This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Lucien Accad (from Lebanon, Mr. Accad is a former director of the Bible Society in Beirut. During the war in Lebanon, his house was severely damaged many times.), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
As parents we like our children to be safe and have the best training for a happy future. Too often, however, these wishes are according to human standards.
Noah knew that obedience to God is the standard by which we can face the future in a positive way. He was able to perceive that the real danger came from a sinful society which is only interested in material benefits and which is predominantly selfish.
The building of our boat has to become a family enterprise around the person of Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that we will find real safety.
Sometimes we, as a family, have been tempted to run away from Lebanon because of the war, assuming that other parts of the world would be safer for our family. But God's Word reminds us that our real security, happiness and future are in Christ and in obeying God's will.
The safest place on earth is still in the center of His will. The most dangerous place is to be outside His will.
A moment of introspection: "Johnny, wasn't that a great fishing trip? You had wanted to go fishing for so long. It's too bad that we only caught those water snakes. But we can have a great shore lunch with the meat we netted today. They should taste mouth-wateringly good with these stones. I know you asked me to bring bread along on the trip, but the stones were handier and more readily available." (Matthew 7:9) How God's Word rejects such a scenario! Earthly parents have an innate impulse to do what is best for their children, yet they are flawed as a result of sin's corruption of all humanity through the fall of Adam and Eve (cf. Romans 5:12-14), and the quality of their parenting does not match God's. How the Scriptures vividly portray and communicate God's love to each one of us who put our trust and faith in Him. God's Word has much to say in describing child raising and family dynamics. God has established some families who know what the Holy Scriptures say about parenting, do apply what they know, in raising their children--and yet find one or more of their children falling away from the church and from the faith in which they were trained while growing up within the family. For such parents and any faithful children, please be faithful in prayer for the wayward son(s) or daughter(s). Be steadfast in prayer and love. The prodigal may yet return. There is hope for tomorrow.
Moses bade Jewish parents to "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Emphasis mine) You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Teaching the Scriptures to our children will provide a good basis for godly living in their adult years. God says to each of us--daughters and sons--in exhorting us to listen to His instructions and to our parents' teaching:
Listen …to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. ...if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
Lucien rightly observed that "As parents we like our children to be safe and have the best training for a happy future. Too often, however, these wishes are according to human standards." When Christian parents succumb to worldly child-raising, worldly children often develop as a result. Christian parents who do not know what the Bible says about raising children, and do not apply their knowledge to the rearing of kids, should not be surprised if the children seek their life's meaning outside the church. Christian parents who do not think in biblical terms are ill-equipped to parent godly children. Mr. Accad remarked about Noah, that he had learned the lesson of obedience which God presents each of us, and our children--offering us a standard that orients us to a positive journey into the future. In the Proverbs verse, above, children are exhorted to not give in to the enticements of sinners. Colossians 2:8 rephrases this, in similar fashion: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." If we permit ourselves such servitude toward worldly philosophies, etc., we and our children may end up as the Israelites did in the days of the judges; "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6) The Israelites would have subscribed to the message of Frank Sinatra's "I did It My Way". In God's will, David (a man after God's own heart) "had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD (Emphasis mine) and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands all the days of his life--except in the case of Uriah the Hittite." (1 Kings 15:5)
Indeed, Scriptures tell us that "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise." (Proverbs 12:15) A believer would do well to heed the counsel of God, in living. Few Christian parents consult the Scriptures for patterns of right living. Without that consultation or heeding, Solomon wrote, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song apropos to Christian parenting perhaps; "Because He Lives", we can face the future. We can face the future because God is God of our lives, our hopes, our aspirations, our dreams, and our outcomes. Obedience to God is the standard by which we can face the future in a positive fashion. Trusting and obeying God, according to the wise hymn lyrics, is what brings happiness to believers, and a milieu in which to raise children and give them a bright future.
Real danger, on the other hand, according to Lucien Accad, comes from a sinful society oriented around material benefits and selfish desires. As parents, we know and could teach our children--asking them what profit there is in gaining all that the world offers, and yet losing one's soul. (Matthew 16:26a) The Holy Scriptures continue and ask, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26b) To what extent will we as parents succumb to the world and relinquish our souls and the souls of our children to its wiles? The Apostle Paul rued the attractiveness of the philosophies and empty deceit that wrested his dear friend and co-laborer away: "for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica..." (2 Timothy 4:10) Helen H. Lemmel exhorts each of us Christian parents (and our children) to "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." In her hymn Helen pictures us passing "through death into life everlasting" as we focus on the Author of life, and His gift of breath that enlivens us.
In our sinful world, Christians are attacked, social ills are celebrated, laws are corrupted to enable evil, social structures will be radically changed by Agenda 21 between now and 2030, and beyond. Christianity is not just shunned or ignored, but lambasted and vilified; materialism and selfish desires are gods of today; right is wrong; "sin" is denied its existence; wrong is right; more and more church-goers leave the church in disbelief, and Jesus is still wondering, "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Matthew 18:8b) Will Jesus Christ, returning to the skies to call His church heavenward, find any believers to respond on earth, in America, in our country? Will our children be righteously trained and positioned to respond to the trumpet and upward call of Lord Jesus Christ? Real danger comes from a sinful society--a social entity devoid of faith, a society given over (Romans 1:24a) to sin, to impurity. But God's view of sin hasn't changed; His Word is plain: avoid sin at all costs (cut off your hand [Mark 9:43], cut off your foot [Mark 9:45], and/or tear out your eye and throw it away [Matthew 18:9], if they cause you to sin). And the Apostle Paul wrote at length to the church in Rome concerning the real danger contained in sin and sinning:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14)
Noah built his ark on the promise of God for his future, and the future of his family. While the construction was done by Noah, his family abided by his instruction to enter into their hope and abandon the sinfulness of the world around them. As Christian parents we, too, are concerned with the future for our family, the well-being of each member, and the dangers of rejecting the "ark" of faith. We as a family are responsible for building our own arks or boats of faith--plans for securing our joint future and saving our members the suffering of unbelievers whose only hope is the insensate oblivion of death. If, as Mr. Accad has said, we build our boat as a family enterprise around the person of Jesus Christ, our construction will provide the best safety for the future. For, as Lucien remarked, "It is only in Him that we will find real safety." If we believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence--that other parts of the world or a different community would be safer for our family, we would be mistaken, for real security, happiness and future are found in Christ and in obeying God's will. The hymn comes to us again; its refrain agrees: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." To this, we might add that for a believer, there is no other way to be secure and have a blessed future than to trust and obey God and His will.
The center of a storm, or a hurricane, is called the eye. The eye of any major storm such as a hurricane is the safest place to be during the tempest. Likewise, for believers, the most secure and safe place on earth remains the center of God's will. The most dangerous place in the hurricanes of life, lay outside of God's perfect will. Apart from God…sin. (But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:12) Such separateness, such distinctness, such egocentrism separates one from the Creator who made each of us and fashioned us in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) We believers have been fashioned by God in such a will and way, "that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world". (Philippians 2:15) Let us be blameless and innocent children of God--shining lights in this world, raising godly children to take their place in a life facing a happy future made safe by trust and obedience to God and His perfect will.