Growing Into Eternity Together, II

B.  Stay young in spirit.

If one finds himself with the spirit of the “evil days” in mind, then he does not have to remain in the bondage of despair.   Life is too short to spend time on wishing we were young again, and then become cranky in spirit during the rest of our few years on this earth. Whether we are 40 or 80, we must think positive. We must not be surprise that age will bring its marks in the flesh, but this does not mean that fleshly marks that come with years be accompanied with marks in the spirit. We must not have remorse over those things in the past for which God has already dealt to us a bountiful portion of grace and forgiveness. We must be as Paul when he was sitting in a cold prison cell in Rome: “… one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are before (Ph 3:13). These are wise words to the aged. But he was not finished. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Ph 3:14). To Paul, the past had passed. His focus was on the future. Because he never lost his vision of good things to come, he was worthwhile for God’s business until the end of his life. An aged body may hinder our mobility to put ourselves in the presence of others, but if we maintain a youthful spirit, others will seek to put themselves in our presence.

The key to maintaining a spirit of youth is to focus our interest on something that is worthwhile to others. We must never pity ourselves in whatever portion of trials that life has dealt to us. We must always count it with all joy when we fall into different trials (Js 1:2), knowing that our faith must be tested to the day we die (Js 1:3). For this reason, we must never give into troubles and fears. In order to guard oneself from being critical of others, we must always keep our minds on saying something good about others. We may make ourselves feel good by gripping about the government or others, but doing such only encourages our spirit of negativity.   And the more negative we become about life, the less others will desire to be in our presence.

Worship is the cure for negativity, for in worship one focuses his mind on the One who gave all for us. Worship is inherently encouraging. It refocuses our thinking off ourselves for a moment in order to concentrate on the God of all creation. Worship is the best medicine for those who have been stricken with the virus of negativity. We once attended a small assembly of saints in a house in Cape Town, South Africa.   Before the assembly, in came an aged sister who needed someone on each side to bring her broken body to a seat in the assembly. Regardless of her apparent physical disability, she had a continual smile on her face. Her spirit was delightful.   She had learned the secret of how to maintain a spirit of youth through worship. After struggling for two city blocks to make it to a seat of relief in the assembly, she forgot all her aches and pains for a moment as she poured out her heart in thanksgiving to the One who would eventually give her a new body (See 2 Co 5:1-10).

C.  Eternal relationships must be nourished.

Every Bible student remembers the aged Anna.   She was at least 84 years old, but continued her ministry at the temple. She served God with fastings and prayers night and day (Lk 2:36,37).   She had discovered the secret to growing old with a good spirit. One is never too old to serve, for in serving, as worship, one is focusing on others. Anna may have been somewhat immobile, but she still served God. She was the embodiment of the promise of God in Psalm 92:12-14:

The righteous will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God.   They will bring forth fruit in old age.

Emmanuel Kant was in his 70s when he wrote Anthropology, and The Metaphysics of Morals. The Italian opera composer, Guiseppe Verdi, was 74 when he produced the masterpiece, Otello. At 80 he produced Falstaff, and then at 85 the famous opera Ave Maria, Stabat Mater and Te Dum. At 79 Oliver W. Holmes wrote Over the Teacups. At 83 Alfred Tennyson wrote Crossing the Bar. Productivity has no age limits.

When in one’s aged years, it is a time to be proud, not regretful. In one’s latter years he or she must remember, “With the aged is wisdom, and in length of days understanding” (Jb 12:12). “The gray head is a crown of glory, if it is attained by the way of righteousness” (Pv 16:31). It had to have been some aged person who remembered the preceding words of the Bible when he or she wrote,

Let me grow lovely growing old,

So many fine things to do;

Silks and ivory and gold,

And laces need not be new.

There is healing in old trees,

Old streets a glamour hold.

Why not I as well as they,

Grow lovely, growing old?

The responsibility of the aged couple is to help one another grow old gracefully. A tender nudge, a patient word, and a loving smile will signal years together and spiritual growth. It is not as Agnes and Andy. Agnes complained to Andy, her aged husband, “You haven’t said you loved me for years.”   Andy responded, “I told you I loved you when we got married. When I change my mind I’ll let you know.”

When an aged couple arrive in the twilight of their years together, their words are more custom made to express every thought.   Barbs have been filed from words of disagreement. Roads that led to disagreements have been posted with signs that read, “Road Closed!”   The beauty of aged couples is that they have learned to fine tune their communication in order to make their relationship carry them on the road that ends in eternal dwelling. Heaven will be much sweeter when they recognize one another in their eternal rocking chair. At the age of 70, the best advice I can leave for the aged is to wake up every morning with goals to do, knowing that this will be the best day of your life . . . considering the prevailing physical circumstances.

[End of series. The book, Building Eternal Relationships, will be published on the website as Book 69 in the Biblical Research Library:]



Growing Into Eternity Together, I

Into Eternity We heard the joke about the aged man who bought what he thought were “youth pills.” The first night after purchasing the pills, and before he went to bed, out of desperation to be young again, he swallowed the whole bottle of pills.   In the morning his wife kept shaking him to wake up. After some vigorous shaking, the man rubbed his eyes, but grumbled, “Ok, Ok, I’ll get up, but I don’t want to go to school.”

We remember one time in the kitchen on the Kansas farm many, many years ago that as children we asked our father how old he was. He replied, “40.” All of us children gasped and responded, “That is so old!” A person of 40 is old to some, but young to others, depending on which side of 40 you are. A person of 60 starts to reconsider that his father was not that old when he died at 80. We just never want to be considered “old timers,” regardless of how old we are.   Nevertheless, we must all remember the words of the Holy Spirit:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they are fourscore years, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away (Ps 90:10).

We seem never to be ready for that day when we “fly away.” Nevertheless, we must remember the words of James: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Js 4:14). We must always live as if we were about to vanish away into eternal dwelling. It is for this reason that old age is a beautiful thing when in the company of one with whom the promise was made many years before, “‘Til death do us part.” But until that time when either partner “flies away,” it would be good to reconsider some precious concepts that will preserve one’s youthful attitude until the flesh takes its first steps to dust—no “youth pills” needed.

A.  Be old in flesh, but not in spirit.

It was Shakespeare who said,

Some men never seem to grow old for they are always active in thought, always ready to adopt new ideas. They are never chargeable with fogyism; satisfied, yet ever unsatisfied; settled, yet ever unsettled. They always enjoy the best of what is, and are first to find the best of what shall be.”

They are as Paul wrote, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Co 4:16).

Paul surely felt age slowly creeping upon his body, but he would never allow the inevitable wasting away of his flesh to damper his spirit. We have seen those who are old in spirit when they were only 30. But we have also witnessed those who are 60 to be 30 in spirit. The old proverb is still true: “You are as old as you think you are.” There is divine revelation behind this statement. For the “aged youth” we would resort to the following encouraging words of God:

He gives power to the faint. And to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths will faint and be weary, and the young men will utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles.   They will run and not be wary.   They will walk and not faint (Is 40:29-31).

The word “age” must apply only to the body, but never to the state of one’s spirit. If one would preserve a youthful spirit, then he must not leave his dreams behind as his body ages into its evening years. His mind must always be nursed with the invigoration of hope of what yet lies in the future. If our dreams are dead, our hope will grow cold, and we will no longer look forward to great things. If hope is old, then our mind is old. If the fire of ambition has long cooled, then our spirit has aged. But aging does not have to be this way. We must remember the following words of a poet:

If from life you take the best,

And if in life you keep the jest,

If love you hold;

No matter how the years go by,

No matter how the birthdays fly,

You are not old.

O. H. Tabor gave some very good advice for those who let down their guard in old age, and subsequently, relinquish themselves to becoming old in spirit. You can know if your mind is old, Tabor wrote, when the following starts to characterize your attitude and behavior:

  • When you start making something out of nothing and allow your imaginations to build the wrong images of others.
  • When you are easily annoyed by little things that should be disposed of in a Christian sort of way.
  • When you are afraid to face up to the future and dread what may lie ahead.
  • When you lose interest in life and look to the past most of the time.
  • When you withdraw from others and want to shut the door of your life.
  • When you find yourself growing more critical of others, especially the young people.
  • When you look on the dark side of life most of the time and feel mistreated and unloved, and find you are becoming bitter and sour.

We might find ourselves in those words somewhere, and thus have allowed the spirit of being cranky to come into our attitudes.   If so, then we have proven true what Solomon wrote, that “… the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ec 12:1).   But this does not have to be the character of our inner spirit. Solomon’s “evil days” were only evil because in old age this is how some people view their lives. But “evil days” exist only in the minds of those who have grown old in spirit.

[Next lecture: September 22]



God’s Instructions for Children, III

  • 2 Timothy 3:15: “… and that from a child you [Timothy] have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus” (See Dt 6:1-9). One of the primary functions of parents is to teach their children the word of God. If they fail in this function as parents, then the children will learn their behavioral morals from the world. And the world has always been a good teacher in teaching bad moral conduct.

Society digresses into moral chaos when the citizens are left to determine their own standards by which the citizens will morally relate to one another. Parents must never forget that “it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jr 10:23). Since this is true, then it is imperative that parents instruct their children in the ways of God in order that their children have a God-ordained standard by which to make their journey through life. The atmosphere of the home must always be as some poet wrote:

How God must love a Christian home,

Where faith and love attest,

That every moment every hour,

He is the honored Guest!

  • Titus 3:4,5: “The older women likewise are to be reverent … so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, pure, workers at home, good, subject to their own husbands so that the word of God not be blasphemed.” Herein is revealed the relationship that must exist between older and younger women. At least the mother in the home should be teaching their daughters the principles of this verse. The heritage that mothers are to leave with their children is a genuine faith of life skills that will continue the godliness of the mother.

The wife of Isaac Goose, Mary, was born in Charleston, Massachusetts. She became well-known because of what she did for her children. Unfortunately, Mr. Goose died after Mrs. Goose had given birth to several children. She was left with the responsibility of teaching alone her children the principles of life that would guide them throughout their lives. So she wrote and sang to her children many nursery rhymes in order to entertain her children with moral principles. The rhymes, which were written in the seventeenth century, were eventually published by the son-in-law as the rhymes of Old Mother Goose. (Mrs. Goose died at the old age of 92 and is buried in the Granary Burial Ground, Boston, Massachusetts.)

If parents do not instruct their children in the word of God, then they are allowing their children to seek another teacher. In these modern times, this teacher is usually the public school, wherein is taught secular humanism. The product of such teaching is a world view that we are the product of evolution. This is a world view that is based on humanity being the result of an amoral process of evolution that is entirely different from the world view that is defined in the word of God.

We live with the consequences of societies that have given up on the word of God as the moral basis of our moral relationship in society. Many societies today are thus suffering the same as Israel of old when she gave up the word of God (See Hs 4:6).

It is incumbent on Christian parents to take spiritual ownership of their homes. Ownership is more than a deed to property. It is ownership of the spiritual future of their children. This is the inheritance they must pass on to their children.

[Next lecture:  September 21]


God’s Instructions for Children, II

  • Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother ….” A civil society begins in the home.   Children honor their father and mother through their obedience. They then carry this honor for authority in the home into the society when they leave the home.

The responsibility of the children to maintain the home is their obedience to their parents. Through their obedience to their parents they are preparing themselves for life. A disobedient child not only breaks down the function of his family, but he is also preparing in his behavior to break down of civil order when he leaves home. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jesus quoted Exodus 20:12 of the Sinai law during His ministry to restore the Jews to the life-style that should be governed by the law of God (See Mt 15:4; 19:19).

When we witness civil disorder in society, we are witnessing the result of citizens who have graduated out of homes where children were not taught to respect their parents. Undisciplined children in the home will always lead to undisciplined citizens in society. When parents allow their children to show disrespect in the home, they are handing over to the police a dysfunctional citizen whom they must now discipline.

  • Exodus 21:15: “And he who strikes his father or his mother, will surely be put to death.” The respectful relationship that children are to have toward their parents was clearly stated in this law for the Jews. Capital punishment was due to any child who would lay a hand on a parent simply because an undisciplined child in the home would lead to the destruction of society as a whole. It was best that the anarchist be stopped in the home before he or she brought ruin to society as a whole. In 1971, President Bokassa of the Central African Republic, celebrated one Mother’s Day by executing all prisoners in the state prison who had committed some crime against their mothers.
  • Exodus 21:17: “And he who curses his father or his mother, will surely be put to death” (Lv 20:9). In the Jewish society, capital punishment was to be meted out on those children who even verbally showed disrespect to their parents. The reason for this was that any society will disintegrate into anarchy when children begin showing disrespect for their parents. When there is no respect for parents in the home, there will be no respect for civil authority in the streets. The next stage of this social digression into anarchy is when citizens start blaming civil authority for any efforts to bring disobedient children, who have left the home, under the control of civil law.   A society that must have a strong police force to maintain law and order is a society where respect for law and order was not demanded in the home. Before one would argue with this truth, he must remember that Israel had no police force outside the home. The Jewish home produced citizens who respected the law of God.
  • Proverbs 19:26: “He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother, is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.”   The disrespectful child brings reproach and shame on his parents because of his lack of respect for his parents.   Rebellious children are a shame to the family. Young people manifest respect for their parents when they leave the home by continuing in their obedience of what was taught by their parents in the home.

Children must understand that their rebellion in the home brings shame upon the name of their parents. And in bringing shame upon the name of their parents, they must remember that they will live with the same name upon which they brought shame in their youth. The disrespectful child will always live with the guilt of his disrespect until the day he dies. The rebellious child in his or her youth should remember that he or she is creating unpleasant memories of their childhood with which they will have to live the rest of their lives.

Regardless of the forgiveness of their parents, one will still remember the rebellion of his or her youth. The apostle Paul never forgot that he persecuted the family of God (1 Tm 1:13). However, he found solace in the grace of God. And so must rebellious children when they eventually wander out of the wilderness of sin.

  • Proverbs 23:24,25: “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will have joy in him. Your father and your mother will be glad, and she who bore you will rejoice.” Children make their parents proud when they follow in the righteous instructions that were delivered to them by their parents. When they are old, children must remember that they will live with the guilt of their own disobedience toward their parents in their youth.   For this reason, the wise child will seek to follow the instructions of his or her parents in order to bring joy to their hearts. A righteous son or daughter always makes his or her father and mother proud.

In contrast to disrespectful youth, we can only imagine how much joy filled the heart of Timothy’s mother, Eunice, because he continued in the genuine faith throughout his life that she had taught him from his youth (2 Tm 1:5). The inheritance of a genuine faith that Eunice passed on to her son was far more precious than any financial stocks and bonds that he may have inherited.   Because he focused on faith in his youth, he could always remember spiritually obedient times with his mother who gave him a precious spiritual inheritance. When he left the home, Timothy had no guilt with which to deal in reference to his childhood.

  • Proverbs 15:20: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” The wise son is the one who has continued in the instructions of his father. This is the son of whom his father is proud. If one does not continue in the instructions of his parents, it is the same as despising the parents when he is on his own.   Children who have left the home bring honor to their parents by continuing in the godly life about which they were instructed as children in the home. When children rebel against the godly instruction of their parents, they are living a life that despises their parents. A life that is contrary to the godly instruction of one’s parents is a life that brings despite upon one’s mother.
  • Proverbs 10:1: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” A wise son is defined as one who continues in the instructions of his father. He is wise because he listens to his father.   Solomon’s definition of wisdom in the context of the preceding statement is when one listens to the instructions of one’s parents.

The son who rebels against the godly instruction of his father brings grief to the heart of his mother. A godly mother will have a heavy heart in reference to a wayward child until the time of her death. A wayward child who does not perceive this, is selfish, disrespectful and unconcerned about the emotional well-being of his mother. The child’s wayward life after leaving the home reveals his rebellion against the teaching of his father. His rebellion always affects his reaction to correction when he encounters in life opportunities to repent.

  • Proverbs 28:14: “He who robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is a companion of a destroyer.” The skill of loving one’s neighbor as himself begins in the home. A thief does not love his neighbor as himself. Theft, therefore, is always wrong because it is behavior that is contrary to the principle that one love his neighbor as himself. Simply because one takes something from a parent through theft still means that one is a thief. When theft is uncorrected in the home, a thief is turned loose on society.

Theft from a parent reveals disrespect for the parent in the home. It reveals disrespect for one’s neighbor in society. If one believes that theft from a parent is not wrong, then he cannot have a civil relationship with his neighbor in society. Thievery becomes a culture. It is often learned in the home when children steal from their parents.   They learn the culture of thievery in the home, and then, simply maintain the same behavior when they leave the home.

[Next lecture: September 20]


God’s Instructions for Children, I


When we were in our early teens, and decided to get serious about knowing the word of God, we were advised to start reading the book of Proverbs. The advice was relevant to our needs in our youth. Proverbs is still one of the most favored Bible books for the guidance of young people.

The American writer and preacher, Alexander Campbell, once made a trip to Ireland and England in the middle nineteenth century.   The promise of his eight-year-old son was that he would quote to his father the book of Proverbs upon his return.   Tragically, the eight-year-old son died in a drowning accident before Alexander’s return. Nevertheless, at the time of his death, the son was ready to fulfill his promise to his father.

The book of Proverbs is filled with exhortations for young people. Throughout the Bible, there are many directives to help young people find their way in a world that offers so many distractions from the right ways of God.   The book of Proverbs is unique in that it was written by one, Solomon, who had so many material distractions in his own life. We would thus encourage all young people to meditate their way through the book.   They should do so in order to find their way through a modern world of endless material distractions.

Before we launch into some of the more important concepts for youth in Proverbs, and in general the entire Bible, Solomon offered an admonition to all young people:

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth.   And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes. But know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things (Ec 11:9).

 Young people must not forget to study the Bible in reference to finding guidance in their youth. They must be motivated to do such in view of the fact that they will give account of their behavior before God. If a young person is tempted to walk contrary to the will of God, then he should remember that he will eventually stand before God in judgment.   Young people must remember, therefore, to “put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity” (Ec 11:10). The only guarantee for young people to keep their lives focused on God is that they give heed to Solomon’s final exhortation:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ec 12:1).

Paul was direct in his admonition of young people in reference to their relationship with their parents:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”which is the first commandment with promise” so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ep 6:1-3).

With this admonition directing the focus of their lives, the following are some Spirit-inspired instructions for young people to keep their minds focused on God:

  • Proverbs 1:8: “My son, hear the instruction of your father and do not forsake the law of your mother.” One of the purposes of the family is to produce obedient citizens for society. Only when the children adhere to the instructions of the parents, can this purpose be fulfilled. God’s ordained objective for parents, therefore, is to equip their children with behavioral skills that will enable them to function for the benefit of society. The primary textbook to source these skills must be the word of God, for only God has given the final word that will guarantee a society wherein every citizen loves his neighbor as himself. Solomon warned, “Cease listening, my son, to instruction and you will stray from the words of knowledge (Pv 19:27).
  • Proverbs 6:20: “My son, keep your father’s commandment and do not forsake the law of your mother.” In the preceding mandate of Proverbs 1:8, the emphasis was on the children hearing the instruction of their parents. In this statement, emphasis is on the children continuing in the parent’s instructions throughout their lives (Pv 22:6).   Children must not only listen to their parents in the home, they must also walk in the instructions of what they hear from their parents. It is worth noting that when Paul wrote, “in the last days perilous times will come,” he mentioned that those days, among other things, would be a time when children were disobedient to parents (2 Tm 3:1,2). Disobedience to parents is a sign of a society that has moved into a state of anarchy. Anarchy prevails when citizens rebel against the laws (instructions) of civil order.   For this reason, children must learn respect for authority (law) in the home, before they move into society.   Civil unrest, therefore, is often the evidence of failed homes.

[Next lecture: September 19]


God’s Manual for Parenthood, IV

E.  Teach the Bible in the mornings.

Deuteronomy 6 exhorts parents to teach their children the commandments of God “when you rise up” (Dt 6:7). The morning is a precious time for Bible reading as children sit and eat their breakfast. Parents who start the day with their children around a feast of the word of God are giving them spiritual nutrition for the remainder of the day. Before the family launches into a world of unbelievers, the morning is a time to remind the children that their house stands for God. It is a time to remind the children of the stand that Joshua proclaimed before the nation of Israel.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the gods that your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites in which land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Ja 24:15).

F.  Teach the word as a way of life.

 In reference to the commandments of God, Moses mandated,

And you will bind them for a sign on your hand, and they will be as frontlets between your eyes. And you will write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Dt 6:8,9).

The phrase, “God Bless This House,” has been committed to countless designs and signs. It is a statement that reminds everyone who steps foot in one’s house that the house is a place where God is and His word is studied. The blessed house is one where everyone who resides is reminded that a stand has been taken for God.

The word of God must always be before our eyes.   It must be written on our doorposts so that everyone approaching our house will know that our house is dedicated to God. We must never forget that the devil makes good friends of parents in order to reach their children.   Therefore, if we seek to rear up our children in the way that they should go when they leave the home, then we need to make sure that we are going in the direction we would have our children go. The Christian home is a launching pad from which godly people are launched into society. If we are disgusted with what we see in society, then we must remember that what we experience in society is the result of dysfunctional citizens that were produced in the home.

Many years ago on a Kansas farm, our mother always instructed us to be prepared in the home just in case Jesus showed up.   She would say that we should always suppose that Jesus was coming to our house to spend a couple days, or maybe just come over and watch the ball game on TV. If He were going to spend the night, she stated that we would most assuredly give Him the best room in the house to sleep. And if He were to sleep in our bedroom, she asked what posters we would tear down from our bedroom walls.

Upon His appearing at our front door, we would probably disguise our apprehension about having Him in our home by reassuring Him that we were happy to have Him in our company. When we first saw Him coming up to our door, we would probably rush around, possibly clearing some nasty magazines from the table, maybe hiding the beer and whisky. Would we hurriedly search for the Bible, dusting it off, and placing it in the middle of the coffee table in the front room? If we had time, we might even change our clothes into something morally descent. And then we would probably extract from the cassette player our worldly songs and put in the song, “Amazing Grace.”

Our mother’s point was that if Jesus were to come to our house to spend a couple days, would our life carry on as usual, or would we make some serious changes? Would we change our speech? If our house is dedicated to the Lord, then there should be no change if Jesus came to visit us. The challenge of being a disciple of Jesus means that we conduct the affairs of our house in a manner that there should be no change of affairs in our lives if Jesus were to knock at our door.

Leo Tolstoy once said, “All happy families are alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is a difficult task, especially in these times when sin is so commonly accepted as a way of life (Pv 22:6). Teaching children to honor their father and mother takes a great deal of nurturing (See Ex 20:17). Teaching children to be receptive to the instructions of the Lord takes a life of parental example and teaching (See Pv 1:8). And teaching children to be obedient unto the Lord demands a strong committed example of Christian living on the part of the parents (See Ep 6:1-3).   And sometimes it is still as Don Marquis said, “I would rather start a family than finish one.”

[Next lecture: September 18]








God’s Manual for Parenthood, III

C.  Teach the word when you walk.

 God continued His instructions in Deuteronomy 6 with the following: “Talk of them [the commandments] … when you walk by the way” (Dt 6:7). Not only is Bible teaching to take place in the home, it must also to be a characteristic of the parents’ interaction with their children when they are outside the home.   Moses’ mandate is that the parents spend time with their children in and out of the house when they are instructing their children in the word of God.

The instructions of Deuteronomy were written to the people of a farming culture. When the parents were in the field with their children by their side, there was to be Bible instruction. Unfortunately, modern families in urban environments have moved into a more challenging schedule in reference to parent/child relationships outside the home. A frustrated parent once said, “Most homes nowadays seem to be on three shifts.   Father is on the night shift; mother is on the day shift, and the children shift for themselves.”   Nevertheless, the instructions of Deuteronomy encourage parents to focus on their children in Bible teaching regardless of where the children are.

Since many live in the modern urban world, and not a rural farming culture, then it takes special efforts on the part of parents to fulfill the mandate that parents teach their children as they “walk by the way.” It takes planning for parents to be with their children outside the home in a manner where the word of God can be taught. Parents should plan work days together, vacations together, sports together, and any activities that will allow them to live an example of Bible teaching, as well as speaking the word of God to their children. At times the parents need to plan travel or outings together when it is only the father, mother and children as a family unit.   This means that a family must be by themselves without the influence of others. This also means that each parent should plan to have personal one-on-one time with each child of the family. When parents develop a means by which they can walk with their children along the way with a Bible in hand, then they are on their way to preserving a spiritual heritage for their grandchildren.

D.  Teach the word of God at night.

Moses continued that the parents talk with their children about the word of God when they lie down at night (Dt 6:7). This means nightly reflection on the word of God and prayer. Timothy was blessed with a godly grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) (2 Tm 1:5).   These two people passed on to Timothy a genuine faith that carried him throughout his life. The implanting of this genuine faith in his heart started when he was a child. Paul wrote, “… and that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures …” (2 Tm 3:15). From childhood Timothy had been instructed in the word of God. We assume, therefore, that there was evening Bible teaching in the house of Eunice when Timothy was old enough to understand the Scriptures.

Night time is a precious time for Bible study.   It is a time when the day is over and the family is in the quiet solitude of the home. It is a time when the last impressions of the word of God can be implanted on young minds as they slumber off into quiet sleep. Bible reading, Bible stories, spiritual songs, and a host of other Bible related activities can be experienced in the quietness of the evening as children find rest in sleep. The Bible is a source of sweet dreams. Evening Bible teaching is a time of joy and reverence when the word of God becomes the center of attraction for the last wakened moments of the day.

We will always remember the family in the nation of Uganda with whom we stayed many years ago. This family was isolated in the country. There was no electricity, no batteries for radios, and thus, no radios. No TV, no cellphones, no internet, etc. There was no newspaper and no books in school for children. We asked the family with whom we stayed what they did at night when they came in from working in the fields. The father replied, “We have about two hours of spiritual singing, reading the Bible by candle light when we have a candle, and telling Bible stories.” We might think this odd, but keep in mind that this was the way the world lived for thousands of years before people were “blessed” (or, cursed) with modern means of communication, or distractions. This was the way it was until the home became a place to go in order to get ready to go somewhere else. People actually sat down and looked at one another when they communicated, without some electronic communication device in their hands.

Some poetical parent surely wrote the following in reference to parenthood:

Before your child comes to seven,

Teach him well the way to heaven.

Better still the truth will thrive,

If he knows it when he is five.

Best of all, if at your knee,

He learns it when he is three.

[Next lecture: September 15]

God’s Manual for Parenthood, II

B.  Teach the word of God in the home classroom.

The inspired manual for parenthood continues in Deuteronomy 6 with the following instructions: “Talk of them [the commandments] when you sit in your house” (Dt 6:7). In the field of secular education, “home schooling” has become a worldwide environment where millions of children are taught by parents outside the public school environment. For centuries, the home has always been the primary classroom for successful education of children in the word of God. In fact, when parents started giving their children over exclusively to the Bible class teacher, the education of children in the word of God diminished.   Deuteronomy 6:7 emphasizes the home as the primary environment in which children are to be taught the word of God.   The primary teachers are the parents.   The Bible class at the local assembly of the saints must always be in second place as the Bible school house.

The best environment in which children can be instructed in the word of God is when the family is together in the home. The problem that is facing many Christian homes today is that Christian parents have delegated all teaching of the Bible to their children to those who are outside their own homes. The instructions in the statement of Deuteronomy 6:7 means that parents have the responsibility of teaching the Bible to their children in the home. Parents are the designated teachers. Other teachers outside the home are only blessings who should support the teaching of the parents in the home.

We live in an era where every sort of entertainment has been invented in the assemblies of churches. If one would ask the parents of these assemblies why some have gone to such extreme systems of entertainment, they would unanimously state that they wanted to “save their children.” Most of these parents have failed to follow the instructions of Deuteronomy 6:7. Most have often failed to have daily Bible study in their homes from the time their children were small children, and thus, they have turned to “saving their children” through some concert assembly outside the home. They fail to understand that the necessity for the “entertainment assembly” is the last resort to keep their children because they have failed to teach their children in their homes.

It is the responsibility of the Christian home to impart Bible knowledge to the next generation of citizens of every society.   It is advantageous to have public Bible classes outside the home, Bible schools and Vacation Bible Schools. But if there is no Bible teaching in the home, then the success of public Bible teaching of the children will always be limited.

Albert Taylor once said, “One percent of the child’s time is spent under the influence of the Sunday School; 7% under the influence of the public school; 92% under the influence of the home.” Now who would have the greater influence over the children in the matter of influence and teaching?

The Christian’s home must be the primary school environment for the children. And in this school, the word of God must be the primary textbook. It must be this way from the time the children can listen to their parents reading the word of God to themselves, to the time the children eventually leave the home to start another home Bible school in their own home.

[Next lecture: September 14]



God’s Manual for Parenthood, I


In order to keep Israel on the road of righteousness, God gave the parents of Israel specific instructions on parenthood in reference to guiding the nation in the right direction. The system by which parents were to implement these instructions is given in the context of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. If the parents maintained God’s educational system by which they should teach their children the law of God, then the nation would be preserved in the land of promise.

In Deuteronomy 6 are instructions on how Jewish parents were to impart the commandments of God to their children.   In Deuteronomy 11, God explained the reason why the parents of Israel were to be so vigilant to instruct their children in the word of God. Moses recorded,

Therefore, you will keep all the commandments that I command you this day so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you go to possess it; so that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their seed, a land that flows with milk and honey (Dt 11:8,9).

Failure to be obedient to the commandments of God, therefore, meant that they would not be able to possess the land, as well as retain the possession of it after the land was conquered. Their obedience to the law of God was necessary for them to function as the nation of God in order to be a beacon of obedience to the world that they were God’s people. If they forsook the law of God, and went after the gods of the nations around them, then their purpose for which they were called to be a nation would no longer be valid.

As Israel among the nations, Christians live in a world that is hostile to the will of God. It is imperative, therefore, that Christians take a firm stand for the word of God in order to survive as the spiritual Israel of God.   Unfortunately, the majority of the physical Israel of old eventually forsook the word of God (Hs 4:6). The result was that the Israelites were scattered among the nations, from which only a faithful remnant returned. The Jewish nation lost her identity as the people of God in the land of Palestine. If Christians today become ignorant of the word of God, they too will lose their identity as the people of God. They will be religious, but they will have no claim to being called Christians.   They may do many wonderful works, but they will only be “Lord, Lord” religionists who have forsaken the commandments of God (See Mt 7:21-23). Since Israel is God’s example of warning to the church today, then we too must expect that only a remnant will remain faithful (See Rm 15:4; 1 Co 10:11).

In order to guard against the unfortunate destiny of apostasy, the following statements of Deuteronomy 6 are the Spirit-inspired educational manual on how Hebrew parents were to teach their children in order to preserve their identity as the people of God. If we fail to follow these instructions, the church too will become as Israel of old who departed from the word of God. The Hebrew writer warned, “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hb 3:12).

A.  Teach diligently the word of God.

 Moses instructed that the parents “teach them [the commandments] diligently to your children” (Dt 9:7). Before two people are married, this is one of the agreements to which they must first commit themselves. When children come into the family, both parents must be committed to teaching their children the word of God. Though one parent can be successful in the task of teaching the Bible to the children, when there are two on the teaching staff, the task is much easier.

In the case of Timothy, it was only Timothy’s mother, Eunice, with her mother, who assumed the role of teaching the word of God to her son (Tm 1:5). No credit is given to Timothy’s father for being a believer (At 16:1-3). Though it is best to have a team of teachers to impart the word of God to the children, sometimes the mother or father must struggle alone if one is an unbeliever. In the case of Timothy, the mother was successful in imparting the word of God to her son from the time Timothy was a child (2 Tm 3:15), to the time an apostle came by and called him into ministry (At 16:1-3).

The use of the word “diligent” in the instructions of Deuteronomy 9:7 means that the parents must put their minds to this task.   If parents believe that sports and school activities are more important on the list of training their children than the word of God, then God’s word will take second place in the lives of the children. If parents believe that secular education is more important than spiritual education, then they will develop children who arrange the priorities of their life according to what the parents deemed most important in their lives. Parents must require of their children regular Bible study and memorization of the Scriptures. As in secular education, assignments in Bible study are in order. Greater diligence must be placed on Bible learning than on any other learning in the home.

It is interesting to note the difference between the King James Version (KJV) translation of the Greek text of 2 Timothy 2:15 and other translations. The KJV reads, “Study to show thyself approved unto God ….” The word “study” is not in the Greek text.   However, the meaning of study is strongly assumed in the text, though other translations retain the literality of the Greek text with the following translation: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”

If one were to rightly divide the word of God as a diligent workman for God, then certainly he must study the word of God.   A diligent workman for God has no idea how to work unless he diligently studies his Work Manual.   This is the reasoning behind the translation of the original KJV translators. Diligent workmen diligently study in order to rightly determine what the Boss would have them do. Those parents who are diligent students of the word of God will diligently teach the word to their children in order that they follow God’s instructions on living.

[Next lecture: September 13]

Refocusing the Family, IV

E.  Refocusing parenthood:

Parents must move beyond the common statement that is often said to children, “Do as I say, not what I do.” Children need examples. We too often forget that we are teaching our children through two mediums of education: (1) We teach our children through oral instructions. (2) We teach our children through behavioral example. If parents lack in any of these two areas, they will reap the consequences through their children. Their children will either know what to do, but have no living example of how to do what they know, or they will follow the behavioral example of their parents, but not know why they are doing it. Atheists can have good families. But their children are not directed by their parents to an eternal dwelling with their Creator.

Young people must not be burdened with the task of sifting through parental dysfunction in order to find their way in life. If parents do not live up to what they teach, their children, after they leave the home, are constantly challenged to make decisions concerning good and bad behavior on their own.   This should not be the responsibility of the children. Children must not be given the responsibility of sifting through our actions in the home in order to come up with what the Lord would have them do.

When our children leave the home, they must take with them two primary principles that will keep them focused in their lives:

  1. You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Mt 22:37).
  2. You will love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:39).

With the guiding principle of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33), children are well prepared for life with the above two principles as the foundation for their behavior.

Parents must remember that the Bible is their best friend. There are nugget principles for child rearing throughout the Bible. Someone said, “Rearing a child is like drafting a blueprint; you have to know where to draw the lines.” It is the Bible that has already drawn the lines for child training.

A young teenage daughter asked if she could go to a recently released adult movie. But the mother drew a line. She said “No!” The daughter responded to the mother, “All the other parents are allowing their children to go.” As the mother continued sweeping the kitchen floor, she picked up a handful of garbage that she had swept into a pile and threw it in the salad of the noon meal. She then said to her daughter, “I suppose that if you don’t hate garbage in your heart you shouldn’t mind it in your stomach.”

Parents must always remember the exhortation of the Holy Spirit: “Be not deceived, evil company corrupts good morals” (1 Co 15:33). There was once a man who had a canary who would sing a beautiful song. So he decided to hang the cage with the canary outside his window to enjoy the company of the sparrows. The sparrows thus became the neighbors of the canary. It did not take long for the canary to learn to sing only, “Cheep, Cheep, Cheep.”

There is an exhortation from the Bible we must not forget: “‘Therefore, come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.” (2 Co 6:17). And, “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rm 12:9). Goethe said, “Tell me with whom thou art found and I will tell thee who thou art.”   Solomon has not yet been proven wrong in the statement: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed” (Pv 13:20).

Parents must first talk to God in prayer about their children, and then they must talk to their children about God. God gave Israel a great mandate for parenthood in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, in which were the following words:

And you will teach them [commandments] diligently to your children and will 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 (Dt 6:7).

Now before we become cynical of our own generation, consider the following words:

“Children now love luxury, have bad manners, contempt for authority, show disrespect for their elders, and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants and not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.   They contradict their partners, chatter before company, gobble up their dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize over their teachers.”


Written around 475 B.C.

 [Next Lecture: September 12]