Just as there are enemies of our country plotting and planning ways to hurt U.S. citizens, so your family has an enemy who is skilled at destroying young lives, breaking apart marriages, and devastating the hearts of fathers through temptation and trials. Right now, your family—your little ones, your wife—are in the cross-hairs of his sniper-scope. He is deliberately plotting the downfall of your family. It is time to sharpen your skills in God’s ultimate plan for “Homeland Security.”
Over the past eight years we have heard much of “homeland security.” The men and women serving in this agency have labored night and day since September 11, 2001. Their motto is stated this way: “Preserving our Freedoms, Protecting America.” The strategic plan of this department contains a clearly defined commitment to duty, integrity, and vigilance. The single responsibility of this department is to protect your liberty. Since September 11, their commitment has paid off—in your life and in mine.
Are you equally committed to protecting your family spiritually? What is your protection plan? Do you have a strategy for guarding the hearts in your home from spiritual assault?
We are surrounded by an angry and unruly generation. The social indicators are astounding. Gang violence, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse are out of control among young people. A recent TIME magazine poll indicated that 58% of all seventeen year olds have been solicited to buy marijuana. Nearly twenty million teens every day are using the internet with no parental oversight. As never before, parents have abandoned their posts—leaving their children as easy prey for Satan.
It is time for Christian parents to stand in the gap—to reassume our responsibility to protect and defend our children in the spiritual battle for their hearts and futures. Let me challenge you to strengthen your “homeland security” and to resume your post in three critical areas:
Protect Your Children by Scheduling Time Together
Children are commanded to, Obey their parents,” yet we as parents need to lovingly establish in their minds our willingness to identify with and relate to them. Children should obey parents, but a godly relationship should be the foundation of that obedience. We are to bring them up in the, “Nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Your relationship with your children should establish a nurturing, loving presence upon which their obedience is established. Someone has said, “It is the duty of the family to follow the leadership of a father, but the father must manifest such a character that this obedience could be rendered from the heart.” Parent, in your child’s mind, love is spelled T-I-M-E! A recent study revealed that average parents spend less than twelve minutes per day with their children. Contrast this with the fact that the adolescent mental health services of New York recently did a study in which it was discovered that parents remain the most significant people in children’s lives until age fourteen or fifteen. Our children need time with us—God’s Word and secular research makes this very clear. I challenge you to schedule time every week with your children. Make them your priority, and give them the time and attention they need. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 says, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Kent and Barbara Hughes wrote: “Parenting—not politics, not the classroom, not the laboratory, not even the pulpit—is the place of greatest influence. To suppose otherwise is to be captive to shriveled secular delusion. We must understand that it is through the godly family that God’s grace, a vision of God, a burden for the world, and a Christian character are most powerfully communicated. Parents, don’t abandon your place of influence. It is still true that, ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.’ Believe it.”
Protect Your Children through Your Godly Testimony
Children are commanded to honor their parents. Even so, we must give our children a lifestyle that allows them to honor us gladly. Martha Peace wrote, “Wives are not the only ones instructed to respect their husbands. Children are told to honor their fathers (Ephesians 6:2–3). If you are disrespectful to your husband, your children will likely acquire the same attitude. It will be much more difficult for them to honor their father if you are belittling him and speaking to him in a harsh, sarcastic tone of voice.”
D.L. Moody said, “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian…and most of all, his family ought to know.” Our children easily perceive and constantly discern how seriously we take the things of the Lord. May we be like Joshua who publicly declared: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Our example to our children is the most powerful way in which we communicate our true beliefs and priorities. When you exemplify the faith of Christ in an unfeigned way, you do much to strengthen your children and protect them from spiritual assault!
A godly testimony should be consistent and spiritual. Our children do not expect us to be perfect, but they do expect us to be consistent. Inconsistency destroys a child’s heart for God. Even in our discipline, our goal should be to bring glory and honor to God. Tedd Tripp wrote of this: “Your focus can be sharpened by the realization that discipline is not you working on your agenda, venting your wrath toward your children; it is you coming as God’s representative, bringing the reproofs of life to your son or your daughter. You only muddy the waters when the bottom line in discipline is your displeasure over their behavior, rather than God’s displeasure with rebellion against His ordained authority.”
A godly testimony should be free from anger. God commands us not to, “Provoke our children to wrath.” Biblical fathers encourage, admonish, rebuke, and comfort—but they do so with compassionate and controlled tones, rather than harsh and critical tones. The coach of a Buffalo Little League team called one of his players over to him and said he would like to explain some of the principles of sportsmanship. “We don’t believe in temper tantrums, screaming at the umpires, using bad language, or sulking when we lose. Do you understand what I am saying?” The boy nodded.
“Alright, then,” said the coach, “do you think you can explain it to your father jumping around over there in the stands?”
James 1:19–20 says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
A godly testimony should be genuine. Teenagers can spot a phony. They will instinctively know if your godliness is put on or genuine. Timothy had an unfeigned faith, but he first saw that faith in his mother and grandmother. Their godly example helped to establish him in truth. Spurgeon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go—but be sure you go that way yourself.”
Protect Your Children through Consistent Training
God’s Word commands us to, “Bring them up” and to “train up a child.” This is action! It involves hard work, time, sacrifice, and focus. Do you train your children? Or have you relegated all of their training to institutions and others? The primary agents for training up a child are the parents—God’s Word makes this abundantly clear. God’s philosophy of “Bring them up” is exactly the opposite of today’s outcome-based philosophies. Training is not merely behavior modification—it is heart transformation.
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past,
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it still it bore,
But I could change that form no more.
I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone;
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it nevermore.
Training up involves nurture. Nurture refers to the whole training and education of children. It relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose commands, admonitions, reproof, and punishment. Nurture also includes the training and care of the body.
Nurture has two facets—the gentle, positive side of instructing, teaching, and modeling; and the negative side of correcting mistakes, chastening, curbing appetites, and developing self-control and discipline. We must balance and embrace both aspects for the good of our children. Our children need our gentle hugs, tender affection, and compassionate training; but they also need our firm direction and corrective action to protect them from spiritual vulnerability.
Proverbs 4:1–2 teaches, “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.” Doctrine means “a set of beliefs.” We must instill proper values and a biblical belief system in our children’s hearts.
If both of your parents worshipped with you regularly while you were growing up, there is an 80% likelihood that you will worship God regularly as an adult. If only your mother worshipped regularly with you, there is only a 30% probability that you will worship regularly as an adult. If only your father worshipped regularly with you, the likelihood that you will worship regularly as an adult increases to 70%! Fathers have an enormous impact on their children’s faith and values. One of your most important ministries is worshipping with your kids.
Training up involves admonition. To admonish means to put in mind or truly instruct. This word indicates a drawing attention to a certain subject. It is used in a positive and negative type of exhortation, and it involves focused teaching and biblical discipline. Tedd Tripp wrote of discipline: “Ask yourself this question. Who benefits if you do not spank your child? Surely not the child. The [biblical] passages make it clear that such failure places the child at risk. Who benefits? You do. You are delivered from the discomfort of spanking the child.”
Discipline is more than punitive—it is not the child paying for his sins. Discipline should have more than the negative goal of payment; it should have a positive goal of growth and restoration. Biblical discipline should primarily be restorative not punitive, because that is what true biblical admonishment is about. Protecting our children spiritually requires a great sacrifice and personal investment from parents. We have seen three critical components of spiritual protection—scheduled time together, a sincere parental testimony, and a focus on training. When you make these three priorities real in your home, you are placing spiritual boundaries around your family. You are setting up a wall of protection and safety. May God bless and use you as you protect and train up the next generation for His glory.