Tag Archives: Grounded in Christ

Grounded in Christ, Your Children – Part 2

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Last month we were investigating a statement made by the pastor of a church when a family had decided to take their children out of the youth group because of negative influences in their lives from that youth group. The pastor told the parents concerning the rock music being played during the youth group, “If your children are firmly grounded in Christ it will not affect them.” Here is a link to Part 1 of this series.

A youth who is “firmly grounded in Christ” may be aware of things he believes to be wrong at youth group. However, there are also many fun things that will pull his heart to wanting to continue attending. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). Those lusts of the flesh may have a stronger pull on his heart than his grounding in Christ. He may also be concerned that if he discusses problems with the youth group with his dad and mom, he might be asked to stop going to the youth group.

While on the subject of the youth group leader there is something very important to consider although not directly related to the e-mail. There is a problem that surfaces when we place our children under someone else’s leadership to spiritually guide them. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus is telling us that authority and leadership needs to be clearly defined. There can be only one leader. Aren’t you glad there is only one pilot on airplanes? The pilot is the one in command, and he is responsible for whatever happens with that aircraft. This is similar to Dad being responsible to the Lord for his decisions.

Just imagine for a moment that the cabin crew is being given conflicting directions by the pilot and copilot. The crew would become resentful and possibly even have feelings against one of the two giving orders. Jesus is saying that if our children are being given different direction by their dad versus a youth group leader, they will hate the one and love the other. In fact, considering that youth groups are often fun and games, and Dad may at times be exhorting or even rebuking the child, it should not be too difficult to tell who the child will give their heart to.

I find that most parents are highly sensitive to peer pressure themselves. Why would they expect their children to stay strong and not be influenced by the youth with whom they are associating? I remember a conversation with one dad where we were discussing the merits of ditching the “beast” (TV). He was in full agreement with the negatives of the “beast” when all of a sudden it was as if a red light came on in his mind, and he exclaimed, “But what will others think of us if we don’t have a TV?” Here was an example of a group of people with whom this man associated whose influence was so strong in his life that he was mentally passing a decision by them and realizing that they would not approve of it. Even though it was just going on in his mind, it was causing him second thoughts about doing something that he had acknowledged would be good for his family. If parents can’t resist peer pressure, why do we think our children will be stronger than we are? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

I’m convinced that most parents forget the pressure and temptations they experienced during their teen and young adult years. The power of the flesh is so strong! Crimes have been committed and countless marriages destroyed because men and women couldn’t contain themselves. Adults are supposed to be mature and have self-control over the desires of the flesh, yet one doesn’t need to go far for examples of failure. I’m thinking of a very godly pastor who was loved and respected by those who knew him. His church was devastated and friends greatly saddened by news of his moral failure. Here was a mature man who understood Scripture and preached against sin, yet he had embraced sin for a season. With so many examples similar to this, why is it that parents don’t understand the incredible temptations their children will encounter in youth groups? Why would we think our children will be strong enough to resist?

I also wonder if parents living within the bonds of marriage forget what it is like to live apart. They forget what it is like to be a youth entering puberty with hormones raging and the resulting temptations and desires. Solomon knew the power of attraction and love and warned about stirring it up too early. “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Solomon 3:5). Putting youth in youth groups or sitting them in front of the TV is going to stir “love.” Wise parents will encourage their children to avoid relationships until they are emotionally, spiritually, and financially ready for marriage. Then, they look to God to show who He has to be their spouse. Why would we think our children will be strong?

I believe one dad’s recent comments sums up the needed commitment for each of us. “I have served five combat tours to Iraq. I was ready to die for my country, but I will give my life to get my children’s hearts back. Jesus already owns my soul.” When I read the passion in that dad’s statements, it was like driving a hot poker through my heart. Amen and amen. This man lost his children’s hearts while away serving our country, but he was determined to get them back. Most dads are home every night. What excuse will God accept for not having our children’s hearts and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Grounded in Christ, Your Children – Part 1

I recently received an interesting e-mail, and with permission we will use it as the beginning for this month’s Dad’s Corner. Following is the first part of the e-mail:

My husband and I attended a recent conference of yours. We were so blessed by it. We wanted to say thank you. My husband decided after listening to Manager of His Home that our children were no longer going to go to youth group on Wednesday nights. He did this because we started noticing changes in our children.

Our children hadn’t gone to youth group for six weeks when the pastor came by and asked us why our children weren’t attending. My husband told him that a big part of it was the secular rock and roll they were playing. Our children were coming home humming it. 🙁 We were told that they believe if your children are firmly grounded in Christ it will not affect them. I couldn’t help but think about our twenty-one-year-old daughter who wound up getting into secular music due to a youth group and her dad and me not having her heart. We didn’t want that for our other children.

Praise the Lord for this dad taking action to protect his children. Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Dad is the one God holds responsible for discipling the children, and we must evaluate the influences in our children’s lives to make sure they are moving them in the right direction. Anything that may hinder a child’s spiritual growth needs to be evaluated. This dad made a good decision.

However, as a result of the decision to pull the children out of youth group, it caused some pressure in the dad’s life. We dads need to be prepared that it will take strength and courage to follow the Lord as we raise our children. Let’s decide where in our priorities raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ranks. Once we make the right choice, we can expect pressure to come and test our resolve. A priority means nothing if when tested we cave in. We need to welcome pressure because it proves and refines our determination to follow the Lord obediently.

Since much of this Dad’s Corner series revolves around youth groups, let me give some background comments concerning them. I have met many youth group leaders and pastors over the years, and I have heard them share their deep love and concern for the youth to which they minister. Amen. Generally, they have a sincere desire to reach the kids who aren’t living in a home where they are being discipled. Please don’t feel this Dad’s Corner is a personal criticism of youth group leaders. It isn’t. Instead this Corner addresses flaws in the youth group in regard to our readers who are dads who are discipling their children as the Lord leads.

Now, notice that Ephesians 6:4 is addressed to fathers. It doesn’t say youth pastors. Dad is the one God gives the responsibility to disciple the children, and Dad is the one who will answer to God. What if we want to delegate some of our responsibility to the one in charge of youth group? Certainly, that could be our choice, but there are several things we ought to consider. Since Dad is the one God is holding responsible for how the children are being discipled, how will we be sure they are being influenced consistently with the direction and leading God has called our family to? Unless we are willing to accompany the children to every meeting, we can’t know. Considering there will be multiple children in the group, how likely is it that the discipling in the group is consistent with all the fathers’ direction since seldom will each family be truly like-minded. The above e-mail example showed that the family did not agree with the music played at youth group, and a youth group similar to this one cost them the heart of their oldest daughter. Wisely, the dad did not want that to happen with the younger children and was willing to take a stand.

Let’s consider the statement: “If your children are firmly grounded in Christ, then it will not affect them.” When is a person firmly grounded in Christ, and even if they are, does that mean they won’t be tempted toward evil? Sadly, we have talked to many parents who trusted that their children were spiritually mature enough to stay the course only for the parents to be heartbroken later. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17).

One reason youth groups can be so subtly harmful is that many will think since the church is offering it, it must be good. It is possible that youth have spiritually matured to where they can refuse obvious evil, but when it is the church’s activity, the child’s defenses will be let down. They will embrace it because the church is offering it, and Dad and Mom have endorsed it by sending them to the youth group. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23). In reality the secular music played during the youth group would not be edifying, and as with this family’s other daughter, it might even pull the heart away from the Lord.

There is also tremendous internal pressure by most children to be accepted by the peers in the group. I’ve heard some say that one of the greatest pressures a person can feel is the need to be accepted. Therefore, peer groups likely exert some of the greatest pressure to conform that any of us will ever experience. Let me share an example with you. Years ago we were in a fairly conservative church. Despite the conservative nature of the church, many of the girls were pushing the limits in their “dress” and definitely lacking modesty standards. Our daughter, who was then eighteen, confided to us that she was feeling turmoil inside because she wanted to fit in with the other girls but didn’t want to do what they were doing. That peer pressure was experienced just by causal associations with the girls at church. Consider the peer pressure that comes from even more involvement in the peer group. Do we really think our children will be stronger than that?

This gets us started on the discussion of the father’s role of spiritual discipleship of his children versus others taking that role. In addition there is much more to be said about the power of peer pressure in a young person’s life. Next month we will continue looking into this, but for now, I encourage you to evaluate whether you have let others disciple your children or whether you are fully undertaking that responsibility. Can you make the hard decisions like this dad has made?