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Satan’s vicious attacks on the family unit and the souls of our children can be described as anything but discreet. Virtually gone are the days when one could hope to turn on the television and find family-friendly, wholesome programming. Instead, Hollywood tries to convince us that there’s a “new” type of family, that ALL teenagers are having sex, and that only prudes avoid the use of profanity. It’s not out of the ordinary to be driving down the highway and see billboards glamorizing alcohol and sexualizing women, or to be standing in the checkout aisle at the grocery store covering your young child’s eyes so they don’t see the blatant vulgarity plastered on the cover of many magazines. In fact, all a mom has to do these days to catch a glimpse of society’s sexualization of our children is to try to take her daughter shopping for a new church dress. What can we as Christian mothers do to guard the precious souls of our children?
First of all, never believe Satan’s lie that there’s nothing you can do about it! The British statesmen, Edmund Burk, is credited with saying, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be the “squeaky wheel”, especially when it comes to protecting the souls of our children!
Second, stay informed and let your consumer voice be heard! There are many pro-family organizations that make it their mission to document examples of groups or businesses that target our children with inappropriate products or advertising. Combined with modern technology, these organizations make it easy for us to get our concerns straight to the top levels of these groups or businesses from the comfort of our own home. You don’t even have to leave your pajamas! One group that I have found to be very helpful is www.onemillionmoms.com. Not only do they alert you to an issue, they provide contact information for the right individuals at the company in question. Generally, it does not take long for the company in question to receive massive amounts of complaints and issue a response. It’s rather rewarding to see such quick, often positive results.
A third way to combat the devil’s quest for the souls of our children is to fill their hearts with God’s word. In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist declared, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” In Matthew chapter 4 Jesus overcame Satan’s temptations with scripture and in 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul writes to Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise…” Children’s brains are like sponges (especially young children’s) and they have a large capacity to memorize information, even information they do not understand. In our household, my 6 and 7 year-old daughters memorize a new passage of scripture every week, and daily recite the ones they’ve already learned. This generally takes a maximum of 15 minutes a day. I do not worry if they don’t understand the scripture because I know that will come with maturity. The important thing is to get it into their heart now, before temptation rears its ugly head. I also do not “dumb down” the scriptures by paraphrasing or using loose translations. It may take a little longer to memorize, but it’s well worth the effort. I’ve noticed that since we’ve started this process they tend to enjoy the sermons more, and get really excited when the preacher quotes a scripture that they know.
Finally, never underestimate the power of prayer! We ought to pray fervently and daily for the soul of each child and for the soul of his or her future mate. Do not be afraid to let them hear you praying for them! They need to know how important their souls are, and they need to see our confidence in the power of prayer.
As parents, we need to stay vigilant and let it not be said of our children’s generation, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6
By Cari Savage
One day when I was in Wal-Mart I heard from the loud speaker a “code Adam.” This is an announcement used by many stores to alert their workers that a child has been separated from his or her parent and they should stop everything they are doing and immediately start searching for the child. Losing your child is a parent’s worst nightmare and it is precisely what happened to Reve Walsh on July 27, 1981, when her 6-year-old son, Adam, was abducted from a Florida department store. The mother searched frantically throughout the store but her son was nowhere to be found. The police were called but it was too late. Adam was gone and no one knew where he was. Sixteen days after his disappearance his body was found. To this day the one responsible for the abduction has not been discovered. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that approximately 4,600 children are abducted annually by nonfamily members.
On the day I heard the “code Adam” at Wal-Mart I quickly began searching. I soon found a lost child in the toy department and directed him to a store worker who was able to reunite the boy with his mother. It has become my practice that whenever I see a child without a parent nearby in a store I always take the time to make sure the parent returns and the child is safe before I continue my own shopping. It amazes me how often it occurs and how often I am required to wait for an extended time before the child’s parent is seen. Why is it that some parents are so lax when it comes to their child’s safety? Good parents always keep in contact with their children because they realize the dangers that are out there. They understand how important it is for a parent to keep a strong connection. We would do well to remember that this is true in all aspects of our children’s lives.
As mothers we must make sure that we are always in touch with our children and their lives. It is important that we stay engaged and remain involved in their activities. As they get older and seek their own independence, we must stay connected while allowing them their own space. God has given us a responsibility that we must not neglect with excuses, such as, “I’m too busy,” or “I’m too tired.” We need to keep a strong bond with our children especially as they involve themselves in more and more activities. God has given us a huge responsibility that must be met. Ephesians 6:4 explains, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The providing of this “nurture” and “admonition” requires time. We must be careful that we do not become wrapped up in our own busy schedules and neglect the needs of our children. This means that we will make a special effort to plan times with our children. We will spend time preparing and enjoying meals, working around the house, sharing activities, playing, and most importantly, worshiping together. If your child is pre-school age, you could volunteer to teach their Bible class. You could get to know their friends better by having a play day one Saturday each month at your house. If your child is school age, you could offer to help coach their team if they are involved in athletics, or volunteer at their school. We need to take notice of our children’s interests and become involved in those things that excite them.
Getting to know your child’s life and building a close relationship is very important. As parents, we need to know the temptations they are facing if we are going to be able to help them to overcome. We need to know the friends that are influencing them. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Be not deceived: evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Satan can do much harm to our children’s lives through the friends they choose. You must build the kind of relationship with your children that allows you to influence them to choose their friends wisely. You must have an open and honest connection with your children. You do not want your children to hide things from you. You need them to understand that you faced the same challenges when you were young. If you build the right relationship with them they will see it as an asset. You never know, you might just find your teenager coming to you for advice.
We also need to stay in touch with their emotional condition. Are they happy, sad, discouraged, angry, disappointed, jealous, afraid, or worried? The Bible tells us to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This means we should raise our children with an understanding of their personality, abilities, weaknesses and strengths. In order to do this we must know our children and know what they are facing in their lives. The connection between parent and child must be developed throughout their lives if we are to help guide them into choosing to become faithful Christians. If the connection between us and our children is lost there will not be a “code Adam” announced but it will be just as tragic. A soul could be lost that was entrusted to us by God. The parent’s job is not easy. However, as mothers we are blessed and should appreciate every moment we have with our children. The old saying is true – they will be grown before we know it.
By Dee Haffner
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)
As a child, upon hearing this verse, I would immediately imagine some giant, see through, Ghost-like figure vomiting my friends out of His mouth. But now that I understand the meaning and principle of this passage, the words have such a deeper effect on my thoughts.
Will God literally vomit a lukewarm “Christian” out of His mouth? Well, to do so would require first eating the person, so I highly doubt this context is speaking on literal terms. But, I do know that when we try to balance between living of the world and of God, such an unbalanced lifestyle makes Him sick. He wants nothing to do with those who are riding safely in the middle, for to Him, no such place exists!
But how can we go from being lukewarm to hot? And even more importantly, how can we go from being cold to hot? Though I am sure we can go about such a drastic transformation in many ways, I believe one of the greatest ways involves changing your shoes.
You have all heard the saying “put yourself in their shoes”, right? Why do people use this phrase? I never fully grasped this concept of placing myself in another individual’s “shoes” until my first mission trip to a third world country—Guatemala. During these two weeks, I saw children and adults walking around naked due to poverty, families of 10 tucked away in tiny shacks made of bricks, tin and even sheets, children with fungus on their feet due to a lack of shoes, and drunken men stumbling down the filthy roads, trying to temporarily escape the poverty around them. I watched as two boys laughed and ran down the street, faces full of joy, after I shared with them half of a disgusting granola bar. These experiences brought me out of my own shoes and for a brief time, placed me in the shoes of people who, physically, possessed close to nothing. I learned the beauty of placing others’ needs before my wants. I discovered the only stable experience that one can cling to on this earth—God.
Finding your “change of shoes” experience may not require traveling around the world, though I encourage you to do so. Look closer to home. Visit and volunteer at the homeless shelters near you, or participate in food drives. Find a needy family with children and supply their food, bathroom accessories, or gas for one week. Distribute clothes and food to the homeless people walking around town.
You are surrounded with people in need of the very things you and I so abundantly possess, both physically and spiritually. By dedicating a small portion of your time each year to these “change of shoes” experiences, your eyes will open to what truly matters in this world—a fulfilling relationship with Your Creator, and a love for sharing His beauty.
So get up, get busy, and change those shoes!
By Jennifer Savage
Hello Friend! I see that you are still trapped in your cage. I am sad to see that you are locked inside, away from the beauty of the light, trapped by your sin… What’s that you say?…You want to come live in the light, but you don’t know how to open the Door?…Let me tell you The Way.”
First, you have to accept the fact that Jesus is truly the way out of your cage. Many claim to be the savior of the world, but only through Jesus can you be saved. (Acts 4:12) You have to believe and trust that God will do as he has promised. In John 14:1, Jesus tells us ““Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus goes on in John 14 to tell us of the heavenly home he is preparing for us. But we cannot go to that heavenly home unless we are free from our cage. God through his grace provides us the gift of The Door and we in faith must walk through it. (Eph2. 8 )
The door that Jesus provides is actually a water gate, also called baptism. Mark 16:16 says “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.” You may be wondering why a water gate? Why is this way so important? What happens when I go through the water gate?
When you are baptized, you are united with Christ’s death and resurrection. Romans 6 says we are buried with Christ in baptism and we are raised from the dead just as Christ was raised from the dead. Just as Christ was put into an earthly tomb, we are put in a watery tomb. As he was covered with the stone, we are covered by water. We are brought up from that tomb just as Christ was brought up from his. We are putting to death the sin we have and we are allowing Christ to live in us. We are choosing to die to sin and to live to righteousness (1 Pet 2: 24 ) Gal 5:24 describes it this way: “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” In other words, we repent and change our behavior from sinful to righteous so that we might proclaim “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Gal 2:20
Because we are united with Jesus’ death in baptism we are also united with his blood. Christ’s blood is able to cleanse our conscience (Heb 9: 14), forgive our trespasses (Eph 1: 7) and release us from our sins (Rev. 1:50) Baptism, therefore, is an appeal to God for a good conscience. (1 Pet. 3:21) Before baptism we are vile and repulsive, caged in our sin, but Jesus and the Holy Spirit wash, sanctify (purify, make holy), and justify (make guiltless) sinners in Christ’s blood. (1 Cor 6:11, Heb 13:12, Rom 5:9) During baptism, because of Jesus’ blood, our hearts are “sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” and our bodies are “washed with pure water”. (Heb 10:22) Because Jesus’ blood does all these things, God promises us that we will enter “the Holy Place of God”: Heaven. (Heb 10:26)
Not only are we united with Christ’s death and cleansed of our sins but in baptism we are spiritually circumcised. Before Christ came, to be considered holy before God, men had to have their foreskin cut off. Before baptism we are dead and uncircumcised in our sins but through baptism God removes sin from us, circumcising us, making us holy. (Col 2:9-13) And because we are made holy, we are able to come before Him.
During baptism through the Holy Spirit, we are “all baptized into one body”, Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12: 12-13). Eph 5: 23-27 tells us that Jesus cleanses his body, the church, with his blood and by washing her with water, cleansing her so that she has “no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” We are no longer divided: Jew or gentile, slave or master, but are unified into one body: the church. (Gal 3:28,) It is through baptism that Jesus fulfills the promise he made in Matt. 16:18 when He says “I will build My church.” And we, having been baptized, are now members of His body, the church, each with our own spiritual gift in which to serve him. (Rom 12)
Once we are buried with Christ, we are raised to a new life, and God puts us under his grace. (Rom 6:4, 14) We were once dead, but are now ALIVE together with Christ, having been forgiven of our sins. (Col 2:13, Eph 2: 5) We have been born again, born of both water and the spirit (John 3:5) Each of us is now “a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor. 5:17 Being a new creature, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph 2: 10) Also, when we are baptized we are clothed with Christ, which means we now belong to Christ. (Gal 3:27) Being that we are now connected with Christ and made holy, we have been made complete (Col 2:10). Eph 2:19 says “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” And as such you are free to live in the Light, free from the slavery of sin. (John 8: 34-36) Because our sins have been removed and we have been made holy, we have been saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9) and instead have entered the kingdom of God. (John 3:5) Because God is now our king, we are slaves to Him and to righteousness, rather than slaves to sin, (Rom 6). And our reward and promise will be to live eternally in Heaven with Him (Heb 9:15, 1 John 2:25).
For some letting go of their sin, their cage, is hard. “Do I want to leave the familiarness of my cage? Do I want to change my life? Do I want to let go of sin?” But the choice is yours and yours alone, will you stay in your cage and eventually die in your cage, miserable and separated from the Father? Or will you let go of the cage, and choose to live in the light and in the blessings and in the way of the Jesus. In choosing to walk through the door, you are choosing to live your life differently. To live your life in way that honors both God and Jesus who have done so much to save you.
What if I chose to not go through the door? If you chose not to go through the door, then you are still a slave to sin (Rom 6, Rom 8:34). You are still trapped in your cage. You are separate from Christ, excluded from his body, and denied God’s blessings. And most of all you have NO HOPE! (Eph 2:12) Furthermore, because you are still trapped, the wrath of God remains on you. (John 3:36) 2 Thess 1: 8-9 says “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.”
Wouldn’t it be better to come to the light and not live in your cage of sin? Come my friend! Use the water gate and come to the light! “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16
By Amy Ellis
Originally printed in the Spring 2011 Issue V4N2
Part 1 – The Cage and The Door
Part 3 – Living in the Light
Part 4 – Attached to the Body