. . . by Phil Arms
Deciding To Act
The option before parents today is simple. They can stay uninvolved with their children's recreational habits and witness the eventual destruction of their children's lives or they can decide to educate themselves and move to save their children untold heartache in the future.
Many parents might say, "But I'm not sure how to teach my children what's good or bad programming and activities." For that, however, God has given us a clear and practical example in the way that He has dealt with His children from the very beginning of creation. In Genesis, chapter three, God put Adam and Eve in a virtual paradise. Upon instructing them regarding conduct, He first emphasized all the positive and exciting opportunities and experiences that were available to them in the Garden. He showed them all of the thousands of great choices they had before them in things to experience, to touch, and to eat.
Finally, he pointed to the single item in the Garden that He forbade them to eat. With absolute clarity He warned, "For in the day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die." God did not want Adam and Eve, and consequently the entire human race and nature itself, to experience the fall that their disobedience would bring about, so He warned them of the consequences.
I have often heard parents say, "Well, I believe in the school of hard knocks. Kids learn by their mistakes." That is a foolish position for any parent to take. It reveals deep spiritual ignorance and a lack of personal discipline.
While certainly we all ought to learn from our mistakes, it is much wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. Then we do not have to bear the scars of the failures. God intended for Adam and Eve to learn about evil, not through personal experience, but rather by discerning it as something vile, destructive, and totally foreign to the Holy Spirit which was to guide their lives.
Parents, our kids will fail, but we can protect them from the great failures that are ruining the lives of so many millions of young people today by biblical instruction, vigilant discipline, and personal involvement.
Truths to Teach Children
I want to suggest five things
that every parent should begin instilling into the thinking of
their children at the earliest age possible. These five principles
will give children a foundation upon which to learn to think for
themselves. They will also provide parents with a foundation upon
which to build further instruction with greater truths.
I) Emphasize God's goodness and sin's penalties.
Parents must primarily instill
in their children that there are consequences for all behavior.
Children must learn that God is a rewarder of those who diligently
seek him (Heb. 11:6). Conversely, they must also be taught that
choosing to disobey and to rebel brings with it a penalty.
For parents who have been raised on the philosophy of Dr. Spock, who feels that discipline is anathema, this may be a difficult premise to receive. However, God's Word is clear that "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 22:15). Parents must learn the principles of biblical discipline and apply them, understanding the difference between loving discipline and child abuse.
In applying the system of rewards and penalties, parents are reinforcing on each occasion the fact that there is a right and a wrong. We must be absolutely certain that a child's understanding of right is connected with "thus says the Lord," not "thus says Mommy or Daddy."
When children ask that inevitable question of, "Why can't I?" parents must not simply say, "Because I said so." They should rather point to the higher authority of God's Word.
Obedience must be noticed, noted, and praised. Disobedience must also be noticed and the application of appropriate penalties must be swift.
2) Teach your child to stand against evil and injustice.
The Bible says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). Christians should aggressively instruct their children to speak out against wrong, evil, and injustice when they encounter it. My children have often reported to me over the years instances when they have confronted their playmates or friends on questionable issues. Speaking out in such a way does quite often bring ridicule upon a child. Yet, a parent must use these occasions to instruct their children that people who stand up for truth will often be persecuted. Paul writes in Second Timothy 3:12 that all who live godly will suffer persecution.However, it is this kind of persecution that builds character in children and young people, reinforcing in their psyche that they, indeed, are doing the right thing.
3) Teach your child that Satan controls this world's systems.
Every parent should instill in their children the biblical truth that the philosophies that will bombard them via most secular music, literature, media, education, and entertainment is born of an anti-Christ spirit. Therefore, they must learn from discerning parents how to recognize evil even when it comes in subtle and attractive packages.
As previously mentioned, children must be taught that there is a "lying spirit" out to corrupt, deceive, and destroy their lives. Teaching a child how to think critically about everything he is exposed to will insure his future spiritual protection.
Learning to recognize the messages buried in the story lines, lyrics, plots, characters, and agendas of those with whom they interact daily is an imperative. Children must be taught that there are malevolent forces out to convince them to reject the fundamental doctrines and truths of God's Word.
4) Teach your children
to know and to observe God's standards and ways.
God expects, yea, He demands that parents raise their children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, God emphasizes how vital early and consistent biblical training must be. Deuteronomy 6:6 - 9 says:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
In the Old Testament culture, godly parents were vigilant to never allow the pagan to "touch the palate" of their children. It is said that the taste that touches the palate of a young child are those tastes that are preferred through the life of that child. This, simply put, means that Christian parents have a scriptural obligation to protect their children in their early developmental stages from cultural trends and philosophies that are popular with the pagan, yet forbidden by God. Parents must not allow a godless culture and influences to have access to their young children's sensitive minds and hearts. In these early years of maturation, children must be sheltered from the lying influences that dissuade them from God's truth. As children grow it is the parents responsibility to teach the child how to receive or reject the ideologies and philosophies that appeal to and influence his mind, body, and soul.
Parents who are serious about training their children in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord" must accept their assignment as the "watchmen of their children's soul." We, as parents, are to be the gatekeepers of all that enters into our children's minds and hearts, constantly f i ltering out the evil and pouring in the righteous.
Children must be taught from infancy the great truth of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
5) Teach children to celebrate the fact that they are different.
Parents must early on instruct
their children that as they surrender their lives and hearts to
Christ they become "marked." The Bible calls this "marking
of God" sanctification. This is no holier-than-thou
expression, but a word that identifies every believer as one who
has been "set aside by God for a special purpose."
This specialness means that each believer has an exciting, unique, and special call upon their life.
One Bible teacher I heard put it this way: "Every child comes into this world with a set of sealed orders. Part of the responsibility of Christian parents is to help their child unseal those orders."
To meet this challenge, parents must teach children to celebrate this difference from the world. They are not allowed to participate in some activities, go some places, and watch some programs because they are different from those whose parents have chosen not to follow Christ. This separation from the world, mandated by the Word of God, however, should be viewed by them as a privilege and part of their special heritage.
The Bible says of the children of God: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
As parents instill into their children the exciting truth that they are chosen of God, selected for royalty, and set aside for a divine destiny, then they get excited about participating in the process of their own spiritual development. A vital part of this training is for parents to find other Christian families with children the ages of their own who share these convictions.
Remember, parents are preparing their children for the call of God upon their lives. This takes vigilance, discipline, and training. If a child is to be what God wants them to become, they must be coached by godly parents.
I remember reading the story of the 1968 Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz. His story is not unlike that of most champions and winners. A reporter asked him how he managed to win eight gold medals in one Olympics. Mark Spitz said: "I'm focused. I spend eight hours a day, seven days a week, doing nothing but swimming. While my friends and even some other contestants are out dating, partying, or goofing off, I swim."
This kind of consecrated discipline in the development of our children is a must. As parents remain focused on the goal of training their child to be a champion for Christ, there will be times when the child demands to know why they are not allowed to do what most other children are doing. These are the moments when parents must seize the opportunity to say,
"Oh, but son, you're not like other children. You belong to God and He has a greater call upon you. In order to fulfill it and to be all He wants you to be you must say ' no ' to some things that others are saying ' yes ' to."
But, parents must also strive to provide fun-filled alternatives to attractions like Pokemon and popular books like Harry Potter. Again, godly families with children around the same age can help immensely in this area as parents share their ideas and resources on providing wholesome, godly recreation for their children.
I beseech parents to constantly bring to remembrance, for their own benefit, that they have a divine appointment in the training of their children. And the Christian parent must sincerely commit to the uniqueness of God's call and demands upon them as well.
I sincerely believe that it would greatly benefit every parent to study the great Old Testament principle, borne out repeatedly in the New Testament, that God is working to set aside a special group of people to accomplish His purposes in this generation. This great truth is clearly stated in Deuteronomy 7:1-9:
When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amor-ites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hiv-ites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know, therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which-keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. ...
*This article was used by permission from Phil Arm's book, "Pokemon & Harry Potter: A Fatal Attraction", Chapter 8. For information on how to obtain this excellent book see:
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