The forces of evil are out there to destroy the family and to undermine true values. Are you doing your part to combat it and shape the next generation?
Many of you are familiar with George Barna. He does surveys. And the latest Barna survey and update illustrates a problem and a crisis that we're facing in the western world. You might remember—in case you don't, I thought I'd remind you—that I gave a sermon last week on the origin of evil and violence. I explained that Satan and the spirit world are behind many of the approaches and the violence and the evil that we see in society today. He is out to try to destroy mankind, and he'll do anything that he possibly can to undermine the human race. One way he is doing this is by trying to destroy the next generation of young people, our children who are coming along. He does absolutely everything he can to undermine, to degrade, to pollute, and to undervalue the family. He hates the family. He cannot reproduce himself and he cannot have a family and, therefore, he hates families; but you and I can have families. We can have children. We can have grandchildren. We can have great-grandchildren. We can have aunts and uncles and cousins; and this is something that just, let's say, grates on him constantly. Likewise, God is producing a family; and he [Satan] hates this exceedingly.
As the Bible says in II Corinthians, chapter 2, and verse 11, you and I should not be ignorant of his devices. We shouldn't be ignorant of what he is planning, what he is doing. When you look at society, it is very obvious what Satan, the devil, is up to.
From an article entitled, The Marketing of Evil, Part I, Selling Sex and Corruption to Your Kids, by David Kupelian, he writes:
Just as the military and private schools and Boy Scouts have uniforms, so does the youth culture: baggy pants, backward hats, chokers and other jewelry, body piercing, tattoos, and the like. But if uniforms symbolize values and allegiance, a loyalty to a higher (or lower) order, then, in this case, it's an allegiance to an increasingly defiant, musical, social, sexual, and cultural world, a mysterious (to parents) realm that seems magically to be drawing millions of children into it.
He calls it the "gangsta" generation, or the gangster generation.
It's "hip-hop" in suburbia, the culture of rap. Everywhere students wear baseball caps turned backwards or pulled down over their eyes, oversize T-shirts, ridiculous baggy jeans or shorts with dropped crotches that hang to mid-shin, and waists that sag to reveal the top of brightly colored boxers. Expensive name-brand high-tops complete the outfit. Variations on the theme are hooded sweatshirts, with the hood worn during school, and "do rags," which are bandannas tied on the head, a style copied from street gangs.
Of course, we could go ahead and comment about the girls who...you can hardly buy for a teenage girl today any clothing that doesn't reveal the midriff and where the top part's hiked up and the bottom part drops.
Well, brethren, I want us to take a look today at the present cultural trends and what influence those trends are having on the younger generation. I realize we live in what people call the "Bible belt," and many think, "Well, this doesn't affect us. It doesn't have the same effect on this region as it does on other regions," and I will grant you that there are some areas of the world or this country—New York is a case, maybe Chicago, Miami, LA, you can name Detroit, a few others—where maybe it's more persuasive; but it does have a profound effect upon everyone in the younger generation, among our children; and we need to realize and we need to be aware of it.
The Barna survey I was referring to, to start with, is entitled, Virginia Tech's Tragedy Is a Wake-Up Call. I'm going to read again from this study, or this survey. Barna states:
The current public debate about the implications of the Virginia Tech tragedy is missing the point. The animated conversation about gun control, campus security, counseling standards, campus communications, drug abuse, mental health funding, do not address the core issue raised by this event. This situation is not primarily a challenge to politicians, educators, or police. It is a dramatic wake-up call for the parents in this country.
Barna has done studies on parenting and child development, and it has led him to a series of facts and observations that relate to the Virginia Tech situation. Fact:
By the time an American child is 23 years of age, as was the killer in Virginia, he has seen countless murders among the more than 30,000 violent acts to which he is exposed through television, movies, and video games.
I realize that there are those out there who will argue that this doesn't have any effect on young people, that you don't see thousands and millions of young people going out and killing people. But there are children who are emotionally and psychologically prone to this type of influence, who have difficulties in these areas and who are more easily influenced by something like that. And we increasingly see more crimes being committed by children.
Last week I quoted that [fact] to you out of the book concerning children without a conscience, where I showed that we are beginning to raise a generation of children, some of them 4 and 5, who have murdered others. It is not uncommon to see young people, 7, 8, and 9, who have killed somebody or violently attacked another person.
Isaiah 3 is a prophecy that, I believe, describes our society today. It is specifically a prophecy about Judah, Jerusalem; but also, indirectly, concerning any nation, any people who give up God's standards, God's values, God's way of life, and do not practice those as the basis of their society. In verse 5 of Isaiah 3:
Isaiah 3:5 Isaiah 3:5And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable.
American King James Version× – The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor...and we find this is happening today in society, where people claim rights. One person can believe his rights have been violated and the rights of millions of people, then, are forgotten so that that one person's "rights" are protected. And then we find, the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable.
Verse 12 – As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.
So God says, children are our oppressors. Children are insolent, and the base act in a wrong manner toward those who are honorable.
By age 23, the average American will have viewed thousands of hours of pornographic images, which diminish the dignity and the value of human life.
You can see a pornographic image, and it will stay in your mind for years. You can see something you wish you could remember, you can't remember it the next day. It's amazing. Those who watch this kind of stuff want to imitate it. Look at what happens on a lot of the school breaks, you know, like college students and some high school students are on. Many of you may have seen here recently on television a presentation called, "Girls Gone Wild," where it showed on the beaches of Florida and many other places, how girls are dancing, how they go naked, how boys and girls are drinking and some of the activities that they get involved in.
What kind of damage does pornography do to marriage? You just ask someone who has a mate who's into that, and you will find the damage. It has a lasting damage to a marriage.
Mark 7, Jesus Christ revealed where many of these types of things come from. What we need to realize is that we have a responsibility as parents in protecting our children to as great an extent as we can. Remember the disciples got into an argument with the Pharisees about should you wash your hands up to your elbows when you eat, and they were talking about being defiled, and He said in verse 18:
Mark 7:18-20 Mark 7:18-20  And he said to them, Are you so without understanding also? Do you not perceive, that whatever thing from without enters into the man, it cannot defile him;
 Because it enters not into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the draught, purging all meats?
 And he said, That which comes out of the man, that defiles the man.
American King James Version× – ..."Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man."
So what comes out of us, out of our hearts, defiles us.
Verses 21-23 – "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man."
And Satan has this society so organized that it's effect is to influence man on his baser levels and to influence young people into this way of life. Yet, Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version× says that we are to think on things that are pure, that are wholesome, that are lovely.
After nearly a quarter of a century, the typical American will have listened to hundreds of hours of music (I'll say thousands of hours of music) that fosters anger, hatred, disrespect for authority, selfishness, and radical independence. The younger generation is hooked on music.
Remember years ago we used to have "Hooked on Phonics"? Well, now it's "hooked on rap," it's "hooked on gangsta" music. Many cannot go anywhere without their music. Their ipods, their phones, you know, anything that they can play music on. Many times a young person will sit in his bedroom for hours and listen to music, do his homework, you know, peruse the Internet, and doing all of these things at once, and it [music] is drummed into his head hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
He goes on with another fact:
The typical world view of a person in their early twenties promotes self-centeredness and the right to happiness and fulfillment.
It was interesting this past week in watching the news that one of the articles or one of the commentaries that came out was about the younger generation and how that many in the younger generation, when they go to work, start crying the first time they are corrected. They go to work and for one of the first times in their lives, they find out that their boss doesn't like what they're doing; and, so, he corrects them, chews them out, maybe. And they can't handle that. Up to this time, they've never been told anything but, "You're the greatest. You can be the President if you want to." You know, you are always trying to build the self-esteem on this child up; and then, somebody comes along and tells him he's not [the greatest], and he doesn't have any idea how to take it. You see, there's a whole younger generation, many within that generation, that are growing up and they have not been taught when they're wrong. They've not been corrected when they're wrong; they've not been taught the right way. They've not been shown, "This is wrong, this is right," and so, you find so often that parents help to facilitate their children in this direction, thinking that they're doing them good.
What is the driving force so many parents have today in rearing their children? What is it they want? They want their children to be "happy"! Well, they can't always be happy. There are times when they're corrected that they're not going to be happy. There are times when they can't have what they want, and they won't be happy. There are times when they have to realize they have to be responsible for their own action.
Going on, it says:
The importance of personal expression in all forms. Again, talking about the world view. The necessity of tolerating aberrant or immoral points of view. All of this comes under the world view of many young people. It allows for a disrespect of other people, the use of profanity, and advances forms of generic spirituality that dismisses the validity of Judeo-Christian faith. Largely propelled by post-modern thought, the typical world view of the young person does not facilitate respect for life, acceptance of the rule of law, or the necessity of hard work, personal sacrifice, in paying the dues or contributing to the common good. Barna noted that only about 2 percent of today's teens possess a Biblical world view that acknowledges the existence of God, the existence of Satan, of sin, the availability of forgiveness and grace.
So, therefore, the vast majority are not being reared on moral Biblical principles.
The average adolescent spends more than 40 hours each week digesting media, and the typical teenager in American absorbs almost 60 hours of media content every week.
So this is all unfiltered, unchaperoned, and comes in. Now, when it talks about media, they're not talking about watching Fox news. They're not talking about studying world news, international trends, the stock market, any of those things. We're talking about music, movies, video games, you know, all of these types of things. Other trends:
It also appears that one out of every five young persons is or has been under the influence of mood-altering medications; and the long-term effect of these, no one really knows. The stress level has been steadily rising among young children over the past couple of decades.
How many young people today take Ritilin? You know, how many are on drugs? How many are called "hyperactive" and, therefore, are placed on drugs? Well, it's just a very common thing.
A variety of factors have contributed to such stress, such as parental acrimony, divorce, household financial troubles, media-fed expectations regarding materialism, overscheduling of children, bullying, physical abuse within the home, and excessive peer pressure.
Another interesting fact, I thought, is:
One third of the nation's teenagers reported having been in a physical fight in the last year. Nearly one out of five 9 th through 12 th grade students has carried a gun, a knife, or a club this past month.
So that means one out of five of, basically, your high school students is carrying a knife or a gun around or some type of club. Now, many cases, they can say, "Well, this is to protect myself." But what happens if somebody loses his cool or is attacked and, you know, again, you have violence taking place.
Education, both in the home and outside of it, provides diminishing emphasis upon development of character. The standard today is increased emphasis on meeting academic performance standards.
Parents think as long as their kids meet the academic standards—they take a test, they pass that test—that that's it, you know, they're doing well. And the fact of character or character development is not stressed.
Now, again, he emphasizes the fact that in our society today, you do not have the traditional safety net comprised of a loving, supportive family. What has happened in our country is divorce is rampant. For every marriage today, there is now a divorce. People do not have extended families living close. It used to be, you had your grandparents close, you could have aunts and uncles around to help you take care of your children. Today, people move all over the place and, I mean, I'm a classic example of that. We don't have children here with us, but we've moved all over the country. We've asked our children from time to time about would they like to live near their parents, and they said, "Well, where? Where are you going to be living?" Because we've moved about every four years, eight months, and it just, you don't stay in the same place, so they're not going to get up and keep moving just because their parents do. But it's very typical that people move about every five years, and it's just the situation in this country.
Most young people admit that they do not feel as if they receive sufficient attention from their parents, that their parents are involved in other things.
So who do they look to for help? Who do they look to as their role models? Well, they turn to their peers and their peers are the ones who influence them. Peers are more important to the majority of young people today than their parents are. They're around them eight to ten hours a day at school or after school. Their opinion counts. Their opinion about what you wear, how you look, the kind of shoes you have on, the type of clothes you have, how you do in school or what you listen to, the toys you have, the whistles you have...but Barna goes on to say that parents have a tremendous influence upon their children, if they'll only utilize that influence. Their parenting style and practices can have a huge influence on the behavior and the perspective of their children. But, he goes on to show that, today parents are struggling. Raising healthy and confident children in today's world is not an easy task. Citing recent studies his firm has completed with parents, Barna highlighted some struggles that American parents are currently facing. Now, you ask yourself, are we facing any of these same problems?
Number one, a majority of parents feel overly busy and stressed out and are buckling under the pressure of mounting financial debt.
OK, so what we find, parents are overly busy today. And, yes, I think everybody is overly busy today. In many cases, both parents work outside of the home. Many families today are single parent homes where the mom is, or the husband, is rearing the children by himself, and they're having to work outside of the home and the children are put in daycare or deposited in somebody else's care.
Materialism motivates so many people today; and what you'll find, people feel they've got to have all of the gadgets. They've got to have everything; and so, therefore, they've got to go out and buy it. Even in many cases where one person working could take care of the family, two work so that they can keep up with everything that they want; and the children are not receiving the attention of the parents.
Credit card debt motivates so many people. How many people are living beyond their means. Today you find credit card debts mounting up into the trillions of dollars, and the average person is 3, 4, 5, 6, can be up to 50, 150 thousand dollars in debt. They just keep getting more credit cards, switching credit cards to another card and going deeper in debt.
He also found out that most adults are dissatisfied with their jobs, and so they're unhappy with that. American parents, Barna said, tend to blame other parents for their problems. So they're having problems with their children. Who's to blame? "Not me! Other parents are to blame!" As evident among today's young people while excusing themselves from any blame. It just seems today that people will not accept responsibility for their own actions.
Notice...this was from an earlier Barna survey, Ultimately, children get neglected because parents rely upon everyone else to do the job for them, Barna stated. The popular notion that it takes a village to raise a child has become an accepted excuse for millions of parents to assign away the commitment for the child's development. Families may not be able to provide everything that a child needs to be successful and be able to launch into today's world, but they can do a lot more than they are seeking to provide today. Rather than play victim and blame social institutions for inadequate performance of duties, millions of families would be well advised to rearrange their priorities and reclaim their commitment to preparing their children for life.
What does God want us to do with our children? I read this last week. Well, let's go back and read it again. Malachi, chapter 2. In Malachi, chapter 2, we find why God gave us marriage, and here He is talking about the marriage covenant and not disparaging the marriage covenant. Verse 14:
Malachi 2:14-15 Malachi 2:14-15  Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.
 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
American King James Version×– Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the Lord has been witness...this is Malachi 2:14 Malachi 2:14Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.
American King James Version×...between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one...didn't God make us one when you get married?...having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? Why does God make a couple one? He seeks godly offspring...
[God's goal] is a godly generation, young people who are reared on right values, on God's way of life, who are taught the right things to do. When you have children, you have the responsibility, all of us do, of preparing that child as the next generation. That's what one generation does, it prepares the next generation to take over. And what you always hope is that the next generation will be better than the previous generation in every way, you know, spiritually, physically, health-wise, mentally, you know, in just every way that you can think of. But today we find we have the "me" generation. A couple years ago there was a sermon given at the Feast about, "It's not about you or it's not about me." Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
American King James Version×says it's more blessed to give than it is to receive, and so it's not just about us; it's about serving and giving and helping others.
Notice what Barna goes on to say concerning the time of election, political election:
The election has led millions of people to identify what they feel are major issues facing the nation and how each of the major candidates plans to address those issues. In that light, it's intriguing that comparatively few adults have identified the plight of children as one of the key issues requiring greater attention. The major concern listed by voters, is what? Well, it pertains to their own needs and dreams. You see, "What can I get? If you're elected as my politician, whether it's a senator or representative or president, what's in it for me? Are you going to give me free health care? Are you going to provide me with whatever?" And so, the party that comes along and says, "OK, we're going to take care of you in all of these ways," you know, they think that this fulfills what they want. But he says, What does this say about our society when we admit that our children are being set up for failure and then we are not even able to list it as one of the major concerns that needs to be looked at? Fewer than one out of every ten families have parents who pray together, study the Bible together, lead the family in regular exploration of their faith. Fewer than one out of ten. Then the standards that parents have established for evaluating their own performance as parents are innocuous. How do you know if you're doing a good job or not as parents? How do you evaluate that? What standards do you use? He says, If their children have avoided publicly recognized problems, such as physical or substance abuse, gang involvement, Satanic activity, pregnancy, or physical aggression and continue to get passing grades in school, they stay relatively healthy, then parents believe they're doing an acceptable job. "We're OK." And, you know, that's basically the standards that they go by.
Another fact is that few parents are aware of the dramatic effect the media has upon people's behaviors and values. Just nine percent of the parents believe the media has an influential effect upon their children. Only one out of three parents of children under thirteen impose any significant restrictions on their children.
So you might ask, then, what should parents do? What can we do? Well, it's interesting that Barna gave several suggestions which I thought were excellent. I'd like to just mention these here. He explained that his studies of parents over the past several years have highlighted the importance of parental guidance and involvement in shaping a child's values and behavior. He noted that the moral and spiritual development of people is largely determined by the time someone reaches age 13. Fundamental changes are minimal after this point.
So what has the Catholic church said in the past? "Give me a child who is age 7 and he would be a Catholic for life." They realize the importance of training and teaching a child at a young age. So in the recent study, there have been several parental practices...in other words, what Barna did was to interview hundreds of parents who were quite successful in rearing their children. What did they do? How did they rear their children? And then he summarized those. He says: One habit, Barna noted, was that parents believed that raising children was the most important job they were doing...Let me ask you, what other job can you think of that's more important? Working? Taking care of your pets? Having another car? Buying a home in the country? You know, I mean, you think of what you find the American dream and American values so often that are talked about, it's getting ahead and making the big buck, being able to have a lot of money; but is there anything more important than doing the job of taking care of raising our children? It says,...even more important than their occupation that pays their bills. They relied upon schools, their church, and other entities to support them in this endeavor; but they accepted the primary responsibility for the task and the outcome.
Now, do we have any Biblical basis for what he has discerned here? I think so. Let's just take the example of God. God is a parent. He is a Father. You and I are called His children. Jesus Christ is our elder Brother. What is the most important job that He is doing? Summarized in Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×, it is a part of the mission statement of the United Church of God. Hebrews 2, verse 10, notice:
Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×– For it was fitting for Him, and it would be good to go back and read this whole chapter because it all deals with this, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory...God's job is to bring many sons—and we could say daughters—to glory, and to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. And then you go on to find that He is not ashamed to call us brothers, and several verses are quoted here to show that Jesus Christ looks upon us as family members. All through the Bible—or the New Testament—God is referred to as our Father. So God's whole plan is to bring sons to glory, to save us, to give us eternal life, that we might live in His family.
How do we know that this is important to God? Well, He sent His Son to die for us. That's why. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." He resurrected Jesus Christ to make it possible for Him to live in us. Jesus Christ was willing to come to this earth to die for us, to divest Himself of His glory.
In Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×, God says that He will never leave us nor forsake us, that He will never turn His back on us, that He will be with us. Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version× says that God will perform a work in us. You know, He's not going to quit. He will continue to work with us. God has made access to Him central to our relationship, and that's through prayer. You know, when Christ died, it made it possible for us to directly go before the throne of grace. He talks to us all the time, just like a parent should, through His word, the Bible, to tell us how to live, what He wants us to do, everything that He would like to see us accomplish. And so, you will find that this is the most important thing. I mean, why are we even here? Why did God create the earth? Why did He create the physical universe? Why did He create us? Well, He had a plan. In that plan, Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world. You will find that God called us at that time. God has a plan and He has been working it out, and He will work it out; and the vast majority will be in God's Kingdom.
So the first thing we have to realize as a parent is that our children must be the most important job that we have.
Secondarily, a second common outlook, he said, was approaching the job of parenting with a plan. Got a plan. These were parents who thought through what they were trying to accomplish and how they intended to pursue those outcomes. While they were constantly revising that plan and tinkering with different strategies, they were very strategic and intentional in their efforts. They left as little to chance as possible and tried to stay a step ahead of their children's needs and the challenges thrown at them by society. So they had a plan. When you have children, you begin to think, "OK, what would I like my child...how would I like my child to grow up? Do I want him to be a hard worker? Do I want him to have love? Do I want him to be well educated? What would I like for my child?" And you begin to work toward that. You begin to say, "Well, if he's going to be this way, what do I need to begin to teach him when he's 2 or 3 or 5 or 10?" And you begin training him. And you try as much as you can. I mean, nobody has a guarantee that if you train them that they will automatically come into the church. We know that. But I guarantee you that you increase their chances of doing so by laying a right foundation before them and training them and teaching them in the right way.
Notice Ephesians 1, again, talking about God as a parent, Ephesians, chapter 1, and verse 4, we find that God has had a plan from the very beginning.
Ephesians 1:4-5 Ephesians 1:4-5  According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
 Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
American King James Version×– ...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...
Verses 9-10 – ...having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ...
And so you find here that God has had a purpose, as verse 11 shows, and that purpose...God has a plan, and we realize what that plan is through the holy days, how God is working out that plan, that He's not trying to convert everybody today, but that God will give everyone, eventually, an opportunity for salvation. And so, you find that God has a plan; and just like it says here, parents are constantly tweaking things, Hebrews, chapter 12, tells us that God corrects us. There are times when, maybe, we don't cooperate fully. We're not growing in the way we should; we go astray and God begins to bring us back, with course corrections, and begins to teach us and train us. He knows exactly what we need.
Now, another point that Barna brings out, a third point, it says, He pointed out that a crucial factor that all of these parents employed was consistency. You must be consistent in your approach. The grown children, as well as the parents, agree that perhaps the single most important element in their success was remaining consistent in the principles and overall standards and values which they implemented. These parents set their expectations high and did not relax those expectations.
Now, let me ask you, does God change His standard with the winds of society? With what man wants? God is utterly consistent. It was the Ten Commandments from the very beginning, in Exodus 12, in Jesus Christ's day, during the time of the New Testament church, today, the millennium, the white throne judgment, and will be forever! You will find that God's standards, values do not change; and so, too often you find that parents one day will spank a child for something or correct the child—very few spank today, but let's say correct the child for something. Next day, the child gets away with it. Now it becomes confusing, "Maybe I can, maybe I can't." And so, if they can, they'll keep pushing. They know that every time they do it, it's just bang, bang, bang, it's the same thing, you know, this is just what we do in our family. How many times have you had your children come to you, and they already know what you re going to say, but they'll say, "Well, Joe's parents said he could do it." I don't know how many times our boys tried to pull that on us. And it didn't matter whether Joe, Tom, Dick, Harry, Susie, and everybody else did it, we would say, "We don't do that. That's not what we do. And don't bring it up again," because they have to learn that you are consistent.
It says, These parents set their expectations high and they did not relax those expectations. Children rarely exceed their parents' expectations, so the level at which those standards are set determine the height to which a child will rise.
So what we find, brethren, is that consistency is absolutely important in child rearing, in teaching our children and guiding them.
Another thing he found was the issue of media management, which was evident in families. An overwhelming majority of those successful parents believed that the media had a significant influence on the lives of their children. Consequently, they limited, monitored, mediated the media content to which their children were exposed.
How often are children in the home exposed to good music? Now, that is not always classical. There's a tremendous amount of good music running across many genre of music, but you have to know that. It's not just the music—it's the words. The music and the words, many times. They often refused to give permission to the kids to watch particular programs or to listen to certain music and regularly had discussions with their children about the content of the media they consumed. Those discussions were not always comfortable or pleasant, but were deemed to be very important in making standards real for their children. So they set the standards.
And then, finally, it says, The spiritual side of life is another of the central factors addressed by successful parents. The spiritual side. These were parents who took the development of their children's world view seriously.
How are our children going to view the world, what happens in the world? Are they going to view it strictly from a humanistic point of view, what goes on; or do they view it from a Biblical point of view? Do they have exposure to the Bible, to prophecy, to what's going on and what's happening in society? Do they realize that there should be world view based upon the Bible and eternal values? It says, They invest an enormous amount of time and energy laying a spiritual foundation that has proven to serve the children well throughout their lives—the earlier the better in doing this. Besides teaching spiritual beliefs and moral principles, these parents shared religious experience with their children, prayed for them daily. The view of such parents is that such children are a gift from God and they, therefore, had an intense responsibility to raise a child that pleased God.
Now, we're familiar with these scriptures; but in Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 6, notice:
Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
American King James Version×– Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
There are values and there are moral standards that you would like to inculcate into that child. In Deuteronomy, chapter 6, beginning in verse 1, we find here what God told ancient Israel—these principles still apply today:
Deut. 6:1-9 –Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of
your life, and that your days may be prolonged. God says by keeping His commandments, His statutes, our days would be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you...see, God wants things to be well with us...and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—"a land flowing with milk and honey." Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. So where does it start? It starts in us. It's written and grafted into our minds, our hearts, our way of life, our thinking; and then...You shall teach them diligently to your children...it will be natural...and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 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.
It is basically implying that we are to build our household on these principles and we are to live by them. So, brethren, what we find is that as parents, our major job is helping to shape the next generation, the coming generation—the first generation, perhaps, in the world tomorrow. God desires godly seed to be produced. We, today, are in a battle for our children. We are in a warfare. The forces of evil are out there to destroy the family, to undermine all of the true values, and to let everything go. You and I have to stand in the gap and realize that we must all live that way of life. As I explained last week, we may have children, they may no longer be living with us. We do have several families with children here, but many of us have our children grown. We may not even have had children; but we still have a responsibility to the younger generation, that they can see in us Jesus Christ, they can see the Bible, they can see this way of life lived by us; and that we don't just talk the talk, we walk the walk and we live this way of life; and so, therefore, they can see that this way is the way to live. So we have to realize that we have to stand in the gap and live this way of life. That's our example; and if we do today, then eventually we will all have the opportunity to teach all mankind God's way of life and these principles concerning child rearing.