New Hope Notes
When Your Children Stray
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Our youth in Hawaii need to be mentored and discipled especially along the lines of godly discipline. Too often when our youth go astray the first thing that we do is look for someone to condemn. This is the way of the world, but in the end that does not help anyone. What our children need is our support, our hearts, and our minds to come up with practical solutions.
Actually, all through the Bible we find straying children. It started with Adam and Eve. Same thing happened to their children, Cain and Abel. Look at Abraham. His children, Ishmael and Isaac ñ their people are still fighting today. There are also Gideon, Samson, and Eliís two sons who strayed as well.
Why is the Bible filled with so many children who have strayed? Sometimes itís because of parental fault, but not always. We have to remember that.
Our heavenly Father has rebellious children. It's us! Just ask yourself: Haven't you gone astray from your parents and from God while growing up?
A beautiful example of straying children is found in the book of Luke. It's about the Prodigal Son and the Compassionate Father. "And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living." (Luke 15:13)
After the son had wasted all his resources and had hit rock bottom, the Bible says that he came to his senses. There will be times when each of us will come to a dead end in our lives and that will be God's way to bring us to our senses. We cannot determine whether or not our children will stray or not. However, we can make sure there is a pathway home so that they run into the Lord and have a change of heart.
That's why we must always come back to the Bible. It is the best book on parenting, business, marriage, relational, and just everything. It is what has sustained lives for years. Godís word never changes. It is the most trustworthy directions in the world. So always come back to the word of God.
Anyway, the prodigal son decided that his father's home wasn't that bad after all. He wanted to go back so badly that even if he were to work as a slave that would have been better than what he was experiencing. However, what kind of foundation did the father lay before hand for his son to want to go back home? Well, here are three principles we can follow in raising our own children. The first is to:
1. MODEL AND DISCIPLE EARLY ON.
When the son came to his senses the first thing that came to his mind was to return to his father. Why? Because his father modeled love, fairness, and compassion at home and poured his life into his son.
"you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again." (Deut. 6:6-7)
God is saying that we are to model our Christian life in whatever we do. Have in our homes reminders that God is always first in our life. Do things that example this. So remember to make this your goal in life:
You must make as your goal to have a godly marriage!! What good is it to have all the luxuries in life and lose your family? No amount of success in the market place will make up for the failure at home. And be mindful that.
WE CAN TEACH WHAT WE KNOW, BUT WE REPRODUCE WHAT WE ARE.
Kids may not follow our religious beliefs, but their tendency is to follow our lifestyle. Our lifestyle gives them permission. "He walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed..." (1 Kings 15:3).
To illustrate the principle that you will reproduce what you are, listen to this taken from the lineage of two men:
Many years ago a study was made on two families that lived about the same time. Jonathan Edwards was a well-known preacher in the early American Colonies. Out of 729 of his descendants, 300 were preachers, 65 were college professors, 13 were university presidents, 16 were authors, 3 were U.S. congressmen, and one was a Vice-President of the United States. None of Jonathan Edwards' family ever received any money from state institutions for the needy. Max Jukes lived at about the same time as Edwards. Max Jukes never cared about God, never believed in God, and never shared God with his family. Out of 1,020 descendants, 300 died prematurely, 100 entered penitentiaries for an average sentence of 13 years each, 190 were prostitutes, and 100 were drunkards. They cost the state an estimated $1,200,000, at a time when the dollar was worth far more than it is now.
You see we can teach what we know, but we will only reproduce what we are. So the first thing we must do is model and disciple early on. The word "disciple" comes from the root word that means, "to discipline." Parents need to set parameters early on so kids know the boundaries. Of course children will fight against it. But what I've found is that children are not opposed to authority. They are opposed to inconsistent authority. In other words, we live one way and teach them something else.
To help you to understand the parameters, you need to:
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will remove it far from him" (Prov. 22:15). (cf. Prov. 3:12; 19:18). If the foolishness thatís in the heart of a child is not taken care of, then when he or she is older, they will still be making foolish mistakes.
What about spanking? Can parents do such a thing on their kids? Yes, because the Lord has created a portion of the body just for that. That portion has a lot of cushion. But remember to only apply the spanking to that part of the body only and nowhere else. This way whenever they sit down they will remember the lesson.
But what if you set the parameters and disciple them and they go astray, then what? Well, the first is to model and disciple and the second principle to follow is to"
Watch for any hint of your children wanting to return home. And make sure that you pray for them, but the key is this: Do not lose your focus on God's plan for you. Do not let your child going astray destroy you and your family. Keep focus on God's plan for you, but do so by watching for any signs of your child returning. The father in Luke didn't lose focus and worry about his son. He let his son go and got back to his work. However, he kept watching and praying and when the son returned, he ran to him. "Each one will bear his own load" (Gal. 6:5). (cf. Luke 15:20)
What should you pray about?
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (Prov. 13:20).
Sometimes children donít see their parents as their primary counselor or advisor. They donít want to hear anything they have to say. Thatís why we must pray for people to come into their life who are godly influencers. It may be someone at their job, at school, on their team, or somewhere along the line. Just pray for that.
The second thing to pray for is to:
The book of Hosea tells of Hosea's faithfulness to a straying wife. And God tells Hosea, "I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her path and she will pursue her lovers, but she will not reach them. She will seek them but not find them. Then she will say, I will go back to my first husband. For it was better for me then than now" (Hosea 2:3-6). In other words, God said that when Hosea's wife decided to stray, He'd put a hedge of thorns around her or her consequences would be immediate.
You know the enemy is the one who holds back consequences from people who sin in secret. Thatís because after a while they feel they can either continue to sin or sin in bigger ways. The devil will let you go deeper and deeper and then slap you with major consequence and destroy your life.
Therefore, if you don't allow God to correct you in private, He'll correct you publicly. So pray that God will block your child from sinning by giving him or her immediate consequences. And the reason we pray a hedge of thorns is because:
"Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways" (Prov. 20:30). (cf. Luke 15:16-17).
The Bible says that the prodigal son came home. And I know that there are many who have strayed from God, but donít stop praying, but pray correctly. The Bible says in James, the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. So keep watching, keep praying, and focus on your own life.
But what if God is taking such a long time bringing my child to his senses? Then remember that:
3. THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS SALVATION.
We pray for salvation that God will somehow change a child's heart so in the last days they will be with the Lord forever. And though they may not make that much of an impact in this life, because of the grace of God, they'll be able to have eternal life. And that is our heart. But how come God is not quick about taking care of our children? Well, listen what the Bible says about that:
"The Lord isn't really being slow about His promise to return, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so He is giving more time for everyone to repent." (2 Pet.: 3-9)
Remember parents, you are much more of an influence than you can ever imagine. Just keep being a godly model of Jesus in your home. Keep investing yourselves into your childrenís lives, but keep your focus on what Godís called you to do. Remember that the ultimate goal is salvation. So God will come along side and assist you in your work. Together, we can raise a godly generation who will also raise up in their time another godly generation.