May 4, 2015

What Influence Do You Have on Your Children?

What Influence Do You Have on Your Children?


by John MacArthur

You can’t save your children. You can raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, guard them from the sinful influences and temptations of the world, and cocoon them in the fellowship of others who know and love God. But in the end, as we saw last time, their repentance and faith cannot be inherited or manufactured—salvation is God’s work, not yours. As a parent, your influence can only go so far.

The Wrong Kind of Influence

Having said that, I want to stress that sometimes—I should say often—parents are partly to blame for their wayward children’s rebellion. And it has been my observation over the years that parents are generally more to blame for wayward kids than society, peers, or any of the other influences parents tend to blame. I occasionally encounter parents who have violated nearly every biblical principle of parenting, who nonetheless come to the pastor seeking some kind of absolution from the responsibility for their children’s defiance. They want verbal assurance that they are in no way to blame; someone else is.

Yet God Himself has given the responsibility for raising children to parents—not to schoolteachers, peers, child-care workers, or other people outside the family—and therefore it is wrong for parents to attempt to unload that responsibility or shift the blame when things go wrong.

Parents must involve themselves in their children’s lives enough to insure that no other influence takes precedence. To parents who complain that their kids’ failures are the kids’ friends’ fault, my inevitable reply is that ultimately the parents themselves must be to blame, because they were the ones who allowed peers to have more input into their kids’ lives than they have themselves.

Blame and Accountability

Some parents will no doubt cynically roll their eyes at that, and insist that it is unrealistic in this day and age to expect parents to influence their kids more than peers, the culture, television, schoolteachers, and all the other factors that vie for a controlling interest in the typical child’s life.

Still, a moment’s reflection will reveal why parents in our culture have less influence on their kids than peer groups do: Most parents have simply abdicated the parental role. They have turned their kids over to their peers. They have invested less time in teaching their kids than the amount of time they have permitted the kids to watch television. They have permitted much of—if not all—their children’s spiritual, moral, and ethical instruction to come from television, movies, music, and other children. Even in the best cases, parents rely too much on school teachers, Sunday-school teachers, and youth leaders—all outside the purview of the family. Parents must realize that character is neither inbred by genetics nor picked up by osmosis. Children are taught to be what they become. If they have become something other than what the parents hoped for, it is usually because they have simply learned from those who were there to teach them in their parents’ absence.

In other words, the parents, not the kids—and not even the peer groups—are ultimately to blame for the parents’ diminishing influence in our culture. Whenever outside influences shape a child’s character more than the parents, the parents have failed in their duties. It is as simple as that.

Christian parents today desperately need to own this simple principle. Before the throne of God we will be held accountable if we have turned our children over to other influences that shape their character in ungodly ways. God has placed in our hands the responsibility of bringing our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and we will give account to God for our stewardship of this great gift. If others have more influence on our children than we, we are culpable, not excusable, on those grounds.

Your Full-Time Job

God has made parenting a full-time responsibility. There are no coffee breaks from our parental duties. This principle was even built into the law at Sinai. God prefaced His instructions to the Israelites with this solemn charge:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

That is God’s own definition of the parents’ task. It means parenting is a full-time assignment in every sense of the expression. No phase of life is exempt. Not one hour of the day is excluded. There is no time-out for the parent who wants to be faithful to this calling.

Some parents think they can compartmentalize their child’s life, assign a set number of hours per week to spend on parenting, and then fulfill their duties as parents by making sure the hours they put into the task are “quality time.” That whole philosophy is contrary to the spirit of Deuteronomy 6:7, and it is a sure way to guarantee that outside influences will have more influence than the parents in shaping the child’s character.

Parental Neglect

The history of Old Testament Israel is an object lesson about the dangers of neglecting this vital principle. Israel failed miserably when it came to the duty of teaching their children about God’s righteousness. Consider this telling verse about the generation of Israelites who first entered the Promised Land. And note that this was merely one generation after God had first given the law at Sinai:

The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. . . . All that generation also were gathered to their fathers and there arose another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:7, 10)

In other words, that whole generation of Israelites failed in their responsibility. They neglected to teach their children about the things God had done for Israel. And as a consequence, the next generation turned away from the Lord en masse:

Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreth. (vv. 11–13)

The children turned to the evil gods of the Canaanites. Their environment influenced them more than their parents did because the parents abdicated the parental role. The result was idolatry, chaos, and destruction. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25).

The same pattern was repeated again and again throughout Israel’s history. Whenever a generation of parents neglected to plant the seeds that would provide shade trees for subsequent generations, the children suffered the spiritual famine that inevitably followed.

The same thing is still occurring to this day. Right now the outlook for the next generation is as bleak as it has ever been. And there will be no turnaround unless this generation of Christian parents resumes the full-time work of planting spiritual shade trees.

Proper Parenting and Personal Priorities

For many parents, the first step toward getting back on track must be a fresh commitment to the things of God for themselves. If our own priorities in life are askew, there’s no hope of teaching our children what they need to learn.

Parents, take inventory in your own hearts. Do you thirst for God as the deer pants after the water? Or is your own life sending your children a message of hypocrisy and spiritual indifference? Is your own commitment to Christ what you hope to see in your children’s lives? Is your obedience to His Word the same kind of submission you long to see from your own kids?

Those are crucial questions each parent must face if we really want to be successful parents and good role models for our children. For parents to be derelict in their own spiritual lives is tantamount to cutting down all the shade trees for the next generation in their family.

Christian parents—be encouraged. You have a responsibility before God to use your influence with your children for His glory and their good. But the weight of their eternity is not on your shoulders—remember they’re not born morally neutral. God will use whatever means He chooses to draw His people to Himself. Pray He will use you in the lives of your children, and trust that He is faithful even through your failures.

Article from Grace to You

Aug 20, 2014

The Power of Your Child's SIN

Train them, remembering continually, the power of sin. 
Online for FREE

You must not expect to find your children's minds a sheet of pure white paper, and to have no trouble if you only use right means. I warn you plainly you will find no such thing. It is painful to see how much corruption and evil there is in a young child's heart, and how soon it begins to bear fruit. Violent tempers, self-will, pride, envy, irritability, passion, idleness, selfishness, deceit, cunning, lying, hypocrisy, a terrible aptitude to learn what is bad, a painful slowness to learn what is good, a readiness to pretend anything in order to gain their own ends—all these things, or some of them, you must be prepared to see, even in your own flesh and blood. In little ways they will creep out at a very early age; it is almost startling to observe how naturally they seem to spring up. Children require no schooling to learn how to sin. 

But you must not be discouraged and depressed by what you see. You must not think it a strange and unusual thing, that little hearts can be so full of sin. It is the only inheritance which our father Adam left us; it is that fallen nature with which we come into the world; it is that inheritance which belongs to us all. May the awareness of it make you more diligent in using every possible means which seem most likely, by God's blessing, to counteract the evil. Let it make you more and more careful, so far it lies with you, to keep your children out of the way of temptation. 

Never listen to those who tell you your children are good, and well brought up, and can be trusted. Rather, remember that their hearts are always ready to burst into flame like dry tinder. At their very best, they only need a spark to ignite their evil. Parents are seldom too cautious. Remember the natural depravity of your children, and be careful.

Aug 4, 2014

10 Myths about Lust


By Jared Moore
If you embrace these 10 myths about lust, then you will find no remedy for your lust. Instead, you will dive into a “black hole” of sin. Embrace Truth; reject these 10 myths:
1. “I lust because I’m human.” No, you lust because you’re a sinner.
2. “I lust because others dress immodestly.” No, you lust because your wicked heart enjoys the immodesty of others.
3. “I lust because I’m not married.” No, you lust because you love sex more than God.
4. “I lust because I desire marriage.” No, you lust because you desire sexual immorality. Desiring sexual immorality is the opposite of desiring marriage. A desire for marriage is a desire for sexual morality within marriage.
5. “I lust because I cannot help it.” No, you lust because you willfully choose sin over holiness. You’ve developed a lustful habit. Repent and turn to Christ habitually. Live out the holiness He requires until new holy habits are formed.
6. “I lust because my spouse is not as interested in sex as I am.” No, you lust because you desire sex more than you desire God.
7. “I lust because my spouse does not appreciate me.” No, you lust because you believe God is too small to meet your needs abundantly.
8. “I lust because I believe God’s image-bearers are beautiful.” No, you lust because you reject God’s creation (Gen. 1:26-27). Those who lust objectify God’s image bearers, reducing His divine image to a mere object of immoral non-consensual one-sided sexual gratification.
9. “I lust because sexuality is pervasive in my godless culture.” No, you lust because you want to be like your godless culture.
10. “If I fulfill my lusts, they will go away.” No, the remedy for lustful desires is for you to deny yourself (starve your lust), pick up your cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
The only answer for a lustful heart is constant repentance and faith in Christ.  God is more beautiful and more valuable than fulfilling our lustful desires. If you embrace and meditate on His beauty, all sin will appear ugly and detestable.

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BIO:  Jared Moore serves as the senior pastor at New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

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