the world?” Scripture would provide direction if that were the primary issue. However I believe the real question is, “How do I prepare my children to be in the world but not of the world?” Scripture has much insight on this subject, and that is the essence of what I have been sharing.

Initially, we saw that the starting point is an awareness that within our hearts is the potential for each of us to be ensnared (Matthew 15:19). The child who does not have a healthy respect for and fear of fire will likely get burned. The Christian who doesn’t have a healthy respect for and fear of what his heart is capable of will likely fall.

Next comes the whole issue of having and keeping our children’s hearts. If we have their hearts, they will listen to us and receive instruction from our hearts. That is why Solomon said, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). Solomon was instructing his son to give him his heart. He wanted his son to entrust the center of his very being to the care of his father. “Let thine eyes observe my ways” might be restated to, “Be attentive to the way I live life and be favorably drawn to it.”

Therein lies the tremendous responsibility that goes with having our children’s hearts. What have we done with the most precious trust we have received? Have we tenderly cared for their hearts or lashed out in anger at them? Can they trust Dad more than anyone else in the world and go to him when they have any sort of problem that needs to be shared?

Our children will give their hearts to someone or something, and that is what will have the greatest shaping effect on their life. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). The person whom your child perceives as valuing him the most will have his heart. Does your child know that you care for him more than anyone else in the world? Do you tell him how much you love him and how special he is? Do your actions confirm your words? Do you spend time with him?

We communicate value in many ways. I think one of the most obvious and immediate is by our facial expressions and the tone in our voices. A person’s face brightens when speaking with someone who is important to him. This is especially obvious when a young man or young woman is speaking with someone in which they have an emotional interest. It is true of dads as well. Do the expressions on our faces indicate the delight we have in our children?

I’m not saying that we should put on false faces. We need to “tell” our faces how important our families are to us because our faces will communicate to them. Once the Lord convicted me of this and I became aware of it, I found it natural to smile at my children. When I saw them first thing in the morning, it was easy to brighten my voice, smile, and cheerfully greet them. I delight in my children. They are my greatest treasures. However, I had gotten lazy in communicating this to them. My face now tells them how much they mean to me.

I think that is why anger is so damaging. Next time you are around an angry person, watch his face. It looks awful and indicates such dislike of the person that the anger is directed toward. Is it any wonder that the child of an angry father is quick to give his heart to someone else? The child “knows” the parent does not love or value him, and he is going to find someone who will. Brothers, may we not justify ANY anger in our lives at all. Anger alone may drive our children away.

Solomon told his son to watch his ways with the goal of favorably influencing the child’s life. Unfortunately, even though Solomon was the wisest man in all the earth, his life had serious problems. Eventually he was disobedient, had out-of-control lust as evidenced by hundreds of wives and concubines, and allowed idol worship. We can see that Solomon’s children were watching his ways by observing the results in his children’s lives.

Our children know us better than anyone else (except maybe our wives), and they see what sort of Christians we really are. They know whether Jesus is more exciting to us or whether a sports event is. They know whether we are more inclined to want to read the Bible, spend time with them, read a magazine or newspaper, or watch TV.

The first priority for us is winning and keeping our children’s hearts. The second issue is what we are doing with those hearts as they will be drawn to what draws us. They will want to emulate their dad if there is any measure of heart attachment. The things that are important to you will likely be important to them. That is the power that having their hearts involves. I encourage you to ask yourself if your children are seeing a father who is sold out to the Lord or one who is living for the world.

My ultimate goal in having my child’s heart is to transfer his heart from me to his heavenly Father over time. It all begins when he comes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Then over time, I want my child to grow steadily more dependent on Him and less on me. The emphasis is on a relationship with Christ—loving God with all of his heart, soul, and mind. Children aren’t born with that love for Christ, but God does give them a natural love for their parents. We are to use that relationship to lead them into a relationship with God. It is to be a process of transferring their hearts from us to their Lord.

I love what God said about Abraham in Genesis 18:19. “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” With all my heart I want the Lord to say that about me, and I want my children to benefit from that blessing. I desire to raise children who love God with all their hearts and want to serve Him. Brothers, if you have your children’s hearts, what are you doing with them?

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 3

(Read the first parts of the series here.)

If you are like Teri and me, the issue of how children are exposed to the world is critically important to you. This topic is where the rubber meets the road in parenting: we either win or we lose after years of raising the child. We can do what appears to be a wonderful job in raising our children, and when we are close to the finish line, all can be lost.

We’ll re-look at part of what the father wrote in the second part of the series: What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to them seeing “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now; that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self-employment and some kind of family businesses.

Last month I shared what I believe to be a critical attitude for our children and ourselves and how important it is in regard to our association with the world. I discussed how I believe that we would all benefit from the attitude that any one of us can fall into sin. We must own the fact revealed in Matthew 15:19: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” This is just as important a truth for us as it is for our children. If we accept the fact that any of us can fall, and if we don’t really want to, then shouldn’t we welcome something that will help us avoid falling?

This month I want to share about something that I believe is at the center of parenting, although there is far more than can be written in one or two Corners. In a way this is a mini reflection of the essential element in our relationship with the Father. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). The Lord wants our hearts because He loves us and desires fellowship with us. Also, when He has our hearts we are far less likely to be drawn away by the idols of this world. The blood of Jesus enables us to enter into a heart relationship with the Father. When we are born again (John 3), we become the children of God (John 1:12-13). Notice how God uses “family” terms so we will understand heavenly truths.

This is a beautiful picture of, ideally, how our relationship should be with our children. In the Bible, we see a God Who loves His children so much He died for them. The Father desires, more than anything, fellowship with His children. He wants to spend time with them, listen to them, teach them, guide them and—in return He wants our hearts. The more we give Him our hearts, the more wonderful that relationship becomes.

This is true for the parent-child relationship as well. As parents we are called to sacrifice for our children, love them, spend time with them, listen to them, teach them, guide them and . . . We may be tempted at times to think we will be satisfied with mere outward conformity, but we really want their hearts. When we have our child’s heart, the older the child becomes, the sweeter the fellowship.

I was talking to a good friend a while ago and discussing the importance of keeping our children’s hearts. We agreed that we both believe it is the most important and most difficult challenge before a father. If only dads would become passionate about their children’s hearts, we would not see so many “children” being lost to the world.

Why is it that more dads aren’t concerned about keeping their children’s hearts? First, I think many would say that they are. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect. It is impossible for a father to spend his time and mental focus on a number of other things (outside of work time) and have anything left for his children. There is no substitute for time, and we are lying to ourselves if we think we can just spend quality time because we aren’t willing to give quantity. It takes time and effort.

Why is having a child’s heart so important? Aren’t they going to grow up anyway? Yes, they are going to grow up whether you have their hearts or not. However, if you don’t have your child’s heart, you miss out on the tremendous blessing of your children as they grow up. You stand the very significant chance, I believe, of losing them. Keeping a child’s heart is like the shepherd who is constantly inspecting his flock. He knows the danger that comes if disease or pestilence takes root. The toll to restore the flock to health will be high, if the shepherd is even able to accomplish it. If you have your child’s heart you can quickly tell if something is drawing his heart away. You will sense a heart change and know something is wrong.

There was a time when I felt that the heart of one of my children was slipping away. During our weekly discussion times, there were more issues of increasing difficulty to work through. Instead of being able to share my concerns and know this child was receiving them, I could see this child was struggling. I was perplexed and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I began crying out to the Lord and seeking Him for answers. The Lord was faithful and showed me what the cause was. I shared this with the child, who was able to receive it. Soon, the sweetness was back in the relationship and our hearts were close again.

If I hadn’t had my child’s heart, I would not have noticed the drifting of the child’s spirit. I would have thought that it was a normal separation, due to growing older, and believed the lie that you should accept it and not worry about it. If you believe the lie, as it gets worse and you see changes in your child, you cry out to the Lord because you are concerned about the direction the child is heading. The more concerned you are, the more desperate and fearful. Finally, resignation sets in, and you now believe that everyone was right and rebellion is normal.

I don’t believe that having our children’s hearts means they instantly receive everything we tell them. At times I wish that were the case, but it hasn’t been my experience. However, I do think it means that we can talk on a very deep and intimate level, and they will listen carefully to what we say. It means they value what we say, and what comes from our hearts will weigh heavily on their souls. Isn’t this true of our relationship with the Lord as well?

There are things the Lord brings to us that we do not receive with open arms. When the Lord started telling me that I was wrong to have had a vasectomy, and He wanted to be in charge of when we had children, I was not thrilled. However, because of my relationship with Jesus and spending time with Him, I began to see why I was wrong in getting the vasectomy. However, I was not ready to accept Him determining how many children we were going to have. My spirit was troubled because I wanted to resolve the issue about more children. Finally, one day when I was home ill from work, I said in my heart, “Okay, Lord. Today is the day. I’m going to find out what you really think about children.” So I got out my Bible and concordance and began to look up what God had to say about children. I don’t remember how long I was at it, but I do remember finally being broken. With tears in my eyes, I said, “Lord, I now see how precious children are to You and that they are the best gift You can give, next to our salvation.” It appears that in a similar fashion those things that are on our hearts from the Lord will find acceptance by our children if we have their hearts.

Dads, I encourage you, no matter what the state of your relationship with your children may be, to make having and keeping your children’s hearts your highest priority next to your relationship with your Lord and your wife. If you feel it is too late and your children are rebels, there is still hope. (If that is your situation, one resource we would recommend is Dr. S. M. Davis’ audio, Changing the Heart of a Rebel). Years down the road you may well have deep remorse that you didn’t invest what was necessary to win and hold your child’s heart. Whatever it takes, do it. There is no sacrifice too great. You will never regret it.

There is another very important aspect to having our children’s hearts, and I will share about that next month as we continue to look at how to avoid losing our children to the world.

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 2

Last month we looked at the first part of what a dad wrote, and this month we will continue. To recap, we saw what God calls fathers to do in discipling their children. Now we begin evaluating whether/how children should be exposed to the world. This topic was going to be two parts, but it is such a critical subject, it will take longer.

The dad continues: What I am seeking is good, practical advice on how and at what age to expose my children to the world. And how to keep from losing them to the world. (I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son, and one on the way.) This isn’t the first time that I have heard people speak of sheltered kids getting out and “going nuts.” It seems to me that it would be best to expose them to the results of sin (chapel for recovering addicts, jail, etc.), as compared to them seeing “all of the pleasures and none of the guilt,” such as is seen at the mall, etc. Maybe even working this into some kind of a family ministry (although my children may be too young now, that is part of my question). This recent comment about the backsliding grandson has got me seriously considering self-employment and some kind of family businesses.

This is a problem as old as sin itself. We are to be in the world but not of it (John 17:11-16). We are to live around sin, but not be pulled into it. I believe that one of the most critical aspects of protecting ourselves and our children from the world is for them (and us) to see the dangers of it and how powerful it is. The poor person who feels he is stronger than the pull of sin is a likely victim.

The types of sinful temptations will vary between young men and young women. I couldn’t cover each one, but I think by using one as an illustration you will get the idea in general. So for the sake of example, let’s use men and the lust of the flesh as the basis for discussion.

With that introduction, what do Solomon, a pastor in his fifties, and a young man of twenty have in common? First, they all are men with male hormones. Second, they are all prone to falling prey to the lust of the flesh. Solomon, the wisest man in the world and given that wisdom by God, could not contain his lust. He disobeyed God when he sought wives of different nationalities. His lust brought him down below the level of a twenty-year-old, hormone-driven young man. Of all people, Solomon knew better and should have been faithful to his God, yet he failed miserably.

“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:1-5).

Solomon was a man who heard God speak to him. He was the wisest man on the earth, but Solomon loved many strange women in spite of God telling him not to “go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Yet parents will say, “Your son is an adult now that he is eighteen, and you need to let him go his own way.” Ughhhhh. That may be true if you don’t love him, but if you do, there must be MUCH more that goes into the decision than just how old he is.

You may say, “My son is very spiritually mature, and I have full confidence in him being able to resist moral temptations.” My question for you is, “Do you think your son is more spiritually mature than King David, a man after God’s own heart?” David saw that “. . . the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (2 Samuel 11:2), and in essence, David lusted after her beauty. Oh what danger “we” are in when it is readily accepted among Christians to “appreciate” the beauty of other women. Had David realized the trouble he was in right then and taken action—the sin, the separation, the consequences—most likely, none of these would have happened. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The level of sin we will accept has great bearing on what will be acceptable to our children.

David, the author of most of Psalms, was not spiritually above temptation or failure. So it would appear that just because a man loves the Lord with all his heart and has a heart after God’s, that isn’t enough to keep him from lust, adultery, and murder.

Have you ever heard of a pastor or man in spiritual leadership running away with a young woman and leaving a wife of many years behind? Most everyone has. Could it be that the pastor wasn’t aware of the consequences for such actions? Not likely. Most men in any form of ministry have observed others suffering due to their sin. Don’t they know better? Of course, but once the lust of the flesh kicks in, all reason goes out the door. Likely, this man tolerated an “acceptable” level of lust in his life thinking he could control it without consequences.

Have you seen photos of bomb squad members who were handling explosives in the attempt to disarm them or move them to another location? I imagine the protective gear and shields they use to protect themselves make Goliath’s armor look like a loin cloth. If you think about it, aren’t the bomb squads being overly cautious? When was the last time you heard about a bomb squad having a suspicious item blow up and injure some of them? So why does the bomb squad dress like they do and take all of those precautions? Could it be that they are aware of the serious danger they are in, and they are protecting themselves in the event something were to happen? Their cautions don’t appear to be because they don’t have confidence in themselves or their procedures. Rather, they know that you can’t ever be too careful and that, if something happens, the consequences can be disastrous.

Every man who desires to remain morally pure should have the same attitude of caution that a bomb squad has. The key to acquiring that attitude is understanding what Jesus said in Matthew 15:19: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” In the Greek, the phrase, “For out of the heart,” refers to where these sins originate. Until we lose this body of flesh, we have to come to grips with the fact that we are our own worst enemy. We have to realize what we are capable of because it is bound up in our flesh. We have to understand it isn’t our great wisdom or our lofty spirituality that keeps us out of trouble. It didn’t work for Solomon or David or countless other mighty men that have failed through the ages, and it won’t work for you, our children, or me.

A young man (or father) will not take steps to protect himself if he doesn’t understand what is in his heart and how easily he can fall. If he thinks he is above falling, he doesn’t understand his own heart. I wonder if the main reason many men don’t flee lusts is because they are pleasurable. Could it be like the cute little wolf pup that is found by a man in Alaska? He brings it home, cares for it, and raises it to an adult, only to have it one day suddenly turn on him and kill him. That is one reason why our family doesn’t watch TV. With the programming and commercials that are broadcast these days, television can easily stir up sinful lusts. That is also why we don’t go to movies, many summertime activities, and even the circus any more. They are designed to entertain, but one of the ways they do that is to stir up lust in the men who are watching.

Our children must be taught the depravity of their hearts and not to trifle with sin. Do they have a father who walks as close to the line of sin as possible or a dad who desires to walk as close to the Lord Jesus as possible? I’ve heard some say, “I’m just appreciating her beauty.” But in Proverbs 6:25 we read, “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” Jesus was clear in making the connection between lusting in one’s heart and committing adultery. It is sin. What are we teaching our children by word and example?

If the children see Dad condoning, by his viewing entertainment, the things of the world, we should not be surprised to see them “going nuts” trying to embrace the real thing when they finally have a chance. If sin is not called sin, what is to stop them? If they don’t understand the mighty fire that the flesh contains, will they want to protect themselves?

Our children must be raised in a home where Christ is alive and Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is lived out. They must see that they cannot have confidence in their spiritual maturity or wisdom to keep them from being drawn in by the world. The world “knows” how to stir up a person’s desires and then what to offer to feed those desires. Our children should understand that they are capable of being drawn. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).

How about you? The Lord Jesus sees your heart and knows what goes on there. Are you playing with fire? Have you accepted that which is unacceptable to your Lord? If so, you will likely offer little counsel to your children in helping them avoid being ensnared by the world. Prayerfully ask the Lord these questions until next month when we will continue with this critical topic.