Boys Will Be Boys, but Boys Should Want to Be Men

December 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 8 Comments
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The Lord has commanded parents and church elders to train up boys and young men to be what the Lord wants them to be when they reach true manhood. God anointed David, the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, king of Israel when he was still in his teen years.

By looking at what kind of boy David was, we can get a good idea of what kind of young men we should be training boys to be.

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:18

The phrase “cunning in playing,” means that David had taken time to develop and hone the skills with which God had gifted him. We must encourage boys to commit themselves to practicing and exercising their God-given talents.

The phrase “a mighty valiant man” means that David was courageous in dangerous situations. We must not shelter our boys from situations where their courage will be tested.

The phrase “a man of war” refers to David’s willingness to stand and fight for what was right. We must impress upon our boys that there are things that are worth fighting for, and Christian men are to be meek, but never cowardly.

The phrase “prudent in matters,” means that David exercised wisdom. He did not behave foolishly or invite criticism by behaving childishly. He behaved appropriately for his age.

The phrase “a comely person,” refers largely to David’s physical appearance. He was thought to be handsome. We certainly can not train boys in their physical characteristics. God determines this through genetics and His Own providence. But we can certainly train boys to dress appropriately and groom themselves properly.

Conspicuously absent from the description of David in his teen years are any indications that he was involved in foolish vanities. David, if alive today, would not be involved in hanging out at the mall, or text messaging silly word-plays. He would not inappropriately play-wrestle with girls or young ladies. He would have little time for shuffling his iPod, playing laser tag, or shopping for spinning hubcaps. He would not over-pay for ripped-up, ill-fitting clothes, so he could slouch around with uncombed and unwashed hair, trying desperately to look “cool.”

Pavlov’s Kids

November 17, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Despite what is taught in biology classes all over the world, human beings are not a highly evolved form of animal. The Bible clearly delineates the differences between people and animals. However, there are some behavioral similarities.

Animals can be trained by a process of lure and reward. A dog which does not want to enter the veterinarian’s office might be tempted into the examination room with a dangled morsel of meat. The painful vaccination which follows will no doubt be good for the dog, even if the dog does not particularly enjoy it.

When the dog is later benefitting from a healthy heartworm-free and rabies-free life, he will not necessarily associate the benefits with his trip to the vet. Therefore, he must be enticed anew each time.

The ordinary, every-day, average, garden-variety 21st Century American teen-aged child is much the same. You can win over his or her willingness to come to church with delicious treats. Food and fun, games and gimmicks, seem good TO them, but they are not necessarily good FOR them. And, although they might be willing to sit through a Bible lesson in order to receive these treats, when the treats run out (usually around the time they turn into legal “adults”), it is unlikely they will continue to endure spiritual “treatment” without the fleshly “reward.” In other words, what you win them WITH, is what you win them TO.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a better way to win converts to the Lord, regardless of their age or personal preferences.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

I Corinthians 1:20-21

Believe it or not, it is the preaching of the Cross of Christ that wins converts to Christ, regardless of their age or interests. There is no Biblical authority for separating the means for getting young people to the Cross from the message of the Cross itself.

A Snapshot of the Lord’s Adolescence

October 30, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Luke | 4 Comments
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“Dad, can we go play in the youth building?” Billy (aged 12) asked his father, during a break between speakers.

“I’m sorry, son,” said Billy’s father. “We’re here to strengthen our faith in the Lord, and to learn from God’s Word.”

“But, Dad, we’ve been here for hours. We’ve sung, we’ve prayed, we’ve heard preaching. I’m bored with this conference.”

“Well, let me ask you something,” Billy’s father said. “Are you a ‘Christian?’”

“Yes.”

“Who are Christians supposed to act like?”

Billy thought for a moment. “Christ… Jesus.”

“That’s right, son. Now, I want you to read Luke Chapter 2, and tell me what Jesus was interested in doing at age 12.”

Does this exchange between a father and son sound familiar to us today? It probably doesn’t, but it should. If we profess Christ, then His life must be our example for Christian living.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:41-46

Jesus Christ, approaching what this world calls His “teen years,” was not interested in vain amusements, dabbling in youthful sin, or filthy entertainment. They did not have Guitar Hero for XBox in His day, but if they had, you can believe He wouldn’t have played it in the synagogue.

Our Lord’s affections were set on sitting in the house of God, among the elders of the church, listening to the Word of His Father.

Hijacked Hearts

September 29, 2009 at 9:14 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 4 Comments
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It sounds like a crazy notion, but we might wonder if Satan has been reading his Bible. If he has seen Malachi Chapter 4, Verse 6, then he would know that God’s desire is to see the hearts of children turned toward, not away from, their parents. “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.” And that would motivate the devil to work very hard to do just the opposite of what God wants. Does this explain the state of most of the parent-child relationships we see in the world today?

Malachi 4:6 is actually the very last verse in the entire Old Testament. Malachi is prophesying in part about the ministry of John the Baptist.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi 4:5

John the Baptist was not Elijah reincarnated, but he did minister in the spirit of Elijah.

Between the end of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament there is about 400 years of silence, as far as recorded Scripture. Then, in Luke 1:17, the angel of the Lord tells Zacharias, concerning John the Baptist: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

The devil has turned the hearts of many of our children. He has turned them to drugs, immorality, worldly entertainment, popular culture, their own vanity, and even to their peers. Dads, moms: no modern-day John the Baptist is going to catch your children at the shopping mall, rock concert, or make-out party, and convince them to repent. However, we have One greater than John the Baptist. If we can get them to Jesus, He will turn their hearts to Himself, and back to us. It’s a great thing to pray for your kids. God can protect them in ways we can’t. However, He has ordained us, parents, in a very real, personal, and hands-on way, to take the steering wheel of their hearts, and guide them in the right direction.

Character and Integrity Part 2

August 5, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in character and integrity | 5 Comments
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Let’s pretend that I offer you a sandwich, but you are not going to be able to eat it right now; you are going to have to save it for later. I offer you two options for preserving the quality of the sandwich before you stick it in the fridge. In one hand I have a beautifully ornate wrought-iron bird cage.

bird cage

It looks both sturdy and beautiful. In the other hand I have an ugly old Zip-lock bag.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/6867105/il_570xN.334496059.jpg

It looks flimsy and plain. Which are you going to choose?

Obviously, you are going to choose the Zip-lock. Why? Because it has both integrity and character. A properly sealed Zip-lock bag stops both air and water from getting inside. There is a “soundness” and a “wholeness” to a Zip-lock bag. It has integrity. Furthermore, you’ve had experience with bird cages (or a least containers made up of metal sections with gaps in between). You’ve also had experience with Zip-lock bags. Zip-locks have kept a many of your sandwiches fresh before. Zip-lock bags have character.

God wants His people to have both integrity and character. He wants us to be sound, and to be known for being sound.

Who does not want you to be be “sound?” Who wants you to look strong and sturdy at a glance, but to prove unfit upon further inspection? Who wants you to try to act like something you are not, to be a fake? Your enemies, that’s who: the devil, the world, and your flesh.

The Bible doesn’t have much good to say about “the world” once you get past the part where God made it and saw that it was good. It’s been pretty much negative since then (Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 2:12; II Corinthians 4:4).

The “world” is the Bible word for the point of view of those who don’t love God. They don’t necessarily admit that they hate God. They will claim that they would rather just stay on their side and let the Lord stay on His. But there’s one thing that really motivates the world to get proactive – to start campaigning against God: greed, the love of money (I Timothy 6:10).

Here’s a good example. After World War II (1945) there were lots of young people getting to do things they’d never done before. This engendered a certain fear – the fear of “juvenile delinquents.” This kind of fear is not good (II Timothy 1:7). Adults would see something broken or defaced in public, and would start defaulting to, “It must have been those kids…” meaning teenaged kids.

This kind of thinking led to polls. The polls led to an identifiable market. Manufacturers starting producing things like “teen” toys, “teen” dolls, “teen” magazines, “teen” movies, “teen” TV shows, and “teen” clothes. Most of these products were focused on the idea of making kids think ahead to when they would be “older,” and subtly sending the message that it was a good thing to strive to act like they were older than they really were. You can witness this phenomenon going on today with pre-teens (the media calls them “tweens”).

The suspicion of adults and the influence of marketing led to teenaged kids becoming experts at duplicity. Duplicity is the opposite of integrity (James 1:8).

Remember Eddie Haskell from the old show, “Leave It To Beaver?”

Eddie Haskell

Eddie was duplicitous, even though he never really fooled Mrs. Cleaver when he gushed over her “beautiful dress.” Today, teenaged kids are smarter than Eddie. Most parents would faint if they really knew what CDs their kids listen to, what movies they watch at sleepovers, what’s really posted, but set to private, on their social networking sites.

But God knows. He knows that their integrity is damaged. And other people know, even if the parents don’t – and that has damaged their character.

David (pre-Bathsheba) is a good example of character and integrity. I Samuel 16 is mainly about David being anointed king and playing his harp or lyre for Saul. Chapter 17 is mainly the account of David and Goliath. David was probably about 15 or 16 when he was anointed, and probably close to 20 when he killed Goliath. David was not slothful in business (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 16:10-11). He was keeping his father’s sheep. He was fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 17:34-35). He risked his life to protect what God had given him. He was serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:8

Let’s look at David’s character in this verse. These are the things David, even as a teenaged child, was known for – what Proverbs 22:1 calls his “good name.” He was cunning at playing (musical talent). He was mighty and valiant (known for overcoming problems). He was a man of war (a good fighter, someone who stands up for what is right). He was prudent in matters (smart). He was a comely person (good-looking).

It’s really not that uncommon to find someone about whom we can say all or most of those things. But, with David, in addition to those things, they could say, “The LORD is with him.”

Is the Lord with you? (Integrity) Do other people recognize that the Lord is with you? (Character) Both are important to God.

Chuck E. Church

August 3, 2009 at 9:13 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 6 Comments
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Rollerblading for senior citizens? “Teen” night on the Weather Channel? A bouncy water slide for widows’ ministry? Needlepoint-and-prayer meeting for toddlers? Let’s face it, some activities are not for everyone. Some activities are limited by interest, physical ability, and even age. But is the main reason for church attendance – the hearing of the preaching of the Word of God – one of those activities?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:… Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Ephesians 1:1; 6:1

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Joel 2:16

It sure looks like, from the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, that all different types of people, children of all ages, and adults, all met together and heard the preaching of the Word of God together as a matter of regular practice. The wisdom of man says that a person’s need is to be rescued from boredom, for which specialized entertainment is the solution. The wisdom of God says that a person’s need is to be rescued from sin, for which instruction, training, and exhortation from the Word of God is the solution.

The Wesleys Were a “S.W.I.M.”ming Family

March 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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You are now fairly launched. Hold up your head and swim like a man.

Samuel Wesley, to his son, Charles, upon Charles’s graduation

Jesus Christ, approaching what this world calls His “teen years,” was not interested in vain amusements, dabbling in youthful sin, or filthy entertainment. They did not have Guitar Hero for XBox in His day, but if they had, you can believe He wouldn’t have played it in the synagogue. Our Lord’s affections were set on sitting in the house of God, among the elders of the church, listening to the Word of His Father.

Ministry Addict


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