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Up Way Publications 35th Anniversary

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Followers of Jesus Christ Ministries/ UP WAY PUBLICATIONS   ē    P.O. Box 1015   ē   Kailua, Hawaii 96734 
VOL.4                                                                                                                No. 7

Children and Their Importance to Jesus

My Dear Brothers in the Service of Jesus Christ:

Often parents will tell their children to seek the Lord first of all, but will then push them on in their secular school work and if there is not enough time to both read and study their Bibles AND do their school work, guess which is put ahead! Yes, it is the secular school work. But do you realize that the message you are sending to the children is that you donít REALLY put Godís work first, you just SAY that you do? 
It is less important to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness than to do your homework!
King David, the High Priest Eli and prophet and Judge, Samuel were three examples of God fearing fathers whose children went wrong. Why? 

Why will your children turn out as they do? Will they be a great blessing to everyone they come into contact with? Or will they bring shame and disgrace upon their parents, family, friends and community? I know several ministers who teach their daughters that they must not even trim their hair and maintain very strict standards, one even to the point of pulling his teenage daughters out of the public school system and home schooling them because of the negative things they were facing at school, but I know another girl who attended the same public school who maintained a high standard for herself and was successful in bringing a number of her schoolmates to the church through her example and witness.  The unique thing about this situation was the radical differenct in these girls' early lives and then later. The pastor's daughters were taught "holiness" of the standards variety their church taught from birth. The other was the daughter of a woman so immoral that authorities took her daughter away from her and she ended up with her grandparents, who were very godly people in their daily lives. This girl committed her life to the Lord because she wanted to and saw the example of her grandparents.  The other girls had not yet seen themselves as still in their natural sinful state because - well, what did they have to repent of?  So when they saw immorality at High School, they were sufficiently tempted that their parents either had to take them out of the public school or risk them coming home pregnant. 

I know another minister whose children were not in public school, but the private schools they attend were not Christian by any stretch of the imagination and his children show a considerable disinterest in the things of God, even though they were made to attend nearly every church service. One who was a senior said things which told me she believes the theory of evolution to be more scientific than creation when she was a sophomore. While she could attend a Christian college she was pushed to a secular school where her faith and morals will be further undermined1.  The daughter in question was allowed to schedule scuba diving lessons at church time on Sunday morning, but who could blame her when her mother scheduled an appointment with a contractor for a building or remodeling job at their home also on Sunday at service time when the contractor could just as easily have come at other times.

So how can you determine what is right for your child? Part of it lies in the example you have personally set before them. Part on the things you have verbally taught them. But if you have verbally taught them to serve God and then showed them an example of serving the world, which are they more likely to follow? Your words or your deeds?  If you say to obey the law, then break the speed law or parking regulations or laugh about it and keep excess change given you at a store, what kind of example are you setting, my minister friend?  And of course if you are too busy to supervise and control your children or to teach them one-on-one and have good times together, what can you expect from the children but that your word is ineffective? The three Bible fathers mentioned were all so busy attending to the running of their nation and pursuing intrigues and offering sacrifices that they had little time to provide solid parenting to their children. Both Eli and Samuel were so involved in their duties and responsibilities as priest and prophet doing the Lord's work that their sons did not turn out well and in fact, Eli's sons Hophni and Phineas were slain for their own  misdeeds and it was the corruption of Samuel's sons that helped trigger the demand of the people for a king, Saul, whom Samuel anointed to be king instead of his sons judging Israel as he had. 

King David was not only too busy with his wars and military activities, running the country and his romantic intrigues, not only with his own many wives and concubines, but also with Uriah's wife and arranging his murder that one of his sons raped his half sister and was murdered or executed by her full brother who was then one of two of David's sons who tried to take his throne away by force.  Both of those sons were slain in their revolts against their father, though in Absalom's case, David cried, "My son, my son! Would that I had died in his stead."

Today, in the last years of the Twentieth Century and beginning of the Twenty-first, the buzz word is "Quality time." Busy parents are urged to spend quality time with their children.  This means not just being physically present with them, but actually doing things with them;  reading, sharing a hobby, going places together and above all, earning their confidence so that they will share their concerns and problems with you, the parent rather than some teacher, peer or acquaintance with ulterior motives. Pastors especially need to make sure to budget time for their own children and family. I have seen far too many cases in which a pastor was so busy helping his congregation that his own children ended up in rebellion and went out into a sinful lifestyle. And while I am at this point, I will also mention several cases I personally knew of in which a very dedicated pastor neglected his family sufficiently that he lost not only his children, but also his wife to a man who did spend the time with them.

Not only are responsible for our own children, but also for all who attend the church we pastor or the groups to which we speak or preach. 

In the Old Testament, Solomon advised, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 In context: Proverbs 22:5-7). Birth is NOT too soon to begin training your child. Don't think that your child cannot pick up on attitudes and inconsistencies from the time he or she is born, and some research indicates that even before birth, they can tell angry voices from happy ones. They also very quickly determine whether you are a person who will carry out both promises and threats or if your word is no good. You will forget to keep the promises of reward and nice things or you are too tender-hearted to carry out just punishment - or have been brainwashed by modern child psychology into believing punishment will generate violence and violent attitudes in the children.

 In the "To Be A Minister" ministerial manual I wrote in 1989 I emphasized the crucial importance of putting the very best available teachers to teach the very young children. 
                 "        (Use only the VERY BEST teachers for the
               classes from preschool to about 8 or 9 years old, as these are
               the years in which the children are forming learning and
               study habits that will go with them for the rest of their lives!)
               You should be able to tell if someone has the ability to impart
               knowledge, to share Godís word with an anointing that brings
               conviction or faith or to serve and inspire confidence. The one
               who can share or impart knowledge should be used to teach....)"

And Jesus placed great emphasis on little children. There is an old saying, "As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined." It is much easier to instill and build faith in a child who can then grow into an adult capable of sound reasoning and logic than to un-program one that has been taught to follow the crowd and accept whatever is told against scripture.  "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. " (Matthew 19:14 In context: Matthew 19:13-15), and "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. " (Mark 10:14 In context: Mark 10:13-15), and again, "And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. " (Luke 18:15,16 In context: Luke 18:15-17). For all three of these Gospel writers to include this event shows how important they saw it to be to the Lord Jesus. 

The very great importance Jesus placed on children can also be seen in these verses. "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1-6). (Also)  Yes, the humility and simple faith of a child ARE of crucial importance, but also the potential of a child who has never gone into deep sin and rather has been taught faith and trust in the Lord from infancy.

For all his greatness as a mighty warrior and king,  David was a miserable father who had numerous problems with his sons. Amnon raped his half sister Tamar and in revenge, her full brother Absalom had him killed in a way that at first David heard all his sons except Absalom had been killed.  This resulted in a three-year exile for Absalom.  Though he was a "man after God's own heart," David was too busy fighting battles and running his nation to be a truly good father and at that, we must admit he was really a miserable failure. Let that little side message be a warning to eacu of us in the ministry that our own families must not be neglected while we busy ourselves in the Lord's work, or we may lose our own children. His son, Aamon raped his half-sister Tamar, who was Absalom's full sister and Absalom killed Aamon for doing it. Then Absalom led an armed rebellion against his own father, David after gaining some support through clever politics.

While David did love his son, Absalom, the rebellion had to be dealt with and although David sent three armies against Absalom's forces, he did charge his three top generals in the hearing of the people that Absalom's life was to be spared. He really did not want him to be killed. Though David probably had not had to change Absalom's dirty diapers or the equivalent in that day, he had doubtless spent many happy hours holding and snuggling the tiny infant, watching the tiny baby boy begin to learn to communicate and then to walk and then actually talk and climb and run. No doubt, as you read David's lament "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" verse 33, you can sense the anguish that he had not spent the time to make sure Absalom was learning the right values in life as he grew up.

Then, several years later, another son, Adonijah usurped the throne 

So, my dear minister friend, my co-laborer in the work of the Lord, let us never do as I well remember from my own childhood days and consider the questions of a child to be of lesser importance than those of an adult. Let us strive to win the children and as we do, many times the parent is brought to the Lord through the simple prayer of faith of their little child. That small child you are influencing, not only by your words, but by your attitudes and actions, will someday be an adult who will either bring praise to the Lord AND you or a reproach to all. The choice is yours. Remember that as the tiny twig is bent, so the tree grows to maturity. Peer pressure IS important, but parents have the upper hand if only they will use it.

Yours for Jesus' sake,

Bro. Sam



ENDNOTES:
1 It is now a number of years after this part of the message was written and the young lady's morals were not only undermined but as a young adult, she is living with a boyfriend she is not married to and is totally out of church. 
Also, "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
    "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." (Luke 17:2).

Amnon and Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-15) 
Amnon killed (2 Samuel 13:20-29).
Absalom's politics (2 Samuel 15:1-8).
Absalom's rebellion (2 Samuel 15:1-19:10).
Adonijah (1 Kings 1:4-53).

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