February 6, 2023

Keystone Magazine March 2006

March 2006

Feature Family: Peter and Helen Bryant;

The Faith of Us Fathers: When a Father Does Not Discipline His Child, Part 1 by Julio Severo

Home Education Research: New Zealand Universities by Craig Smith

Over a Cuppa: Living Next Door by Kendra Fletcher

CHomeS Roundup: Home Educators Impress Again

Graduates Speak: Hero Makers by Rebecca Severn

Tough Questions People Ask: What Will You Do If Home Education (or Smacking) Becomes Illegal? – Conviction versus Preference, Part 2 (Final) by David Gibbs

Learning Disabilities: My Experiences with Vision Thinking Sensory Problems & Communication Difficulties, Part 2 by Temple Grandin

Plus more…..

Women & Children First

Women & Children First

Posted in The Faith of Us Fathers

April 14 this year marks exactly 90 years since hundreds of men made a self-conscious decision to die rather than let their wives and their children face death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. The decision was not made because of a command by Captain Edward John Smith of the Titanic, although the words were spoken: it was a principle understood by virtually all on board. It constituted part of the world view of all those people, even coming as they did from very different educational backgrounds, social strata and economic groups. It was not a concept many had ever thought about before, but one they had simply absorbed from the fundamentally Christian societies in which they were reared.

Much is made of the class distinctions on board, and indeed they existed; the well-to-do of the day did not want to associate with the poor immigrants who in fact made up the “bread & butter” business of the ocean liners then. But even the First Class passengers were not kicking up their heels the way we today would imagine them doing at the time the Titanic struck the iceberg that Sunday night. The ship did not have a ballroom, and on British liners dancing was frowned upon on Sundays.1

It makes you wonder if even those pleasure-seeking people of 1912 were from the same planet as we today. Consider how men, wealthy men from the First Class section, stood back to let third-class washer-women immigrants claim those scarce seats in the few lifeboats. Consider how husbands lifted their wives and children into the lifeboats, looking into their eyes and kissing them for what they knew would be the last time on earth, then stood back to let others flee to safety.

Accounts indicate that very few of the men even tried to get into the lifeboats, and most were turned back with a glance or a word. Many of the wives, especially the older couples, decided to stay together, allowing the younger ladies to go. They would rather pass from this life together than be separated at that late date in their lives. This was true across social boundaries. One newlywed couple, on their honeymoon, decided to remain together as well. For better or for worse…2

One widower, Dr Robert J. Bateman, escorted his sister-in-law to a lifeboat and said, “Don’t be nervous, Annie. This will test our faith. I must stay and let the women go. If we never meet again on this earth, we will meet again in heaven.” He threw his handkerchief into the descending lifeboat saying, “Put that around your throat. You’ll catch cold.” Earlier that evening he had conducted the only religious service aboard that ship of 2,207 people, concluding with his favourite hymn “Nearer my God to Thee”.3

Dr. Bateman collected about fifty men on the stern of the ship and told them to prepare for death. He led them in saying the Lord’s Prayer.3 About this time a string quartet was playing at the request of one of the senior officers. They had played ragtime and livelier selections earlier, before they knew the extent of their situation. The leader of the quartet then dismissed the rest, for their task was hopeless. Alone he began to play the hymn he’d done at the religious service, “Nearer my God to Thee”. All of his companions returned and joined him. They played hymn upon hymn, turning people’s hearts to come to grips with the fact that they were standing on the brink of eternity.1,2,3

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum in San Antonio, Texas, told the Titanic story of “women and children first” to an audience of 200 Japanese Christians in March 2001, emphasising that this was once an unquestioned principle of Western society, mirroring the fact that Jesus Christ is the protector and defender of His bride, the Church. A woman came to speak to him afterwards. “She was Cantonese and had left communist China for freedom in Japan. She looked at me for a while without speaking, but her lips were quivering, and it was obvious she was trying to hold back the tears. ‘I was never told,’ she said. ‘No one has ever told me that men are to protect women… It is such a beautiful thought, but no one has ever told me this.’”4

The religious and philosophical views common in east Asia definitely reflect a different world view. According to Phillips the Japanese Ambassador wrote the following just after the Titanic disaster to the American Ambassador: “In our country it would have been men first, children second, and women last.”4

John Harper had only just turned 40 years old when he boarded the Titanic with his only daughter, six-year-old Nana. Maybe the Lord had been preparing him for an icy, watery grave, for John almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half, he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of 26 he was swept out to sea by a rip and barely survived, and at 32 he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean.5

When their hopeless situation became obvious, this widower immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat. The flares going off in the dark sky above reflected the tears on his face as he turned and headed towards the crowd of desperate humanity on the sinking ocean liner. As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling, “Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!” Minutes later the Titanic began to rumble deep within. What people thought was an explosion was actually the gargantuan ship breaking in half, just between the third and fourth smokestacks. At this point, many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people.5

That night 1528 people went into the frigid waters. Only six were picked up by the life boats. One was a young man who had climbed onto a piece of debris. At a survivors’ meeting in 1916 this young man stood up and in tears told how John Harper was swimming frantically to people in the water, leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. He told how when he replied “No” to Harper’s entreaty to receive Jesus Christ as his Saviour, John Harper took off his own life jacket and threw it to the man saying, “Here then, you need this more than I do,” and swam away to other people. By God’s grace, a few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation. He recounted how Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense cold had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under were, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”5

It is a stirring thing, Brothers, to hear of men such as Bateman and Harper who, when the chips are down, come through in stirling form. But know that these men did not appear suddenly from nowhere as do imaginary heroes such as Superman or Batman. No, these men had already produced track records of service to others, selflessness and a total focus on Jesus Christ and His word as the only source of truth and reliable guidance for life and death.

Robert Bateman was the founder of the Central City Mission in Jacksonville, Florida, a minister who was not afraid to get his hands dirty. He came from England to personally lay the bricks of the Mission in the city where drunken sailors poured into tattoo parlours, bars and *****houses. While sharing the Gospel, he provided thousands of meals, clothed the needy, visited those in jail and housed the homeless. He was called “the man who distributed more human sunshine than any other in Jacksonville.” He had returned briefly to England to study methods of Christian social work.3

John Harper was born to a pair of solid Christian parents on May 29th, 1872; became a Christian at 13; and began to preach at 17 by going down to the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in earnest entreaty for men to be reconciled to God. He did this for at least five years while working in the mill during the day. He was then taken in by Rev. E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, England, which set Harper free to devote his whole time and energy to the work so dear to his heart. John Harper soon started his own church in September of 1896, now known as the Harper Memorial Church. This church started with just 25 members and grew to over 500 members when he left 13 years later.5

Bateman and Harper were well used to giving all to others, and when the chips were down, they did what they had trained themselves to do: give their all to meet the situation, trusting wholly in Jesus Christ for the strength to persevere under trial.

Brothers and Sisters, we are under trial now. Surely you all perceive it. New Zealand society is rabidly anti-Christian, and the forces arrayed against the family are gaining in strength and numbers. My own MP, Steve Maharey, is talking about increasing the compulsory schooling age to 19. Others have suggested it be extended at the younger end down to three. Our present government is committed to pouring all kinds of money into ECE, early childhood educational enterprises, to encourage more and more parents to leave their pre-schoolers with well-funded and credentialed strangers.

Doug Phillips points out the obvious fact that “women and children first” is not inculcated in state schools. He says a major poll conducted several years ago saw boys declaring they would never give up their seat on a lifeboat for a woman. “They want their rights,” one boy said. “Let them fight for their own lifeboat seats. They won’t get mine.”4 So many state schools are no more than institutionalised places of mediocrity and brutality where parents who dare to speak up are ostracised and their children victimised…..by the teachers, now, as well as by the playground bullies! I hear this kind of thing from different sets of such parents every week, and the stories are beyond belief. The March 2002 edition of Pro-Life Times has an interesting statistic: 74% of girls who lost their virginity said they did so at home…..around 4pm…..just after school and before parents came home from work.

We are thrilled our children no longer have to attend such places. But we all know that home education is not a piece of cake. We meet plenty of trials here too. The question is: are we up to the trials? What kind of fathers do we turn out to be when the chips are down, when the acid is poured on? If it hasn’t happened yet, be assured: it will. Are we committed to Christ and His word? We may be pretty consistent at following Biblical patterns when we have time to deliberate on an issue. But are we disciplined in heart and mind to automatically react in Biblical ways? We’ll only know that when the crisis happens…and then it is too late if we get it wrong.

The time we have with our children is short. The stakes are high…..we’re talking about their lives. We cannot afford to muck around or be cavalier about it. The spiritual lives of our wives and children must be paramount. Are we, as fathers and husbands, ensuring they are getting spiritually fed and challenged and shepherded to maturity? The local church is only supposed to be supplementary to our primary responsibility in this area……just as we, and not the schools, are primarily responsible for their education. Yes, these things take priority over the footy, the stock cars, the fishing, even the house maintenance and career. Women and children first.

Notes:

1. Titanic Historical Soc. Inc., http://www.titanic1.org/, 7 March 2002.

2. http://www.cfdevotionals.org/devpg99/de990114 , 7 March 2002.

3. http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/worldscope/heroes/bateman.html , 7 March 2002, Source: The Voice of the Martyrs, PO Box 598, Penrith NSW 2751, Australia.

4. E-newsletter from Doug Phillips and The Vision Forum, Inc., 13 Apr 2001, familyvision@visionforum.com

5. “The True Hero of the Titanic”, http://home.earthlink.net/~russgamble/testimonials.html#anchor149574 , 7 March 2002.

From Keystone Magazine
March 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 2
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 3 (Final)

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 3 (Final)

Posted in The Faith of Us Fathers

“You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” — Leviticus 20:26

As we established at first, our children belong to God and not to us. They are a stewardship, a huge responsibility, laid upon us by God Almighty to be trained up for His purposes. And He will call us to account for the way in which we have trained them up. God claims them from the beginning, for after all, He caused them to be born into a Christian family. We do not follow the child-centred philosophies of the world and treat our children’s wants, desires and wills as sacrosanct, as off-limits to interference by us, as taboo. And we recognise both our accountability and responsibility toward the rest of the Body of Christ, the saints with whom we regularly worship and fellowship.

We as parents often struggle with the issue of our children’s conversion, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, re-birth as Christians. Many of us who became Christians in later life can pinpoint the day and the hour of our conversion experience. But surely, the ability to identify the moment of conversion should be the exception rather than the rule within Christian families. I used to scoff at people who would say to me something like, “I’ve always been a Christian.” Well, I don’t scoff anymore, for my own teenaged children have said such things, and as much as is humanly possible, I am totally convinced of their regeneration. Such children have “always” been in a Christian environment. My wife and I, along with many Christian home educating parents, both wish that we had had such a consistent Christian upbringing ourselves….it would have surely kept us from some of the damaging sinful excesses we experienced as unbelievers, things we wish we could erase from our memories as they negatively influence our present Christian lives. Some Christians say to me that they wish they had not had such a protected upbringing as they had in their Christian home, for if they had experienced the vileness of gross sins, perhaps they would be more urgent in their quest for Christlikeness, in their evangelistic efforts, than they are now. I cannot disagree more with such a sentiment. Brothers and sisters: take it from me: you do not want the physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual scars that sinful actions cause. You do not know what you are saying. The Lord has called us to move in the opposite direction.

All the more true of our children, who belong, remember, to God. Do they need to steal another’s property to appreciate how wrong it is? Do they need to actually become drunk or ruin themselves by immorality in order to appreciate the ugliness of sin? NO!! Take them to visit some prison inmates, take them to a pub or an A & E ward on a Saturday night to observe. Get a Christian doctor or counsellor to share with you some descriptions of the human wrecks he or she has had to deal with. Sign up as a foster family for a few months: becoming involved with a few of the many desperate “families” which exist out there will convince you of the blessedness and privilege of a Christian home. Life itself provides plenty of yucky illustrations of sin. The Scriptures warn about it over and over. But sin dwells within our own and our children’s hearts, regenerated or not, and your own family life (yes, even within the most godly of Christian homes), will provide you with plenty of opportunities to point out the ugliness and deceitfulness of sin. Hate it. Run from it. That’s what families are for: to deal with the lying, thieving, immoral tendencies in our children before they go public.

We do not wait for our children to affirm that they want to be Christians before we train them in all areas of Christian life, thought and doctrine. No. God has already claimed them. Whether you are a Presbyterian who sprinkles a newborn or a Brethren who has a dedication ceremony for a newborn, you already acknowledge that God should have an “unfair advantage” in shaping the child’s life. Self-conscious atheists have described to me how they let their children determine all their own life decisions by remaining hands-off from birth. I point out that this is still imposing their “hands-off” philosophy upon their children without asking them (I guess it is hard to ask a newborn) whether that is the way they’d like to be raised! As Christians we have this politically incorrect advantage that we know for certain what is right and what is wrong. So we don’t quibble about it or apologise for it: we simply inculcate our convictions into our children from day one. Memorise Proverbs 1:7-8 for it clearly states who we and our children are to obey: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge ; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and reject not your mother’s teaching.” God first, then Dad and Mum.

We do not live in a vacuum, nor are we ever truly independent or self-sufficient. We need the guidance, counsel, admonition, encouragement and example of our Christian brothers and sisters. The Scriptures specifically say the older women should be teaching the younger women (are you ready for this!) “to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4). Can you think of a more unwelcomed and downright nosey activity in our secularised cultures of today? Just shows how far we’ve moved away from the Biblical standard. We should welcome such input from others within the Church. And we should be prepared to lovingly and gently give such input ourselves. In I Timothy 4:12 Paul admonishes the young man Timothy to set the believers an example. It is obvious that we are to do this for our children, but it is also our duty toward all other believers. In fact, we parents can have, by God’s grace and the respect we will have with other Christian parents, quite an opportunity continually to influence other children. Likewise we should consciously select other godly parents and encourage them, give them permission if need be, to speak to our children, to chastise and correct them as the situation demands, or reward them, without the need to first fetch us to the scene.

The Christian man can have no greater opportunity to leave his stamp upon the history of God’s earth than to leave his stamp upon his sons and daughters. Our labours here, more than in any other sphere, have everlasting consequences which will follow us into heaven. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58). Hallelujah!

From Keystone Magazine
January 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 1
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 2

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 2

Posted in The Faith of Us Fathers

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? — Jeremiah 17:9

Last time we established that the Lord our God is going to hold us fathers responsible for how we raise, shepherd and disciple His children who have been given to us by Him that we might steward them on His behalf. And the Lord has so ordered things that in fact we willingly co-operate with Him in their conception; that is, we cannot say to God, “I never asked for these children. Why did You give them to me?” The Lord has delivered our children into our hands, we are responsible for them, and He will call us to account for how we rear them.

We need to have a clear understanding about the inner nature of these our children. Yes, they are little chips off the old block in many ways. But don’t think for a moment they are little bundles of innocence. In a solely human respect they are lovely to behold and speak to us of human innocence like nothing else apart from the person of Christ. And they appear to do nothing intentionally bad or evil for a while anyway from their birth. Yet “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Our children arrive in our arms as little bundles of depravity and it’s all downhill from there….unless we train them and shepherd them to higher ground.

The Lord tells us through Jeremiah (see above NKJV) that our hearts are more deceitful than anything else……that is, we are prone to self-deception! We see lovely little babies and think, “How sweet!” We receive kisses and cards from our youngsters and think, “My, but they have little hearts of gold.” Be careful: their hearts are the worst parts of them: deceitful and desperately wicked, says the Scripture; so wicked one is hard pressed to understand the degree of wickedness found there. We have all very recently witnessed the incomprehensible nature of this evil in human hearts as passenger aircraft ploughed into the twin towers of New York City. While our children do not manifest evil as much as they could, as much as they are apparently capable of, to the praise of God’s mercy and grace toward us, we must not underestimate the capacity for evil that could develop within them if separated too much from His Word and His people. Charles Manson, Idi Amin, Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot were all lovely little innocent-looking babies at one stage.

Although there is that fallen nature within them which gives them a downhill tendency, this is not the natural state of affairs. Neither our children nor ourselves exist in a state of normalcy: we are cursed with a sickness called sin, which will eventually bring us to the grave. Unregenerate folks and unbelievers either think we are all basically good and morally healthy (I’m Ok, You’re Ok) or that we’re evolving in that direction and with Polyanna discount the notion of evil and put it down to misunderstandings (….or religious bigotry, a malady secular folks reckon they never catch!) So we need to carefully take our medication and follow the Great Physician’s orders, for both ourselves and our children. This is why our lifestyles do and must differ from the unbelievers: we are sick and we know it. They are just as sick, but refuse to acknowledge it. As Christians we are taking measures to counter sickness: we live and train our children to live godly, disciplined lives, obedient to the Scriptures. Unbelievers reckon life is just the way it is, so make the best of it and hope for the best. Christians, even aware as we are of our sickness and frailty, are called to a much higher objective than that….to show forth His glorious light out of these earthen vessels, demonstrating that the transcendant power belongs to God and not to us (II Corinthians 4:7).

By virtue of the children being created after the likeness of God, by virture of His grace and mercy toward them and us, by virtue of the sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit and the living word read and preached to them, by virtue of the positive effects of our prayers and examples and instructions and corrections our children do develop godly characters and sweet personalities. This is how it should be. But do note: it doesn’t happen all by itself. We recall that we are fatally infected by sin. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction drives it far from him.” We are told to use the rod of correction, generally taken to mean corporal chastisement, to drive the sin and rebellion (foolishness) out of our children when it manifests itself, lest it be allowed to settle in and become a permanent fixture of their personalities. In addition, and just as importantly, we are to instruct in good behaviour, model good behaviour and pray the Lord will regenerate their hearts so they’ll desire good behaviour and loathe the bad.

This two-pronged approach to godly training (to love the good and loathe the bad) is sensible and logical….. but far from easy to perform. First and foremost again, men, we must be stirling examples of this. Trifling with sin is asking for trouble. If you flirt with questionable TV shows, videos and publications, your children may do more than flirt: and being young will be far more deeply, and negatively, influenced by it. Being slack in performing our duties is all the excuse a youngster needs to himself procrastinate when he should act decisively. Instead let our children see us rub our hands in anticipation of each new day, a new set of 24 hours the Lord has graciously granted that we may serve Him all the more, strive to become more like Him, give of our selves to others, struggle to understand the issues of the day from the Biblical perspective and to then order our ways accordingly. Apart from being ourselves consistent, we also need to spend time with our children shaping their tastes by our enthusiasm in loving righteousness and by our example in hating sin.

I Thessalonians 2:11-12 (RSV) says, “…for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, Who calls you into His own kindgom and glory.” We’re talking high standards here. And fathers are specifically alluded to as doing three things to build their children’s lives to be worthy of God. Exhort is what a more experienced man does to one much younger, what a superior does to an inferior, to bring him up to the higher level: it is mostly a one-way flow. It is drawing the immature into experiences that will try and test them but that will also be fun, exciting, challenging. Yes, there is a sense of duty about them, but that doesn’t mean they have to be dull and boring. Impart vision, men, while doing routine chores: “Mowing these lawns is tending to this property the Lord has entrusted to us, so our work is for the Lord, and He tells me all labour for Him is not in vain!!” (Colossians 3:23-24, I Corinthians 15:58). Fathers, we are to exhort our children to come up to where we (hopefully) are, occupying a place of godly character, respected in the church and community, fulfilling responsibilities to our wives and bosses.

Encourage is what men do to one another, how peers sharpen each other up: the flow is two ways. By the time our children are young adults, we should get a lot of encouragement from their fellowship, their insights into Scripture, their respect for elders, their pure relationships with their peers. There is a mutual respect, for your children know you are fair and wise and they have seen your hunger and thirst for righteousness. Though they no longer think you can do no wrong, they know you will not rest until you’ve tried to right your wrongs, no matter how difficult it is to apologise, no matter how expensive and inconvenient it is to make restitution. And your gnarled old heart almost melts as you watch them react in the same godly way to the wrongs they commit! At this time we are not ashamed (a real understatement!) as we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the gate (Psalm 127:5). Your children don’t have to go job hunting: because of your reputation and standards of excellence and because of what people can see in your childen’s behaviour, job offers are coming in all the time.

Charge is what one does who is not going along, it is passing the responsibility on to another. Even home educated children leave home. They will take jobs away from home for a few hours at first, then maybe a couple of days a week. Then it will be full time. Each time you will remind them that their future reputations are being formed, that your own name and reputation which you have painstakingly built up over decades is also riding on their shoulders. The Name of Christ will also be adorned…or muddied….by the way they act and fulfil their responsibilities toward others. These are important concepts, and we need to charge our children to remember who they are and Who they represent. They may do a big OE or study in another city. You will charge them to keep the faith, to defend the faith, to correct their opponents with gentleness.

Training our children is a full-time job. And it is to carry on into their adulthood. How on earth can the task be done when our children are separated from us for a big chunk of time each day at school? Well, the Lord is merciful, and He appears to have ordered things so that the caring home and loving mum and concerned dad are the major influences even when a school is interposed. How much more effective can our commitment be by removing the interposed school and educating at home!

From Keystone Magazine
November 2001 , Vol. VII No. 6
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 1

The Christian Man and His Children, Part 1

Posted in The Faith of Us Fathers

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” — Luke 10:27

We are to engage our minds, our intellect, our understanding in order to love, serve and worship God properly. That is, we are to think. Think about this: from whence did your children come, men? Yes, from the Lord; yes, from your wife. But those children were not even conceived until you first consciously, purposefully and with much energy and anticipation, perform an act which was obviously designed to conceive that child. (Please forgive me if this sounds crude: it is not meant to be vulgar but instead to emphasise that your wife did not “fall” pregnant, nor did it happen by accident.) Maybe you didn’t have any child in mind at the time, but the child wouldn’t be around if not for your active and wilful participation in his or her conception. You are responsible, mate. And just as the Lord has forever held Adam (and through him all mankind) responsible when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, so He holds us fathers responsible when our wives bear our children. The Lord holds us responsible for our children, for providing for their physical, spiritual, character and academic development and security. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” — Proverb 13:22a. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” — Ephesians 6:4. “…for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” — Hebrews 12:7b-8.

Being responsible for Jimmy or Sue is not the same as saying the child belongs to you. Our children, just like everything else in the universe, both visible and invisible, are owned totally by the Creator of the universe. It is the Lord, this Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the heavens, the earth, the seas and all that is in them, even thrones, dominions, principalities and authorities (see Colossians 1:15-20), Who is not only the owner of our children but is also He Who has appointed you and me as stewards over His property. That is to say, one Day He will call you and call me to account for how we have stewarded, cared for, safeguarded, improved upon, nurtured, fed, clothed, housed and educated His property of whom He will be coming to take possession. I suspect He will inquire most keenly into how well we have taught our sons to fear His Holy Name so as to always respond with awe and respect at every thought of Him, to hate sin so as to flee from even the appearance of it and to so hunger and thirst for righteousness as to actively seek out ways to more consistently conform his entire life to the pattern of Christ in His Word. Will He not also examine the attitudes we built into our daughters, or allowed to grow there unhindered, if they do not positively demonstrate a most godly reverence, respect, modesty, humility and all those Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 virtues?

I may detect a voice asking, “What virtues are in Titus 2? And where is this Titus anyway?” A dead give-away that we are in trouble men, and have some serious studying to do just to get ourselves in the running for the task ahead: making disciples for the Lord of lords and King of kings. And just in case we may be tempted to think we are fairly up with Christian things and are doing a reasonable job, remember the counsel of Paul in I Corinthians 3:12-15. Near enough is not good enough….not for King Jesus. We need to work at changing our “She’ll be right” attitude to a “She must be right” attitude, for He is worthy….and what’s more, that’s what He requires. “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

We, then, are to be making disciples for Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 right here in our family, a microcosm of those “nations” mentioned in the verse, as a first step toward reaching “all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). (We should be far more competent, able and willing to tackle the nations once our children are firmly converted and discipled. And besides, our by-then-grey hair will automatically impart a lot more mana and respect to us in other parts of the world than if we went over as missionaries while still waiting for our beards to fill in properly.)

The methodology of fathers being responsible for diligently instructing their children in the context of everyday life as the Lord so graciously reveals it to us in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 has been described often. But verses 8 & 9 have perhaps not so often been described. We do not wrap or write verses on our hands or foreheads, although we do sometimes have a Scripture hanging on a wall or two in our homes. It would seem that these verses 8 & 9 of Deuteronomy 6 are surely references to something more substantial.

Verse 8 could refer to such things as ownership, leaving a seal or mark, a type of identification. After all, we have heard a lot about the mark of the beast from references in Revelation, a book full of figurative language. I am suggesting that this Deuteronomy 6:8 could also be figurative, but because it lies within a Book intimately concerned with heart and soul rather than outward appearances, these figures stand for something quite definite. One may have a mark of God or of the beast on his hand and on his forehead. That is, one’s mind and thought patterns are Biblical, set on the Spirit (Romans 8:5-6), thinking God’s thoughts after Him and taking every thought captive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5), or they are set on the flesh, hostile to God and used to invent evil (Romans 1:30, 8:5-7). Likewise one’s hands, symbolising one’s entire catalogue of works; one’s works can be identified as Christian works of ministry or identified as works characteristic of the fallen angel who is the father of all lies and master of deceit.

So our very beings, what we think, say and do, even when we aren’t thinking about it (see Matthew 12:36-37), are preaching sermons to our children. They can tell the difference between a faith that is consistent inside out from one that only extends to outward appearances….and they will soon learn the different set of rules applying to each. Do not be surprised, then, oh hypocrite, when your own son can appear so angelic by organising a weekly Bible study for the church youth group while seducing the girl at a meeting of the two-member planning committee. (Yes, it does too happen. Not only can I name names, but I can say that the youths involved hardly see much wrong with it.)

Deuteronomy 6:9 talks about writing God’s commandments on your doorposts and on your gates. Again, we are talking about a lot more than those cute little silver Jewish verse holders one can fasten to the door and touch reverently each time you pass through. (That is about as efficacious as touching the car roof and lifting your feet while crossing railway tracks in order to have your wish granted.) The idea is that the Word of God reigns supreme in your home (the doorposts being the entrance or most obvious place to control the influences to your home). So what are your “gates” as mentioned in the verse? Perhaps just another word for doorposts. Perhaps as in the term “city gates” it means any place where you make decisions: your wider property, your fields, your rental flats, the business you run, the employees who work for you, the classroom in which you teach or lecture, the office team you manage, the work gang you supervise, the truck or machines you operate and whatever contracts you may consider entering into……all these things are to have the Word of God stamped over them. They are to be run by the commands, precepts, statutes and ordinances of the Lord God Almighty. And when you think about it, since He is omniscient, doing things His way simply has to be the best recipe for success….and sure enough the Bible’s been saying just that for thousands of years already: Psalm 1:1-3, Proverbs 3:1-2.

Right, men. Once we have sorted out our own lives so that they reflect the love and standards of our gracious God, we are ready to be proper stewards of our children, who are, as we said earlier, God’s children over whom He has set us as His stewards. Galatians 4:1-2 specifically addresses this issue of holding a child back until the proper time: “I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father.” So our children are in a holding pattern until they come of age at a date set by our Father God.

Now, there is a two-tier system operating here: our offspring will inherit that which we have laid up for them on this earth, and they will inherit that which the Lord has laid up for them not only on this earth but also later in heaven. What kinds of things do they inherit from us? They are both physical and metaphysical: houses, chattels, land, money, eye colour, a name/reputation, family heritage, culture, most of their character qualities, etc. Now do realise that while we like to say our children inherit such things from us, ultimately they get all of these things from the Lord, although filtered — and corrupted somewhat — through us parents.

What kinds of things do they get exclusively from the Lord? Those items often referred to as Providential: their talents, abilities, disabilities, giftings, ministries, callings, responsibilities, spouses, children, lifespan, etc., plus those things of which we know so little that will be enjoyed in heaven: crowns, mansions, life and ministry at the foot of the throne.

Men, listen carefully: it is our job to equip and ready and enable our children to themselves faithfully steward all these things they will be inheriting. We must be horrified at the idea of letting all these things fall into their laps when they are simply unprepared and incompetent…..due to lack of instruction and guidance on our part…….to handle them. Why should we be horrified at the thought? Because we know our children will be called to account for how they stewarded them, just as we are to be called to account. How callous to allow our children to appear before God and watch them have to fumble for an explanation. Our task as stewards of God’s children is not only to be striving to successfully manage these inherited blessings, roles and responsibilities ourselves but also to prepare these children so that they themselves, by God’s grace, may successfully manage them as well.

We want our children to grow up to be men and women of vision. Well, we’d better want that, for this is what God’s children are meant to be, those children the Lord has entrusted to us to steward on His behalf. They are to be ambassadors for Christ, ministers and messengers of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-20) in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom they shine as lights in the world, offering them the Word of life (Philippians 2:15-16). Our vision is not just to rear children who will be able to cope with a degenerate world, but to rear soldiers of the Cross who expertly wield weapons of divine power to destroy strongholds, arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Men, we are first of all to be — and second we are to raise up — conquerors for Christ.

From Keystone Magazine
September 2001 , Vol. VII No. 5
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz