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There Are No Perfect Parents

Sometimes I hear people quote Proverbs 22:6 as if it were a promise.  The verse reads:

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

People quote this verse often toward parents who are struggling with a rebellious child.  I have watched with my own eyes children remain in rebellion despite the fact that they were raised in God-fearing homes.  The fact that Christ was preached did nothing to keep them from turning to a life of sin.

Now I don’t mean to discourage parents.  I am a parent myself of three boys.  I know the blessing and struggles of seeking to raise my boys to be God-honoring, God-fearing, Christ-exalting men of God.  I pray almost daily for my boys to be saved and to know Christ on their own.  I don’t want my boys to be “forced” to become disciples of Jesus.  I want them to see their own need for a Savior and to repent on their own by the power of the Spirit (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren.  Only children.”  This is biblically true (Galatians 3:26).

In my devotional reading, I was struck by the last four kings of Judah.  Judah, unlike Israel, had had good kings who followed the Lord with their whole hearts.  The last five kings summarized the kings of Judah.  The five are:

  • Hezekiah – who was a good king and sought the Lord.  God delivered him and Judah from the hands of Sennacherib king of Assyria.
  • Manasseh – who was a wicked king at first before he repented and turned back to God.  Prior to repenting, Manasseh was on a track to be one of the wickedest kings in Judah’s history.
  • Amon – who was a wicked king.  He did not humble himself like his father Manasseh did (2 Chronicles 33:23) so he was put to death by his own servants.
  • Josiah – who was a good king.  Josiah restored true worship according to the Law of Moses in Judah (2 Chronicles 35).  Sadly, Josiah did not heed the word of the Lord and died in battle.
  • Jehoahaz – was the king of Judah only for a short time.  The Bible does not say if he was good or evil.  This ends the line of the kings before deportation to Babylon.

So in essence, we have four kings to work with in regard to parenting here.  Notice that Hezekiah was righteous but his son Manasseh was not righteous.  Yet in this case, Proverbs 22:6 was true.  Manasseh did repent and return to the God of his father.  Amon, however, did not repent.  Perhaps Amon saw the wickedness in Manasseh before he repented and enjoyed it.  We don’t know.  All we know is that Amon was wicked and died.  Yet the son of Amon, Josiah, was a good king.  In this case, Amon did not raise his son to fear God nor regard God yet Josiah walked with God from a young age (age 8 according to 2 Chronicles 34:1-2).  The sovereignty of God must come into play when we see children of wicked folks turn and repent before God.

My point here is encourage us parents (myself especially).  I am not a perfect parent.  I am not a perfect man. I am not suggesting that I am wicked.  I pray that I am walking in the Spirit before a holy God (Galatians 5:16-17).  I know the command of God (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I want my boys to see the gospel in my life but more than anything, I want my boys to see the grace of God in forgiving me (1 John 1:9).  It’s not that I seek to live in sin.  I pray that I don’t.  I want to be a 1 John 3:7 man.  I want my boys to see my faith and imitate my faith (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Part of that faith is realizing that I need Jesus always.  I always need His grace to empower me to godliness (Titus 2:12).  I want my boys to see that in spite of my imperfections, I love a perfect God who saves me by His grace alone (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I want them to see that I am not striving for holiness in my own flesh but by the grace of God.

Furthermore, even God has disobedient children (Hebrews 12:5-11) yet He is perfect!  Sometimes our children disappoint us and break our hearts but God is faithful to us.  Like our Father, we too should respond with much grace and mercy toward our wayward children.  We should always pray that our children will love the Lord and serve Him always with a pure heart.

The gospel must be our focus in parenting.  Because we have children of Adam, none of us (self included) have perfect offspring.  Scripture is clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  We are raising sinners.  Apart from the grace of God, we will still be in our sins and dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-6; Titus 3:1-7).  Watching our sinful children grow should cause us to love them, to pray over them, to encourage them toward repentance, and to be an example of the gospel to them.  The example of the gospel is not one of absolute sinless perfection and not letting them see our faults.  Sadly, this was my dad.  He would not confess his sins to us.  He wanted me to see him as pure and holy but, like my children, I saw his errors and his faults.  I saw his sins.  Like Proverbs 20:9, he could not hide them from me or my sister.  Yet the gospel helps us to teach our children that Christ died for sinners like us (Romans 5:8-9).  1 Peter 3:18 says that Christ died for the unrighteous.  That is me.  He died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  He was crucified because of my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  I am only saved because of Christ Jesus and not anything or anyone else (Hebrews 7:25).

I want my boys to see Christ in me.  Yes I want them to see me seeking God, seeking to be holy.  Yet I also want them to see that I too need His grace and forgiveness.  I am not a perfect man by far.  I long to be pure and holy before God (2 Corinthians 7:1) and through faith in Christ, I am set apart by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  I am thankful that God is a forgiving God who does not cast me aside but He loves me and disciplines me and calls me to repentance by His Word.  I want to live a life of trusting God before the eyes of my boys so that, like Manasseh, they will repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

 

 

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/22/2014 at 4:27 PM

A Baby Brings Joy!

I am the proud father of three boys.  My youngest son, Levi, turned 4 today.  What a joy he is to our home!

While reading in the book of Ruth during my devotions, Naomi returns from Moab to Bethlehem and there she complains that her life is bitter and for the people to call her Mara “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).  She went from Naomi (which means pleasant) to Mara (which means bitter).  Naomi was bitter of the loss of her husband and her loss of her two sons and her return in shame to Israel.

But the book of Ruth is a book that is full of hope.  In the midst of the turmoil of Judges, here is the story of Ruth who would eventually marry Boaz (Ruth 4:13) and she had a baby, Obed.  Obed would be the father of Jesse who would be the father of the greatest king in Israel, David.  And from David would come the promised Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the One who would sit upon the throne of His father David forever (Luke 1:32-33).

Yet in the midst of all this, Naomi seems to be forgotten but in Ruth 4:14-16 we read:

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

I love verse 16!  How precious it is for a parent (or in this case, a grandparent) to take a baby and hold them.  I loved holding my baby boys and feeling their warm skin, their baby smell, and hearing them breathe.  I loved being close to them and protecting them.  Babies are so trusting, so loving, so forgiving.  They don’t care what you look like, how bad your day may have been, they just love you.

What I find precious about this story in Ruth is that Naomi doesn’t go back to calling herself Mara.  She remains Naomi.  Naomi is a much prettier name and I believe this baby boy named Obed brought her joy.  Babies do just that.

Isn’t it any wonder that the disciple of Jesus hates abortion!  Abortion murders a baby.  Yes abortion destroys the mother and scars her for life but it murders a baby and anyone who has held a baby (even a down syndrome baby or another handicapped baby) knows that children are precious.  Babies are truly a heritage from the Lord.

Psalm 127:3-5 (NKJV) reads:

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

And I say “amen” to that.  I praise God that He allowed me, this sinful fallen man, to have children and to be able to raise them in the fear of the Lord along with my precious wife.  I pray for my son Levi to be a great man after God’s own heart.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/08/2014 at 5:28 PM

Teaching Boys To Pray

This past Wednesday night I discussed prayer with our Royal Rangers group.  My text was Matthew 7:7.  How do you teach boys from ages 6-10 to pray?  While I do believe that teaching from the Bible is essential to teaching boys to pray, the best way to learn to pray is by praying with them and showing them how to pray.  Of course this requires that we know how to pray ourselves and that we know the biblical teaching on prayer but prayer is better caught than taught.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that the secret to praying is praying in secret.  I would urge you fathers and leaders of boys to learn to pray in secret.  Jesus said that His disciples would be marked by prayer (Matthew 6:5).  Jesus Himself demonstrated a life of prayer (Luke 5:16; 6:12) so much so that His disciples came to Him and asked Him how to pray (Luke 11:1).  Jesus often told parables to teach His disciples to pray (Luke 18:1).

The simplicity of prayer is seen in Matthew 7:7.  Jesus says three things about prayer here.  They are simply: Ask, seek, knock.  Three simple things that we have all done.  So why don’t we pray?  Is it fear of God?  Is it lack of knowledge about God’s will or His Word?  Is that we trust in ourselves or our technology above faith in Christ?

With my boys (both Royal Rangers and my own three sons), I want them to learn to pray both from the Bible and from my own life.  I want to be a deep man of prayer.  A perfect day for me in 12 hours would be 4 hours in prayer, 4 hours in the Word, and 4 hours on the streets evangelizing.  I want to instruct my boys to men of God, men who love Christ passionately.  I want them to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to devote themselves to prayer (Colossians 4:2).  I want my boys to know what it means to find their dad wresting with God like Jacob did in Genesis 32:24.  I want them to hear my crying out with tears for the lost (Romans 10:1).  I want them to hear me interceding for all (1 Timothy 2:1-7).  Oh that my boys would be men of prayer!  Oh that they would learn to pray from me!

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that he wanted the Corinthians to imitate him.  Do you want boys to imitate you?  Do you want others to copy your prayer life?  Your evangelism?  Your time in the Word?  Your deep love of Christ and His kingdom?  Your obedience to God?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/19/2013 at 10:43 AM

I Pray My Sons See True Christianity In Me

As a father of three wonderful boys, I have the honor from God to raise them and teach them.  My wife and I have even chosen to home school our children so that we can teach the Bible to them and so that we can examine all things biblically on all issues (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1-2).  I believe that the primary responsibility for teaching our children lies not in the church or government but in the home.  That is why we choose to sacrifice and keep our boys at home to teach them.

Yet more important to me is that my sons see true faith in me.  I want them to see me not just talking about God or about Christianity but I want them to see Jesus living and moving through me.  I often pray that my sons will become disciples of Jesus because they see Jesus in me (Colossians 1:27).  I pray that my boys see me sharing the gospel with the lost (Matthew 28:19) and I pray that they see me being a true disciple with how I treat my wife that the Lord has given to me (Ephesians 5:25-28).  I pray that my boys see how I handle the money that He blesses us with through my job (Luke 20:25).  I pray that my boys see me using the gifts that God has given me through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7) to edify the Church (1 Corinthians 14:26).  I want my boys to see me pouring into others what He has taught me (2 Timothy 2:2).  I want my boys to see me taking up my cross daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23-25).

I am grateful to God to be a daddy.  I have learned much about the Lord’s love, grace, mercy, and His correction by being a father.  But I do pray that my boys become strong men of God because they see the example that I am setting before them.  I want them to imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  This requires that I depend completely in the Holy Spirit to help me be the man of holiness that He calls me to be (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

I ask you to pray for my boys to be saved and I ask you to pray that they see Jesus Christ living in me and my wife and not hypocrisy.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/05/2011 at 5:54 PM

>Oh For Praying Mothers!

>So many times I have read 1 Samuel 1:10 and have had my heart ache for Hannah and long for that kind of prayer life.  Hannah was a woman of prayer.  She would agonize over her condition and she did what we should do as well, she looked not the strength of flesh but the Lord God who alone can move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).  Hannah feared God and she cried out to Him and God came through in her time of need to meet her and to touch her and to do a mighty work in Israel through her prayers.

But I wonder where are the women of God who pray like Hannah?  Where are the mothers who weep over their children and who cry out for their children?  I pray that my wife would be such a woman.  I pray that God would stir up many women this Mother’s Day to learn to imitate Hannah and learn the value of prayer and total devotion of yourself and your children to God.

History reveals other great women of prayer.  Amy Carmichael was a great woman of God who was also a woman of prayer.  Catherine Booth worked faithfully beside her husband, William Booth, to launch the Salvation Army and she, like her godly husband, was a woman of prayer.  Susanne Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, was a woman of prayer.  She would cry out for her boys souls.  Martha Ravenhill, the late wife of Leonard Ravenhill, was a woman of prayer.  She even said that she would never have married Leonard had God not told her to.

But where are the women who pray?  Where are the women who cry out to God, seek His face for their families and know what it means to agonize in prayer as Hannah did?  So few women, like men, pray.  It is true that women largely make up the prayer movements in the modern Church (oh that would prayer meetings would be full of godly men who hunger for Christ alone) but still, we need more Hannah’s to touch God for the children.

Being a parent, I meet parents all the time.  I wonder how many of them cry out to Jesus for their children.  I cry out for my boys and my wife.  I pray daily for my boy’s to be saved.  God has no grandchildren (Galatians 3:26-27) and so I pray for the Holy Spirit to draw them to the Savior and I pray that God will protect them from Satan and his devices.  I pray for my wife to be a godly women, for her to lead our boys in holiness and with integrity.  I pray that both my wife and I would set an example of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ and that my boys would find me often in prayer.  I often pray, “Lord I pray that when I die, let them find my knees are worn out from being on my face before You.”  Oh I want my boys to know Jesus and love Him!

I urge you to join with me in praying for the Holy Spirit to raise up godly parents.  We need more Hannah’s.  We need more Mary’s.  We need more Joseph’s.  We need more Booth’s and Wesley’s.  We need a touch from God!  I pray that a prayer revival will break out all across this nation and that it would begin in the home.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/07/2011 at 12:14 PM

Wisdom and Fathering

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

– Proverbs 1:8

We live in a day when fatherhood is under attack. Popular culture such as Hollywood puts out one garbage program after another that attacks, belittles, and destroys the role of fathers in the home. In many cases the father is seen as an idiot (Homer Simpson), a waste (Family Guy), or completely irrelevant to families. Gone are the days when Hollywood sought to build up the families and gone are the days when the media sought to portray the father as the cornerstone of the family.
The Church has a duty before God to teach what God has said in His Word about fathers and what it means to be a true father. Most fathers are aware of Ephesians 6:4 but the question becomes how do I learn to be a godly father who impacts my children? Where can I turn to learn about what the Lord wants me to be in raising my children?
The answer is the book of Proverbs. We can learn from the many examples of both godly and ungodly fathers in the Scriptures from the godly such as Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:19-25) to the poor examples of Jacob or Eli. But there is no book full of practical wisdom from the Lord like the book of Proverbs in order to raise our sons and daughters in the fear and instruction of the Lord.
So what does Proverbs teach us about being godly fathers? The first ten chapters of Proverbs open to us fathers some incredible teaching on what it means to be the godly fathers that our children need us to be.
1. Fathers are to teach their children to fear God (Proverbs 1:7; 2:1-8; 3:7; 9:10; 10:27).
2. Fathers need to teach their trust in the Lord God (Proverbs 3:5-6; 10:29).
3. Fathers teach your children to control their bodies and be sexually pure (Proverbs 5:1-14; 7).
4. Fathers teach your children to learn wisdom from the Word of God (Proverbs 2:1-15; 3:1-2, 21-27; 4:1-7; 5:20-23; 8:32-35).
5. Fathers should teach their children the blessings of marriage (Proverbs 5:15-23).
6. Fathers should both demonstrate and teach the importance of hard work (Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4-5, 15).
7. Fathers should teach and demonstrate godly speech (Proverbs 4:10, 24; 7:24; 9:8-9; 10:10-11, 13, 14, 18-21, 31-32).
8. Fathers should teach their children how to properly use money to honor God (Proverbs 1:19 8:19-21; 10:2, 9, 22).
9. Fathers should teach their children about what God hates and also how to avoid sinning against Him (Proverbs 1:10-16; 6:16-19, 27-28; 8:13; 10:27).
10. Fathers should warn their children against rejecting the wisdom of God from His Word (Proverbs 1:20-33).
And there are many, many more. I gleamed these from the first ten chapters of Proverbs in just a few minutes. Imagine if we studied the book of Proverbs daily (31 chapters, one per day) and allowed the Holy Spirit to instruct us that we might be the godly parents that we need to be in an age when the world and the enemy wants to pull our children down with them. Our enemy is roaming around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and he wants both us and our children (1 Peter 5:8) but we are to resist him by standing firm in our faith (1 Peter 5:9).
Our children need to see that we are serious disciples of Jesus. We are not religious but lost. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus is Lord of all and we live like it (Luke 6:46-49). My passion is to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to obey His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). I want to not only instruct my children through my mouth but with my life. I want them to see Jesus in me and I want to be able to say with Paul the Apostle, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Lastly, I encourage fathers to be men of prayer. I want my boys to be men of prayer and I want them to learn to pray from me. I want them to find me on my face seeking God. How many boys walk into a room to find their fathers watching sports all the time or worst, looking at garbage full of the world and sexually immorality. I want my boys to find me praying and reading the Word of God. Jesus taught His disciples to pray by His words and His example (Luke 11:1-13). I want to do the same. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a wonderful portion of Scripture that the faithful Jews still abide by. I want to do the same. I want my boys to see what it means to seek God, to be Jesus’ disciple, to evangelize, to worship God not just in singing but with all that is in me. I want my sons to grow up to be men of faith, men who were baptized as Jesus’ disciples at a young age, and men who fear God. I want my boys to know that the Bible is the inerrant Word and that all that it says is faithful and true (2 Peter 1:16-21). So already I am praying for these things! I am seeking God now (not later) for my boys to be men of God. I pray for their salvation, for their future careers, for the Lord to help them when Satan comes to tempt them, for the Holy Spirit to help me to be godly and for Him to show me how to teach my boys to walk with Jesus in truth. I am not praying later. I am praying for my boys now AND I am praying with them now.
On this Father’s Day, let us pray for fathers to be godly, to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and for the Lord to help the Church strengthen and establish the crucial roles of fathers in the home once again.
Happy Father’s Day!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/20/2010 at 9:54 AM

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