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The family unit is under assault from an ever-increasing array of forces, with children enduring the brunt of the attack. Parents are now facing almost impossible odds against successfully rearing their children! This is not overstated.
Yet, God commands parents to, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
But how can parents—one alone or two working together—do this? What chance do they have of rearing balanced, moral children in today’s wild, immoral world? What should children be taught? How should they be instructed? And can you be sure that what you teach your children will stay with them for life?
God’s Word addresses these and many related questions. You will be surprised at what and how much God instructs!
More and more thinking people recognize that civilization is out of control. New problems of every kind are appearing, with older ones growing worse seemingly every day. Today’s generation of leaders has utterly failed in its responsibility to improve the world—to make it better for the next generation. Government leaders, business leaders, generals, scientists, doctors and medical science, philosophers and religious leaders have all failed in bringing happiness, fulfillment, peace and true purpose to the lives of billions.
From today’s young people will come the leaders of the future. Of course, this first supposes there will even be a future for the world, and that there will also be a generation of qualified leaders to better guide civilization.
The evidence is not good that either of these will happen.
The nations of the world possess a vast sum of knowledge—and it increases daily—but they are ignorant of the right kind of knowledge—spiritually revealed knowledge. This is because the modern system of education is morally and spiritually bankrupt! Deluded educators have been biased against God and His Word by having had the atheistic teaching of evolution poured into them from childhood. They have taught young people for decades—and these have become today’s parents and grandparents—that there are “no absolutes,” and that they must follow “situation ethics” in all circumstances. They have led the world into a kind of secular humanism—where people are driven by how they feel rather than clear definitions of right and wrong! But there is right and wrong in life—and the educators teaching today’s children have cut themselves off from this knowledge. (Carefully read Isaiah 59:1-2 and Jeremiah 5:25.) They cannot teach what they were never taught. And neither can parents who have been indoctrinated in their thinking!
Also, this world’s churches have kept parents and young people steeped in traditional pagan philosophies and teachings that have deceived the world for millennia. All the world’s religions have ignored the great spiritual principle of cause and effect that governs every aspect of life. They have all neglected to teach true spiritual values—that there is an inspired, vital Instruction Book from Almighty God that contains special knowledge. It explains that there is a great spiritual law that, when obeyed, brings all the good things every human being seeks.
This Personal strips away the confusion, division, competing traditions and ignorance that have shrouded the truth about childrearing God’s Way. May God help you understand what you are about to read so you can teach your children to understand what has not been available until now!
Many children today are almost completely void of true values—and many are not even aware that they should have values. Their minds and emotions are invested in material things—physical possessions that are thought to define their lives. Society has now produced a generation in which some teenagers will actually kill to possess what others have—$200 sneakers or jackets, for instance—because life has come to be about “status,” “getting respect,” conforming to peer pressure, and living almost exclusively for the moment. Many do not care about—or even think about—tomorrow, but rather only about what will happen to them today.
Here is a descriptive reference from the prophet Hosea foretelling the condition of today’s generation of young people: “They have dealt treacherously against the Lord: for they have begotten strange children…” (5:7). This is more true than older generations can even begin to comprehend.
Children today are cynical, emotionally drained and carrying a kind of world-weary mentality. While many may seem tough and talk tough on the outside, most are morally weak and spiritually vacant inside. They have become a generation of emotionally stunted children. As a result, they lack empathy—they cannot feel for others, and can only barely feel for themselves. They lack the moral fiber or backbone to do the right thing, even when it’s easy. Millions have stumbled into adulthood believing that “if it feels right, do it.”
All of the supposed “great religions” have failed to give parents the tools they need to properly rear their children into becoming responsible, productive adults. This includes all of the world’s many brands of Christianity, which teach that God’s spiritual laws—His Ten Commandments—were “kept for us by Christ” and “done away with,” and there is no longer a need to obey them. Therefore, morality has become a matter of personal taste: One man’s sin is another man’s lifestyle.
Modern theologians routinely substitute the righteousness of God—His Commandments (Psa. 119:172)—for the standards of righteousness established by men. They then call such standards “political correctness.” This adds to the confusion of what children see.
Notice that one of the Ten Commandments speaks directly to children: “Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Ex. 20:12). Almost an entire generation will have soon lost the meaning of this fifth command.
So many teenagers and even much younger children today are smug and generally smirk at all forms of authority, often making no attempt to hide rolling their eyes because they think they already “know” what is right and wrong. Woe to those who try to teach them otherwise! So many today are unruly, unmanageable and ungovernable—and even violently so.
Proof that all Ten Commandments are still in force in the New Testament, and because of its importance, the fifth is repeated there: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3).
Children must be taught to respect their parents. This does not come naturally. If followed, this commandment—and the application of all childrearing principles—will yield blessings.
Political correctness teaches young people that nothing is truly bad or wrong—except intolerance. But herein lies great hypocrisy—those who preach political correctness will not tolerate those who take a stand against sin.
Such teaching is also lacking because so many parents no longer seem to know the difference between right and wrong—even on the basics. So many now embrace a world of “differing shades of gray,” where clear-cut rules of morality, ethics and integrity no longer exist.
Fifty years ago, if a child found a wallet containing a large sum of money, he would likely have automatically turned it over to the police. Today, such a child would be ridiculed—laughed to scorn—by his peers, and even by some adults! He would probably be written up in the local newspaper as a veritable hero, simply because practicing what was once considered a civic duty is now unheard of.
With the full picture in mind, how can parents hope to effectively rear a child? In such a morally and spiritually upside-down world—in today’s perfect storm of problems converging around parents—what chance do they—do YOU—have to train a child God’s Way so he can become a successful, productive, obedient, happy and emotionally, physically and spiritually mature adult?
There is hope. Truths in this Personal begin to show the way—but you must first see, and then be willing to meet, the enormous challenge that lies before you! This involves much more than you now realize. But you can succeed—and you should proceed as though you will!
Most people view childrearing as a matter of personal opinion. With no idea there is a right way—and many wrong ways!—to rear children, they either make up their own rules, repeat the methods used by their parents, or listen to confused, disagreeing “experts.” In effect, anything goes.
So many have come to think like the following 19-year-old superstar professional basketball player, who, upon the birth of his son—born out of wedlock—said this about why he would not seek advice from available good role model parents offering help: “You can’t teach someone to be a father. There are no tips like playing basketball. You have to raise your own kids.” Such ignorance is astonishing. But this is to be expected when children have children—and no one has taught them what they are getting into.
Now notice what the prophet Isaiah foretold of the final age before Christ returns, “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isa. 3:12). It is the sad experience of millions of parents today that their children have virtual mastery over them, running them ragged, with parents having no idea what to do about it or even that it should be any other way. Modernists have coined the phrase “childcentric families” to describe millions of today’s homes.
How did the terrible state of today’s children come to be?
In what has been called “a vast family management meltdown,” great numbers do not know where to turn or that God gives instruction in such matters. Millions of parents, forced to rely on themselves or on the misguided opinions of supposed experts, have no way of knowing what to do when it comes to properly rearing children. For instance, they have no idea how, or when, or even whether, as well as in what fashion, how often, and to what degree, they should discipline their children. In all ways, they need help, not recognizing the problems that they are facing are spiritual, not physical. They need to turn to the only source of true spiritual understanding—the Bible—God’s Word!
Let’s notice God’s instruction to fathers regarding their children: “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:21), and “fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
These passages contain a great deal to consider, and more than can be explained in this Personal.
Again, most do not recognize that childrearing involves teaching from God—like faith, grace, law, sin, baptism, salvation, tithing, Sabbath-keeping and God’s annual Holy Days—and every other teaching God reveals.
When God’s servants, those truly carrying His authority, teach the only way to properly rear children, most people would see it as meddling, not biblical instruction. This is because it hits close to home and becomes personal. And, like children, many simply do not want anyone—including God!—telling them what to do, even when they have no idea themselves.
This Personal is for those who recognize they do not have all the answers.
Within the Church that Christ built, the Eternal God has established His ministry to teach His Way of life in all points—the Way that mankind has rejected since Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to rebel against God’s rule over them. But God is calling a very few out of this world’s customs, values, traditions, false teachings—and erroneous thinking of supposed experts—to understand and live His spiritual laws. These few are reaping the spiritual benefits.
This can include you. But only if you can recognize that all forms of childrearing fall into two categories:
(1) God’s one Way, revealed in the Bible.
(2) The world’s many ways, as influenced by the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)—Satan the devil.
Anything contrary to God’s teachings—His doctrines—is error. The Bible warns, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6). Error, like leavening, spreads. Wrong principles of childrearing are no exception. Childrearing as practiced today stands on a completely wrong foundation. What started out wrong has grown much, much worse!
Authorities in society, and some parents, do teach certain good things concerning the rearing of children. But this means that they are teaching a mixture of good and evil. This is the lesson of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, which God told Adam to reject. Only God’s Way is pure, with no hidden “downside.”
If you want to rear your children to lead successful, abundant lives, God’s Master Instruction Book will guide you. Revealing the many hidden shoals in a dangerous world that threatens your child, the Bible is filled with correct teachings and spiritual principles that always yield positive results for those who faithfully practice them. But you must deeply desire to learn God’s way of childrearing, and then diligently apply it without compromise—and for many years!
You must be prepared to throw away the intellectual nonsense taught by people who have “credentials,” but who reject God’s authority over this and all other matters in life. You must also be prepared to put God’s Way into practice as you learn it.
God has permitted you to have children as a gift of stewardship. True Christians, those called out of the world and led by the Holy Spirit, know that children could one day experience the same. At the end of your stewardship, God will take back your children. When it becomes time to offer them salvation, and for them to receive His Spirit, following repentance and conversion, your record will have largely been written. The efforts of your stewardship—your childrearing today—will have made God’s job tomorrow either harder or easier.
Grasp this. You hold far more authority in this process than you know!
Jesus explained that the Christian walk is difficult. Here is what He told His disciples to expect: “Enter you in at the strait [difficult] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait [again, hard] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
The living Jesus Christ has high standards. It is the Christian parent’s task to sow a bountiful crop—it is Christ’s plan to reap it in their children.
Perhaps the single, most powerful tool to teach your children is your example—the way you live.
All children, but particularly small ones, automatically look up to parents. For younger children, you are the center of their expanding world, and your example affects them more deeply than anything you could teach them.
Will you apply the laws of success in your life? Will you live the way of “give” and follow what you are learning about the true God of the Bible?
The success of your children hinges on your answers!
Do you want your children to regularly pray and study God’s Word? Then show them how—study and pray with them. Do you want them to save and spend money wisely? Then do the same. Do you want them to spend less time watching television and to pursue worthwhile things—books, hobbies, sports, etc.? Set the example. Too many parents, in effect, unconsciously tell their children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Be careful. Your children might be unable to hear what you are saying because of what you are doing.
Think for a moment about all the things that people pursue in search of success and happiness—money, possessions, power, fame, education, skills, beauty, youth and strength. None of these eternally benefit the person who has them. Literally, there is not one of them that “you can take with you.” Those who obtain any or even all of these are doomed to see them fade even before death, with no possibility of taking them past the grave.
Now, if you were told that there is one thing that you can teach your children that is spiritual—therefore eternal, indestructible and perfect—what would you say it is? The answer is character, once referred to as virtue, the term used in the Bible. Almost no one today values or even talks about character. Yet, this topic speaks to the supreme purpose for which every human being who has ever lived was born. Sadly, it is also true that very few have any idea why they exist—why God gave them life and put them on Earth. (Read my book The Awesome Potential of Man to understand truths beyond your imagination. Find out why you were born. You will find that whole new vistas of understanding lie before you.)
You must come to understand—to deeply grasp—why you exist—why you are here—or you will never be able to teach this supreme truth to your children. Once this is clear in your mind, two things will happen: Not only will you find it easier to teach them, but you will also be more eager to fulfill this duty!
The best definition for character I have ever heard comes from Herbert W. Armstrong, the man who taught me much of what I teach you now: “What is perfect character? It is the ability, in a separate entity with free moral agency, to come to the knowledge of the right from the wrong—the true from the false—and to choose the right, and possess the will to enforce self-discipline to do the right and resist the wrong” (The Incredible Human Potential).
It is your responsibility—your DUTY—to teach your children the absolutely vital, all-important, lifelong pursuit of character development. Character forms the greatest defense a human being can have against every conceivable pitfall, threat, roadblock and hurdle that life can throw at him.
An entire book on the subject of character could not reveal and explain everything a parent must know and teach regarding it.
Before entering any major endeavor, prudent people want to know what is at stake. They want to know what it means if they succeed or what it means if they fail in their effort. In other words, what are the consequences—either way?
Consider! Invariably, the most successful people, the most effective role models for others, the wisest parents, the best husbands and wives, and the greatest leaders, were all exposed to great teachers who taught them in their formative years.
Not everyone can be a leader now, in this life, but everyone should be striving to qualify for future leadership—in fact, future rulership. Without strong leadership from you as parents—which is centered in your ability to be effective teachers—your children have little chance to be anything but followers—and probably poor ones at that if you have not done your part at all.
When properly understood, your children are actually also in training from an early age to become future members of the coming, world-ruling kingdom, or Family of God—soon to arrive on Earth as a supergovernment led by Jesus Christ, ruling with all the saints of past ages over all cities throughout the nations of the world. Christ has been carefully preparing His team of co-rulers for 6,000 years, beginning with what was offered to Adam. If God has called you, you already know that you are in training for this rulership. But so are your children—NOW!
Parents, do not allow your children to merely stumble into adulthood. Just as God teaches you, so you must teach them. This has been God’s Way from the very beginning: “And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: and you shall teach them diligently unto 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 up” (Deut. 6:6-7).
Be prepared to teach your children all the time—on every occasion—the proverbial morning, noon and night. Your responsibility is to instruct them in all the values they need in order to succeed. God designed children to be like sponges—they were literally created to learn. Your children are unconsciously looking to you to teach them how to navigate the increasingly complex maze of today’s world—again, of its perfect storm of factors and conditions arrayed against them.
As parents, you possess immense power. You have the authority—coupled with a tremendous amount of revealed spiritual knowledge—to give your children the maximum opportunity to discover their strengths, to achieve right goals, to learn about the true God and to build His righteous character, to develop their extraordinary human potential, and to lead lives filled with success, productivity, and service to others, which will lead to the supreme happiness and joy that all long for.
Seek God and ask for the crucial wisdom and constant guidance that you need. Then go fulfill your potential as parents by helping your children fulfill theirs.
They are counting on you!
(To learn more, read—and study—my thorough book, Train Your Children God’s Way.)