Lionproof Part 7: Replacement

Today’s post deals with another topic brought out by my many interviews with second generation Christians. My desire was to discover patterns in their parents’ child training practices across many different people from many different families. These patterns are very helpful to me as I seek to raise my own children to follow the Lord. I hope they have been an encouragement to you as well! Look here for the other posts in the series!

Here is the seventh part of Lionproofing our children, or Protecting Our Children from the Devil. Again, let me remind you that it is far more important to have the internals right than the externals, although some people get this confused. What you DO, however, is still vitally important. Jesus Himself said to the Pharasees, “These things ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

With this in mind, we must recognize the importance of sheltering our children from harmful influences.

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After we married, our growing family got a small place in the country, and I bought some downy chicks. They were the cutest little things, and grew to be fat and fluffy, eventually laying the best speckled eggs! One day, however, I heard a lot of noise and commotion coming from the henhouse. When I got there, I was aghast to see a huge snake trying desperately to get out! Having eaten two chickens, he was now too large to fit through his entryway. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed my butcher knife, and delivered a fatal jab behind his head.

Later, as I inspected the hen house, I found that the door did not close tightly, leaving about an inch and a half space – enough to let a good sized snake through. Unfortunately for the two ingested chickens, my discovery was too late.

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Satan will take his time, testing each link in the fence, looking for weaknesses. If he finds a hole, the entire fence is rendered ineffective in keeping him out. It’s just as if there were no fence to begin with. The fence must be secure in order to be effective. Replacing unimportant or even bad activities with good, godly ones can play a huge role in helping to secure the barrier against the Devil.

In what ways were they sheltered? Many different ways, and some of them are elucidated in my precious post. Today, however, I want to center on the principle of REPLACEMENT.

God’s House was the foundation of these families. Involvement in church activities was assumed, and many were actively involved in ministry themselves even as they were growing up. Quite a few of them were involved as families in singing, working a bus route, going on visitation, etc.

You may be wondering, “How can this be part of Sheltering?” Answer: replacement. When a family is busy about God’s business, they have less time and energy to be busy otherwise!

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This is how it works: if we choose to spend our time at the House of God, we will not be involved in other things such as organized sports, local civil activities, scouts, or other secular endeavors. I’m not saying these things are necessarily wrong; I’m merely saying that our Overcomers are serving God today because their parents pointed them in that direction when they were young, and they continued on that path. The habits instilled by the parents are continued to this day.

There are some common activities in these successful families which pointed the children in the direction of serving the Lord. They are:

REGULAR CHURCH ATTENDENCE – For these second-generation Christians, church was a place of salvation, conviction, and dedication.

CONSISTENT FAMILY DEVOTIONS – Devotions created an opportunity for spiritual interaction between family members, and many issues that the young people faced were settled.

DECIDEDLY CHRISTIAN EDUCATION – Imparting a Christian world view was greatly important to these successful parents. It was so important that they sacrificed greatly to provide a solid Christian education for their children, whether it was through Christian schools, or home education.

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Arianna, a red-headed Christian school teacher, made this statement: “One of the things I feel very strongly about is protecting children. I simply don’t think many people realize how vital it is to shelter young people from the manipulation of the Devil.”

Arianna’s answer was typical of these godly young people. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of them were sheltered while they were growing up.

Now that we know about the principle of replacement, we can take some important steps toward LIONPROOFING our own children. But we will not shelter our children too long, or too much, or for the wrong reasons, because we will keep asking questions, and learning what these second generation Christians already know!

Are there any other good activities you can think of that we can replace neutral or even bad activities with? Let us know!

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Monday – The Alabaster Jar

Tuesday – Titus Two Tuesdays; MercyInkblog.com

Wednesday – To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

Lionproof Part 6: Building a Barricade

 

Here is Part 6 of my series on child training based on interviews that I conducted over a 2 year period with second generation adult children who love the Lord.  So many people have already asked the question, “Why do many young people leave church when they turn 18?”  However, I have always wondered, “Why do some stay?”  So I began asking questions of those who were raised in Christian homes and who are still living for the Lord.  If you’ve missed any of the other parts, look for them here.

Here is the post everyone’s been waiting for: what to DO to raise godly children.  But let me caution you not to sacrifice the internal on the altar of the external; the heart MUST be right before the externals have any meaning whatsoever.   I hesitate to write this section, because I fear someone would think this is the most important thing.  In fact, there is probably a large number of you who literally skimmed the posts, looking for just this information!  To those of you who are concerned primarily with externals, I urge you to seriously consider the outcome of such a philosophy.  Though some people I talked to experienced that form of parenting, their childhoods were not very happy.  We’ll tell their stories later on, when we talk about “The Exceptions.”

An animated youth pastor, Brandon explained, “Rules – standards – existed, but they were not the central theme of my home.  My parents didn’t focus on rules; they focused on the Lord.”

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I also hesitate to write this section because there will be some reading this who may not be “doing all the right things,” and will feel as though they could not possibly raise children to live for God.  Let me emphasize that God can use an imperfect parent more than one who thinks they have it all together.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?  (Micah 6:8)

Although some interviews left me feeling that I am the worst parent on earth, most did not.  Interestingly, the people I talked to knew their parents well, and they understood that they were not perfect.  These young people saw their parents in every situation, and are still living for God.  It does not take a perfect parent to raise a godly child, only a parent who loves God and wants to serve Him.

With this in mind, we must recognize the importance of sheltering our children from harmful influences.

Arianna, a red-headed Christian school teacher, made this statement:  “One of the things I feel very strongly about is protecting children.  I simply don’t think many people realize how vital it is to shelter young people from the manipulation of the Devil.”

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Arianna’s answer was typical of these godly young people.  ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of them were sheltered while they were growing up.

In what ways were they sheltered?  Here are a few that came up in the interviews:

 

Misuse of Entertainment – takes a good thing, and uses it for a selfish purpose.  For example, we may have a perfectly good video or computer game, but if we use it for a babysitter rather than as a learning opportunity, we are feeding our own selfishness.

Contraband Entertainment – this is entertainment which is purely selfish.  Pornography is a good example of contraband entertainment.  Wise parents keep tabs on their young person’s internet use.

Wrong Friends – Friendships are a powerful influence for evil and for good, and a wise parent will steer his child away from foolish friends.

Destructive Music – One of the most formative influences of a young person’s mind and character is the music to which they listen.  Not surprisingly, 100% of our Overcomers were limited as to the kind of music to which they were exposed.  Most of them specified that rock, hip-hop, rap, pop, and jazz music were simply not allowed in their home.

Sheltering is an important part in raising godly children.  It provides a solid basis upon which godly worldviews may be established, and right living may be embraced.  The fact that these people were carefully and prayerfully sheltered gives evidence to the effectiveness of keeping children unspotted by the world.

Though Julia is almost 50, she is strikingly beautiful and almost painfully candid.  Her pastor father invested years in her life, and now her own children are living for God.  “In my opinion,” she explained, “some may not be sheltering their kids enough from harmful influences: TV and friends that are a bad influence, for example.  I even think that nowadays, parents need to consider protecting their children from internet social networking.” Leaning toward me, she said earnestly, “Sheltering the kids is VERY important.  I cannot stress enough how essential it is.  For me, I feel it made a big difference in my life.”

Successful parents did not want their children to live in a world of sex, drugs, crime, and heartache.  They understood that, in order to “Lionproof” their children, they needed to raise them differently from others, and to keep them unspotted from the world.  No matter what criticism they received from others, they did what they felt was right to do.  Because of their insistence on following what God impressed upon their hearts, their children were not taken without warning.

And now, you too can help to keep your children unspotted from the world.

 

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The Alabaster Jar

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Lionproof Part 5: Strength Through Unity

In my previous posts, I shared with you some of the things I’ve learned through my discussions with second-generation Christians concerning why some of them continue to live for the Lord.  One of the important points they brought up was how these people perceived their parents’ marriage.

At a friend’s funeral, I was thrilled to see her remarkable legacy of nine children and thirty-eight grandchildren, many of whom are being raised in the ministry.  Each of her children and most of her grandchildren have put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and are living their lives for Him.  Mary has been a wonderful testimony of a godly wife and mother.

I would have never guessed, however, that her marriage hadn’t always been wonderful.  The fights were almost constant and Mary wondered if she had made a terrible mistake. Still, Mary and her husband were unwilling to get a divorce, so they turned to God and began attending church.

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God graciously rewarded their search for truth by leading them both to trust Him for salvation.  Now that they were born-again, they began to seek Him for every decision.  Through His Word, they discovered that as they drew closer to God, they drew closer together.  It created a strong foundation for stable, happy children.

A Child’s Perception 

In my talks with the Overcomers, I discovered that the very vast majority of them (89%) felt their parents’ marriage as excellent.  Some, five percent, rated their parents’ marriage as good, while just as many stated their parents’ marriage was average.  The conclusion is not surprising: when a child perceives stability in the marriage, it creates steadiness in his life.

That is not to say that disagreements or fights never happened; in fact, arguing is an inevitable part of married life.  So, how did these parents negotiate the difficulties of marriage without losing their cool in front of the children?

Support Each Other –In a successful-parent marriage, the spouses back up each other.  They present a unified position to the children.  When one parent makes a rule, the other parent agrees to it and enforces it, just as the first parent would do.  They support each other in every aspect of their home.

Say Positive Things About Each Other – They never tear each other down to others, and especially not in front of the children.  They know that to tear down their spouse is to tear down themselves.

And finally…

Agree to Disagree – Even the most loving spouses sometimes disagree.  When that happens, keep a unified front for the children’s sake, and take the time to work out the differences in private.

Let us learn from people like Mary and her husband.  They didn’t always have an ideal marriage.  They did, however, begin to seek the Lord and do their best to obey Him in their roles as husband and wife.  They learned to communicate, to present a unified front, and to speak positively about their spouse.  They learned what the Bible says and began doing it.  And because they did, there are now many young people across the globe living as a light for those around them.  Oh, to have a legacy like theirs!

What do you think?  Do you have any additional suggestions for having an excellent marriage?  Share them here with us!

 

Lionproof Part 4: Strengthening Your Defense

 

This is the fourth part of my series on child training, or protecting our children from the wiles of Satan.  In Part 1, we talked about the Tragedy of losing the next generation, in Part 2 we talked introduced the Overcomers, or those who have resisted the Satanic draw.  In Part 3, we found the most important quality of being a successful parent.  If you have not read the other 3 parts, please take the time to do so, and tell me how this series has been a help to you (if it has.)

 

In raising godly Christian young people, joy in parenting is a must!  It is like raising a tall, stout wall of defense in the lives of our children.  Many of the Overcomers I interviewed told of their parents’ joy, and the impact it had on their lives.

 

While in the northwest one spring, I met Shari, a very young assistant pastor’s wife with two small rambunctious children.  Her late father was the pastor of a mid-sized country church, where her parents had ministered for 20 years.  Shari, a fourth generation Christian, is part of another one of those remarkable families with all six children serving the Lord.  Her parents’ attitude was that serving the Lord was the best thing in the world.

 

“My parents simply loved serving the Lord,” she told me.  “They truly enjoyed everything they did for God, whether it was soul-winning, bus visitation, cleaning the church, counseling, or anything.  It wasn’t just “working in the church.”  To them, it was serving the Lord, and it was the most wonderful thing in the world.  I guess I grew up thinking the same thing.  It seemed to me to be the best thing ever; it was all I wanted to do with my life.”

 

Shari’s sentiments were not at all unusual.  A vast majority of the godly people I talked to felt exactly the same way.  In fact, 98% of my respondents said their home was happy!

 

Let me remind you that these young people know why they are now serving the Lord.  It is not rocket science, nor is it merely a theory; it is the principles of Scripture lived out in the lives of their parents that made all the difference in the world.   In some cases, like Shari’s, we see generation after generation of joyful Christians which have impacted the world.

 

Through hardship, pain, gossip, financial strain, and even death many families just like Shari’s refused to complain.  In return, they have a happy, well-adjusted family.  I think that’s a wise investment.

 

Here’s a few ideas on How to Live Joyfully:

Distract yourself from gloomy thoughts.

Be Content, concentrate on the good things you have.

Refuse to Complain, look for the silver lining in the cloud.

In Everything Give Thanks, because God is always good.

Pray, pray, pray!  – pray like it all depends on God, and live like it all depends on you.

May the Lord bless you richly as you seek to Lionproof your own children!

Do you have any more ideas on how we can be more joyful in our daily lives?  Please share!

God’s Midnight Angel

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My husband’s and my flight from Lousiville Ky, to Dallas, TX was uneventful, except that our airplane was one of the last to arrive at the Texas airport that evening.  My Beloved had reserved a rental car for us to drive down to Temple, Texas so he could have his delicate ear surgery.  Upon arriving at the rental car facility, however, we found that they were unable to rent to us since they required a major credit card to reserve the vehicle.  (Not necessarily to pay for it, but just to reserve it, in case some bonehead decided to go speeding off with their 2012 Camaro with only a debit card on file!)  We only have debit cards.

No problem, they say.  Dollar Thrifty will probably do it for you.

So we went there, with high hopes.  We were getting tired, and wanted to get the 2 ½ hour trip from Dallas to Temple behind us so we could be on time for My Beloved’s doctor appointment for 9:00 the next morning.

Unfortunately, for reasons too lengthy to post, they were unable to rent us a car.  And neither were Budget or Avis.  We found ourselves back at the airport at 2am, sitting by the Avis counter, wondering how we were ever going to get to Temple on time, let alone get some sleep.

The last flight came and went, and the airport was shut down.  The Avis lady was in the process of closing up her place when she asked, “How could you be so calm?  What are you going to do?”

I looked up at her and replied, “Well, I’m not sure what we’re going to do, because now everything is all closed down.  We don’t know anyone here that could help us, and even the bus lines aren’t running.  But we’ve been in plenty of tight places before, and I know God will take care of us.  He always has; He will do it again.”

She looked at me with a puzzled expression, then turned away and continued closing.  We were still discussing useless possibilities when she came up a few minutes later and remarked, “Maybe my Little White Car may want to make the trip.”

Now it was our turn to give her a puzzled expression.  We looked at her dumbly, and she continued, “Yes, I think the Lord wants me to take you down there.”  We tried to talk her out of it, but it was to no avail, and within minutes, we were riding down the highway toward Temple in her Little White Car.

This dear lady would be embarrassed to have her photo on the blog, but I took a picture of her beloved Little White Car while we were at the gas station filling up.

So this lady who didn’t know us from Adam and Eve carried us 2 ½ hours down to Temple, then turned around and drove herself all the way back!  A-MA-ZING!!  Needless to say, we made it to My Beloved’s appointments, and the surgery went well.  God has been so good to us.

We are thoroughly astounded at the goodness of God sending us His Midnight Angel! 

 

Lionproof Part 3 – The Overcomers Speak Out

 

 

As a continuation in my series on Lionproofing our children, I am publishing part 3 today.  This series is based on the interviews I’ve conducted with many 2nd generation Christians, looking for patterns in their childhoods which would reveal important principles of child training practices of their parents.  Part 1 outlines the problems we face in churches nowadays, while Part 2 introduces the Overcomers, or the ones who have withstood the attacks of Satan and gone on to serve the Lord.  If you haven’t read Parts 1 & 2, you may want to do so before reading on.

 

How can I Lionproof my own children – strengthen their faith so that they are able to withstand the fiery darts of the Devil?  Can it even be done?

 

I believe that, not only is it possible to know, but we can, with God’s help, raise a generation that will run for God and pass the Gospel Torch onto their children who come along behind them.  I believe it is possible to thwart the attacks of Satan on our families, and preserve the next generation.  Satan is always prowling around, looking for his next meal, and children are his favorite morsels.  However, generations of Christians have successfully raised their young people to serve the Lord – people just like you and me.  Folks with trials, financial difficulties, and physical troubles have all effectively navigated the difficulties of our current godless culture to raise a generation of young people who love God.  How did they do it?

 

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They began Lionproofing their children by first building a solid foundation. 

 

What’s the foundation of the home?  The foundation begins before two become one; it begins with each individual before they even approach the marriage altar.  It begins with each individual’s relationship with God.

 

In most of my interviews, the same characteristic popped up.  I simply asked, “Is there anything your parents did or did not do that pointed you in the direction of serving God?”  76% of the respondents each volunteered, in their own words and of their own volition, the very same characteristic.  To me, that is very powerful evidence that this quality is one of the most, if not truly the very most, important quality that a godly parent must possess in order to successfully raise godly children.

 

I’ll let one of my respondents answer.  Though Julia is almost 50, she is strikingly beautiful, thoughtful, and almost painfully candid. I asked, “Is there anything that your parents did or did not do that pointed you in the direction of serving God?”  The middle-aged pastor’s wife looked thoughtfully for a moment before answering.  Then, looking straight at me, she leaned forward and smiled.  “My parents were REAL.  They sincerely loved God, and wanted to serve Him.  They wanted to do whatever He wanted them to do.”

 

Herein lies perhaps one of our greatest challenges of parenting: that of really, truly, honestly believing what we say we believe as parents.  If we are to change the world, it must begin at home.  If we are to bring up young people who are passionate about living daily in the glorious presence of the Almighty God, then we must ourselves experience that same burning passion.  It is realness, it is true transparency, and it is life.

 

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Steve put it this way: “Kids are smart – you can’t pull anything over on them.  They’re just as human as we are.  People know a real thing, instead of an imitation.”

 

As a matter of fact, our children are the first ones to notice whether we are truly real or not!

 

Here is some good news for those of you who wonder whether you have what it takes to raise a godly young person: you do not have to be perfect, just real. 

 

 Take the time to examine yourself – your life, your heart, your spirit – and ask God to show you the truth.  Have you truly been born-again?  Has there been a time in your life when you have humbled yourself before God and sought His forgiveness, thanking Him for His sacrificial death?  There is no room for pretend Christians in this battle for the souls of our young people.

 

As you sincerely love the Lord and desire to please Him . . . at home, at church, at school, at work, in the store, on the phone, on the computer, and in the virtual world, you will find the realness of His presence, His provision, His protection, and His power in your life.

 

You will have built the foundation in Lionproofing your own children: having a real faith in a real God yourself.