The Blessings of a Christian Household

Growing up in a Christian home was a blessing. We were not fully aware how much it was until life’s challenges and choices met up with us later on in our teenage years. Our childhood and early education seemed unexceptional, rather typical at least we thought for most families of our day. As kids we were brought up to respect Christian values and generally speaking, we readily conformed by showing mutual respect and forgiveness (especially after the typical in-fighting between siblings). Our parents insisted that we should trust the Lord and follow Him, even though we were unsure what that really meant. However, through our parents, we knew it was the right thing to do. Only later in the ensuing years did we truly learn and enjoy the real value of our upbringing in a Christian household.

One of the first challenges we faced was at school where our classmates would confront our Christian values, and we started to notice that we were somehow different. We found out that our interests were not the same as other schoolmates, as we were not involved in many of the same secular or non-Christian activities as them. For instance, we were attending church and related events, when our classmates were barely believing in the existence of God. As much as school was important, actually we did not even go to kindergarten (we were home-schooled), our parents wished to keep a proper perspective on education and grades, since, as they explained to us, all things would ultimately pass out of existence and what would remain are the more pertinent spiritual matters.

The second challenge came up in high school. We experienced the peer pressure that often comes with being a teenager where to “fit in” with the rest of the group meant to dress similarly, do the same activities and to hang out with friends was just a cool thing to do! To some extent, being different from the majority, we were slightly marginalized, becoming the not so ‘hip and trendy’ teens. Eventually, we joined a Christian High School when our parents decided that it was beneficial. Additional travel times to school was then required, but well worth it since our Christian standards were quite consistent with that of the school’s. However, we never questioned our parents decisions because we were confident that they had our highest interests at heart and were giving us the very best that they could. Turned out that attending a Christian School was an awesome experience!

Finally, as we left the family nest for our studies and integrated into the “real world”, we were then able to see the full picture of what we had received from our parents. For each of the five siblings, this was the turning point where we could better assess the value of our education and upbringing. We realized the necessity of knowing God, which led us, through a variety of circumstances (and after personal struggles for each of the siblings), to receive Jesus-Christ into our lives. In looking back over the years, it may have felt like a restrictive or “uptight” environment at times, but we came to realize that these Christian values from our childhood were in fact crucial and precious. And yet, all of this was only the foundation; the Christian walk with the struggles that come along with it, took on even greater meaning as we gained maturity.

After some consideration, here are a few observations that we would like to share about a Christian household:

•   For children, teenagers, and even young adults, it is crucial to trust our parents and recognize that they have the authority from God to raise us, to correct us, and to try and shape us the best way they can. Ephesians  6:1 states: ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
•   As there appears to be an array of parenting styles, parents who themselves are trying to establish a Christian education for their children are not perfect and they might make some mistakes, so it is important to keep respecting and honoring them for all their work and efforts. Colossians  3:20 says “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
•   Those of us who have been blessed to have received a Christian upbringing and education should be very thankful to our parents.
•   Proverbs  22:6 encourages parents with the following words: “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” However, there are no guarantees for Christian parenting. For any to undertake a Christian upbringing for their child cannot expect absolute assurance that their child will become a Christian. Children will make choices as they grow older which will result in whether or not they subscribe to their parents teaching or if they choose to go another direction. It is important for us to realize this and to give support to parents who seek to raise Christian families. When you come to understand the many aspects of growth in a child’s life and the respective challenges that lay ahead for them, you can appreciate the many demands placed on Christian parenting.

For all these reasons and more, my sister and I are very appreciative for what we’ve received and feel that we have been well equipped as kids. But most importantly, we have been given the love of Christ and this is the best gift parents can transmit to their children. We have been blessed to have not only nurturing parents, but God fearing and loving parents, and this should never be taken for granted. As James  1:17 states: “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is not variation, neither shadow of turning“.

So, whether we come from a Christian or a non-Christian home, or that we are singles looking for the life-mate that will share the same goal to build a Christian home, or if we are parents, it is fundamental to understand that the Lord has a purpose for every single individual within the family unit. God Himself designed the family structure and wants us to know and accept its core values, while showing respect and compassion for our family members, as each grows older. Also God wants to bring others,that are around us (family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc..), to Himself. He wants to use us in whatever way our families may look like, to make His Name known, and to be a testimony of His presence in our lives.

Praise God for His Mercy upon us!

Text by Sarah & Chris

The Wisdom of Listening to God

The book of Proverbs prepares the reader with instructions for daily living in a world not yet reconciled to the fact that God is going to judge all mankind one day. In light of this. the Believer is expected to live righteously in the fear of the Lord and refrain from the seductive ways of the world. Solomon is responsible for three thousand wise sayings like these found in the book of Proverbs, yet he appears to be the most tragic figure in all of history. Though he was to be a type of Christ in the O.T. he turned out to be a living anomaly, for though he was favoured by God and granted great wisdom and had promising beginnings, he faded badly and failed to practise the wisdom that he was known for and taught during his forty year reign over Israel. You could say that he did not practise what he had preached! Another thing for certain is that in the later part of his life he appears to have lost a sense of God`s magnificence and glory, and one who had turned to the seductive ways of the world instead. In our thinking this conjures up a fork in the road from which Solomon chose to leave off the righteous path to follow after folly. That may be why Proverbs speaks so much about two separate ways of existence leading in two different directions with two entirely different endings on most every page from start to finish of this wonderful book. Small wonder then that the first nine chapters of Proverbs instructs and urges the reader to fear God for it is the beginning of wisdom from which the Believer is to adopt a perspective on life that belongs to God alone. True wisdom then must see life through God`s eyes or stated another way that our reliance must be on the Lord at all times and under every circumstance in life and that humble submission to his Lordship is needful from any who truly wish to know success and joy in life. Thus, the exhortation to embrace wisdom is illustrated for us in chapter 1:8 ff by a domestic situation where a father prepares his son for life in the world: Listen, my son, to your father`s instruction and do not forsake your mother`s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

This plea to listen to divine wisdom is a familiar one. Many Christian parents have indeed taught their children to receive wisdom from God and not to be led away or enticed by the world to leave off the old path of faith which godly parents have kept and not to join those who mock God and hate any knowledge from Him. Can there be anything more sorrowful for a Christian parent then to see their son or daughter reject the gospel and divine knowledge and instead claim a false and precarious way of life, steeped in sin and falsehoods? Conversely, great joy is felt when our children keep the paths of the righteous and have understood what it means to live in the fear of God.

Our hope for everyone of you whose children have been delivered from sin`s enslavement and punishment is that you rejoice and are thankful about the great work God has done in our families. Yet, for those who are waiting on the Lord to save their children, we must not lose hope but remain faithful and be vigilant to live godly lives and to petition God always trusting that one day we may see our children lay hold of the gospel with all their hearts. Doubtless that is a parents greatest passion for their children.

Recently, I sent a letter to my son in appreciation for what God had done in his life (enclosed below is the letter sent on his 22nd birthday while he was out of town serving at a Christian camp). God`s saving grace and mercy had been shown to him early and His grace has continued to be demonstrated in my son to this day. I can fully appreciate the words of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother. (Prov. 10:1) We who are parents have every reason to delight in Christ and in our children when Christ makes them His own. The father of a righteous man has great joy, he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad. (Prov. 23:24, 25)

Happy Birthday son,

We will carry on the tradition of taking you out or ordering in for a meal, whatever you like, once you return to us in a few weeks from your camp service. We all miss you. Yesterday, during our prayer time many prayed for you.

I have been thinking about you and Mom these last few days and am reminded that I am a blessed man for sure. When we had you people around us thought you were the near perfect baby. You made little fuss and really were a treat to take to services or any other place. Mom and I were very pleased to show you off. I think some even wanted one like you for themselves. Anyway, as you grew up we enjoyed your development at every stage. I will always remember in Marathon at the Church that you would take your blanket and retreat to some area of the rug to take a nap, and the many times we watched cartoons together or I told you stories while you dozed off. You were very teachable and that made for an easy upbringing. I can only hope that when you have a family that your kids are like you and then you will realize first hand the joy of parenthood as we did. You accepted our faith and our practices and made them your own. That is the most important thing for us is that you are a Christian and have shown it over the years. What parent can say that their son has been ministering to kids since the age of fifteen and has continued to this day. The fact that you will do anything that needs to be done from teaching to cleaning is a mark of a servant in God`s Kingdom. We love you very much for many things so it is not easy to define each one, but to say that our Daniel is a man after God`s own heart. You are not a blabber or a boaster, but quietly go about Christ business and in so doing make quite an impression and influence folk around you in the most positive manner. I suppose you call that integrity and being upright. You got it and praise the Lord we have had the experience and the right to call you our son. The Lord has gifted us with you and continues to enrich our lives by you. I am a proud father and a blessed man much in the way that Joseph must have been when he saw his son Jesus develop before his eyes. Of course you are not perfect like Him, but you are a good replica of what manhood is really all about. I love you very much and Mom does too!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANIEL!