This week I would like to tell you about a guy I once knew. He had an impact on my life. Maybe you know somebody like him and can appreciate this or quite possibly you’re like him yourself.
He was a successful, married father of two children, a boy and a girl. Seemed like a nice guy, had friends, made a very good living and had nice cars, home and pretty much anything else he or his family wanted. Was a faithful and active member at a local church. You could count on seeing him with his family every Sunday, most Sunday nights and Wednesday nights as well. He was even approached about being a deacon. Served on committees and by appearance seemed like a good, Christian husband and father. Active in his kid’s activities, always present at functions and even served in leadership positions for some of these groups.
I guess you would call them your typical All-American family. We may feel that way about our own families, for goodness sake, our church and other churches are full of families like this.
Yes, there is a “but” coming. Assumptions are dangerous. We make them all the time, about ourselves and about a guy like this.
Everything about this guy I have told you is true, but it’s not the complete truth. His priorities were way out of whack. Work, success and income were #1. He would pick his Bible up when he was headed to church and prayed when it seemed necessary. The putting God first thing was nice to say, but nowhere near the truth. You could say he was like last year’s Easter egg, shiny on the outside but not real good inside. It was all about appearance and checking that imaginary box on the imaginary form he thought God wanted. Raised by Christian parents, he had his imaginary “Get Out of Hell Free Card” from when he was baptized as did the rest of the family. It was all good. But it wasn’t.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1 :22-25 (NIV).
At some point, the chickens come home to roost. And roost they did. His marriage went bad, but the truth is it had been bad for a long time. Being the husband God called him to be wasn’t important when the income was great. Being the father God called him to be wasn’t important when the kids did everything they wanted and had the same. For goodness sake, he even had his own business that was doing well. What could go wrong?
For starters a bitter and costly divorce, followed by a downturn in his business. He nearly lost everything he had. It would take a few years but he would eventually rebound but never returning to the income level of the past. But that wasn’t the priority any longer, he had finally realized that his relationship with Jesus was a farce. He would recommit himself to Christ and receive the forgiveness from God for his past behavior. He would be restored and begin on that road of becoming the man that God calls him to be.
God would even bless him with a beautiful new bride and double his children, adding two sons to his life. But while forgiveness and restoration can be received, he would still continue to deal with the consequences of past transgressions.
I know this man well, very well. Because I am that man. I can assure you that pride is hard to swallow, because it doesn’t taste like chicken.
In a recent daily email from Family Life, George Barna was asked, “What is the most stunning set of data you ever received?” Now George Barna isn’t stunned by much but he was stunned by one thing. The Barna Group conducted a national sample of 13-year-olds and compared them with a sampling of adults compromising every age segment. On 12 core spiritual perspectives, he discovered no difference between any of the groups. In other words, the things a person believes by age 13 are pretty much what he or she will die believing.( Moments with You, August 10, Get ‘Em While They’re Young).
It’s one thing to live a life of Cultural Christianity for yourself, it’s a completely different situation when you raise children in that environment. I know, I did. Maybe you are in the same situation I am. Maybe you were the man God called you to be and you still have issues concerning your child’s relationship with Christ. Or maybe you have time to make a difference NOW.
I have hope in Proverbs 22:6 and that my children had a Sundayschool teacher or a sermon that made an impact on their life. Whether they know it or not.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
We don’t have our children long. If their beliefs are set at 13, that time is even shorter. You can’t wait or depend on somebody else to do it. Dad, it’s YOUR responsibility.
It is long past time for men to step up and be the men that God call us to be. To be TRUE followers of Christ and not the Cultural Christian dad that I was. It’s not our bride’s responsibility to be the spiritual leader, it is OURS! Your children’s eternal life depends on it. Don’t live with the consequences that I face.
If you are like me and are dealing with the consequences, I pray that God would guide us and lead us to have an impact on our adult children. Thankfully, I wasn’t the father for my youngest children that I was for my oldest children. But I can be better, we all can be. We have to be better.
Step up and be the father you are called to be and run to the Cross!