Tag Archives: TV

An Exercise of the Will – Part 1

I’m guessing and hopeful that every family has had a situation come along where they felt the Lord was leading them to make some major changes, and they obeyed. First the Lord brought conviction to the hearts of Dad and Mom, and they came to the place of knowing they wanted to comply with that conviction. Next these potential changes were broached with the children. Dad wondered what the children’s responses would be as he presented this information to them. If only they would eagerly accept the new direction from the Lord, but he was concerned that there was going to be major resistance to it. What was the result? Was it an emotional and spiritual battle, or the children cheerfully following Dad and Mom’s leading?

Is there a way to make these transitions easier? Most certainly, but first let me give you a scenario that is quite sure to produce conflict and bitterness in the hearts of the children. Picture the dad who sits the family down sternly telling them that the old way is wrong, but the new way is good. He says that’s the way it is going to be, and he really doesn’t care what any of them think about it. I can assure you that this method may initially be less time intensive, but the damage done to the hearts of your children is hard to reverse, if it even can be reversed. There is a better way to handle these difficult changes that will draw the children’s hearts to you and your heart to them.

If Dad and Mom have the hearts of the children, then it will be far easier to introduce change into the family. If you find you aren’t willing to make a decision for the good of the family out of fear of how the children might react, that is a serious situation. It shows that you don’t have your children’s hearts and are more afraid of your children than the Lord. We are to fear God and not man. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19). When God directs us to do something, we must do it. For more information on keeping our children’s hearts, I would direct you to our book by that title, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts.

In order to walk us through how to biblically, lovingly, and compassionately implement a change in the family, let’s look at a possible example of a decision and how Dad and Mom could go about presenting it to the children. Let’s assume Dad and Mom have been convicted that they should get rid of the beast (TV). Here is how Dad could go about such a dramatic change with his family.

God gives grace when we follow Him, so depend upon that grace through the process of implementing a change. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). When God directs and we follow Him whole-heartedly, we can rest knowing He will give the family the needed grace to follow as well.

It all begins in the prayer closet. Seek the Lord for His help concerning how to best present the change to the children. Ask Him to prepare your heart, making sure it is loving, tender, compassionate, patient, and filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Also cry out to Him to be softening the children’s hearts in preparation for what you will be discussing with them. Pray for His blessing on what you say and the outcome with the children.

Next you will want to determine whether it is better to have a family meeting to talk with all the children together or to meet with each child individually. I have done it both ways. When we decided to take our older two sons out of Little League Baseball, I started by inviting Nathan, my oldest son, to Burger King for a milk shake one afternoon. I told him I had something important that I wanted to discuss with him. I did the same thing with his brother. That allowed me to hear each of my son’s heart response to my request without their being influenced by the other.

Most generally, I call a family meeting by telling the family, after Bible time, that I have something that has been on my heart that I would like to talk with them about. I begin by explaining how the Lord has been dealing with my heart and Mom’s heart in a particular area. In this case, it would be concern over the influence of the TV in our home and the time wasted watching it. I explain that it is my desire to follow the Lord Jesus no matter what He tells us to do.

I generally confess that I have failed my family in the situation such as bringing the beast into our home in the first place, and I ask their forgiveness. I have had to ask my family’s forgiveness many times for bad decisions I have made. I’ve found asking forgiveness to be a good thing because it is a humbling process for me, it shows my children my sincerity, and I’m more careful when making future decisions so I that I won’t have to undo it in the future. I look each child individually in the eye and ask him to forgive me. I’ve never had a child who wouldn’t say yes.

You will want to tell the children what you decided to do and why you believe the Lord Jesus is leading you in this direction. Explain to the children what the benefits of the change will be. In this example of throwing out the beast, you could start by saying that you will be less hindered in having family Bible time every night, and that you are very excited about that possibility. Your enthusiasm for the change will be contagious. You could go into how they will not have the negative influence of the world affecting their hearts like it was with the beast. Commit to them that you will personally have more time to spend with them. Encourage them that the family will use their time more productively than they did when they were watching the beast. Let them know that you and Mom are looking forward to the elimination of the conflict that was occurring between family members over which TV show to watch.

This is only the beginning of the suggestions I would like to share with you concerning helping your family accept changes that the Lord is directing toward. When these changes affect your children, you would be benefitted to have a plan for how you will approach the situation so that you can bring their hearts happily along with you. Invest the necessary time helping the children understand the reasons for the decisions you are making. I will conclude this discussion next month, but for now I encourage you to consider how you have approached these situations in the past, what has been successful for you, what hasn’t, and what you might do in the future.

Hearts for Jesus

“My question is this . . . with four children ages 14, 12, 10 and 8, how do I get them to enjoy Christ and seek to know and serve Him? My children love to play, play, play. It sounds as though you let your kids have video entertainment when they were younger. How did you remove those things without generating resentment and envy of other families? They are very geared toward where their next fun is going to come from.” Concerned Mom

This Corner’s request was written to me from a homeschooling mom. Praise the Lord for the desire of her heart. Sadly, though, it is usually the moms who are concerned about their children’s spiritual growth as opposed to the dads (as evidenced by the fact that the moms are generally the ones asking us questions in this area). But why am I responding to a mom’s question here in a Dad’s Corner? It is because Dad is the one who was given the overall responsibility in Ephesians 6:4 for how the children are raised. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

In addition to the responsibility God has given Dad, Dad often holds the keys as to where the hearts of the children are directed. If Dad’s heart is worldly and fun-focused, then that is the likely direction the children’s hearts will be turned as well. However, if Dad’s heart is set on things above not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2), then that is where the children’s hearts will be pulled. Frankly, it is an extremely difficult battle to help the children choose the Lord over fun, but there is hope.

Let’s briefly look at Colossians 3:1-2. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The first phrase is important to this discussion. It is a condition that if true, then the rest of verses 1 and 2 apply. Paul is saying that if a person is saved, then he is to seek things which are above. To seek means just that. It is a willful choice—a decision to desire and seek after those things that are of the Lord Jesus. They will be important to us, what we think about and pursue. Paul is not saying, if you are saved, it would be nice if you had a heart for spiritual things instead of the fun things of this world. He is saying, if we are saved, we are to seek after the things of the Lord Jesus.

What sort of things might that be? First and foremost it will be Jesus Himself. Dads, do we delight in Jesus? Do we think about Him as a bride longs to be with her new husband? Do we talk to Him in our hearts throughout the day? Do our hearts yearn to spend eternity with Jesus?

Further evidence of being risen with Christ will be a desire to be in the Word individually and as a family. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus and the Word are inseparable. We can’t love Jesus and not love His Word. Do we want to read the Bible? Do we think about the Word and how we can apply it to our lives? “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). A sign of life and health with a newborn is the appetite to drink milk. Peter is saying that just as a newborn craves milk so a believer will earnestly long for God’s Word. Those who are saved will feed on the Bible.

In raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Romans 6:16 is important to consider. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). It is not only important to set our affections on things above but also to obey. Who are we yielding to in obedience—the flesh and the world or the Lord Jesus Christ? It isn’t enough to have warm, fuzzy thoughts of the Lord; we are to obey Him.

When we obey the Lord, He will manifest Himself to us. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). The love of Christ in our lives—Jesus’ love for us and our love for Jesus—is a result in the believer’s life when we obey Him. It is something obvious to others when they are around a person who is abiding in Christ. It is a further “Amen” to the children that Dad is walking in fellowship with his Savior. It demonstrates to the children that Dad has a real relationship with the God of creation and that the things of this world are merely chaff. When Christ is alive in Dad’s life, the family will desire Christ and things above as well.

Obeying Jesus means we won’t have time for the activities that our world is in love with and is a further demonstration of real faith in Christ. “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). James is using incredibly strong language to tell us that born again believers’ lives will be different from those of the world.

Now with that groundwork validating the need to remove unprofitable, fun things, and the need for Dad to lead, let’s turn back to the question. “How did you remove those things without generating resentment and envying of other families?” The changes need to begin with Dad. It isn’t just an activity change but a heart change. About twenty years ago, our family of five was like most “normal” Christian families in how we spent our time. One thing we allowed our children to do was to play some carefully selected video games. (Those video games were so tame and boring compared to today’s video games that they would hardly be called video games anymore.)

As we spent more time in God’s Word, we became uncomfortable with the “beast” (TV), video games, and sports, and we realized they had to go. We spoke with the children and explained that the video games were addicting and unprofitable. We shared with them that we wanted to have family Bible time every night and for them to be productive with their time. If you have your children’s hearts, they will receive the direction change and not rebel against it. If you don’t have their hearts, then that is one more thing that needs to be addressed (For more information on keeping children’s hearts see our book called Keeping Our Children’s Hearts).

One thing that helped our children with their time usage was scheduling their time with productive activities. In addition to their school, they had chores. After they finished with their chores, there were projects and other learning activities on which they were to work. Projects are wonderful tools to teach our children worthwhile skills and are a profitable use of time. Back then, we had the boys beginning to learn both computer and building skills.

I have written several Corners on the subject of practical projects that would be helpful for learning how to use projects with your children. Here is the link to those articles.

In addition the Preparing Sons book is a good resource on productive use of time and working with your sons to instill in them a work ethic, skills, and the ability to provide for their future families.

Getting rid of the “beast” is also very helpful in weaning children off of the entertainment, “got to have fun,” addiction. With Dad leading the way, spend time together doing constructive things around the home and helping others. Often, I hear that dads feel they deserve some time to relax in front of the beast after a hard day of work, but would the Lord Jesus agree? In our society we have it easier than probably any other nation or time in history. How could we ever attempt to justify before the Lord that we dads deserve to relax? Certainly, no one could give the Lord a good reason for sitting in front of the vile programming that is broadcast these days.

If we deserve to relax, what about our wives? Isn’t it likely that many of them are working as hard or harder than we do during the day? May we dads have right thoughts and lead by being good examples. One way might be that everyone pitches in with the dinner cleanup. Then I can’t think of a better way to rest a bit and spend time profitably than to move into the living room and spend an hour or so reading the Bible and singing together. In addition to spiritual growth, over time you will find the family actually beginning to enjoy just sitting and fellowshipping amongst themselves. Then if there is still time left before bed, tackle some projects.

The Corner’s request didn’t say whether the children had made professions of faith. If they have, then what I shared is essential for their being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If they haven’t, there is no better setting for them to be brought to a point of seeing their need of a Savior. Think about it, if they aren’t saved, what is likely better for them spiritually, the continued pursuit of fun, or being in God’s Word every night? The answer is obvious.

Is it possible the children might envy other children? I suppose so, but if Dad’s heart is turned toward the children, if he has his children’s hearts and is spending time together as a family, it is more likely others will envy his children.

May we be fathers who are leading our children in paths that will help them learn to seek what is above. We teach first and foremost by our example. I encourage you to consider well what that example is in your family. Eliminate the trivial, empty time pursuits in your home and help your children become productive. Your children will bless you for these choices in years to come.

Balaam Rides Again

This week Joseph and John worked alongside a number of other men pouring the basement floor of our house. The owner of the business doing the concrete work is saved and had asked if our boys could help because he was shorthanded. He said he had also spoken with his men, and they would be careful of their language. It wasn’t something I would consider for any great length of time, but for a portion of a day and considering I’d be around some of the time, I agreed.

At one point while I was observing the progress of the work, one of the men spoke with me briefly. He was very complimentary of the boys and asked what we had done to raise boys like that. I said there were three very important aspects in our child raising. First and foremost is the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives. Second is the Word of God. Third is that the children don’t watch any TV or movies.

He looked at me and said, “Now that is pretty incredible. No TV! It makes sense though.” This man is a believer and knows many young men who are believers. He saw something different in our boys. I’m the first to say that we are nothing special. However, removing bad influences from children is very important so as not to quench the Word working in their lives.

Sunday I had another conversation, and it was somewhat similar. I was speaking with a gentleman who has lived a few more years than I have. He expressed his concern regarding how worldly some believers were that he had had contact with the previous week. His heart was deeply grieved about it, and he wondered why our children weren’t like that.

I had roughly the same explanation for him. When I attributed credit to the Lord Jesus, being in the Word daily, and NO TV, he started scratching his chin and said that had to be it. He began comparing his now-grown children and evaluating a period of time when he didn’t have a TV to later in life when he did. He said he could see a remarkable difference, now that he was thinking about it.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” (Numbers 33:50-52). As I read this passage recently, I noticed how the Lord was very specific in His instructions for when they conquered Canaan. They were to drive out the inhabitants, destroy their pictures, their idols, and places of idol worship.

Pictures are very powerful in how they can influence, and God said the Israelites were to get rid of the pictures. God knew the effect it would have on the Israelites, and that is why the pictures were to be destroyed. Those pictures would have been nothing compared to the sizzle of today’s TV programs. Yet God said to destroy them because He wanted to protect His children from being pulled to the world.

That is why my heart breaks for families who choose to watch TV or movies and think that it won’t harm them. Our world is in love with flesh, and today’s clothing is designed to show off as much as possible. From my discussions with parents, immodesty is pandemic in the churches. Why is there not an outcry about it? I’m confident it is because that is what is being portrayed on TV, and since that is the norm, everyone is willing to accept it. If the immodesty was to go beyond what was on TV, then there would be an outcry, but as long as it goes no further, it is accepted.

A while ago, I had another startling reminder of the power of influence. I had some interactions with a few young, homeschooled adults whom I had not seen in years. Previously, they had been conservative in their dress and behavior. Yet, their appearance and actions had now changed drastically, and in my opinion, were very worldly. How could this be? It is all about the influence in their lives.

For these young people, it had to do with the others with whom they were interacting. The change didn’t happen overnight, but in time, they had begun to look like their friends. We can be sure that our children are going to want to emulate those by whom they are impressed.

TV, subtly but definitively, grabs the hearts of our children. That is one reason why the TV is such a powerful influence. There is a reason why advertisers spend billions of dollars for TV ads. They work! They influence the people who watch the commercials. The same is true regarding the TV shows themselves. Children identify with certain stars and then want to wear similar clothes (or unclothes), adopt similar hairstyles, and model their speech and actions. The parents then wonder what happened to their child. Why does the child no longer listen to Mom and Dad?

As we travel we meet families who are not worldly, and their lives radiate the Lord Jesus. I haven’t asked every one of them, but for those I’ve asked, they don’t watch TV or movies. Is it a coincidence? I don’t think so. Getting the Beast out of the home is a wonderful first step, and it will take courage. With the Beast out, it is important that you are in the Word as a family every day. Structure your evening around your time in the Word. It will become the best time of the day.

Be cautious even if you don’t watch TV and movies in your family because, vicariously, through friends who do watch it, your children can be pulled to the world’s standards for clothing, entertainment, attitudes, and heart focus. If you have chosen to eliminate the influence of a TV in your home, but your children are spending time with those who are following the world’s path, they may still be significantly moved that way as well.

Balaam couldn’t curse the Israelites (Numbers 23:11), but he wreaked havoc on them by suggesting the Moabite woman lure the Israelite men away. “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD” (Numbers 31:16). Seeking pleasure did what an army couldn’t do. In Numbers 25 we see that 24,000 Israelites were killed by plague because they followed after the Moabite women and were led into idolatry.

In the same way today, the children of the King, those who are to reach the world for Jesus, have been effectively slain or hamstrung so that there is no power. TV and the worldly, entertainment mindset it promotes, such as Super Bowl games, pizza parties, bowling parties, ski trips, lock-downs, and movies, have won the hearts of God’s people. Yes, Balaam rides again.

Posted in: Dad's Corner

Bad or Best?

We were almost home after thirty days of being on the road and were filling up at a truck stop. On John’s way through the store, returning to the van from the restroom, he saw a woman empty the spill-catcher, below the coffee-pot spout, into her coffee cup. A trucker, who was getting himself some coffee, was horrified to see her do this. He asked her if she had enough money for a cup of coffee, because if she didn’t he would buy it for her. She said, “Yes, I have the money. It just saves me from spending it. I like it this way.”

When John told us this story in the van, we were all aghast at the thought of the woman drinking what was in the spill catcher. I have observed people dump out their old coffee and OTHER things into those grills under the coffee pots. The idea of drinking what comes from the spill catcher is so repulsive to me that I would not have thought it to be true except that my own son had observed it. Here was someone who could afford “best” and yet chose “bad.”

I’m fifty-five years old and was saved thirty-two years ago, which will likely be as long as some of you have been alive. I have lived both for the world and for Jesus. There was a time I tried to do both simultaneously. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. I personally discovered that truth.

I watched TV and movies as a lost person and then for a time as a believer. We even watched general TV programming. Then, we were convicted of the bad shows and tried restricting our viewing so that we were only watching what we considered “good” shows. These were shows that didn’t have murder, immodesty, and other lewd behavior. Unfortunately, those shows reflected the world’s view of marriage, evolution, and other ungodly concepts. As long as the “beast” was alive in our home, we were drawn to feeding the flesh by wasting time and wanting to be entertained by watching it. In sowing to the flesh, I reaped the corruption of no real spiritual appetite for leading my family in reading the Bible at night. Once TV watching was gone, we fed on the cool, clean, pure water of the Word. Be on guard because the flesh is going to be pulled toward being entertained, which will leave little time for what is “best.”

Based on discussions at conferences and via e-mails, I’m convinced that there are many, many dads reading this article who are quenching their families’ thirst via spill catchers with what is “bad.” I’m confident most don’t even give it a thought as being “bad” for their families. Their families could be drinking the “best”—pure, clean, refreshing water of the Word every night (“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” [Ephesians 5:26])—instead of what is unhealthy in a spill catcher.

I believe Galatians 6:8 spiritually exemplifies feeding on what is “bad” versus what is “best,” and the fruit we can expect as a result of those choices. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” I wonder how many have seriously considered TV and movie viewing from the Lord’s perspective. Most of us have grown up with television viewing as being normal in our homes. How could anyone suggest that TV, among other things, is “bad” when even respected Christians and pastors watch TV? It is much like a decision that is made by a committee. No one person can be pointed to and blamed. “Everyone” watches TV and movies; it’s the norm in the church as well. Yet, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that the Lord Jesus, Paul, or any of the apostles would watch TV, even a so-called morally neutral show.

“Normal” TV programs include murder, adultery, immorality, immodesty, lewdness, and unrighteous activity. Should a child of God ever be entertained by such ungodly behavior? 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Paul is telling us we should only participate in those things which are edifying. Are most news stories edifying? Paul also says in Ephesians 5:12, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” Paul is saying the wicked and evil, violent crimes, which are done in secret and reported on newscasts, are a shame for us to listen to.

What about sports? In many sports, men sustain lifetime injuries all for the ultimate benefit of entertaining those who watch. Man, who was created in God’s image, will have his face and head pummeled, knees destroyed, and risk various serious injuries all for others’ viewing pleasure. Even if a competition is nonviolent, isn’t it often promoted by alcohol ads that sow corruption to the flesh? There is a reason that companies spend millions of dollars on ads to promote their products. Ads work! Even if you don’t buy them, are you sure your children won’t?

Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, directed us to live according to these words 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.” Can we really watch such things and say we are doing it in the name of Jesus Christ? I believe if someone who watches TV were to spiritually evaluate whether what they are watching is “best” or “bad,” the answer would be clear.

Because of almost twenty years of being “spill-catcher” free, our family is so blessed. Our children enjoy our time in the Word every night. They have a good understanding of the Bible and how to apply it to their lives. Their hearts are drawn toward the family and family worship time. I can assure you that nightly Bible reading sows to the spirit in feeding a desire to live for Jesus wholeheartedly. My heart breaks for families that miss out on the “best” because it appears that they can’t be objective enough to realize one reason why there is “bad” fruit springing up in their children’s lives.

Please understand, I don’t share these things to judge, make fun of, or criticize anyone. I pray you would consider these Corners as coming from someone who is a real friend and brother in Christ. In the spirit of Galatians 6:2—“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”—it is my desire to encourage brothers in Christ to walk worthy of the Lord Jesus and to raise up sons and daughters who are mighty in the Lord. Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” We can’t feed our children from the spill catcher, the sludge of the world, sowing to their flesh and expect them to be dynamic followers of Jesus Christ.

I realize some may not care for these words, but for the love of Jesus I write them. I am grateful that God put certain messages on some men’s hearts who shared a word with me that challenged me to walk worthy of the Lord. At times, I didn’t appreciate what I heard, but eventually I heeded them, being eternally glad that I did. Please receive this from someone who truly desires God’s best for your family.

Would You Go?

It was 1971, and the man was quickly convicted of murdering a U.S. military officer. He was sentenced to public execution. The town buzzed. It seemed like everyone had come to the gravel pit near the city to see the man put to death. The police set up a barricade to keep the crowd back. Soon there were refreshments and souvenirs being sold, making the execution resemble more a carnival than a solemn occasion meting out due justice. A post was driven into the ground before a wall of dirt, and then a cloth screen was placed in front of it. A target was strategically fastened to the screen in line with the post behind it.

The condemned man was led in, blindfolded, and tied to the post behind the screen. The foreign military’s firing squad lined up facing the target. On command, the five men fired. It took only a second for the death sentence to be carried out. What happened next surprised those overseeing the event. The crowd surged forward past the barricades and tore down the screen to get a closer look at the result of the five bullets.

At first I believe most Christians would be amazed at how people might actually want to see such a sight. However, we must remember the lost will act like the lost, and therefore, we should not be surprised by such behavior. Jesus said about the lost in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus said that the unsaved will imitate their father.

Many years ago, Christians were victims of activities that were beyond what I will describe here. Men, women, and children were condemned and brought into an arena for the entertainment of others. Wild beasts were also released, and in time only the wild beasts remained alive. Unwillingly, Christians were brutally killed for the pleasure of others. How could humanity ever stoop so low as to take enjoyment watching others suffer? The answer to this is that Satan is a murderer and takes joy in it. Satan takes delight in the evil and violence that is perpetuated against human beings in our world. Therefore, we can expect the lost to take enjoyment in it as well. This isn’t being said in a harsh, judgmental way. It is simply the way it is for a man without Jesus Christ.

The Bible is very clear regarding the depravity of the lost soul. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalms 14:1). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Whew! Would you believe there is more about this in Scripture that we don’t have room for here?

As we read what the Bible says about the depravity of the soul, it is easy to see how a lost person could take enjoyment and be entertained watching violence, including someone being brutalized or murdered. I must confess that I attended the execution with my military friends and the local townspeople. I was there participating in the festive spirit. I didn’t rush forward afterwards, but I might as well have. I remember even in junior high school how I was part of the crowd hurrying outside to see a couple of boys fight it out.

But would I go now to that type of public execution for the sake of seeing the gore, or a legal event for entertainment where people could hurt, injure, maim, or even kill others? NO! At salvation, Jesus gave me a new heart and changed me. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). My new heart no longer enjoys seeing fights, strife, brutality, and killing.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The key is “if any man be in Christ.” I am a new creature in Christ: the old has passed away and all things are become new. My new heart is now indwelt by the Spirit of God. My Lord Jesus came to earth to die on a cross for mankind. He loves man so much He gave His life as a ransom so that man wouldn’t suffer for all eternity in hell. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Think about that love. If I have even an ounce of the love of Jesus in me, just a portion of His Spirit, how then could I ever take pleasure in or be entertained watching someone being hurt? Is it possible for a believer to enjoy such a thing? How could I ever call human suffering entertainment?

Even though we should expect the unsaved to act like the unsaved and not judge them for it, Christians should not act like the lost. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:5-9).

My question for each of us is: “Would we ever go to see some act of brutality if we had the chance?” If your answer is “yes,” I would encourage you to evaluate your heart in light of Scripture. Maybe the “yes” came without really realizing that Jesus would not have one of His children observe such a thing. However, think about it, and ask God to try your heart, and seek to find out what is wrong.

Now for those who answered “No!” I have a few thoughts to share. Praise God that we realize that we could not be entertained in such a fashion. However, for the sake of our children, let’s take this to a deeper level. Jesus said in John 8:38, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” What do our children see us doing?

If children see their fathers being entertained by violence, they will want that for themselves. Maybe a father enjoys watching TV shows or movies that are violent. Perhaps they are actually tame ones by today’s standards, where people are neatly killed. Still, they involve violence against those Jesus died to save. Regardless of the fact that it is fake, it is being presented as real. If this is the example a father sets in how he spends his time, according to John 8:38, his children are likely going to find pleasure in the same.

If someone tells us about a “great” movie or TV show where this type of stuff is going on, do we want to hear all about it, or do we challenge them as to how they could consider watching such a thing? Are we salt and light not only to a lost and dying world but also to “brothers” who are being shameful in their conduct and being a stumbling block for their children? It only takes one generation to lose one’s children.

Men, if you find yourselves drawn to ungodly viewing, I implore you to reconsider. May we identify with our Father in heaven and not with the father of lies. May we be good role models for our children and not be stumbling blocks. May we love the light and flee the darkness. May our children observe in us the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Satan.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

Posted in: Dad's Corner

Finding Causes for Character Problems

Here is a test. Can you quickly write down what the major character needs are of each of your children? As dads we are not only responsible for the education of our children, but also their character. Any character issue that is left unresolved in our children becomes a future spouse or employer’s problem. If our children get by with laziness, lying, stealing, disrespect, or disobedience, they will only get worse once they are out of our homes.

I spoke to a saleswoman just yesterday who said she and her husband had decided to tell their twenty-three-year-old “dead-beat son” not to contact them ever again. That will not solve anything. Hopefully, none of us will ever experience a situation as grave as the one they are in, but the principle that we will reap what we sow is an iron-clad guarantee. The doubly sad part of their situation is that these parents view themselves as ideal role models and poor, innocent parties. Therefore, they will probably never humble themselves sufficiently to resolve the breach. They are not willing to accept responsibility for what they have created.

So, does that mean there is no hope since none of us are perfect? Certainly not! God’s grace is sufficient and in our weakness He is made strong. However, we must humble ourselves and be willing to admit our failures. We need to seek God’s answers to the problems. We must cry out to God for insight into the problems as we look past the surface issues to the real root causes. We must accept the possibility that we dads may have a significant part in the solution. Then we must commit to do whatever is necessary.

There is one area I encourage you not to overlook as you search for causes. I am convinced one of the biggest contributors to much of the difficulty in homes is the TV. I could write pages about TV and what it is teaching anyone watching it. I believe none of it is of value. Some might say, “Wait a minute, sometimes we watch educational shows.” Yes, but aren’t most of them humanistic and teach evolution? Wouldn’t it be much better if our children were reading the information out of a godly textbook? They would still receive the knowledge while improving their reading skills at the same time. I used to justify watching TV, when in actuality it was my own laziness and desire to be entertained that kept us watching it. It is a mistake to confuse entertainment with rest. One day of rest is good, more than that is likely slothfulness.

Others may say TV is great entertainment. Entertainment it is, but certainly not great or profitable. Could it be responsible for a generation that is entertainment starved? There is never enough. Children show up at youth groups looking to be “wowed” and to spend each moment having fun. There is no concept of serving or spending time profitably.

I’m told there are many programs that teach rebellion, disrespect for parents, laziness (that we must be entertained), and unhealthy sexual ideals. I’m sure the list could be much longer, but if there is a grain of truth in what I’ve heard about TV these days, then why keep it in the home?

Certainly there are many other areas that should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, most require difficult decisions to be made. We have all made a very tough one in deciding to home educate. Now the question is: Are there other difficult ones that could help to solve character issues while there is still time?

Posted in: Dad's Corner