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Dads, teach your children that clapping, when you’re not alone but you’re the only one clapping, is most often obnoxious.
A person standing or walking in a strong wind is pushed in directions he doesn’t necessarily want to go. If it’s a headwind, it’s pushing him in the opposite direction of his goal, and he would do well to put his head down and fight against it. Doing nothing in response to the headwind might not only result in a lack of progress but he may actually be pushed backwards.
If you come home after a bad day at work or church (perhaps you’ve experienced a failure of some kind), or if you have a head-ache or some other chronic pain, or if you have goals that require focus or thought, or if you are simply in a negative state of mind – if any of these things are true as you are entering into interaction with your children, then you should consider yourself as having a headwind pushing you against positive and wise responses to your children and towards anger and impatience with them.
As your ire builds, you may be tempted to blame them (“they’re acting crazy!”), but no, they are not behaving differently. It’s your setting, your situation, your frame of mine – pushing you away from love, towards undeserved wrath against them. Against your children.
The sooner you can recognize this, the better. Then you can fight against it, put your head down and think, “This force isn’t going to push me into a greater distancing from my children.” And then move towards your children in love.
Click here to see the list of posts in this series.
… and would like to see more of what I’ve written, a good place to start is this series of blog posts about Dads and Anger
Main Thesis: Dads should never show anger when dealing with the children.
Please check it out.
Most parents, pastors and theologians would agree that there is no easy way to determine if a child is saved. There’s no simple two question test.
But determining if a child is not saved – I think there are some useful indicators of that.
Five signs that your child is not saved:
(Obviously, there are exceptions to all of these.)
1. She can’t spell out the gospel
An eighteen year old will be more able than a four year old to explain the significant ideas in the gospel, but all saved children will be able to lay out the basics of the gospel in plain words.
2. He can’t explain how the gospel applies to him
Any demon can lay out the classic four points, but what does this child believe their situation was before they were saved? What has God done for them? What is God doing for them? What does their future look like.
3. She has never made a decision for Christ / prayed a prayer of faith
Let me be clear: a sinner’s prayer doesn’t save anyone and there are many unsaved people who’ve come forward at an altar call. But almost all saved children will have prayed a prayer – accepting Christ as their savior – at least once. And they will probably regularly saying something like a sinner’s prayer – admitting they’re sinful, asking forgiveness, asking Jesus to be Lord of their life. Here’s a corollary: If they said a sinner’s prayer yesterday (perhaps repeating after an adult*), but today can’t tell you what it was, then there is a large possibility that they aren’t saved.
4. He doesn’t feel the weight of his own sin.
A child who is continually defensive when confronted, a child who shakes off her sin like it is negligible, a child who doesn’t feel grief when thinking about the disobedient act they’ve done – this child is probably not saved.
5. They show no Fruit of the Spirit.
This is a tricky one because it’s so subjective. But it’s also very Biblical. You should see changes in a saved child. You should see more Love, Joy, Peace. … You should see Christ working in their lives, changing their hearts.
Only God knows our hearts. But Jesus said we would know a tree by its fruit, so it’s not wrong for a parent to do some “fruit inspection” from time to time.
I have eight kids. Three or four of them exhibit these signs of still being lost. As they get older, this causes me more concern. It should cause you concern for your children as well.
So what should a parent do if they see these signs in their child?
2. Teach them the Gospel
3. Live out the Gospel
But you should also do this with your children who are saved. For your entire life.
One final note – there are others that come close to being on the list –
He doesn’t want to pray
She doesn’t want to read the Bible
He has no heart for the lost
She has a sin that doesn’t seem to be going away
- But I think these all a matter of sanctification.
What do you think? Did I miss any? Did I add too many?
* I’m on record as being not in favor of altar calls for children.
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These are what I think are the main ideas in the gospel. Just for the record.
All of these are important when explaining it to your children. All of them are clearly seen in the Bible
Each human is sinful.
God is holy and just.
Sinful beings cannot enter into communion with a holy God.
Christ lived a human life and never sinned.
Christ willingly died – taking our punishment.
Christ rose again – he has defeated death.
Because of this – if we accept the gift – we can be seen by God as holy.
Salvation is an accomplishment of faith, not of good works.
It’s like this:
The person saved by God will then move towards greater obedience towards Him.
A person with greater obedience towards God will then be saved by Him.
Two more thoughts for when you talk about the gospel with your children –
1. Make it personal. Change “Each human is sinful” to “You and I are sinful”
2. Make it big. Our sin isn’t trivial – it’s betrayal. That we can’t be with God is not bad news, it’s the worst possible news. That Jesus has found a way to save us is not good news, it’s the best possible news.
Did I miss anything?
Each time I talk to a mom or a dad whose family is experiencing significant difficulty, I want to tell them this story as an encouragement…
Towards the end of my senior year in high school I considered what it would be like to become an atheist. This was a significant topic of thought for me because I was seriously wondering if atheism was the right way. Fairly quickly after starting college I decided that it wasn’t, and I haven’t really doubted my faith since.
This decision to stay in the faith was based on two factors – one of them was mind oriented, the other heart oriented. The Mind factor was this: In high school it had seemed to me (somewhat incorrectly) that all of the bright people were atheists and the Christians were those who didn’t really think things through. This opinion went out the window a couple weeks into my time at Bethel, a Christian college, when I saw proof to the fact that there were indeed many extraordinarily intelligent Christians.
That was the first factor. As I say, the second factor informing my decision was a heart factor – so yes, I’m admitting to the fact that this one was less logic based. But it came down to this: One of the most important reasons I didn’t leave my faith was that I really didn’t want to. I wanted to stay. Here’s the main reason why -
When I was ten our family went through a significant crisis – my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, he was treated and in and out of the hospital for 18 months, and died right before I finished the fifth grade
And during those 18 months, and in the months after my dad died, my church, Calvary Baptist, supported our family with meals, and kid-sitting, and love and prayer and more meals and more prayer. I remember my mom saying she could feel the effects of their prayers even as my dad was not doing well in the hospital.
Seven years later, as a doubting high school senior was convicted by the thought that I did not want to walk away from that kind of good, that kind of benefit, that kind of blessing.
I can’t be the only one who experienced a thought pattern like that. So …
To the dads and moms of Christian families in crisis I say this:
I know there are many bad things that are happening as a result of this hard walk that God has chosen for you. But maybe here’s one good thing: Maybe the love and support that you are getting from your church will be remembered by your children when they are growing up and considering if following Christ is worth it. Perhaps it will help them “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” that they are hearing in your church.
To the dads and moms who aren’t in a church:
Certainly there are some more important reasons to become involved with a local body – corporate worship, service in the work of God, encouraged salvation and sanctification. But you can’t discredit this potential good: If (some might say when) crisis happens to your family, you won’t be alone. You will have people praying for you and loving you and providing for you and helping with the logistical issues that all crises bring. I fear for families who have to go through these hard times alone.
And to churches with families in crisis I ask:
Are you helping them? Are you giving time and resources and grocery store gift cards to them? Are you staying up late praying with them? Are you watching their kids as they make another hospital trip? Are you encouraging them with God’s words for them in the Bible? You better be. That’s what God wants you to be doing.
And if you do so, you can have the hope that maybe five or ten or fifteen years down the road there will be another young man or woman who finds themselves thinking, “If I leave God, then I must leave his church, and why would I want to do that?”
Quick note about the term: I’ve asked around as to the right term for when a car takes off so fast that it spits out dirt behind it. And I’ve been told by younger people that they don’t know a word for this. So maybe it’s an outdated term, but that’s what I mean by “Peeling out”.
A story: Back in the days when I was younger and single I used to help out with a Boy Scout troop and one of the other leaders had a bit of a temper. One afternoon up at camp, after getting upset with the boys for one reason or another, he hopped into his car and peeled out of the parking lot.
Unfortunately, the parking lot was mainly dirt and mud and he got quite a bit of it on my car as he drove off. Later, when I mentioned this to him, he told me “Well, it sure felt good!”
This was not really a consolation as I spent an hour cleaning the mud off my car.
Now 15 years later, as a father, I’m ashamed to remember that I’ve used the same defense, at least silently, to myself. So after I yelled at my kids for making a mess, or get upset when a child’s accident causes me to redo something, or make a cutting remark to my wife when she’s not doing things my way, I’d think:
- Well, it’s good to get that off my chest.
– I needed to say that.
– If I don’t vent once in awhile, it will be emotionally debilitating.
– My kids don’t want a dad who stuffs everything down.
Obviously, these thoughts can be as foolish and selfish as peeling out of a parking lot.
Dads, how about you? Do you use excuses like this? Yes, maybe these outbursts are, in some small way, cathartic and good for your soul, but are you leaving family members covered in mud?
Click here to see the list of posts in this series.