Through the Narrow: When our Children Don’t Believe – By Gina Cook

Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him. The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.

We can often times look at other faithful Christian families and the sweet faces of their obedient and well-versed children and assume those parents must have all of their spiritual ducks in a row.  We wonder where we went wrong as our children only grow further from the Lord.  We are tempted to compare ourselves to the other parents, sometimes causing great and unnecessary discouragement in our own walk.  Although parents are called to lead their families in the Lord, and should take that responsibility seriously, I believe it’s also important to remember no matter the Christian family and what they do, their children may not respond in faith. 

Charles-Spurgeon-Quote

The family with Jesus

Joseph and Mary were faithful and humble followers of the Lord who had been chosen by God to be a part in His miraculous earthly arrival and given the blessing and honor to care for the growing Jesus.  They were people who loved and trusted God and His Word, and undoubtedly demonstrated this devotion to their entire family.  Sadly they also had to witness the rest of their children doubt Jesus as Messiah.  Their children, even into their adult years, didn’t believe.  The Savior was right there among them and still, they refused to see Him any more than just an obedient brother.  Sadly, they later came to the desperate conclusion that Jesus was insane (Mark 3:21). How heartbreaking that must have been for their devoted parents.

We know Mary and Joseph had four sons and an unknown number of daughters after Jesus was born (Matthew 13 and Mark 6).  It seems none of the siblings believed in Christ as Lord until after HIs resurrection (1 Corinthians 15, Acts 1:14).  After Joseph’s death, Mary didn’t have the spiritual support from the others in her immediate family.  Mary sat weeping at the cross where Jesus had to appoint the Apostle John as her caretaker because her actual sons were not only absent but simply not spiritually fit to care for her.  

“Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” John 19:25-27.  

It was obviously very difficult for the half-siblings to have a perfect older brother.  He wasn’t only perfect, He was the reason for your parent’s joy and salvation.  Joseph and Mary unquestionably had a special relationship with Jesus.  That probably caused resentment and the resentment only intensified as the years went on and as Jesus began to display His deity and preach His Word.   The level of rejection by those who were acquainted with Him the most is summed up in Mark 6:3-4: “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.”

As believing parents with unbelieving children, there is something we can really learn from that statement and from the unbelief of Jesus’ household.

The more righteousness and perfection is displayed in a home, the more the unbelievers may fight against it.  His perfect righteousness had only magnified the reality of the unbelievers’ desperate state; of their own wickedness.  

Jesus was loved and honored by his parents. Truth was personally present amongst the entire household.  The Light was living and breathing next to them.  Perfection resided with them and constantly showcased righteous living.  That exposed them all the more.

So we must remember, the more Christ is loved and honored in our own home, the more truth we hold fast to, the more righteousness we desire and exercise, the stronger our convictions and the deeper our knowledge of God’s Word, perhaps the greater hardening and quicker turning away for those in the house who are unrepentant.  

It’s the harsh reality that we read about in Matthew 10:34-36:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”  

Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him.  The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.”  In a Christian household, one child may be softened and saved and the other may be hardened and distant.  That shouldn’t cause us to hold back our love and devotion to the Lord and His Word.  We should strive harder to live for Him and share His Gospel.  We know the Gospel is the power of God for salvation.  

My own heartache

I’m going to give you a glimpse into the heartbreak of being a mother of unbelievers.  

I’m a mother of five wonderful kids and have been blessed with a stepson.  Their ages range from 6 to 23.  With a couple of adult children, a preteen, and two elementary-aged kids, we’re living in almost all phases of parenthood.  There was a time I thought I had a handle on this parenting-in-Christ thing.  It was when I only had two little ones to care for.  In our pretty little picture, we loved Jesus, talked about Jesus, prayed to Jesus, sang sweet songs to Jesus, and involved ourselves in the church activities with others like us.   As they grew, my kids were taught the serious things about God, not just the comfortable stuff.  We highly value gathering with the Church body and serving.  We pray together.  We test all things to Scripture and call out error when we see it.  We share the Gospel often.  

The point of saying all of this is to say the Truth is honored in our home- He is loved and desired- although very imperfectly. My husband and I know we are far from where we need to be as followers of Christ and parenting the way most honoring to Him, yet Christ is still central.

My kids have heard the whole Gospel countless times and each one has made a profession at one point.  Some of our kids have shown fruit.  Some have completely dropped their interest in Christ like a hot potato and have run in the opposite direction.  I have spent countless nights, tearfully praying for my children’s salvation.  I have had some very tough conversations with them.  I’ve pleaded and warned.  Seeing their resentment towards the Lord and hearing how the belief of Creation or in Christ Jesus is “not reasonable”, is devastating as a parent.  

It’s the bitter reality many of us face; no matter the upbringing, children will not always follow the way they are taught and shown. Sadly, this has been the reason for unnecessary shaming.  Parents of unbelievers may get the side-eye from others in the church.  They not only feel guilty but encouraged to feel guilty for something they can’t control. I’ve actually heard a church leader accuse a faithful family of being the cause of their children’s rebellion towards God.  They were unloving “legalists,” he said.  Looking closer, it was obvious they weren’t legalists, they were just unwavering on the Word of God and purely devoted to Him.  Their love for the Truth was solid; their love for Christ was unwavering and it caused divisions with their older children.    

Imagine going back in time and seeing Mary and Joseph’s other children as unbelievers.  Would that cause us to question Mary and Joseph’s heart with God?  Would we assume as parents they hadn’t taught God’s Word or enforced it appropriately with love?  Would we start to wonder if they were legalists?  We know Mary was a humble and submissive servant of God (Luke 1:28, 38, 48).  Joseph, called a righteous man (Matthew 1:19) was obedient to God and led his family in the instruction of God (Matthew 1:24, Matthew 2:14, 21).  They were obviously very faithful and humble people, who loved and obeyed Him.  

Would we accuse Mary and Joseph of being spiritual failures with their family?  No.  Yet these are the accusations we sometimes find ourselves spewing or receiving.  When we see faithful parents with unbelieving children who’ve gone off into the mire of the world we shouldn’t be too quick to assume the parents have failed their children.

First of all, Christ is the One Who saves.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Christ gets all the glory.  It wasn’t Mary or Joseph who eventually opened the eyes of the other children.  It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 we read, “For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”  In verse 7 we see Christ revealing Himself post-resurrection to his half-brother James.  It is Christ Who reveals Himself to James. Then we read in Acts 1:14, “All these were continually devoting themselves with one mind to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”  Praise God!

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

No one else can open eyes or soften hearts towards God but God Himself, through His Word.  

With that said, the Scripture is clear parents have a great responsibility to honor God and His Word.  We are given charge over our children’s spiritual nurturing.  All Christian parents are to teach the Word to their children and live as godly examples.  We want to be careful to not be a source of stumbling with any unnecessary provoking, discouragements, complacency, false teachings, or lack of compassion.  Perhaps we need to evaluate our parenting as we read the Word and be prepared to make some needed changes.  Perhaps we need to be more prayerful and intentional in our family devotions.  It’s true, we can always improve!  May God reveal any sin in us as we meditate on His Word.  

We do have a great responsibility but we are not the producer of our children’s faith.  Only God gets the glory and praise for that.

There is Always Hope

As we watch our children walk in the world, we should remember there is still hope.  We never want to say that there is no hope for our lost family.  We always pray for the prodigal’s homecoming.    

Even for a child not being raised by Christian parents there is hope.  No matter their childhood, a person can be saved.  I’m proof of that. With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26).  I know there are single mothers out there who love the Lord and grieve over the fact of the father is nowhere in the lives of their children. They see this causes the children to harden their hearts towards God even more.  The mothers do all they can but the resentment only increases in the teen years and early adulthood.  Godly fathers are extremely important and influential, the Bible is clear on that.  These single moms wonder if having no father, or no Christian father, means there’s little hope.  Timothy’s father was not a believer in the Lord.  His mother and grandmother were, and they lovingly and unwaveringly taught him the word of God.  Paul said to him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelled in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  (2 Timothy 1:5).  Paul also writes to Timothy “and 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.”  (2 Timothy 3:15).  Again, it’s the work of God through His Word that is the power of salvation.  

For any parent, keep shining the love and truth of Christ in your home, even if it makes clearer the division between you and your children.  

Keep teaching His Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) and most importantly don’t forsake your first Love (Revelation 2:1-7).  

In Luke 18:1 the parable of persistent prayer starts out with this:  “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged,”

Keep praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and don’t let discouragement take root.  Rest in Christ and His loving-kindness, almighty power, and willingness to hear your prayers.  Most of all, rest in His will no matter what it may be.  Several times Mary and Joseph exhibited their faith in the Lord although they endured ridicule and heartache.  They didn’t always see the fruit they desired to see.  Joseph didn’t live long enough to see his sons come to faith.  When we are at peace with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son we know, no matter what, we can trust the Lord with everything.  It’s all in His hands.  We are only His vessels.

For you parents who love the Lord and His Word, who teach their children the way they should go and yet have painfully witnessed your children’s growing disdain for the truth of God and increasing desire to live for the world, I hope this helps encourage you to remember there’s still hope for your children, don’t stop praying, and don’t beat yourself up.  God can work through impossible circumstances.  There is still hope and joy in the Lord no matter what His will is and no matter if your prayers seem unanswered.

What an amazing ending for Jesus’ half-siblings, that after years of deep resentment and jealousy and of viewing Jesus as just an insane man, they came to not only believe in Jesus as Christ but to be mightily used in their faithful service to God. 

Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27

All glory be to God!

Here are some links to check out:

https://www.gotquestions.org/godly-parenting.html

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-394/james-the-brother-of-our-lord

Homeschool Update – The Spelling Bee

Hello, and happy Saturday! I’m sorry I missed the MEGA list yesterday. This coming Monday is going to be a very exciting conversation with the Friendly Calvinist. His testimony is God glorifying, but make sure your have tissues handy! Most of our conversation revolves around social media, although he is the first guest we have ever had come prepared with their own Shenanigans, so there are going to be some laughs! Thats pretty much the only update I have for the podcast. So, let’s move on to homeschooling.

Kayliegh is officially entered into her first ever spelling bee! I’ve never seen her study so hard, although she already had a knack for spelling. We replaced our ordinary spelling lists with the lists we were given for the contest. It’s going to happen early in January, so she does have some catching up to do as far as memorization goes. The neat thing I wanted to mention about this spelling bee is that it was set up by an older Homeschooling student! There are adults over-seeing it, of course, but she has personally gone around town collecting prizes from local business. Once a week she hosts a live feed on FaceBook where the students are given a word from their list, which they are instructed to type next to their initials. Not only is this great practice for the words, but it’s also teaching typing! At the end of each live feed every child who participated is entered to win a small prize. Again, this was put together by someone half my age.

This was exciting on two levels, first, and most obvious, is that Kayliegh is participating with other homeschooling families. She’s getting the experience, she’s going to learn the benefit of hard work and study. Second, homeschoolers can do set up events, we’re not limited by keeping our children out of Public School. Not everyone has the ability, or even the option, to homeschool, no parent shaming here. But, for those of us that can, it helps to know what a wonderful world of opportunity there is when we are called home. That’s my only update for you today, but I do have a question. If you homeschool, or were homeschooled, did you do lessons all the way up until Christmas? As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!

The Importance of Balance in Homeschooling

Instead of an update I want to talk about an issue that I’ve noticed in our own home. For a long time I thought it was just me, until we started participating in homeschooling events and I was able to get to know other parents. A very poorly kept secret is that we all tend to feel as if we’re not getting enough done. I was so blessed to hear believing sisters encouraging one another to push through the bad days. I couldn’t believe it, other parents were struggling like I was! One thing I’ve figured out is that balance is imperative.

What do I mean by balance? Well, for me personally I homeschool, blog, podcast, clean, cook, manage the bank and bills, study, pray, read and research. Do you see a missing component? My marriage is the missing component. This is where the balance was off in our home, I kept trying to tend to other things while spending “time” with my husband. The results were that I felt the weight of the work load without a partner, and my husband had no idea. He’s incredibly helpful, and great at time management. I was ignoring the most important ministry in my life, and everything else was suffering from it. Finding balance in this area meant putting everything aside and giving him my full attention when we have the chance to.

When I did that something really neat happened, I talked to him about all the issues I was having. He sat down with me and helped me with balancing it all, and I’ve had a much easier year of homeschooling. He had some great advice too, that I hope will be a blessing to you all as well. He told me that if I get overwhelmed I need to stop, I’m not going to be able to teach like that anyway. Set up a fun project, something that can give me a moment to calm down and recollect my thoughts. That has been a tremendous help. Spending the extra time with him has also gotten us on the same page with Kayliegh’s lessons.

God has given us a partner in our spouses, what a kindness! I was confusing time together with time alone, or maybe qualify time alone. With a better balance in this area the trickle down affect was amazing, we worked together to get the remaining issues resolved. It’s been a very productive year, and that’s all owed to the grace God has given me in providing me with a partner. Delegation is difficult, nearly as difficult as even admitting we need help, but we need to utilize everything we have at our disposal for teaching our kiddos. That’s why I encourage you all to find other homeschooling groups in your area, yesterday we went to a museum with a group of homeschoolers. We had a blast! What areas do you have trouble balancing in parenting or homeschooling? As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.