Family Matters Part 1: Introduction
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
What? Another blog on parenting? Hasn’t everything on this topic been said? George Barna stated that thousands of books have been published on the topic of parenting recently, not to mention the endless number of blog posts. It seems to be a hot topic close to home. Everyone seems to be an expert. It is interesting though, most who blog on the subject are in the middle years of raising their own young family, and have not weathered the storms of parenting to see their children full grown and come out on the other side of their child-rearing successfully. They speak from being in process rather than from looking back at the end result of their advice.
As I have surveyed the vast amount of information on Christian parenting today, I have found many good books. I have personally read 25+ books on the subject. However, I believe there are very few that speak with full biblical authority in all aspects of parenting. Many parents have been enticed by the secular and quasi “Christian” voices of pop psychology, which align with our fallen culture. Only the gospel will transform little hearts. Only applied biblical truth will produce lifelong change in our kids.
I have spent 37 years in full-time ministry working with children, youth, and families. My wife and I have raised six children, and by God’s grace, have put into practice wisdom God provided in His Word. Most of our children are now out of college. I can say with confidence, that if we would live in obedience to what God has revealed concerning marriage, family, and parenting, we would see God’s blessing in our homes, and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as our teenagers exhibit godly character as they grow into adulthood. There is no silver bullet, but God’s Word is clear, and God blesses our simple obedience.
As I approach my retirement years, I have wondered what my life really has to show for itself. For the most part, I have attained to a certain level of education; I have earned as much money as I could; I have collected many material belongings; I have enjoyed various outdoor adventures; I have faithfully served in various church ministries. Yet in all of this, the greatest legacy I can leave this world is not my degrees, or the money I’ve earned, or what I have collected, or what I have done, or the places I have been, or where I have served in ministry. The greatest legacy I leave, which will far outlive me, next to sharing Christ with someone who received the gospel, is the transformed character of my children. Moths eat and rust corrupts. The stuff I once cherished now collects dust and disintegrates with time. Things I once thought were of great value are now being donated to charity. Yet, who my children are as individuals, will continue on generationally, by God’s grace, for the next generation to follow in their footsteps.
My greatest joy as a husband and father, is to see what God has produced in my kids, through our family’s obedience to His Word. John wrote in 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” John’s joy was based on Gaius’ obedience to God’s truth, which resulted in his righteous living. John delighted in the conduct of his spiritual children as they walked in the truth. How much more is this true of parents when their children come to know Christ, grow in Christ, and produce visible evidence of Jesus being their Savior and Lord (Col. 1:9,10). As a father, I have no greater joy. Nothing else lasts forever. Nothing else really matters to that magnitude. If a man gains the world but loses his own soul, or his family’s soul, what a waste. If I disciple others but fail to disciple my own children, what a travesty. If I write books and preach sermons, but I foster unbelief in my own home, I have forsaken my primary calling. Watching my children come to faith in Christ, and grow to please God in their own lives, is a great reward. Nothing this world offers can compare. I would not trade my family for the world. This world is passing away, but my family will be the ones who influence the next generation for Christ.
Some years ago, when I was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), I came face to face with death and how short this life is. It made me rethink what is important and what will last forever. Sadly, many of us come to this realization too late in our lives, when we realize we can’t go back and change the past. Like Solomon, we may have pursued a certain course in life, but in the end, all is vanity and chasing after the wind. Sometimes we invest in temporal pleasures, but miss the eternal. We chase our careers and dreams, but in the end come home to an empty house. We realize we can’t change the past, but we fail to correct the present, which directly affects the future. A grandfather told me once, “I may not be able to change my failure with my daughter, but I can make a difference in my grandkid’s lives.” He and his wife moved to another state to invest in their grandchildren the remaining years of their lives. Every day is a new day to experience God’s grace and live life in obedience to Him.
I truly believe if we would practice what God has clearly given us in His Word, we would find such great joy and personal satisfaction in our families, which in my opinion, matters most in this life. Instead of pursuing things of this world that quickly fade, or have no eternal value, we instead invest greater time and energy in our wife and kids, which will produce lasting exponential dividends and gain an eternal reward. How we parent today will literally affect our kids’ kids for generations to come.
More to come…
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