Imagine a book that accurately reveals the past, is relevant to our present, and shows us in detail the future.
Of course, I’m speaking of the Bible.
Now imagine a master strategist who purposely reveals his strategy for all to see, including those who would use it for their own evil devices.
When God makes a move, which He freely advertises in His Word, the enemy comes in with a counter-plan to destroy or murder or subvert. These things are obvious. But our enemy also devises counterfeits. A counterfeit is not obvious, precisely because it is designed to look like the real thing.
“He [Elijah and John the Baptist] will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
In our own North American culture we can see the shift in the last number of decades from “children are to be seen and not heard,” to having an official date on the calendar to celebrate the “Rights of the Child.” Having a child-centric culture is not an all-bad thing, especially when it provides protection that has been lacking previously from those taking advantage.
Our enemy is raging against millions of vulnerable children in our days. Those lost to abortion, child sex slavery, addictions and a multitude of violence are headlines in the news daily. And yet there is another quiet destruction and distraction in our homes that the enemy is just as invested in. It is simply the difference between these two:
Raising our children
Training our children
For the purposes of this blog, we will say that “raising” is something that can be done without a great deal of effort or intentionality. It is the passive way to influence the next generation. And I will refer to “training” as the proactive, intentional, and meaningful way to influence the children and young people in our homes and lives. It is the kind of interaction spoken of in Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17. And while I am defining terms, let the reader also understand that this topic speaks just as well to anyone who interacts with children, whether a parent or not; you have a voice to be heard by the young people around you.
There is much emphasis in our culture on raising our children; hosts of activities, classes, and resources. These are mostly all very good; but when they are replacing our assignment of training, we have now entered into the counterfeit I mentioned earlier.
Children who are raised as opposed to trained are vulnerable. They are vulnerable to our culture, which will scream ten times louder than any parent to be heard first. They are vulnerable to wounds received during their childhood. No one escapes childhood without wounds; but parents who are listening to the Holy Spirit can address some issues as best they can in the moment. Parents who are distracted may miss the symptoms of woundedness altogether.
Darkness is coming. If you don’t see it, ask God to open your eyes. Or turn off the TV and internet and stop seeing movies for a month or two or three. Your perspective might change when you turn them back on.
Put bluntly: life is going to be very difficult for our children and grandchildren. Are we preparing them for this fact, or is our biggest worry about how to pay for their college education?
Think about your own grandparents. Could they ever have imagined the kind of technology, innovation and lifestyle that we use without even thinking today? Even more so, could they ever have dreamed of the kinds of compromises and ethical issues and moral dilemmas that daily confront us? In the same way, we cannot truly imagine what the future holds for our kids.
Despite what we do not know, we do have God’s strategic book. It is the Bible, conveniently printed, mass produced, digitized, in hundreds of formats and study guides and versions and languages and paraphrases and incredibly accessible. He tells us how to prepare for the great darkness that is coming, but also for the great light and the knowledge of the glory of God that will cover the people of the earth “as the waters cover the sea.” In it we learn how to walk in the Light even surrounded by darkness, and that we will do “even greater works” than Jesus.
But it won’t just happen to us, we must detach from our favorite cultural distraction and listen devotedly to the Holy Spirit. And btw, I am not writing these things because I have them figured out and am the perfect example. I am mightily grieved by my own failures but also burdened to make the adjustments necessary to influence my children in the way they really need me to, to be equipped to live righteously in the coming years. There isn’t a point-of-no-return here; we can start fresh tomorrow, as long as we keep moving forward.
I’m just asking you to make that adjustment with me. To be a parent that would turn their heart toward their child, no matter the situation or the distance.
In the next post I will share some elements distinctive of our kids’ and grandkids’ generation that we can recognize and encourage.