In common culture today when a loved one passes away, the friends and family are left to cope with the loss, but also the daunting task of sorting through their loved ones belongings. They must decide who is to receive what items, and what is to be done with all of the things that belonged to their loved one.
Something that is of assistance to the friends and family during this time of loss is if the person has left behind a “Will.” This is where the deceased has written out what they wish to have done with their belongings when they are no longer with the ones that they love. They leave things that they believe will mean a great deal to those they leave behind.
The deceased might leave behind something such as a hunting rifle to a grandson, so that the grandson will always remember his grandfather when hunting with this gun. Or it might be, all of grandmas “secret recipes” that are handed down to the younger generation so that not only her cooking, but her love, hard work, and her constant dedication to serving her family will always be remembered.
As we think about these things, I want us to consider this. How are we passing along our faith? Our faith in God is the greatest thing that we can pass along to those we leave behind (especially our own children.) How are they to receive this faith? It is my belief that we are beginning to fall into a spiritually deadly trap today when it comes to passing along our faith to children.
Parents, sometimes fall into the way of thinking that because they know what they believe, they know why they believe what they believe, and they have a deep love for God, that that automatically means that their child will “inherit” this way of life as well. The overwhelming mentality today sadly is something like this, “I don’t know why my son is no longer faithful, we brought him to church when he was younger.” Or maybe you have heard this statement before “We have a good Christian family, we go to church every week.”
It is very sobering to look at the empty pews where all of our children in the Lord’s Church “used to be.” We look at the sad faces of Mom and Dad as they say to themselves “I don’t understand, we were good parents. We taught them what was right and wrong. We made sure that we were aware of what they were doing most of the time, we made sure that we took them to church almost every time the doors were open. I just don’t know why they have chosen to leave God.”
Brothers and sisters, if I may be so bold to say, I believe one of the major issues that is currently chipping away at the foundation of our congregations today is the mentality that we see from too many adults within each of our congregations, and if we are all honest with ourselves we can see Satan trying to slip it into our minds as well with the idea that we are “Taking our kids to church” rather than “Raising them IN the Church.”
It is my goal to both encourage, and to challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and ask the question, “How am I ensuring that my children will develop a personal faith that will last?”
Deuteronomy chapter 6:6-9 carries a bold message from our Creator about how children are to be taught about the scriptures.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” I challenge you as you read these words to be asking yourself, am I doing this for my children?
A great fear of mine is this; parents (generally speaking) are becoming far too dependent upon the youth ministers and the Bible class teachers that they forget it is still their own personal responsibility, to train their children in the ways of the Lord.
We all have heard the excuses, “I’m far too busy to get into Biblical studies/ discussions with my children on a regular basis.” Or maybe “You don’t understand my situation, my job is just so demanding of my time, that when I am home I am so exhausted from the day it is hard to stay focused on anything, let alone studying the Bible.” We have all heard these “reasons” being stated as to why parents can’t spend the time with their children in God’s Word. To those statements I would simply reply with scripture. Such as the promise that we have in Phil 4:13- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”, there is absolutely nothing that we cannot do (in accordance with scripture) if we have placed our faith in the right source! It simply comes down to priorities. One of the things that we miss far too often is that we need to realize that we cannot teach what we do not know. We cannot lead where we do not go. If we want our children to become spiritual champions, not just in the war, but winning the war, we need to model in our own lives each and everyday how to serve the Lord. We must model how to study the Word of God, and just as important, if not more important, how to apply it to our lives!
As we take a deeper look at the text in Deuteronomy, let me ask you as a parent, if your youth minister or your children’s Bible class teacher takes the time to write the commands of God on their doorposts and on their gates, tell me how is that going to influence the spiritual outcome of your children who are living in your house? We must keep in mind that this is a message from God to parents. In these verses we do not see a message from God stating, “Parents, hire a youth minister to train your children.” What we see is a message from God to parents that says “teach them diligently to YOUR children!”
Think for just a minute with me about sports. Some sports are simple, while others remain complicated. If you have ever been in sports yourself or have children who are, you know the amount of time that is required for that child to be able to play on game day. They must take the time to learn how the game is played. Then they must take the time to work on their own skill set. Then they move on to learning how to play together with their teammates. These things take a lot of time to master. So they have practices that they must attend in order to learn these things and be able to play at a high level. We understand this very simple concept when it comes to sports. Now let us dwell on the question “have sports become more important in my family than God?” As we continue to dig into this particular passage of scripture in Deuteronomy we can further see why God is giving this command to parents, and not to youth ministers. “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.” It requires a tremendous amount of time (and sacrifice) to instill a faith that is going to last in the life of your child. As we examine this portion of scripture we can see there are only four times parents are required to teach their children about God. Is there any time that you are not supposed to be teaching your children about God? Not according to the Creator himself. Christianity, unlike sports has no off season.