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Wayward Students–Part 1
Hopeful prevention and helpful pursuit
What are our children facing today? The most current issues are single parent households, drugs and alcohol abuse, growing up too fast, violence in schools, materialism, depression, pregnancy, divorcing parents, illegal racing, selling sexuality, gangsterism, and more. There is an easily available new drug for students every five years. Alcohol is easily obtained from stores and homes. There are students who’re selling their virginity on the internet, and giving sexual favors to salesmen in exchange for free clothes.
Some students have never seen stable parents, let alone a dad and mom who adore each other. Other students only know what it’s like to be rejected, threatened, neglected or abused. Other students only see Christianity as stifling, rule-keeping, fun-ruining and freedom-killing. And with pleasure being the highest goal, and getting high easy, promiscuity the norm, and not coming home routine, a lot of Christian family church-going students are getting sucked in.
More and more children from Christian homes are declaring themselves unsaved and uninterested in Christ. More students than ever are overtly rejecting the Gospel of their parents and their church, even before they graduate. It’s happening at every healthy church I know, and it is happening here to some degree at FBC.
This week and next, through a lot of dependent prayer–Paul was with the Corinthians “in fear and trembling” in 1 Corinthians 2:3. I know what that is like–I haven’t experienced this much fear and trembling since I taught on the role of women to a bunch of collegiate gals. But I am taking up the challenge of teaching God’s Word on wayward students–the hopeful prevention and helpful pursuit. I hope to address both parents and students, marrieds and singles, young and old, shepherd and sheep, everyone.
There is nothing that concerns parents or grandparents more than the salvation of children—nothing. Some of you rejecting friends, there is nothing more personally heartbreaking than children who walk away from Christ and His Church. There are few things more difficult and purifying than having to deal with a child in the home who rejects Christ. A wayward child is not a disobedient child, nor a rebellious child–it is a child who definitively rejects Christ. Disobedience hurts, rebellion stings–but defiantly rejecting Christ is agonizing pain.
As we begin, let me challenge you future and current parents and friends. Do not parent out of fear, but faith. Do not pick apart your children, but examine your own heart. Do not blame the world, but accept your responsibility. Do not expect a quick solution, but commit to a life of obedience. Do not overreact nor over parent, but remain dependent upon the Spirit of God while you follow only the Word of God. Is there a hopeful prevention to wayward children? Yes!
#1 Embrace Sound Doctrine, to prevent wayward students
If you don’t know the truth, you can’t walk in God’s will. If you don’t follow God’s Word toward your children, you can’t expect them to see Christ accurately, nor to embrace the true Gospel that alone can transform them now and save them for all eternity. If you don’t follow the Bible in your own life daily, your children will never see God’s Word as the only way to be right with God. If you don’t immerse yourself in a church that teaches the Bible as written, your children will never see the Scripture as instructing in the way of salvation, and the only path of true sanctification. You must embrace sound doctrine.
Turn now to 2 Timothy 3. There’re some key doctrines that must be owned in order for you to cultivate your children’s heart toward Christ, and create an environment where turning to Christ for salvation is attractive. There is some theology you must embrace to work towards hopeful prevention, and the helpful pursuit of wayward children. What are those sound doctrines that speak to parenting?
First God is Sovereign and Parents are Responsible
There’re some who say you can do it all right as parents, but your child may still reject Christ. The problem with that statement is this. Not one of us has done it all right–not one parent. There are no perfect parents. We are all corrupted by sin, and no parent or parents have it all figured out.
Have you noticed, parents, in the New Testament there are only two verses of Scripture that are directed specifically at parents? Only two! Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” That’s it–the two New Testament verses that are specifically directed at parents.
Why? Why only two? I believe for one simple reason—to keep you dependent. To trust Christ, to live by faith, to rely on His Spirit, to pray with your spouse together, to agonize over the souls of your kids, and to keep you following, living by, obeying, trusting, and digging into the Word of God. It is the Word of God that brings salvation to you and your children, and it is His Word that sanctifies you and your children.
Read aloud with me 2 Timothy 3:15, “that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Look close at what you just read—“the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith.” What are those sacred writings that lead to salvation?
The next verse, 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”—the Scripture. Parents, you’re responsible to model the Word of God to provide a biblical environment, demonstrate the need for Christ, to live by the Word, to model, make choices, disciple, and create a home environment where Christ is attractive, and church is crucial.
You can’t save your children–God is sovereign in salvation. But you are responsible to teach and demonstrate the Scriptures. God is sovereign. Acts 16:14, “A woman named Lydia, … was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” God must open your children’s hearts, but parents must provide a biblical environment, an example of life, and a personal passion for Christ which makes surrendering to and following Christ attractive. Your commitment to the Word of God either leads to Christ, or leads away from Jesus Christ. God held Eli responsible for his wayward sons because of his failure to discipline them–and in every aspect of the Christian life, God is sovereign, yet you are responsible.
Second Assurance of Salvation is Proven through a Lifestyle of Following Christ and Wanting to obey–not merely a decision from the past
If you are genuinely saved, you are complete, secure in Christ. John 10:28, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” But the only way you or I or anyone can know we’re secure is by the current direction of your life. Are you living with Christ, pursuing Christ, loving Christ, obeying Christ, and following Christ? First John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
And your obedience to Christ is not external choices, but comes from a heart that wants to obey. Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” You’re not trying to get your child to pray a prayer, make a decision, say they love Jesus, carry a Bible, or say Christian stuff. It doesn’t matter if they made a decision at camp, or used to serve Christ, or used to read their Bible.
Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” And Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” All authentic believers obey Christ and follow Christ and love Christ right now. They may be secure, but you can’t know they’re in Christ, unless they currently follow Christ.
Third The Bible is Not Age Graded
Apart from the special place infants enjoy in God’s grace, the Bible does not have special dispensation for adolescents. People were married at twelve and thirteen in Jewish culture–they were considered adults. And today, as students understand the Gospel, they’re responsible to embrace it, and responsible if they reject it. As believers, they’re expected to obey the commands of the New Testament. They’re called to live dependent upon the Spirit just like you and me.
Our culture waits till they graduate from high school before they are supposed to take on the responsibilities of adulthood, and many give excuses for students until they’re out of college. Somehow we’ve lied to ourselves, thinking their spiritual accountability before God is also on hold until they graduate. My beloved family–once a child can fully understand the Gospel, he or she is accountable to the Gospel.
And once a student embraces the Gospel, they are accountable to follow God’s Word fully. All the commands to serve, to give sacrificially from their own paychecks, to attend worship with the church faithfully, to share the Gospel with the lost, and to love other believers in the body—all of them. The Bible is not age graded. And finally . . .
Fourth All True Christians Overcome the World, and no external force can overcome the Holy Spirit
First John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” If you’re born of God, you will overcome the world. Stop being afraid of the world, and start focusing on their salvation. Parents, we must be protective, and we must not expose our children unnecessarily to the evils of this planet–especially when young. But there comes a time when you must show them the world and its evils from God’s perspective–you must.
Have you ever read Solomon in Proverbs? Proverbs 7:6, “For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 10 And behold [look], a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.” Solomon shows his son a harlot in order to learn how to avoid her. He shows his son a harlot in order to help him know how to live in a fallen, sinful world. Are you getting this?
Isolation from the world will not save your children. Immersion into the world is also not the answer for your students. The answer is to inoculate them–not isolate, not immerse, but inoculate. As our children grow older, we are to inoculate them. We give them a little of the world in order to build up a resistance to it.
Unsaved friends will not ruin your child, if they’re saved. There’s no need to expose your young children to the world, but as your students move toward adulthood, they need to be mentored, taught and shown how to deal with the world. You have to show them. Take your daughters to the mall and show them how boys look at, pick up, and treat girls. And when they ask, “Daddy, are all men like that?” You tell them, “Every single one of them–except your dad.”
And if and when they turn to Christ and are born again, God’s Word declares they will overcome the world. Sadly, instead of pointing to Christ and preparing their children to live in a fallen world, parents can make choices which actually work against their children following Christ. How do they do that?
#2 Avoid the Early Choices Contributing to Waywardness
What would some of those choices be?
First No Consequences for Disobedience
Is God unclear on this? Is He giving options? You can do this or that? You can spank, or you can do timeout? No . . . Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
When they’re young, God expects you to show your children that there is pain associated with disobedience. God wants you to teach them that there are consequences to the violation of God’s Word, God’s way and God’s path. It must be done in love, always controlled, never in anger, and always with the purpose of correcting for the future.
Check out our parenting ministry, and our MP3 on spanking. Parents, get this–if your children do not see that there are great consequences to sin when they’re young, then they will not understand the greatest consequence to sin, which was the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ for sin. Physical discipline, done in love, is preaching the Gospel to your young children. And to avoid showing consequences to sin early on is to hinder their understanding of the Gospel.
Second Promoting a Negative Christianity
In our desire to deal with disobedience in our children, we have to be careful to avoid a negative sanctification, where the Christian faith is only about avoiding sin, instead of pursuing holiness. That it’s about not sinning, instead of doing good deeds. That it’s all about fleeing lusts, but not about pursuing Christ.
Being in Christ means we have life, freedom, love, peace, joy. We’re here to enjoy Christ, and in Christ, Jesus says, John 10:10b says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 15:11 says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” And 2 Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
We have Christ, we have all we need–we have joy, peace and love. We have life the way God designed it, and our children need to see from us the blessings of being in Christ, not merely that as a Christian I hate sin, but I also love Christ, I have joy, I have love, I have all the resources I need for life and godliness.
Third Not Prioritizing Principle Over Preference
Parents can turn their children into little Pharisees, who think that by keeping all the external rules, they’re godly and heavenbound. And what really confuses our kids is when you turn a preference into a principle, and turn principles into options. When the truth is optional, but your traditions are not–you are turning them away from Christ. Legalism does damage.
So you tell your kids all TV is sin, all rock music is of the devil, all movies are wrong, all pleasure is evil, all relationships with the opposite sex are to be avoided. Then when they get older and discover a good TV show, hard music with awesome lyrics, a movie with a great message, and relationships that are pure and fun–they’ll question you, and reject what you taught them.
At the same time, when they hear you gossip about another, lie on the phone, cheat at the store–is it any wonder they reject the Word of God as their true authority, and dismiss the Christ of the Bible as their only hope of forgiveness? Parents must obey principles, and announce preferences. You can have preferences–just make certain they don’t carry the same weight as principles. You should also avoid . . .
Fourth Over-reliance on an External System
Whenever parents rely on a Christian school, or a homeschool approach, as good as it may be, to save their kids–or isolate their kids from the world, they’re making a huge mistake. They need to see you depending on Christ, you relying on God’s Word, trusting in Christ, praying to Christ in order for your student to come to believe Christ is alive. Parents must be home and active in their children’s lives, passionate about Christ and His church. And parents themselves must intentionally disciple their children to follow Christ. Avoid . . .
Fifth An Absence of Intentional Discipleship
Turn to Matthew 28. When parents are more concerned about grades than their kids’ hearts—when you’re more focused on their success than their love for the Savior, it’ll confuse your kids as they grow up. Parents have forgotten Christianity is primarily caught not taught. You have to model your faith to your children, be an example to them of obeying Christ no matter what others do. You must train them.
Matthew 28:19 and 20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Discipleship is intentional relationships for the purpose of growth. As your children grow, they need to know you are most concerned about their heart before Christ–that where they are with Christ is the absolute most important concern of your life.
They need to see you sacrifice to get time with them in order to invest into them, like a coach would a player or a director would to an actor. They need to hear you pray for them, see you spend time with them, watch you take time to help them, sacrifice to be there for them, confess your failures to them, listen to you share God’s answers to your prayers, and observe you own your sin so they see Christ is alive in your life.
You have to make time for your kids–not merely to walk through a book, or read the Bible, or have family devotions. No, they need to see the Bible lived out. Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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.” All the time, throughout life, Christ is to be lived out for them. Your walk with Christ is supposed to impact them. Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, you should say, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
Sixth An Absence of a Passion for Christ and His Word
Turn to Revelation 2. When parents start being average Christians and stop being normal, biblical Christians who pursue Christ and walk in obedience to God’s Word. When parents lose their first love for Christ, like Revelation 2:4 says, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love,” and have replaced that love with a comfortable life, excelling at work, gaining more materialistic toys, over-involvement in a hobby, sport, entertainment, or worst of all, replacing Christ with the children themselves–then those children are harmed spiritually.
When parents live a life centered on their children instead of Christ and His purposes, the children will grow up thinking life is all about them, their enjoyment, and their pleasure. When their pleasure is not found in Christ, they will seek it from someone or something else. Parents need to understand, you cannot impart what you do not possess. If you’re not hot for Christ, your children certainly won’t be. If you’re indifferent to the Word, where your Bible only sees light on Sunday, don’t expect your children to want to follow God’s Word. If you’re passive about your purpose here to proclaim the Gospel, don’t expect your students to be passionate about Christ. Avoid . . .
Seventh A Lack of Mission While Living on this Planet
Acts 1:8, “You shall be My witnesses.” Turn to Colossians 4. You are here to invite others to come to Christ, then to be used of God to help others become like Christ. Allow me to ask you again, as a believer, why has God left you here? If your purpose is to glorify God . . . and it is–and if you can glorify God better in Heaven than you can on Earth . . . and you can. Then why would God leave you here? To do what you can do on Earth what you can’t do in Heaven. What’s that? Sin and share the Gospel. Which one is it? Why did He leave you here? To share the Gospel.
And here is the rub–if your purpose is to share the Gospel, to represent Christ to the lost, but as parents, you never do it. You never talk about Christ, you are never burdened about the lost, you are not concerned about lost friends, family members or neighbors. You make no effort to share with them. If you do not live out God’s purpose for you on this planet, then neither will your kids. Instead of being burdened about their lost friends, they will be enamored by them. If your students don’t fulfill God’s purpose on this planet, they will adopt another purpose. If their purpose here is not God’s purpose, it will definitely become a worldly purpose.
God says through Paul in Colossians 4:5, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” Do your children see that you are burdened for the lost? When you don’t make the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel, you may be telling them that Christ is alive, but you are showing them that Heaven and Hell are not real. What are you showing your children about Christ by your passion or lack of passion for the Gospel. How you treat the Word, the Gospel, and the Church will dramatically affect your children. A final dangerous early step–and a big one to avoid is . . .
Eighth Trivializing the Church
Those Sunday Disneyland trips and sleep-in Sundays erode your student’s view of Christ. Turn to Hebrews 10. If the Church is optional, so is Christ. If you trivialize the Bride, you make the Groom irrelevant. When you make the Church a matter of convenience, then you make Christ optional. If Church becomes less important than sports, like, “We will go only if we don’t have a game that day,” you’re making Christ less important than sports.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” You’re to not only faithfully attend weekly worship services, but Church is the community of Christ–these people are your forever family, whom you’re to serve, love, build up, care about, give to, confront, grow with, and worship Christ with.
This is Christ’s army which battles against the enemy together, Christ’s family who support each other on this hostile planet. The Church is Christ’s flock, following Christ together and protected together by the great Shepherd. If you’re too busy to attend, serve and be interconnected to a true local church, then you are too busy with lesser things, and your kids will know it.
When you’re too busy for church, you’re too busy for Christ. And if you involve your students in so many events, activities and sports they are not fully engaged in a local church, then you are actually doing them spiritual harm. And when they graduate from high school with no affection for, no loyalty to, and no deep understanding of their desperate need of the local church–it is no wonder they walk away.
When they are committed to a school and not the church–when they graduate from that school, why should they attend church? They didn’t value church during school, why should they value the church now. And friends, you cannot separate Christ from His Bride any more than you can separate Chris from Jean. God has to save your children, but you’re responsible to model Christ, and to create an environment where they can witness what it’s like to be committed to Christ as your first love. There is nothing more painful for a born again parent than to see their child turn away from Christ. That is why you should . . .
#3 Watch for Early Indicators of Waywardness
It could be their misunderstanding of the world, where it’s viewed only as a forbidden candy store, or an evil cesspool of dangers–instead of a place created by God, with many good gifts, yet a place corrupted by sin and bent against God, just like we are. A wrong view of this planet now can distort their faith later.
Another indicator might be that their view of Christianity is distorted. They may believe following Christ is all about pretending to be good and doing good, instead of being made good and needing to depend upon Christ to do anything good. Maybe they believe their faith is all about not sinning, not getting caught, and not being bad in front of Christians. When they show nothing of the born again heart that wants to please Christ by following His Word, that is a dangerous sign.
It could be seen in the dramatic difference between their speech, behavior and attitudes on Sunday compared to the rest of the week. When living for Christ is a Sunday-only event, that is a bad sign for parents and for children. Students will develop two different groups of friends–the saved and the unsaved. But when they show no passion to reach either group with the Gospel or God’s Word, that is not a good indicator.
When there is no concern about their eternal destination, or their walk with Christ, that’s a sign their heart is not pursuing Christ. Listen and watch for their affections. If they’re excited about everything and everyone but Christ, that’s a bad sign. He is to be our first love and if He is not, we are sick spiritually or not saved.
Beware of being fooled by compliance, and overlooking their heart. As they grow older, if there’s compliance while you are with them, but then disobedience when you’re absent–that’s a warning. You’re looking for a heart that’s willing to do whatever Christ wants, including obey their parents. You want to see a heart where Christ is more important to them than anything, and a heart that wants to obey Christ even when you are not present.
True Christian conversion involves a born again heart that wants to obey. Yes there’s failure, and a myriad of compromises and battles with sin–but underneath it all, there is a heart that wants to obey . . . obey Christ, the Word, you and other authority. So what can I do to prevent this? Again, God is sovereign, and He alone must save your child–but accepting your responsibility as a parent. What’s your responsibility in preventing a wayward child?
#4 Early Steps to Hopefully Prevent Waywardness
Along with the truths we’ve already highlighted, like consistent discipline when they’re young, honoring principles over preferences, being passionate about Christ in your own walk with God, your non-optional, full integration into a local church–what are some of the major steps you can take?
First Model an Authentic Lifestyle with Christ
Young people are asking parents and Christian leaders one basic question—“Does it make any difference whether I believe in Christ or not? Does it make any difference whether I follow Jesus Christ or not? Does it make any difference whether I follow the Bible or not?” The answer most demonstrated in our day is, “No.” And that’s why in our country, typically, there is only a 10% behavioral difference between the saved and unsaved student.
The only way a student will answer, “Yes, it makes a difference to come to Christ and to live for Christ,” is when they see it lived out in a real person–a leader, or better, their parent. Note: You can’t model a principle, only a person. JC Ryle wrote these words–and they are powerful, listen. “To give children good instruction and a bad example, is but beckoning them with the head to show them the way to Heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them the way of Hell.”
Live your faith in Christ–in every aspect of your life . . . by what you watch on TV and movies you see, by how you talk to your spouse, by your service at church, by your joy in sacrificially giving, by your care for the needy, by your witness to the lost, by often confessing your sins. Is Christ seen through you to them? Be hot, not marginal. Love Christ first and most. Be an involved participant, and not a watching spectator.
Listen–being a model is more important than family devotions, more important than prayer with the kids at night, more important than a homeschool course on the Bible, and more important than your child attending a Christian school. Model your walk with Christ. Prove to them, share with them, and show them your love for Christ. Are you a model? Do you ask forgiveness when you’re wrong? Do you forgive immediately? Do you talk about the Word of God? Do you search the Scriptures to answer life’s issues?
When is the last time you changed as a result of a sermon? Do you sacrifice to reach the lost? Do you pray for unsaved friends, relatives, and neighbors? Do you watch TV you won’t let your kids watch? Are you neat, orderly and disciplined for God’s glory? Are you a model?
Second Be Most Concerned about Their Heart
As they are very young, immediate obedience is what you are looking for. But as they grow older, you want to be focused on their heart. Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Stop making sports your passion, or to get that scholarship, to be super cute externally, or to get straight A’s—stop it. You are undermining what is most important for them in this life and in the next.
You’re not their friend, but as a loving, supportive parent, you want the kind of relationship that allows you to be in touch with their motives, wants, desires, hopes, drives and intentions. You want to move from correcting their behavior from 1-12, to working with them on their heart, as they get older. I used to remind my sons, “I need to know what is going on in your heart. As long as I know that, we’ll be able to get along. But if I lose touch with what is going on in your heart, then the dad/son relationship will not work.” Know their hearts.
Third Be Encouragingly Focused about Their Future
Don’t make their walk with Christ all negative. Don’t be the “no” dad, nor the “no” mom. Be the “let me pray about it parents”, who will come up with other options if you have to say, “No.” Turn to Ephesians 2, and as you’re trying to help them see Christ and the necessity of the cross, make certain you focus not only on avoiding sin, but also pursuing Christ.
Part of that means learning what Christ wants them to be and do in this life. You’ve read Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” What are those good works God has prepared before the world was even created for you to do, and for your kids to do?
Some people who know me would say, “Chris, you work hard!” That is true, but that is only partially true–something is missing. Chris works hard because Chris loves what he does—I love it. I am actually doing at FBC what God created me to do–being used of God to preach God’s Word, to cultivate a healthy church, and to train men for lifelong ministry for His glory is my God-given, grace-formed passion. God made me this way.
You and your students need to discover their God-designed purpose and passion, like how David is described in Acts 13:36. “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay.” David did what God designed him to do, then he went. God has great things planned for each of His children–as they are obedient to the expressed commands of the Bible, then God’s will for their life is revealed. As students discover their purpose in this life, it lessens the pull of sin and encourages their heart.
Fourth Focus on the Blessings of God in this Life
There is horrible evil all around us, there is sin besetting us, but there is a great hope in the mighty grace of God and the incredible sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins–amen? There are also many great blessings that come from this world. The beauty of creation, the joy of relationship, the taste of food, laughter, labor, learning, and so much more. We have to be careful to not be so focused on not sinning, that we forget to extol God’s good design.
For example, premarital sex is wrong–27 times in the New Testament it is called sin. But, sexual intimacy in marriage is awesome–it really is. But only in marriage can it find its greatest pleasure. Only in marriage can it be internal and external oneness. Only in marriage can it be the amazing expression of love that God created it to be, between a husband and a wife. Do not merely focus on the negative misuses of God’s gifts, but also focus on the blessing of God’s perfect design.
Parents—yes, pray for your children and students, parents are to pray. Pray for their salvation and their hearts before God. Pray for their future spouses. Pray for their impact for Christ. Pray that they would be fully engaged in the local church. But most of all pray for their salvation and heart before God. Pray your marriage would be so attractive they would want what you have.
Pray that you will be fully engaged in the local church. Pray you’d be an attractive example of Christ–a model. Pray that they would say, “I follow my parents as they follow Christ.” If you know Christ, do not beat yourself up, do not grow in guilt. Repent of your sin, and grow dependent upon Christ and His Word. Don’t focus on your failures, focus on God’s attributes and God’s abilities–trust Him, love Him, walk with Him. He is able to do Ephesians 3:20, “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”
Those of you with rejecting friends–pray that you’d be so in love with Christ, you would be compelling and attractive. Continue to share the Gospel, continue to hope, and continue to pray. “But Chris, what do I do if they decidedly reject Christ? What do I do if they do walk away from the Lord and His Church? What if they say, ‘I don’t want your Christ, your Bible or your church?’” Come back next week, as we discuss the helpful pursuit. And today, talk to our counselors–they want to help you. Let’s pray.