FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

by Rev Jack Sin

A GODLY MODEL OF HOUSEHOLD GOVERNMENT 

The Glory of God

The purpose of a family is the glory of God because God had established the institution of the family for Himself. In the words of William Perkins, “Marriage was made . . . by God Himself, to be the fountain . . . of all other sorts and kinds of life in the commonwealth and in the church.” Why is it important to view the purpose of the family as the glory of God? It is because, in the long run, it determines what goes on in a family. It sets the priorities in a spiritual rather than material direction. It determines what a family does with its time and how it spends its money. The family is also the foundational unit of a society. Why? Simply because the family is the school wherein the first principles and grounds of government and subjection are learned. All will be well with the country where families are properly regulated and vice versa. The moral fibre of our society today depend on what children have picked up or failed to pick up in the family. “Well-ordered families,” said Cotton Mather, “naturally produce a good order in other societies. When families are under an ill-disciplined system, all other societies [will be] ill-disciplined.”  

The Headship of the Husband / Father

The biblical teaching on the family is a hierarchy of God-given authority. Hierarchy in the family means, first of all, that the husband and father is the accountable head for what happens, and the one who is finally responsible for seeing that essential matters are happening in a family. Calvin had written, “Let the husband so rule as to be the head . . . of his wife and let the woman . . . yield modestly to his demands.” Luther had stated that “a wife is indeed to live according to the direction of her husband; what he bids and commands is to be done.” And Katherine von Bora lived up to that expectation. If we reverse the order, we court trouble in the home. 

Modelled on Christ’s Headship of the Church, the husband’s headship is not a ticket to privilege or to tyranny but a charge to responsibility based on love for his wife and submission to God (Col 3:22–25). Every husband is to be responsible to guide and lead the family in the right direction. But it must be said here also that while the husband is the head of the home, the wife is the heart of the house. She is the God-ordained partnership in the management of a Christian home. 

The Total Depravity of Man (including Children)

Reformed theology informs us that “children should not be left to themselves, to a loose end, to do as they please, because they are not fit to govern themselves yet.” The cost of such discipline is the same for parents in any age: an enormous outlay of alertness, perseverance, time, and physical and emotional energy. 

The theological foundation on child training should begin with the acknowledgement of original sin or innate depravity. As Calvinists, we believe that children, if left to themselves, are “inclined to follow their own evil will.”   

Either children are born good and can be allowed to follow their instinctive bent, or they are born sinful and in need of redirection. Our culture and human intuition generally accept the former principle but the Bible teaches us the latter. Rom 3:10 says, As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one and Jer 17:9 says,The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? And that includes the children. This biblical doctrine provides the practical principle of the guidance and governing of our children today (as opposed to semi-Pelagian psychology that props up the self-esteem of every child and laud them as intrinsically good). 

Striking a Balance in Discipline

Effective child training has two sides to it, one negative, one positive. Some need to depress impulses towards selfishness and dishonesty and unsociable manners, while at the same time build a child’s confidence and faith in God, and loveable qualities. The negative task is to restrain, reprove, correct, it must be balanced by the parents’ resolve to nourish in themselves a very tender love and affection to their children and manifest it. Prov 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

Excessive chastisement and severity in punishment do not always work. Remember the sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay. It must be tempered with love and gentleness; and there is a right mode of correction for every situation. Use a variety of methods and know well the temperament and disposition of your child. Some respond well to a soft approach while others to a more vigorous training. 

We should steer a middle course between harshness and leniency. Children are not to be treated as brutes and neither with excessive fondness and doting as to harden their hearts towards evil and sin. Sadly we are often guilty of both and lose our effectiveness in the proper discipline of children. Also, do not spare the rod and spoil the child. 

The Picture of the Family As a Church

A good image for the family is the church. Richard Baxter wrote that “a Christian family . . . is a church . . ., a society of Christians combined for the better worshipping and serving God.”  William Gouge said that the family is “a little church,” while William Perkins wrote, “These families wherein the service of God is performed are, as it were, little churches, yea, even a kind of Paradise upon earth.”  

We need to know that the church can never be a substitute for the religious life of a family. In fact, the health of the church depends on what happens in the family. Richard Greenham claimed that “if ever we would have the church of God to continue among us, we must bring it into our households, and nourish it in our families.” William Cartwright insisted that catechising should be carried on “both at home by the master of the house, and in the church by the minister.” To the question, “Why at home?” He replied, “Because houses are the nurseries of the church.” 

One day, I asked a member, “Who is responsible for the training of the child? The family, church or state?” He said, “the church.” Others have relegated it to teachers in the public schools. The model answer from the Bible is given in Deut 6:6–7, And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 

The Apostle Paul said in 2 Tim 1:5, When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

In 2 Tim 3:14–15, But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 

Both the church and the school have their complementary roles to play in the instruction of the child but this does not diminish the primary responsibility of the parents from nurturing and teaching their children.

When one was speaking at a recent YF camp of a certain B-P church, a mother came up to me and requested the author to counsel her teenage son. He spent 30 minutes talking to a 16-year-old lad who is estranged from his mother for the past 3 months. There is no replacement for an abiding and intimate relationship with our children. Some have tried the 3M’s—money, maid and machines (computers, cars, handphones, Xbox, Playstation, etc). But there is an announcement to make: “There is no substitute for mother” (and father).

We must not think that we have done our part to provide for their material needs without catering to their spiritual and social needs. An optimistic lifestyle does not always churn out good kids. Eli was a high priest but his sons were an abomination to God and a disgrace to him (1 Sam 2:12–17), being involved in all kinds of immorality and sins. Eli was not absolved of his responsibility for their untoward behaviour.

Wise Solomon in Prov 24:3–4, says, Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

So the home is not a matter of concrete bricks, but of spiritual wisdom and the understanding of God’s Word. The rooms in the home are not just filled with worldly things, clothes, accessories, but spiritual knowledge of biblical truths and the wardrobe of godly character to be put on everyday. That requires great energy and effort to prayerfully build up a spiritually stable and sound Christian home. The architect is God and He used the parents as His agents and instruments. To construct and erect a vibrant, blessed, Christ-centred outfit and testimony of covenant grace and mercies to the inhabitants and all around them. We need to depend and submit to God alone and put Him first always.

The Biblical View of the Family

The all-important theme of the family is emphasised throughout the whole Bible. Families existed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, long before human societies and nations were formed. One recognises the crucial importance of God fearing families with parents with regard to the upbringing and education of children. Eph 6:4 echoes this same theme by reminding parents to nurture their children in the discipline and instruction of the Word and not to provoke them to anger.

Secondly, a Christian family is characterised by discipline with dignity. Hebrews 12 reminds us that effective discipline is not abusive but corrective and it is a mark of sonship. Some are afraid to discipline and others overdo it. There is a fair and proper discipline which builds up character and yet not discourage the child’s spiritual and social development.

Thirdly, the Christian family seeks to follow God’s will and values in daily living (Jas 4:13–17). Decision-making is centred on God and preceded by family prayer, led by the father. The child learns that every time he / she needs to decide on something, he / she has to consult God first. So he / she grows in dependence on God, and not himself / herself or his / her parents.

Fourthly, Bible reading and worship is part of a covenant home. The family that worships and prays together stays together. Worship is our privilege and joy and the corporate body of a church / family is commanded to worship God together.

1.      Find a suitable time for all to meet regularly, say once a week for a start, on a Sunday afternoon / night.

2.      Sing a psalm / hymn together and open in prayer.

3.      Let every member share their needs and / or thanksgiving.

4.      Listen attentively to one another’s sharing, and show concern and care for them.

5.      The head of the home reads a passage and share a short exhortation. It can be reading from even a devotional book. One or two appropriate points will do.

6.      Take time to pray and let everyone have a chance to pray, if possible.

You can even have the Shorter Catechism as a start to teach them spiritual Bible doctrines systematically, or topical series that are relevant to Christian diligence, responsibility, honesty, integrity, purity, godliness, word, etc.

From the Scriptures, emphasise principles of life and encourage obedience to the Word. Cultivate the fear of God in them and use daily events to teach a lesson (eg bullying, bribery, stealing; consequences from fighting, etc lessons — to learn to control your anger; no fist fights, be patient and temperate, ie self-controlled).

Other relevant questions can be discussed as well, eg use of Internet, what about tattoos, and strange dressing, Charismatics, vulgar language, drinking, dancing, watching movies, discos, Boy Girl Relationships, etc.

These could also be useful discussion on school work, or church ministry or family projects, like reaching out to grandma or third uncle with gospel, or studying through the Psalms together as a family.

The Role and Privilege of Covenant Children

Children of covenant homes are blessed and sanctified of the Lord (1 Cor 7:14). Parents are to commit them to the Lord in infant baptism and honour their vow to bring them up in the fear of the Lord (Acts 2:38-9). They are to be given to the fear of God to respect and honour their parents to love the word and prayer and be a vibrant and effective witness for Christ.

An Exemplary Parentage

The godly man Job, has an excellent family practice recorded in Job 1:5, And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Do we remember to pray for and with our children every morning? Monica prayed fervently for her son and he turned out to be the great theologian, Augustine, who stood against Pelagianism in the 4th century. Susanna Wesley, another prayerful and godly lady, had two sons, Charles and John Wesley, who revived England together with George Whitefield in the 18th century. Within a family, it is important to know that a bad example can wipe out good instruction. Be sure to set a good example before your children. Other methods of instruction will not do much good if you don’t teach them by a godly example. Your children will not mind the good rules you give them if you don’t act contrary to those rules yourselves. If your counsels are good, and your examples are contrary, your children will be more likely to be hurt by the latter, than benefit by the former. Someone said,

If parents would have their children blessed at church and at school, let them beware they give their children no corrupt examples at home by any carelessness, profaneness, or ungodliness. Otherwise, parents will do them more harm at home than both pastors and schoolmasters can do them good.

In practice, parents have to earn the right to inculcate values and biblical principles in their children. Remember this: “The best gift you can give another is a worthy example.” You can easily nullify what you have taught by doing the exact opposite. Imagine a father saying to the son, “Do not watch TV, it is too late now. Go to bed.” The next thing is that the child wakes up in the middle of the night and discover that his dad is still glued to the goggle box. So much for precept when it is not matched by practice. Things like honesty can only be taught if you are consistent (eg pirated software at home?) or diligence, industry (are you hardworking your self ?), or godliness (do they see you praying?).

THE BUILDLING OF A VIBRANT CHRISTIAN HOME

The marital relationship between a husband and a wife has first to be founded on Christ, the Solid Rock. We can love each other because He first loved us. Love is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. It is the lubricant that takes away the friction in life. It is conventional wisdom that if we were to construct a building, we need to have the sound foundation of love in Christ. So to build a block of HDB flats, you need solid piling and it certainly requires a certain depth. You need concrete and you need to meet certain legal and technical stipulations. The last thing you want is a collapsed building like the Hotel New World 16 years ago here. It is in vain for the watchman to do a job when God is not protecting the city (Ps 127:1). It is fruitless for us to work so hard when there are holes in our pockets as the prophet Haggai puts it (Hag 1:5).

There is more than just human effort; there is a divine side to things, which sometimes we fail to recognise. It is just like you can buy a bed but not sleep, food but not appetite, weapons but not peace, sex but not love, insurance but not security. Only the Almighty Jehovah who is our Redeemer and Lord is sovereign over the affairs of our lives. Do you know Him? Do you seek Him first and honour Him. So, the secret of a happy home is one where Christ is the Head, and is honoured and revered not just occasionally but in a real sense all the time in our decision making, conflict resolution, in bringing up children, in our values and our principles with a clear conscience. But first you must know Him personally as your Lord and Saviour. Romans 10:9–10 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Christ is the propitiation for our sins and is accepted by God.

Ps 127:1—The Building of God’s Home

The tedious construction process requires proper planning, digging and good materials. It is elaborate and honest hardwork and heartwork. It takes time and effort, but yet its success also depends on other factors like weather that affects its progress ultimately. It is not wrong to want to build a strong Christian home but how do we build from the beginning is it is important.

The foundation has to be strong: The basis is firm grounding in the Word and prayer; not money, not intellect, not worldly advice or beauty or degrees but the LORD, our Jehovah God, our Creator. A covenant home is God-centred. And it affects every aspect from inter-personal relations, decision-makings, communications, solving problems and conflicts. We need to be humble and do away with pride and self-righteousness before God. Divorce is increasing In Singapore, and families are breaking down. What is the secret of strong family ties? What are the elements of a loving and stable home?

 

Elements for Building a Strong Marriage

If there are inherent threats to a happy Christian marriage today. What then are any safeguards to protect or to preserve it? Below are four vital elements or biblical directive for a vibrant and healthy Christian marriage. And we shall use this acrostic ABCD to illustrate them here.

Authority

In Every marriage, the almighty God is the supreme Authority and is to be submitted to unconditionally. However, He has delegated the authority to the husband as the head of the home. Every Christian husband should be a godly and loving leader of the home. Marriage is like a life long carriage and the husband is the driver.  Often, problems in the family erupt when we do not have a proper authority structure in the marriage or home. God has sovereignly given the burden and responsibility to the man (Eph 5:23–25; Col 3:18–20). As for the ladies, remember that wives are to obey and submit as you have just covenanted in your marriage vow. Marriage comes with its privilege and obligation. This is not a matter of superiority or inferiority but a divine economy of God’s order. Ladies, it is a joy and duty to submit to someone who you covenanted with in holy matrimony and loves you and cares for the family. while the husband is the head of the house, the wife is the heart of the home. The biblical basis for the wife’s submission is given in 1 Tim 2:12-15 and we abide by God’s holy word. It is a fearful thing to lead and you must pray for your husbands as they lead you and the family. As leader, husbands, let us keep close to our God, who is our ultimate Ruler and leader, and we are to lead by example and by love to you spouse who is worthy of all your affections and care. Be a knowledgeable and loving and God fearing leader and you will lead well in a covenant family.

Bible/Basis

In every set up, there is only one leader or person in charge for orderliness and effectiveness Authority is not possible without submission and a proper and well regarded system or reliable guide, laws or basis. The unchanging and providentially preserved, inspired and sufficient authoritative Bible is to be central to the Christian home, just like the hymnwriter says,

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,

The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung. 

Your infallible standard for the directions and management of the home is the Manual by the manufacturer Our Creator which is the unchanging and sufficient 66 books of the HolyScriptures. Always refer to it often and (especially when things go wrong though not only), read the instructions carefully again and again and practice what is written inside. This will prevent many unnecessary quarrels and problems and will ensure a harmonious and happy home in the Lord. Let the Bible be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Ps 119:9, 11). Cherish it and use it as map and compass to navigate through the still and storm of your married life. Love it and know its content well and memorise it. Read it and share it with your spouse or family and seek to live it out daily. Meditate upon it daily and internalise and assimilate it into your life and do not forget Sabbath worship as well and worship as family and couple. The prophet in Jer 15:16 says, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” and 2 Tim 2:15 says,“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Communication and Concern

One of the common problems in marital relations is the breakdown of effective communication between husband and wife. This aspect of the marital relation-ship cannot be over-emphasised.

Consider what happens when people don’t communicate effectively:-

   1. Issues remain unclarified (Prov 18:17).

   2. Wrong ideas are uncorrected and perpetuate in our minds.

   3. Conflicts and misunderstandings are unresolved (Matt 5:23–26).

   4. Confusion and disorder occur (1 Cor 14:33, 40).

   5. Wise decision-making is thwarted (Prov 18:13).

   6. The development of deep unity and intimacy within the family is hindered (Amos 3:3).

   7. Interpersonal problems pile up and barriers become higher and wider.

   8. Boredom and discontentment and frustration develop in the home.

   9. Temptation to look for someone more exciting outside the marriage may occur.

10. We don’t really get to know a person as we ought to.

Eph 4:29 says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Paul reminds us in Col 4:6, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

We need to remember to talk to God about me n before you talk to men about God. Firstly, communication begins with our relationship with God. Do we pray often and do we constantly intercede together as a family before the Throne of Grace? Sometimes, when we are in trouble, we tell everyone except God.

Secondly, do you also share and talk to each other frequently? Do you share your visions, emotions, aspirations, and your hurts and feelings? Do you bother to take time to listen to each other? Sometimes you may come back from a long day work has a lot to tell you. Listen to her even though you may be tired or are busy firs things first and give quality time to depend relationships by purposeful interaction. We have different affiliation, needs and companionship; and conversation go together. You must be all ears to each other and vice versa.

Spend quality time together by setting a side time for it. Before of uncontrolled anger remember those who fly in a rage seldom makes a good landing .In our premarital counselling we would always share this with the couple to be, never shout at each other unless the house is on fire. Learn to manage and control your temper remember that anger is one letter sort of danger and anger is a choice no one can make you angry except yourself.  Deepen relationship by purposeful interaction. Do not always email or SMS or call, speak to her or him personally and often with profound emotions, care and concern. This is necessary in maintaining a healthy and vibrant married life.
 

Discipline / Diligence / Devotion

There is a sense in which discipline and diligence are almost responsible for the success of anything, from our studies to our jobs, to the church and the home. One of the facts of the fruit of the Sprit is temperance and that is self-control or discipline. God expects us to do our part in hardwork and heartwork in our marriage as well, the hardware and software of married life. There is blessing in Christian self-discipline and labour. Our example is that of the ant (Prov 6) and not the pig.  

The Christian home requires both the husband and wife to cooperate and work hard in their own spiritual lives. Not only in our careers but building up each other in love and only in the rearing of children in the home and the responsible stewardship of the talents that God gives you. Nothing venture, nothing gain.There is no elevator to success in marriage, you have to use the stairs of diligence in your devotion to God and to each other. Whatever you had find it, do it heartily unto the Lord. Glorify God by your love for him and in honest industry and God will surely bless and prosper your family and days ahead. And exercise moderation in all things and be content with God has given you. Consider the following practical rules in proper communication. 

Discipline of ourselves first includes setting our priorities for our marriage and family aright first. Consider the following below:-

1.      God first before self and family —Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt 6:12, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

2.      With eternal values in view—Col 3:1, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”

3.      Regular Bible / Prayer and Sabbath and family worship.

4.      Quality time with family members and responsible stewardship in the church.

5.      Catechising of children—teaching them to honour God in word and deeds, to have a sincere desire, and aspiration, to please God (Heb 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him). This will save us from many troubles and pain later.

 

Discipline of Children and Correction

The wise king of Israel, Solomon teaches that correction must be consistent and repetitive. The  verse “spare the rod and spoil the child” is not a one-time action. The verb calls for ongoing activity of discipline. Therefore a parent may not reasonably expect that one or two times of Biblically beating the child is going to deliver that child once and for all of the rebellious heart with which he was born. However in the same breath, we must emphasize that godly parents who insist on complete obedience and back up their demands with immediate application of the rod discover to their joy that the need for the rod diminishes as the child recognises the parents' determination to apply it when necessary.

Many parents have admitted to their lack of consistency in application of the rod of correction, "I have tried that; it doesn't work." Let us think about that response for a moment. Can it really be true that a child correction procedure that is ordered directly in the Scriptures for Godly parents will work in some cases and not in others? Remember that a child is manifesting the rebellion bound in his naturally depraved heart and only the Holy Spirit can changed hi m from within. I believe the answer lies with the children primarily and the parents collectively.

To carry out the spirit of this passage, a parent must immediately carry out correction with the rod as soon as practical after the offense has occurred. This is fully in keeping with Eccl 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.God clearly states that the further correction is removed from the actual offense in terms of relative time, the less effective that correction will be. What an instructive lesson for our judicial system! How corrective can any method of punishment be when it is weeks, months, and even years after the actual offense? Therefore, a parent should apply the rod as quickly as is possible following the breaking of a rule.

For this reason, a mother who is alone with her children during the day is wise to use her delegated authority from her husband to speedily execute the correction against the erring child rather than wait the minutes or even the hours that it may take for dad to arrive home. When one keeps in mind that the greater the time difference between the offense and the correction the less effect will be gained from the correction, it is obviously wise to follow God's method and apply the correction immediately after the offence.

Many parents in using the rod of correction on their child do so with an obvious lack of vigor and often stop short of the child's will being completely broken. Manifestation of this error is illustrated in countless homes as a child gets up from his session of correction still spouting rebellious words and giving willful looks at his discouraged parent. The parent has no one to blame but himself for this problem since he did not completely break the will of the child during the session of correction. A child who is still willing to resist the authority of his parent after having received the rod of correction is still in need of more of that same rod.

Christian parents must be very wise today in how they carry out Godly correction. Be vigorous and consistent in the application of these procedures in the privacy of your home. Correct your child in the privacy of your home so that the fruit of your training will be so indelibly fixed on the child's heart that you will not have to use the rod of correction in a public setting and expose your family to this very real risk in today's permissive lawless society.

Another aspect of this is that if you carry through with Godly correction in the privacy of your home your child will not embarrass you in public. Many are the parents who are embarrassed in a church service or in a public setting by their child's unruly behavior simply because they have not enforced rules of obedience on that child in the home.

Grandparents should also recognise one possible complication in their lives with regard to this issue of child correction. The Scripture states that the crown of older men is children's children (Prov 17:6). That being the case, a grandparent is tempted not to follow through with the rod of correction being used for his grandchild. However a godly grandparent will recognise the necessity of doing so as well as the Godly reason for doing so.

The journey of love in building a loving marital home is a responsible burden.  We must be wise and prudent in a treacherous immoral world and look up to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith always

Child catechism is a vital aspect of the child’s individual character, is broader in scope than just for the sake of the individual. It affects the whole community and church. It is a tragic state of affairs that one can see little difference between the families and that of the unsaved communities. The rates of teenage rebellion, premarital pregnancies, abortions, body pierces per capita, within each community are the same whether Christian or pagan. 

For Christian families to fulfill their duty of proclaiming the truth of God’s gospel they must look to the only source that distinguishes them from the pagan families: God’s covenant promises are identified and they must be implemented in the covenant family, diligently and consistently. Implementation doesn’t happen automatically or easily. Effective implementation takes vision, effort, planning, discussion, agreements, determination, perseverance, adjustments, et al. Effective implementation means God-centred consistent discipline.

Family Worship and Catechising Children

The family worship and the catechising of covenant Children (the shorter catechisms of the WCF is recommended. Know it well yourself first. What you do not have you cannot give) is so important to the spiritual health and vitality of a Christian home. It includes quality time for family Bible study and a time of worship and the systematic study of the word. Every Christian family should have such a blessed time daily. It is amazing how few families really take this seriously and practise this routinely. It is the best guarantee to have Christian children with good moral standards that do not drift through the teen years, to have a family that has a witness for Christ in the community, and to have a family that takes the church seriously and enjoys going to all the s.

It is well to remember the great command that the Lord gave to His covenant people.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:4-7).

Worship of the Lord is first of all vertical and then horizontal and begins in the home and takes in the whole family.

I. What Is the Purpose of the Family Worship and catechism of children?

  1. To worship God together and learn more of His ways through his Word. What could be a better purpose. Children should learn to worship God in their early years that they might have respect for Him in the later years. They need to learn how to regard Him and to realize that He is the Creator, Holy, and to be honored in all that we say and do.
  2. To honor God's Word, develop respect for it, and to live by it. James says, But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22). Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Home is a good place to practice the exhortation, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16). In these days when we have put the Bible out of our schools, we need to put it back in our homes and teach our children from it.
  3. To establish the family in the faith, personal convictions, and doctrine. Children and young people need convictions to stand up against their peers. They must understand their faith and know something of good Bible doctrine so they know what they believe and why. The home makes a good Bible school where the children can be grounded as they face the humanistic, evolutionary philosophy of [our modern society].
  4. To pray over family problems and needs, burdens the children may have, and that they may have confidence in the God that answers prayer in the everyday things of life. All the members of the family have personal needs. It would be good if they could learn to share them openly and take them before the Lord together. There are school needs, boy and girl friend problems, problems with play mates, character problems such as timidity and fears of all kinds, questions about amusements, finances. Teenagers have deep needs and hate to express them for fear of being misunderstood or embarrassed. Their problems are big problems to them and must be considered. Mom and Dad have needs of all kinds. Financial needs, Dad's work needs, the car, moving, and all kinds of things can be prayed through with God. All the family needs to know they can have confidence in Him and that He will hear and answer prayer.
  5. To pray and intercede for others such as the pastor, missionaries, sick folk, unsaved loved ones, the neighbours, fellow believers in need, the church, our president, the shut-ins, those who are in trial or going through persecutions. Children who can learn to pray openly at home will have no problem praying publicly in the church weekly prayer meetings as they grow.

II. Practical Suggestions That May Be of Help.

  1. Search out materials (ie RPG, Shorter catechism) that will be relevant to all age levels in the family. Different ages have different interests and what may appeal to one may not appeal to another.
  2. Vary the methods so as to keep family time from being boring and just mere routine. Interest for all should be maintained so monotony does not kill it.
  3. Do not make it a time of forced listening to the Bible, of bitter participation, or unhappy endurance while you just superficially read through whole chapters of the Bible beyond family comprehension and then drag the family through a long dry, routine prayer. If they participate in anger and unwillingness, they will abhor the family altar time.
  4. Make it a delightful, edifying, interesting time filled with enthusiasm so that the whole family looks forward to it with real expectancy.
  5. Do not make it so long that the children despise the time it takes. Better have it short and sweet, vital and satisfying, so their appetites hunger for more.
  6. Let all participate and become involved. Those that can read should take turns in reading as well as in prayer. Even the little ones can say a few words in prayer even if they cannot read. They can be taught songs in which all can take part.
  7. Take time for discussion, answering questions, solving problems, and for interaction. . Children especially are inquisitive and want to know.
  8. Do not spend time in criticizing or gossiping or dealing with a pet subject. There is nothing that will sour the whole thing more than engaging in tearing something or someone apart. This is not time to air church problems unless for a matter of prayer.  Remember it is a worship and sharing time.
  9. Let the children that are old enough take part in the family worship time some time either in the whole or in part. Let them do it their way and express themselves. It will create interest in it for them. This is also a good way to develop them spiritually and in self confidence. They should be encouraged in what they do or say and not be belittled.
  10. Have the family altar when it is most convenient for all. Dinner time every day or afternoon on Sabbath day is usually best for all before the various activities of the evening begin.

III. Possible Methods That May Be Used.

  1. Paragraph Bible study. Rather than read a whole chapter at a time which may be quite long and hard to retain, do just a paragraph a day. Let all the members of the family suggest a title to the paragraph according to its content. Let each one list some things they observe in the paragraph such as places, people, things, special words, etc. This can be great fun for the children and a real challenge to all. It is like observing things in a room or in car ride. When you have gone through the paragraph like that, then investigate and expound some spiritual lessons that may be learned. Let each one make it personal and tell what they have learned for themselves.
  2. Read Bible stories from the Bible. (Moses, David, Isaiah) They supply answers to different family needs and give a challenge to spiritual living for the children as well.
  3. Go through the ministry and life of Christ. You could do one a night and learn something about Christ from each encounter and especially let each one learn something for himself. Study the miracle as to where it was, the occasion, what happened, who was involved, and then personal lessons.
  4. Study Bible characters. (ie Elijah, Nehemiah, Jonah) This can be good for a different kind of study for the sake of variety. Read about the character in the Bible and study his weak and strong points and discuss how you may learn something from him or her. You can see yourself in Bible characters and learn many precious lessons.
  5. Study Bible doctrine. Everyone should know the basic doctrines of the Bible. All the family should be grounded in the truth. You could follow the doctrine by means of a good concordance or perhaps taken from a book on basic doctrines of the Bible.
  6. Bible book study. This might be more difficult and might be better for older ones rather than children. Take one Bible book at a time and find out its theme, major divisions, lessons, key chapters and ideas, etc.
  7. Important chapters of the Bible may be used. If not done this way, one can go through a Bible book chapter by chapter. To read a chapter a day could well be done if the children are not too young so they can comprehend. Learn the key verse in the chapter, get the key word, study any special promises, see how Christ is seen, look at the important doctrine in the chapter, break the chapter down into its paragraph parts if you can to get the structure of the chapter, study what sins should be avoided and what things a person should do and what lessons can be learned.
  8. Devotional books for various age levels. You can buy such books in a local Christian bookstore or send for some from a Christian publishing house. They are written for various age levels. Children enjoy these and find them very interesting. There are books for primaries, juniors, teens, etc. Major verses. This is a good method for variety. Just take a verse a night for a period of time and scrutinize it as to what it means for each one. For example, you might take a series of verses on great promises in the Bible such as on prayer, salvation, victorious living, Christ's second coming. Try to memorize the verse.
  9. Bible games. This can be interesting and add challenge to the family altar and can be  appealing to the young folks and keep the family worship time from being boring. Use Bible games that teach a lesson and from which you may learn something helpful for Christian living.
  10. Have a map study. After all, salvation is also geographical and children might learn where certain countries, rivers, and mountains are and what happened there such as the law on Mt. Sinai, crossing the Red Sea, and Christ walking on the water. Show them where it took place and draw some lessons from it.
  11. Use pictures and other bible aids. This is a wonderful way to interest children. Many Bible storybooks have many pictures in them that tell a story for the child.
  12. Object lessons. Visual aids of all kinds can be used. Be creative and use whatever object you may have handy to teach a Bible truth. Christ readily used object lessons such as the parables in the sheep and goats, types in the rock, water in the well of Samaria, etc. There is no end to object lessons.
  13. Have a scripture memorisation programme during the summer months. Even a 3-4 year old can learn ten verses during the holidays if you select the right verses, and by the time a child is five years old, he can learn Psalm 23. Try it, make it interesting, and you will be amazed at what your family can accomplish! Give little rewards along the way.
  14. Use songs [Eph. 5:19. Col 3:23,24]. You should always sing if possible. [Have a hymnal or then sings my souls for each member of the family. Learn the great hymns of the faith.] You can also teach from the songs that are sung and there are stories behind the hymns if you investigate them 
  15. Read God's Word together. Use RPG or Select a book of the Bible appropriate for your children's ages and have each family member read 2-3 verses as you go around the room. You can read anywhere from 1-2 chapters to an entire epistle such as Philippians each night. Let the children help choose what book of the Bible to read.

HOW TO RAISE A CHILD FOR GOD

Grace and wisdom are desperately needed for parents to learn how to relate to the family (especially the children) and friends in an edifying way. Thank God for growing families and the setting up of covenant homes in our churches. A relevant issue recently to all Christian parents is, how do we bring up a child in the fear and nurture of the Lord.

The following is edited (with some additions and modifications) from Wayne Mack, A Homework Manual for Biblical Living, Vol. 2, Philipburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1980, 74–76.

Study the following principles and apply them in your home when appropriate.

1. Examine your expectations for your child. Are they realistic? Evaluate them in the light of the Bible (1 Cor 13:11; Matt 18:10; Gen 33:12–14).

2. Love him unconditionally, just like how Christ has loved us (Deut 7:7; 1 John 4:10, 19).

3. Look for opportunities in which you can commend him. Express appreciation for him frequently (Phil 1:3; 1 Thess 1:2; 2 Thess 1:3).

4. Remember, be niggard with criticism, generous with commendation. Seldom criticise without first expressing appreciation for good points (1 Cor 1:3–13).

5. Give freedom to make decisions where serious issues are not at stake (eg what to eat). Your goal should be to bring your child to maturity in Christ and not to depend on you (Eph 4:13–15; 6:4; Prov 22:6; Col 1:27–28).

6. Do not compare him with others, it does not edify. Compare him with what the Bible teaches (Gal 6:4; 2 Cor 10:12–13; 1 Cor 12:4–11).

7. Never mock him or make fun of him. Do not demean or belittle your child. Beware of calling him dumb or clumsy or stupid (Matt 7:12; Eph 4:29–30; Col 4:6; Prov 12:18; 16:24).

8. Do not scold or embarrass him in front of others unless absolutely necessary. Discipline is not for public display (Matt 16:22–23; 18:15; 1 Cor 16:14).

9. Never make empty threats or promises that you do not intend to keep (Matt 5:37; Jas 5:12; Col 3:9).

10. Don’t be afraid to say, “no” (though not all the time); when you say it, mean it (Prov 22:15; 29:15; 1 Sam 3:13; Gen 18:19).

11. When your child has problems, do no overreact or lose control of yourself. Do not yell or shout or scream at him. It frightens the child temporarily but achieves nothing in the end (Eph 4:26–27; 1 Cor 16:14; 2 Tim 2:24–25; 1 Tim 5:1–2).

12. Communicate faith, optimism and expectancy. Do not communicate by word or action that you have given up on your child and are resigned to his being a failure; it may become a self–fulfilled “prophecy.” (Phlm 21; 2 Cor 9:1–2; 1 Cor 13:7).

13. Make sure your child knows exactly what is expected of him. Most of the book of Proverbs is specific counsel from a father to his son.

14. Ask his advice—include him in some of the family planning, eg when to go for holiday (Rom 1:11–12; 2 Tim 4:11; 1 Tim 4:12; John 6:5).

15. When you make a mistake with your child, admit it and ask your child for forgiveness (Matt 5:23–24; Jas 5:16).

16. Have family conferences where you discuss family goals, family projects, etc. Welcome contributions or criticisms from your child (Ps 128; Jas 1:19; 3:13–18; Titus 1:6–8; Prov 15:22).

17. Assess his areas of strength (and weakness) and then encourage him to develop them (2 Tim 1:16; 4:5; 1 Pet 4:10).

18. Give him plenty of tender loving care (and that means time and energy). Be free in your expression of love by word or deed (1 Cor 13:1–8; 16:14; John 13:34; 1 Thess 2:7–8).

19. Practice selective reinforcement. When your child does something well, commend him. Especially let him know when his attitude and effort are what they should be. Conversely, punish him proportionately if he wilfully persist in wrongdoing (1 Thess 1:3–10; Phil 1:3–5; Col 1:3–4; Eph 1:15).

20. Be more concerned about Christian attitudes and character than you are about performance, athletic skills, clothing or external beauty, or intelligence (1 Sam 16:7; Gal 5:22–23; 1 Pet 3:4–5; Prov 4:23; Matt 23:25–28).

21. Spend quality time with your child. Plan to have many fun times and many special events with your child. Make a list of fun things your family can do (Ps 128; Prov 5:15–18; 15:13; 17:22; Eph 6:4; Col 3:21; Eccl 3:4; Luke 15:22–24).

22. Help your child to learn responsibility by administering discipline fairly, consistently, lovingly, and promptly (1 Sam 3:13; Prov 13:24; 19:18; 22:15).

23. Look upon your child as a depraved individual who needs saving grace and share with him God’s love. Look upon the task of raising children as a process which takes a long time to complete (Eph 6:4; Prov 22:6; Gal 6:9; 1 Cor 15:58; Isa 28:9–10).

24. Live your convictions consistently. Your child will learn more by observing your example than he will by listening to your words. Remember, the best gift (besides the gospel) you can give him is a worthy example (Deut 6:4–9; 1 Thess 2:10–12; Phil 4:9; 2 Tim 1:5, 7).

25. Recognise that you are responsible to prepare your child for life in this world and in the world to come (Eph 6:4; Deut 6:4–9; Ps 78:5–7; 2 Tim 3:15–17).

26. Be sensitive to the needs, feelings, fears, and opinions of your child. We are dealing with a person, not a machine (Matt 18:10; Col 3:21).

27. Treat the child with great care and attention. Ours is only a temporal stewardship which we are to be accountable finally. He belongs to God (Matt 18:5–6).

28. Do not provoke your child to anger or exasperate him. Deal with sin firmly and encourage repentance from it (Prov 15:1; Eph 4:31–32; 2 Cor 7:10).

29. Maintain the practice of catechism, daily Bible reading, discussions, prayer and family worship(Deut 6:4–9; 2 Tim 3:15; Eph 6:4; Ps 1:1–3; 78:5–8; 119:9, 11).

30. Become thoroughly involved as a family in a biblical church (Heb 10:24–25; Eph 4:11–16).

31. Make your home a centre of Christian hospitality, where your child will be brought into frequent contact with many Christians (Rom 12:13; Heb 13:1–2; 2 Kgs 4:8–37).

32. Make it easy for your child to approach you with problems, difficulties, and concerns. Learn to be a good listener when he needs you. Give your child your undivided attention. Avoid being a mind reader or an interrupter or a critic. Show an interest in whatever interests your child. Make yourself available when your child needs you—even if you are busy (Jas 1:19–20; 3:16–18; 1 John 3:16–18; 1 Cor 9:19–23; Phil 2:3–4).

33. Seek to bring your child to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Become all things to your child that you might win your child to Christ. God, of course, must do the saving, bring conviction, give repentance and faith. You, however, may provide the environment in which God saves—by your prayers, godly speech and example, family devotions, and involvement in a sound biblical church (2 Tim 1:5–7; 3:14–17; Eph 6:4; Deut 6:4–9; Mark 10:13–14; Rom 10:13–17; 1 Cor 1:18–21).

 

Mass Media Influences in the Christian Family

We live in a world of mass information and communication. The late 20th century witnesses an unprecedented electronic revolution with the introduction of Information Technology (IT) into the work place, schools, and the home. Never before have so many people have access to so much information at a click of a button. Advancement in IT revolutionises the way we communicate, learn, do business and relate to one another and keep in touch. It has been estimated that more than 1/3 of Singaporeans are IT savvy, and many more are expected to use it over the next few years. New acronyms are coined, from SGRAM, GPU, LAN, URL, DVDs to HTML, e-commerce, e-business, palm tops, SMS, MMS and others, demonstrating the technological revolution that we are facing today. Children and adults have at their disposal wide range of overwhelming global information (with the help of search engines as well), which can be both good or bad, depending whether it is used for good or evil. How do all these affect the Christian family? The following are to be considered:-

The Stewardship of Time

The use of the Internet has taken much time and attention from the average family. Our children use it for emailing, chat rooms (even with strangers) computer games, like the Nintendo, MP3, surfing the Internet; others may use it for business opportunities, learning or leisure. Almost variably it displaces or take up valuable time of the user watching videos as opposed to healthy family interaction and reading of good Christian books, and fellowship. Beware that it does not become a substitute for edifying Christian interaction. Paul in Eph 5:15–16 says, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Moses said in Ps 90:12, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Spending three to five hours a day just surfing, talking in chatrooms or playing computer games can be poor stewardship of the time, to say the least. (I know of a teenager that spends 8 hours a day on the computer and some Christian families that allows the children to earn computer time by their hardwork and good behaviour as an incentive). Beware that this and do not substitute time for personal devotion and prayer for the doing of school homework or  the time of for leisure

 

The Exposure to Spiritually and Morally Undesirable Elements

The availability of the cyberspace provides a wide range of desirable and undesirable elements to the average user, both young and old. It is almost impossible now to censor the billions of websites that are constantly being developed by many, although there are software (ie Net Nanny that can help to censor them). Children and teenagers are curious and often easily enticed and attracted to websites on violence, pornography, horror, comedy, or the occult (eg there is an Angel’s net started by an New Ager, when you can supposedly contact ‘angels’ to be your spiritual guide). They will be easy prey to the virtual influence that are on the world wide webs in cyberspace.

The parents have a role to play, to both inculcate values, educate and nurture their children, to keep them away from spiritually harmful and morally unedifying sites. 1 Thes 5:21,22 says, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. Parents are to watch the games that their children play, that they are not about violence, pornography, or occult, which are commonly accessible in the Internet. It must be said in the same breath that there are edifying and helpful portals as well. Some schools or institutions of higher learning require Internet research by the students as part of the overall curriculum. Absolute censorship is not the viable solution. There is a need to teach our children personal discipline and responsibility grounded in the fear of God (Prov 9:10), the constant presence of the Lord with them (Ps 139:7,8) and our accountability to God one day before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). The best censor is still a personal desire to maintain good conscience before God and man (act 23:1) when the person concerned chose not to view certain sites himself or herself positively. On the other hand, the church can have their own website for a global audience. There are also intellectually and spiritually stimulating (eg educational websites, information on Christian religion, church history, bible, facts on science and geography, etc) which we can use.

 

Virtual Fun with the Forces of Darkness

A commentary in Computer Times (26 September 2001) had said it well, "Let’s not kid ourselves, most games are somewhat lacking in educational value." Some games are often just mindless, acquaintance with violence and horror in interactive games. For example, in games like Wolfenstein, the player is to storm and wrestle with ghouls, zombies and other occultic elements. In the Throne of Darkness, the player is set up in a fantasy world and have to do battle with demon Zanshin and his evil hordes. In Diablos 2, there are monsters galore and the player is to vanquish these foes both human and supernatural. In the Lord of Destruction, Baal the game chief villain and his malevolent plans have to be combated against together with other forces of darkness. In some multi-media interactive games, characters screamed in pain as their flesh are being torn off and hysterical and mystical sobbings can be heard from a mysterious source. Game developers are piling up the multi-media playhouse with sinister character and genetically modified mortals, to entice and seduce young and unsuspecting players into a surreal game of diabolical make-belief.

Paul says in Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove themand Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies that as believers we should have nothing to do with such unedifying influences in our lives. The latest is that you can catch blockbusters in the comfort of your home on your PCs. PAC TV: a subscription base, personal entertainment suite on broadband was launched as a trial in Singapore. Subscribers can enjoy unlimited screenings of any shows from beauty pageants, music videos, (ie MTV) sitcoms to the latest movies wit h SCV. These unedifying time robbers had been the pre-occupation of many teenagers and adults as well, substituting bible reading, fellowship and prayer. Paul in Phil 4:7-8 say, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

The New Substitute for Fellowship/Personal Communications

It is noted that the Internet and computer have the tendency to displace sound interpersonal relationships. Impersonal Emails are used instead of personal meetings, phone calls or a group interaction and healthy socialisation. There will also be available to many distance-learning programme over the net without the personal interaction of the teacher and the classroom. Some users have been known to get acquainted with a stranger on the Internet and then develop an intimate relationship with them and forsake home or work to be with a virtual friend or fiend often to their detriment.

Often, as guardians and parents, we need to be there physically and join our children in their activities. Chat with them and show them other interesting and edifying websites and things that they can see and do. Often discuss and talk to them about dangers and things that they ought to avoid or beware of, eg horror (ie Diabolos game) pornography, violence or other undesirable elements. Some video games allow the user to cut off the heads of the opponents or bomb buildings in retaliation. There is always the peril of being addicted to it, which has happened to many (1 Cor 6:12). As parents, we may get in touch with their friends and interact with them once a while and find out about our children’s interest, behaviour and conduct. You can also check on the history of their surfing and the sites they visited and have a password that is managed by someone responsible. If there is a need to discipline, do not hesitate to do it with love, making it commensurate with the offence committed. Forfeiture of privileges (eg no computer play time for a week or so) or other punitive measures can be administered, tampered with prudence, patience and care. Give place for a gradual change with guidance for the better and encourage a lasting reformation of heart and mind (Rom 12:1,2). Paul said in 2 Tim 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

The Home as a Workplace?

One good (or bad) consequence of the IT revolution is that some work can be done from home. With some computer software and the Internet, it is now possible for financial analysts, accounting and banking professionals to literally work from home, so that they can be with their family and yet useful economically. The danger is turning the cosy and warm home into a cold and formal office completely, hence not separating work and family life. Good discipline and management of time is necessary here for a healthy balanced family and work life. Workaholics will find this a real temptation to handle. There is to be clear demarcation of when is work time and when is family time and the confusion between the two is unhelpful. Work must not be allowed to substitute quality family time with the children and spouse. A quick word about domestic helps although one is not against it in principle. One has to caution against reliance on domestic helps for the upbringing and discipline of  the child. Does not a precious child of God demands our ful time attention and nurture in the fear and admonition of the Lord? Prioritise your life in the view of eternity and not for temporal gains only (Col 3:1,2).

TV—TRANSFORMING VALUES OF YOUNG MINDS

One of the most effective means of influencing the minds of the young (and old) is through the mass media, particularly the TV or movies, videos or magazines. With SCV, we can have 24 hours of non-stop entertainment, news movies, (HBO) sports (footlball fever) and other programmes. While it may be said here that there are some good programmes that one can get from the TV, like news and documentaries,(Discovery Channel)  generally speaking, there is an abundance of immoral, unethical and occultic episodes that are depicted in many programmes as well. Excessive TV watching is a time-robber and how many hours has been lost daily instead of it being used for the reading the word, edifying of the saints, in reading the word and prayer. Many so-called harmless cartoons, comedies and science-fiction movies are not that innocent after all. Hollywood and Walt Disney are vehicles of the devil to propagate New Age and cultic and occultic ideas.

Disney uses three forms of divination in the movie “Pocahontas”: dreams, fortune telling, and astrology. Grandmother Willow said to Pocahontas, “Spirits live in the earth, the water and the sky.” Pocahontas was told that the spirits would guide her if she would listen with her heart. In “Lion King,” Simba’s father told him that the stars were ascended masters who would help him. The Bible condemns astrology in Isa 47:13–14, Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

 

These so-called “harmless” cartoons for children by Walt Disney promotes animism, pantheism, and many New Age concepts as well. In one scene in “Lion King,” Rafiki was in an altered state of consciousness with his eyes closed, legs crossed and his fingers together. If you remember, Leonardo was also in an altered state of consciousness in the movie “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” That is how he contacted Splinters, his Zen master, so that he could rescue him. Children pick these up quickly and this will be indelibly marked in their minds, giving them a warped view of God and things spiritual.

The TV transforms (or should I say, deforms) our children’s mind. In the “Mighty Morphine Power Rangers,” the movie, an evil villain named Ivan Ooze was set free by accident. His vengeance was aimed toward Zordon, the leader of the Power Rangers and Zordon is empowered by crystals that will protect him. This is what New Agers believe in. The supernatural power of crystals that can heal, save and protect a person spiritually and young unsuspecting children.

We need to ask ourselves honestly these questions:

a) Has our child become more aggressive or violent? 
b) Do our children have any phobia?
c) Does our child reject authority and disobey us often?
d) Do our children have a problem with distinguishing between fantasy and reality?
e) Do our children have a problem believing God as the only living and true God? Have they lost their desire for prayer and the reading of the Bible?

f)  Are they antisocial and do they have something to hide from us?

We have to carefully watch the mental, social and spiritual development of our children. These young impressionable minds are to be changed or transformed by the renewing of the mind through Scripture, prayer and sound Christian teaching and example, or they will be conformed to the secular values of the world, accentuated by the TV, movies, videos, magazines and even undesirable elements from the Internet. Paul said in Rom 12:1–2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

There is a subtle attack on these young impressionable minds of our children and these diabolical tactics are successfully influencing behaviour, dressing, speech and thought life. Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Christian parents are to be wary of the fiery darts of the evil one, and to carefully regulate and screen the programmes watched by their children. The gogglebox glamorises sex, horror and violence, comedy and advance New Age and secular ideas which are slowly infecting our children. Hollywood movies exalt vice, immorality, dishonesty, the occult (ie Harry Potter) and hooliganism. It is an enemy of the Christian home, of holy living, and a mission-minded God honouring church. Because of these influences, some look to the heaven not for the soon return of Christ but for aliens, UFOs popularised by “Independence Day,” “X-Files,” “ET” and “Star Wars.” Horror is exhibited in y Bluffy the vampire slayer, Sabrina the witch and the blair project and others   We are becoming an increasing pagan, pantheistic and syncretistic world full of superstitions, falsehood and spiritual darkness. Jesus warns us already in Matt 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

 

The renewing of our mind comes from the meditation of Scriptures and prayer, and not from a memory bank of horror, sex and violence fed to us by the TV, movies, videos, DVDs and secular or rock or sentimental music. 2 Tim 2:22 says, Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

May we be forewarned and forearmed of such diabolical stratagems and hidden spiritual persuaders, and guard and watch over the precious souls of our children lest they be misled and drawn away eternally by the evil one in these perilous last days (1 Tim 6:11).

The 21st century is an age of technological change and as parents and leaders of the Church. We have to keep abreast with it without being ignorant or overwhelmed by it. The computer and electronic gadgets today is almost indispensable for the average person in a new era of the 21st century. Children need guidance and attention in this matter. It is requisite that parents encourage Christian fellowship and edifying communication with others and their children. As parents, we need to know what our children are seeing, reading and doing on the computer. Do not give them free access to the computer all the time without supervision until they are responsible enough to be left alone. One safeguard is a strong parent-child relationship that brings the child to the parent (and to God in daily prayer and dependence) every time he / she needs counsel. The Christian here is to be characterised by fervent prayer and the reading of the Word, not an obsession with diabolical games, movies, comedies, violent shows (ie wrestling) and TV sitcoms and other shows. Proper education of our selves and our children is desperately needed. At other times, discipline corrective actions like punishment is necessary but it has to be done in a positively edifying manner and not just the venting of our inordinate anger or frustration unnecessarily. Col 3:21 says, Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

 

The Church and Christian family can benefit from the IT revolution (and the TV) by using it with regard to positively edifying websites, programmes and correspondence with family and friends abroad. Ultimately, pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and prudence to manage and nurture the child in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. The parents’ example and Godly principles are important for the children to follow therein. We are all accountable to God one day (2 Cor 5:10) including the way we relate to our culture, social and technical environment and bring up our children in a covenant home (Prov 24:3,4, Ps 127:1).

The IT revolution and the TV possess vast potential for both good and evil. As Christians, we are to have sound spiritual and moral fibre to use it for good only. We end with Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Cor 10:23,31 says, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. The end of all men is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever and this applies to all aspects of our lives as well -

Conclusion

The family provides a good test case for us to apply our belief in covenant theology. Covenant means relationship and a set of privileges and obligations to abide by, first to God and then to other persons. The purpose of a family is to glorify God. The family is ideally a place of sanctified relationships and the worship of God and the enrichment of one another. A well-ordered family is a hierarchical one in which the husband/father is the accountable head, the wife/mother his subordinate with her own spheres of responsibility, and children subject to the discipline and nurture of both parents (Eph 5:24–26; Col 3:24).

Proper child development is not about building self-esteem as some secular psychologists would have told us to do. Like us, children are fallen creatures whose sinful bent is to be redirected toward God and moral goodness through Jesus Christ our Lord. The foundation of good childbearing is the influence of example of parents and other “significant others” as well as precepts of the Scriptures, and a balance between restraint and positive support.

Above all, the parents are to teach their children the knowledge of the Christian religion so that God willing, our children may arrive at eternal happiness through the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A historic document concerning the family was the 1677 resolution of the members in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to undertake a reformation of their lives. Part of the covenant that they signed was the resolve:

to reform our families, engaging themselves to a conscientious care to set up and maintain the worship of God in them and to walk in our houses with perfect hearts in a faithful discharge of all domestic duties: educating, instructing, and charging our children and our households to keep the ways of the Lord.

The Church and state need a reformation today too. It is not a resuscitation of an ailing economy, but a reformation of domestic life and it starts with our individual families; when we humble ourselves and cry to God for repentance and assistance to bring up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Deut 6:6–7).

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

November 19 & 26 - The End of the World

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10