This week we talk about our summer vacation, why Chad can’t really handle bowling or minigolf, more repenting over mean celebrities, and a call for Christian parents to take a hard look at their family.
I have had a heavy burden lately for families. So many families are struggling, breaking apart, buckling under the weight of sin and pride and foolish independence and selfish love that turns out not to be love at all. And then there are the families where everything seems grand, where baseball and camping and dance classes crowd out the greatness of real communion with God’s people, where parents maintain a casual association with the church while their children learn and re-learn and truly believe that Jesus has no place in this oh-so-comfortable life.
More and more in all types of families I see parents who claim to be Christians yet don’t see the need or importance of doing all they can to make sure that their own precious children escape the clutches of hell and find victory over sin and death. It makes my heart pound, the sheer terror of it, that idea that I should receive forgiveness of sin and my children should face the terrible wrath of a holy God. It ought to terrify all of us, the idea of our loved ones living and dying without knowing the perfect love, mercy, and salvation of the Lord.
I implore you, parents. Examine yourself. If you do not feel a sense of urgency in the training and spiritual development of your children, if you do not provide them with a church family and teach them God’s word, if you do not feel utter devastation at the thought of them living without Christ and dying without hope, then you have no reason to feel assured of your own salvation. It’s possible that you were made to believe at some point in your past that you had a true encounter with Jesus, but you actually only had an emotional experience with no real repentance or faith in the Lord.
It is reasonable to deduce that a true follower of Christ could not and would not fail to teach her own children how to become Christians.
If your family’s life is ruled by the things of this world instead of the things of God, if you find yourself rarely or never engaging your children in spiritual conversations, if you have let other activities take precedence over church attendance, if your children see no real need or place for Jesus in your world, you need to stop right now and seek the Lord. You need to consider whether you really know Him and whether His Holy Spirit has changed your heart of stone to a heart of flesh. (Ez. 36:26) You need to remember that Jesus said that anyone who causes a little one to stumble would be better off with a millstone tied around his neck, drowned in some bottomless ocean. (Luke 17:2) You need to consider the words of Christ when He declared that the greatest commandment is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matt. 22:36-38)
“Christian” means something more than liking some of the things Jesus had to say. This faith is all-consuming and utterly transforming. If your faith is more like an occasional identifier than a life-altering relationship, then it is possible that you don’t really know Jesus at all. It’s possible that you are going to hell and you are dragging your children there with you.
Consider the condition of your soul. Contemplate whether you are leading your children through the wide gate and down the broad the road that leads to destruction. Scripture tells us that the way is narrow that leads to life. Few find it. (Matt. 17:13-14) Have you? Will your children? Pray that today will be the day of salvation.
When I was a kid, Vacation Bible School was the highlight of my summer. I still remember how the slightly watered-down KoolAid tasted when it washed down exactly two sandwich cookies from the local grocery store, each lovingly placed on a white napkin and eagerly gobbled up by children who were that special brand of midsummer morning starved.
I remember how much I looked forward to painting the red bricks on the outside of the church with water, the brilliant notion of some long ago Bible School director. The buckets and paint brushes and cool, cool water were a big part of my summertime dreams as a child.
This past week, in the grand tradition of many, many summers long past, our church was filled to the brim with excited children. When you are a grown-up,VBS is all at once the most fun thing you do all summer and also the most exhausting. In the famous words of then four year old Sawyer one final day of Vacation Bible School, when I am done with VBS, “my hair is tired.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a more perfect description of how one feels on that last day of a long week of over-the-top enthusiasm and Holy Spirit-inspired patience. Maybe it’s the consecutive days of restraint that is really what so completely wears out a VBS worker.
This was Adelade’s first year to be a VBS volunteer. She effectively graduated from Vacation Bible School last year, after years of loving every second of it. It was sad for me, thinking about how quickly the time goes, about how she had passed a milestone that we could never really return to–the days when she would wake up with the sun, smiling before her eyes were even open, ecstatic in the first seconds of consciousness because she knew it was a VBS day.
This year I watched as her long and lean frame took the stage, helping lead the children as they sang and learned the motions to the fun music. For the most part I didn’t think much about it. Her enthusiasm was still off the charts. Her smile never waned. She was having great fun. But then in one, tiny mama moment, I stood at the back of the sanctuary, watching one of the more mischeivous boys from my class walk, no, run, no, tumble to the bathroom, and I was mesmerized by my first-born daughter, standing there at the front of the room. It was only a few seconds before the spell was broken by the tumbleweed of a boy who was barrelling toward the restroom. But, in those seconds I felt like I was seeing the beginnings of who Adelade really is and who she is to be.
The next day I sat with my rowdy little class and watched them listen intently while she taught them about the hope we have in Christ. She was so sincere, so true and sure as she spoke of the love of Jesus, and I found renewed hope in my Savior just by watching what He is doing in my dear little girl.
Thirteen years old. Vacation Bible looks different now. It looks like a lanky teenager and braces and teacher break room privileges for my own little Adelade. And as her faith and understanding grows, I’m learning that a merciful by-product is the growth of my own faith and understanding, just watching in awe while Jesus forms her into a girl after his own heart.
This week she managed to meet David Platt. When she spotted him in the hallway of a huge convention center, she gasped. She literally gasped. The president of the International Mission Board was standing right in front of her. So, she smiled up at him with that silver-bracketed precious grin that turns up at the corners. They talked about seventh grade and Secret Church, and she walked away encouraged.
And tonight she came through the door with red eyes, tears still flowing as she tried to explain things that words don’t quite have the capacity to express. She had prayed over young missionaries at their commissioning service, and all the while God was speaking to her own heart. The same David Platt who had been so kind to her yesterday was now on a big platform, speaking about calling and mission and the way that the Holy Spirit will sometimes grab you so tightly that you run out of vocabulary to describe what it feels like.
And in all of this she grows. She changes in ways that I never could have predicted back on those simple summer mornings when she awoke with a grin and a VBS song in her heart. And I change, too. I learn how much more she belongs to Christ than to me. I learn to bind my wandering heart to a Savior who calls little girls and makes them courageous Christ-followers. I learn to loosen my grip on my teary-eyed, God-gripped daughter, remembering once again that God’s hand is sufficient. I will trust His hold on us. He is good, and He is working here.
Day 26 of 31 Things to Teach Your Kids: Teach them what an authentic Christian life looks like.
Here’s the blog post we mention: Maybe Women are Some of the Worst Offenders
Here’s the book we mention: Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms