How many of us talk about our relationship with God at work? At home? Why are we so afraid to talk about God? If we truly love him and are grateful for the things he does for us, why are we not talking about this? If we know God and he knows us, if he takes care of us, providing our needs, answering out prayers, and walking through life with us; why are we keeping it to ourselves? At the very least, why are we not teaching our children? If we truly have a relationship with God and if he has changed us from the inside out, we should be sharing it with others. James says, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17 ESV).
I am currently in the process of writing a book. The more I research and read the old testament, the more I see a trend. It starts at the end of Joshua and runs through the end of the old testament. It’s one generation passing away, who served God all their lives, and another taking their place who has no idea who he is. It is a very disturbing trend. I see the same trend in today’s day and age. The very least we can do is talk about God with our children. Why are we not doing this?
I will admit, I used to be this way. I used to let life be life. I used to let my temper get the best of me. My children didn’t see a man of God, so much as a man who was overworked, tired, and on edge all day long. Children absorb. They are like sponges. When they are little, they notice when you are in a bad mood. They know the things you talk about and the things you like. They even learn to use bad words from their parents, (which I am not proud of). But what you talk about and how you live; what makes you mad and what makes you happy are all things kids pick up on. Do you get upset when your favorite sports team loses, more than you are upset that false gospels are flying around? Do you rejoice at having money, more than you rejoice with teaching the truth of Jesus? Do you want a new sports car more than you want a deeper relationship with Jesus? Are you chasing the things of this world, the things money can buy, or are you pursuing Jesus? I ask these things because kids pick up on these characteristics and follow what their parents do, say, and the way they act. What are you showing your kids?
God does not change. His word is forever. Listen to what God speaks to us through Moses, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on your doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 ESV). This commandment, or lack thereof, can be seen throughout the entire old testament. Moses tells us that the word of the lord should be bound to our hands (write it over and over until your hand cramps), as frontlets between your eyes, (memorize memorize memorize), talk about it with your children, morning, noon, and night. Write the commandments of God all over your house and on your gate if you must. Do whatever it takes to remember and teach these commandments to your children.
Children learn from their parents. Listen to Joshua’s words before he died. “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14-15 ESV). The gods that we serve can be a snare to our children. I ask again, who do your children see you serve? What do you talk about the most, the things of this world, or the one who made it all?
As I stated earlier this was a major problem throughout the old testament. Shortly after Joshua gives this speech, just two chapters later, in Judges chapter two, we find that Joshua’s generation had passed away and a new generation arose, who neither knew God or how to serve him. From this point on it’s a rollercoaster ride through the old testament. Generations would cry out to God for help, only when their gods could not save them. God would take pity and rescue them. Then they would serve God until the Judge or the good king died. The next generation would be worse than the one before it. They would turn their backs on God. Stop and thumb through the book of Judges, or even the first ten chapters of 1 Samuel. We find that even the Levitical priest Eli failed to teach his sons. His sons were killed along with him for their evil and Samuel took his place as judge in Israel. Even Samuels sons were evil. Why? Samuel wasn’t home. He used to make a circuit throughout the land and serve the people. He wasn’t at home teaching his children. King David was a man after God’s own heart, yet some of his sons were evil. Even Solomon the wisest king ever, had a son who walked away. It’s a downhill slide when we do not teach our children about God.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV). I am not exempt from this. I spent many years giving my children the wrong impression of God; only calling on him when I needed something. Only talking about him while at church. I have since seen the error or my ways and repented. My kids will tell you dad talks about Jesus “too much” now days. I memorized it, I write about it, I wear t-shirts with Christian sayings on them, I talk about it morning, noon, and night with my children. I train them up, and teach them about the God of their parents. Throughout the whole old testament, the children learn to serve what the parents teach them. Many Israelites served gods of wood and stone until they really needed something the idol couldn’t give. What idols could use replacing in your life? Money? The things of this world? Power? Fame? Yourself?
As a Youth Pastor for the last 10 years of my life, I can tell you this is one hundred percent true. Not just because the Bible says it, but because I have seen it for ten years! Children come to children’s ministries and to youth group, but they reach a certain age, and they drop out. There is only so much we can teach the kids for an hour on a Wednesday night and a couple more hours on Sunday. It has to be taught at home. Children are most likely to drop out of church completely by college. I have seen it too many times. Most of the children I teach walk away completely by the time they get a car at age sixteen. Why? Because it is not reinforced at home. They are bombarded by the world at school, work, and with friends. They get at most four hours a week with God, and only at church. That means the other 164 hours of the week is working against us as parents. I for one will not stand for it. I will talk about Jesus until I am blue in the face, morning, noon, and night. I will quote from the Bible. I will give them biblical advice to all their problems, and devote myself to the knowledge needed to train up my children in the way they should go.
This is a hard blog to write, as I know many parents whose children have gone astray. Who are broken over their children who are church drop outs; who have walked away from the love of God and have decided instead to chase the things the world has to offer; false idols made of wood and stone if you will. If we want our children to know the full love and relational trust we find in Christ, we must be willing to talk about it. It’s not for the pastors and teachers only. God said it is our job to teach our children his commands. To show them how to love and serve the God of the universe. They watch us. They learn life from us. What are we teaching them about God? Serve him until you get what you want? He is a list of do this and don’t do this? Do we add man made teachings that make serving God a burden to our children? It’s time we stop only praying for them, and start living it, start talking about it.
I do not want you to be discouraged. You can repent. You can turn around and start today. Teach your children. There is no heart too far from God. His arm is not too short to reach. He is powerful. If your children are out of the house, pray for them, talk with them about all the good things God has done for you when they visit. God can use that. You can still be an example. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you can tell your children about the love of Jesus. As long as you are alive you can still be and example of God’s love.
I am fully aware that the choice to follow God is completely up to my children. I cannot make the decision for them. I deeply wish I could. If they choose to walk away, it is up to them. But I will stand before God one day, and I want to stand before him knowing I did all I could to save my children. I did all I could to tell them about the love of Christ. I pray they do not walk away. I pray they learn from my example, and from their mom as well. And in the end, we can all stand before God and hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your master.” I want to stand firm knowing I have done everything in my power to train them up in the way they should go, so when they are older, they will not depart from it.
This is the number one job God gives us as parents! What are your kids learning from you? My dad taught me the love of God at a young age, and now I love and serve the LORD only. Our goal is to teach our kids the same. There is no greater sound in my household than hearing my wife teach our daughters about the love of Jesus. Nothing sweeter. I love that when my children have theological questions they come to their mother and me, and we sit for hours sometimes and talk about God. We pray before meals. We talk about what he is doing in our lives. We tell them all about how the one who created the world is better than the world itself.
May you find courage to talk about it with your children. Even if you do not have children, teach the younger generation to obey the LORD. There are children in your life that need reassurance of God’s love. Make a disciple and make a difference in someone’s life. In my blog of the parable of the talents, I compared this very thing to investing with the bankers so that God gets a return. It’s up to us. Are you willing to talk about it? I will talk about it. I want peace of mind knowing I did all I could to teach the next generation to teach the next generation.