KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD
© 2015 Philip A Matthews
Gen 12:3 "In you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed. Take this as YOUR promise.
Gen_18:18-19 "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. See also Gen_22:18; Gen_26:4; Psa_72:17; Mal_3:12; Gal_3:8. God knew that Abraham would train his whole household to "keep His Way for many generations.
The "WAY,” Hebrew "derek" deh'-rek, a road (as trodden), a way, path, direction; figuratively a course of life or mode of action, moral character, manner, habit of living.
Having been greatly involved over the last 35 years in various forms of education and youth preparation—operating or teaching in several private Christian schools, home schools, tutoring programs, etc.—I believe I've gained a perspective that allows me to speak a little regarding such. In addition, we've had at least 40 children live with us in our home over the last 40 years, not counting our own seven kids. Youth ministry, marriage and family counselling, pastoral care in general, and even time teaching in the public schools during this period also enable me to speak at length on this subject of Christian education. It is very dear to my heart. Hopefully, this talk will be useful for both inspiration and instruction.
Training children, i.e., the next generation, for God involves the old computer adage, "Garbage in, garbage out." That is, the OUTPUT is determined by the INPUT.
LOVING NURTURE is a major part of the INPUT. In spite of the best academic and religious indoctrination, a child who has not been adequately LOVED will be driven to look for love in all the wrong places using all the wrong methods for all the wrong reasons. Thus, as teens, they are AUTOMATICALLY PROGRAMMED to make all the wrong decisions, even as you warn and talk to them until you are blue in the face. An inadequately loved child will reject you, your church, and your God.
Thus, according to Dr. D Ross Campbell in How To Really Love Your Child, parents must fill their children's "love tanks" daily by doing four things: (1) Touching them, (2) Giving them focused attention and eye contact, (3) Spending time with them, and (4) Disciplining them with love. This is how you get your love over to your children, who are primarily emotional "feelers. You must love them so that they actually FEEL IT.
SPIRITUALLY CONNECTING them to their true Father, GOD, is another part of the INPUT. This is the responsibility of the parents because the child really belongs to Him, not to them. God only loans us His little souls for a few years, so really we are only managers, not owners. Manage well, so that once your child has tasted God (i.e., actually experienced God) through the Holy Spirit, he/she will NEVER be satisfied to live just a humdrum, nominal Christian life ever again. "Vaccinate" them and "ruin" them for life against run-of-the-mill religion! Make them PASSIONATE for God!
Give them opportunities for ministry as children. Train them to LISTEN to the Lord's voice and RESPOND and INTERACT with His expectations. Never force church teachings down their throats without giving them sound, logical, and biblical reasons, answering their questions, and helping them to understand it all. And if you don't have true Bible reasons, then skip that church teaching. A child who has never really experienced God but who has been dragged through a lot of strict religion will grow up rebellious, bitter, and overly eager to leave his parents' influence and religion. Make sure they experience a relationship with God before they leave home. Otherwise, they will know a lot ABOUT GOD, but will not know GOD HIMSELF. This is an awful tragedy.
EDUCATION is another major ingredient of the INPUT. But education itself can be divided into several critical areas:
Academic Education—Christian Education, including Home Schooling, is essential because, since God is the Creator and the Administrator of everything, children must be trained to see everything in the world, even the academic subjects, from God's perspective. E.g., IF everything just physically evolved without God, then there is absolutely NO spiritual, transcendent purpose for anything, and we might as well quit trying to find meaning in life and start living like dogs. But IF, on the other hand, God DID CREATE everything, then everything has purpose, order, design, and reason, and we CANNOT quit trying to find God's meaning in life but must live to fulfill it. Therefore, we deliberately learn everything possible in order to exercise our place of "dominion" over God's creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
Religious Education—This includes not only Christian teachings, Scripture memory, etc., but the PRINCIPLES OF GOD'S WAY. Help your children learn and get a feel for
THE WAY OF GOD: LIFE LIVED ACCORDING TO WHAT HE DEFINED AND WHAT HE HAD IN MIND WHEN HE CREATED IT, AS CONFIRMED BY HIS LAST TWO REVELATIONS: JESUS CHRIST (THE LIVING WORD) AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (THE EMPOWERER/IMPLEMENTER).
Remember, in Genesis 6:12, this is what humanity forgot and they "corrupted their WAY upon the earth" and lost their true direction. This is again happening right now in America and the rest of the world. DON'T let this ongoing tragedy happen to you and your family!
Training for Life—Instilling moral CHARACTER is most important. This includes: Discipline (both external and self-discipline) and Enforced Obedience; Modeling Family Roles; Modeling God-like Love, Justice and Fairness, Compassion, Truth-seeking/Openness to God, Living by Conviction Not Convenience No Matter What the Cost, Emphasizing God's Values and Priorities, and other qualities; Building Emotional Stability and Self-Control; Learning various useful Skill Sets (e.g., homemaking, trades, cooking, cleaning, money management, working a small job, accepting responsibility, learning how to sit still and read or concentrate on something besides a video game, and other stuff that kids today can't do very well and don't know much about); Appreciation of music, art, and beauty for the glory of God; Preparation for Careers and Callings; Developing Strong Bodies and Minds for God's Use; etc.
Daily Role Modeling—Remember, children learn a lot from what you SAY, even more from what you DO, but they learn the most from what you ARE, that is, from your character, your values and priorities, and the atmosphere in your home. This is an unbreakable law of God's universe as applied to home life: "Don't think you can get around this: Whatever you sow in your home-life, you will reap! If you sow and make decisions affecting your family based on your own selfish desires, you will harvest decay, destruction, deterioration, loss, and ruin. But if you sow and make decisions based on the Spirit and the Living Word, you will harvest generations of blessings and everlasting life! —Galatians 6:7-8 (paraphrased).
The RULE to live by: IF God exists, IF He is Who He says He is, IF He is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Loving, and All-Involved with every aspect and detail of life (i.e., theistic), THEN our every act and thought MUST be lived as if we are living it right in HIS PRESENCE, i.e., CORAM DEO.
That is, WE must train and educate our children and live as if there IS a God and we ourselves are purpose-filled, never-dying SOULS, while the "heathen" live as if there is NO theistic God and they are merely transient ANIMALS. For this reason, He gave us these instructions:
Jeremiah 10:2 (Amplified) —"Thus says the Lord: Learn not the WAY of the [heathen] nations." It is very important not only to shield children from evil and corrupting influences, but also to teach/train them how to deal with the evil. Innocence is one thing, but ignorance is another. So hand-raised, Christian-educated children should be taught about of the ways of the world (without experiencing its evils), how to view it all from God's perspective, how to have an answer for its arguments against God, His ways, His values and priorities, etc. A child who is allowed to "learn and accept and practice the ways—specifically, the values and priorities—of the heathen will soon be a victim of the "God's way vs the World's way" DICHOTOMY: Torn between a strong desire for this world while being expected to live for God. The desires for the world usually win out because they seem stronger, feel more real, and are more popular, and that child, like most church children, gives up his faith and goes searching for satisfaction in things and activities that are against God.
However, IT IS POSSIBLE for children to be trained in such a way that they AVOID what is so common: Growing up in church, then forsaking their religion to go out into sinful and evil living, making foolish and hurtful choices that ruin their lives, then finally coming to their senses and coming back so God can fix what is left of their broken and messed up lives. He is indeed the God of a thousand chances, Whose specialty is salvaging ruined lives and broken pieces—but it doesn't have to go that way. "Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go, and when he is old, he will NOT DEPART [or turn away] from it (Proverbs 22:6) actually means what it says. It didn't say "he will come back to it" but "he will not depart from it," i.e., never leave it!
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (Amplified) —"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord]. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might. And these WORDS which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate ('get them inside your children'—The Message), and teach and impress them diligently (Hebrew ˜shaÌ‚nan,' to ˜pierce, prick') upon the [minds and] hearts of 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 up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
This passage is the theological foundation for Christian Education: True Christian Education is 24/7, which necessitates home schooling or something VERY similar! If you can successfully delegate a Christian school, a charter school, or some other form of school, to help you accomplish all this, then great. But even then, obeying this Scripture/principle is still your God-given responsibility. It is not the teachers' responsibility; they are only there to help you fulfill your responsibility. And if the school or teacher cannot do it well, or, if what they do hinders or works against this kind of Christian education, then it becomes your task alone. It might be very hard to do, and perhaps you cannot "afford" it. But you cannot afford NOT to do it even more!
Hey, in a way this kind of education might even look like a form of brainwashing. But it's okay because we are dealing with ABSOLUTE TRUTH here. If you truly LOVE your kids, then you ALWAYS do what is BEST for them. In other words, YOU as parents know that there's such a thing as TRUTH, you know what that TRUTH is, as revealed in Jesus Christ, and you know that that TRUTH needs to be INSIDE your children, residing there permanently. So it's just fine for you to WISELY use every ethical means possible for these TRUTHS to "pierce" your children's minds, souls, and spirits so that they know, accept, buy into, personally adopt, and ultimately LIVE BY THESE TRUTHS!
And it's your job to make that happen. NO APOLOGIES for your position, politically correct or not! When they get grown, they can decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue serving God. But it's almost guaranteed that, if you've done it right, when you give them the choice, they will love and serve your God—and their God—for life! This is how YOU get to raise your GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN! Like Abraham in our text, you have "commanded (Hebrew ˜tsaÌ‚vaÌ‚h,' prepared and directed for a journey) your children and your household to keep the WAY OF THE LORD." Then your children will properly train your grandchildren, and your grandchildren in turn will carry the Lord's values and priorities down to their children—your great-grandchildren! And so the WAY OF THE LORD will never be forgotten.
And THIS, folks, is what happens in HOME SCHOOL, a really good Christian home school! Need I say more?!