While doing research for my upcoming book, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, I found an interesting poem titled “A Fence or an Ambulance,” which was written in the 1800s. Here’s part of it:
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ’tis best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence ’round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
—taken from the poem, “A Fence or an Ambulance,”
by Joseph Malins (1895
Many of the 2nd generation Christians I interviewed for my book mentioned the importance of the principle of Building a Barricade. Jamie told me, “Although I was only little when my parents came to know the Lord, I remember how dramatically their lives changed,” Jamie went on to explain.“They went one hundred percent for the Lord, absolutely head first. Anything that they felt was good or godly they began incorporating into their lives, and everything that may have remotely been considered wrong they walked away from. They made some tremendous adjustments very quickly, and have never wavered since. Their consistency over the years has had an incredible impact on my life.”
Another 2nd Generation Christian (and red-headed Christian school teacher,) Arianna, 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 comment was typical of these godly young people. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of them said that they were sheltered while they were growing up.
My last four posts have discussed what we need to BE in order to raise children who will follow God. 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 almost hesitate to write this post, because I fear someone will think this is the most important thing. To those who are concerned primarily with externals over and above heart attitudes, I urge you to seriously consider the outcome of such a philosophy. Those people I talk to who were raised with an over-emphasis on externals told me that their childhoods were not very happy.
Here are some of the principles the godly 2nd generation Christians mentioned:
- They were raised with an emphasis on attending the House of God. All of the godly 2nd Generation Christians I spoke to are still in church today. Their parents made church a priority, and these dear people still do.
- By and large, their family had regular Family Devotions. Although some did not, most of them had Family Devotions. They didn’t have to be long or big preaching sessions, but a time to gather the family and read the Word of God and comment on it.
- They taught their children a decidedly Christian world view. Almost all of my 2nd Generation Christians attended Christian schools or were home educated. The parents made the sacrifices necessary to ensure their children received a good Christian education.
- They limited their children’s’ entertainment – TV, videos, movies, internet. They were very careful about what went into their children’s “ear and eye gates.” They understood that what goes into someone’s head really does affect their thinking.
- They monitored their children’s friends. The influence of friends cannot be overstated. Friends can influence for good or bad, and these parents carefully kept track of their children’s friendships, encouraging them to choose good friends, not bad ones.
- They were careful about the kind of music allowed in the home. Music, regardless of the lyrics, has a tremendous effect on our spirits and minds. The parents of these folks wanted their children to be surrounded by godly music, rather than music which irritates the soul.
I hasten to add here a warning to those of you who wish to stop reading right here. You’ve been supplied with all your tools to build your barriers and keep your children from the world. And it is true that they must be sheltered. However, understand that it is very easy to fall into the trap that many good parents fall into, and that is the tendency to pull the barriers so tightly that they choke a young person and stifle his ability to interact with others. Be careful; if you create a cloistered environment, it is quite possible that your dear sheltered young person may find a break in the hedge someday and decide to make a run for it.
If he does, he plays right into the Devil’s paws. You can be sure that the hungry lion will be waiting for him when he, with eyes round with bewilderment, comes out of his safe haven. He is right where Satan wants him.
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.”
All sorts of additional information, including research, other interviews, and workbook-style questions at the end of each chapter are included in my forthcoming book, Lionproof. If you are interested in what you see here, you will be completely riveted by the information in the book. The interviews changed my life; they may just change yours as well!
Question: What or who do you think is the most formative influence in your children’s lives? In your opinion, how does a child’s environment affect him?
- I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!
- Keep your eyes out for the upcoming release of my new book on this topic, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, coming in September! In this book, there will be:
- Not just information telling parents why kids are going astray, but proven parenting practices that have worked for generations that are successful in raising godly children.
- Dozens of interviews from those 2nd generation Christians who KNOW what their parents did RIGHT.
- Charts and graphs detailing the results of the interviews
- Assignments to help the reader implement these principles in their own parenting.
- And much, much more!
If you have a blog and would like a review copy of the book, let me know! All you have to do when you’re done reading it is to post about it on your blog! Leave a comment here or email me, and I’ll get in touch with you.
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