Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Teaching and Protecting

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Maybe she’s describing your life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We get so caught up in the dailyness of survival. As a mom, that’s an easy thing to have happen. You've got to get them clothed. You've got to get them to school on time. You've got to get them fed. You've got to get them to piano lessons and soccer practice. Many of these daily tasks can sometimes cause a mom to lose sight of the big picture.

Leslie: It’s Monday, May 7, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. As you run around today shuffling kids from one activity to another, you’re passing on a legacy whether you realize it or not. What are your kids learning from you today? Think about that question as Nancy continues a series she started last week called Leaving a Godly Legacy.

Nancy: Christian teenagers are moving further away from the truths of the Bible. This was the finding of a recent Barna Research Group report. The report went on to say teens are more likely than adults to reject the existence of Satan. These are teenagers considered Christian teenagers. They’re more likely than adults to believe in salvation by good deeds and to contend that Jesus was a sinner. They accept distorted theology from their parents, friends, and popular American entertainment.

The report went on to say, “Something radical has got to happen to fix the problem. The solution is beyond the capabilities of churches and the answer rests with families, which [according to George Barna] must become more diligent and reliable in the religious training they provide to their children.”

That report brings us back to the passage we’ve been looking at over the past several sessions, Psalms 127 and 128, where we’re looking at insights about how to build up a new generation that has a heart and a hunger for the ways of God. The principle we’re going to look at today is that it is so important as parents and as adults in the church that we teach the next generation the Word and the ways of God.

Now we talked in an earlier session about the importance of modeling the ways of God to the next generation. There’s no value in teaching the ways of God if we’re not living the ways of God. That’s why we put modeling first. But having demonstrated God’s truth with our lives, we also need to speak the truth to the young people, to the children of this generation.

Barna’s report was just really affirming the truth of Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 6, where Moses said to the children of Israel as they were preparing to go into the Promised Land, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” First of all, we have to embrace the ways of God.

Then he said, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6: 7-9).

Proverbs talks about the importance of the instruction of a father and the law of a mother. These are fathers and mothers teaching the next generation the ways of God. In Proverbs chapter 4, we see both modeling and instruction brought together in one verse where David says to his son, Solomon, “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths” (Proverbs 4:11). We need both of these together—leading by our lives and then teaching by our lips.

Sometimes I think we just expect that they’re going to catch this somehow—by osmosis. We get so caught in the dailyness of survival. As a mom, that’s an easy thing to have happen. You've got to get them clothed. You've got to get them to school on time. You've got to get them fed. You've got to get them to piano lessons and soccer practice. Many of these daily tasks can sometimes cause a mom to lose sight of the big picture.

Don’t just expect your children to catch spiritual truth. Realize the importance of consciously teaching them the Word and the ways of God. I think we need to be reminded that this is not primarily the responsibility of the youth group. It’s not primarily the responsibility of the Christian school.

Now I thank the Lord that I was brought up in a Christian school. I’m so grateful for the blessing of Christian education. I’m thankful to have been brought up in churches where through Sunday school and youth groups we were taught the ways of God, but my parents did not expect the church or the school to do the job that God had entrusted to them as parents. They made a habit of talking about the things of God—not just in family devotions.

Now, I’ll tell you my parents made a valiant effort over many years to have family devotions, and I think the most important thing I got out of that was that they made a valiant effort. When you have seven children with a wide range of ages and as rambunctious as most of us were and are, it’s not easy. I can’t say that those family devotions times were all great theological training times, but we knew that my parents valued time that we would spend around the Word of God.

I will tell you this: I came to know Jesus as a little girl and first trusted Christ as my Savior as a direct result of our family devotional time. So I believe in this, but I also believe that family devotions is really a way of life. It’s the teaching of the ways of God day in and day out. I’m so thankful for parents who weren’t afraid to talk about the Lord in the context of everyday life, relating the ways of God and the Word of God to what was happening in all of our lives.

This is not something that can be delegated to someone else—teachers, friends, youth group workers, Sunday school teachers. These can be a help. They can be an asset and a blessing and a supplement, but the primary task for passing on the baton of truth to the next generation is in the hands of moms and dads.

I realize this will go against the grain of what many believe and teach today, but as I study the Word of God, I believe there is need for consistent, steady, intentional indoctrination in the ways of God. I believe that if you don’t indoctrinate your children, your young people in what to think, someone else will.

The television will. Their friends will. People that don’t know the ways and the heart of God will indoctrinate, and they will indoctrinate intentionally. The media will come at your children with a message and will say, “This is what’s right.” That’s why it’s so important that you teach your children, “This is what’s right, and this is what’s wrong.”

We’ve been fed a bill of goods today that it’s up to your children to decide what they want to believe and you just give them some alternatives. That’s the world’s way, but it’s not God’s way. Your children left to themselves will not choose God’s way. That’s why you need to indoctrinate them in the ways of God.

It should concern us today that frequently what teenagers think and believe is given equal value and equal weight or even greater weight than the wisdom of their elders. It’s important that you teach your children that their peers are not the supreme authority. They should not be getting their view of life from their peers. You teach them that God has given older people, parents, godly older people wisdom in the ways of God. Of course, they’re not to listen to every older person, but any older person who’s teaching in the ways of God, they need to learn to value that counsel.

We need to teach the next generation to know and to love the law of God. Now that’s not real popular today, to talk about the law of God. But the law has purpose. Ultimately, the law is part of what brings us to Christ and shows us our need for Christ. It shows us the holiness of God. Then teach your children how that law of God applies to practical, everyday matters of life, how it provides wisdom for every area of life.

Over the last couple days, I’ve been thinking about some of the specific things that my parents taught us—things that I’m thankful we have learned from them about application of the laws and the ways of God. Things like how to earn a living, principles of financial freedom, principles of spending, principles of giving, principles about how to choose the right kind of friends.

By the way, when it came to matters of dating, as we called it then and others I know look at that a little differently today, but as they talked to us about this matter of relationships with members of the opposite sex and how to not give away your heart prematurely—the importance of never, ever dating a young man (for us as daughters) who did not have a heart for God. It was unthinkable in our family to consider dating a nonbeliever. This was something that would not be considered because of teaching that we learned from our parents.

The importance of how to handle pressure, how to handle conflict, how to handle disagreements, how to vote, God’s kind of biblical principles of government. The importance of establishing good habits. I can still hear my dad talking about how important it is to establish good habits because it’s so difficult to break bad habits.

My dad had a real thing also about our becoming Christian ladies and gentlemen, as he said it. That’s what he wanted for us. So our parents stressed the importance of manners—good manners. The importance of orderliness. The importance of using time wisely. How to make a marriage work—the permanence of marriage.

So many important lessons for life that I learned at the feet of my parents by their conscious teaching of the ways of God.

So we ask ourselves, how effectively am I teaching the Word and the ways of God to the next generation? Am I making a conscious effort to pass on the baton of truth to those who will follow behind me?

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss challenging each parent to purposely teach their children. She’ll be right back with the second half of today’s teaching. She’s in the middle of a series based on Psalm 127 and 128 called Leaving a Godly Legacy.

Imagine a few weeks from now your kids are doing everything they possibly can to wear out your patience and you come across a beautifully designed card on your refrigerator with the words of Psalm 127 printed on one side. Suddenly you remember today’s Revive Our Hearts. You’re passing on a legacy. Be purposeful. God will help you do this.

In order to make that scenario possible, we want to send you a beautifully designed bookmark with the words of Psalm 127 on one side and some quotes from Nancy on the other. It works as a bookmark, but it’s so attractive, it could be displayed anywhere that’ll catch your attention, like the refrigerator.

We’d like to send you five of these bookmarks so you can enjoy one and pass some on to other parents. You don’t have to order anything or pay a dime for these bookmarks. Just ask for them at 1-800-569-5959 or look for this special offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Let’s get back to Nancy and the series, Leaving a Godly Legacy.

Nancy: We come in this session to what I think is a principle that my parents applied so effectively in our home. I thank the Lord for their understanding of this truth, and that is that we need to take responsibility for the influences that our children are exposed to. We need to take responsibility as parents, as adults, for the influences that we allow our children to be exposed to.

Now this goes two ways. First, we need to protect the next generation, as they’re coming along, from ungodly influences—protect them from ungodly or unwise or unhealthy influences.

I think of that passage in Psalm 101 where David says, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:2-3). David’s saying, “I want to protect my own mind, my own heart, and I want to guard those in my home from ungodly influences.”

That word “wicked” in that verse—“I will set no wicked thing before my eyes”—really is the word for vain or foolish or empty. Though I don’t think David knew anything about the television, but the Holy Spirit did when he inspired that. It reminds me of so much of the influence of the television in our homes today. It’s become a part of our furniture and a part of our way of thinking and living.

I have to thank the Lord for parents who decided early in their marriage that they would not have a television in our home. Now I’m not saying if you have a television in your home you can’t raise a godly family. I will tell you I believe it’s a lot harder. There was value in protecting us from what then was only about three channels, but now there’s so much more selection, not just in the programming, but even in the advertising.

If you’re going to have a television in your home, you as a parent have a responsibility to make sure that your children are not being exposed to ways of thinking, to philosophies that are not in accordance with God’s Word.

Now it would have been easy for my mother with seven children—six in her first five years of marriage—to use the television as a babysitter. I’m sure there were times when she would have been tempted to think that way. But I thank the Lord that they had the wisdom to say, “We’re not going to allow our children to be exposed to these kinds of influences.”

It wasn’t just matters of media—the television. It had to do with friends, with music, with entertainment, with reading material. Parents who said, “We’re going to protect you from ungodly, unwholesome influences.”

Now the goal was that when we got out on our own, we would have the heart to make the right choices on our own. Protecting your children from ungodly influences is just a part of your responsibility in relation to the influences that your children are exposed to. The other part is the importance of providing godly influences for your children. That takes time and effort and work and thought and preparation.

My dad would read ahead of time through devotional books, through readings that he’d come across that he’d want to share with our family. He spent time thinking through what to expose our family to that would be godly, the books that they exposed us to. We always had good reading material in our family. Most of us, by the way, grew up loving to read. When you don’t have a television, it’s easier to learn to love to read.

We also grew up playing with each other and doing things together, talking with each other. Sometimes it was arguing with each other, but it was communication with each other. They provided for us music that would have a godly influence in our lives.

Your children should not be choosing the music that’s being played in your home. Now I’m talking about smaller children here. I’m not saying that as your children get older they shouldn’t be a part of the process with you. But their choices, if they are not godly choices, should not be controlling and determining what the family choices are. That’s the parents’ responsibility as long as those children are in your home.

I thank the Lord for the blessing of growing up hearing music that taught us the ways and the heart of God. I grew up hearing the great hymns of the faith and learning to sing through all stanzas of hymns that are hardly familiar to today’s young people. That was the way that many of the ways of God were brought into our system—kind of like an IV—as my parents chose the kinds of influences they wanted us to be exposed to.

In this matter of heroes, my parents brought into our home and around our family people who were godly role models. We often had pastors and missionaries and Christian workers and godly businessmen and men and women of God staying in our home. I remember as a child growing up just looking up with awe at some staff members of a Christian ministry who spent time in our home. Those were the men and women that I looked up to, and I wanted to be like them.

There were times during my teenage years when I didn’t always appreciate hearing the truth from my parents, when I didn’t always respect as I should have the way that they communicated truth. But they had wisely put around us some godly friends who supplemented, who were saying exactly the same thing, at times when I needed to still be hearing the ways and the Word of God.

Let me read to you an excerpt of something that I wrote in my book, Lies Women Believe, where I talked about this matter of the influences that we were exposed to growing up. Here’s what I wrote:

I was a very sheltered young person. I don’t recall ever hearing a single word of profanity before graduating from high school. [It’s probably hard to believe today.] I knew virtually nothing about the popular cartoon characters, movies, or television programs of the day.

But, by God’s grace and thanks to the influence of godly parents, there are some things I did know that few other young people knew. I knew the difference between right and wrong. I had a good overview of the Scripture—in addition to family devotions and sound doctrinal preaching in the church, our elementary school curriculum included two journeys through the entire Bible.

I had hidden large portions of Scripture in my heart, had a basic understanding of the major doctrines of the Christian faith and could sing from memory all the stanzas of many theologically rich hymns. I had read the biographies of many true heroes—men and women such as Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, William Carey and Gladys Aylward.

Even more than “knowing” all these things, I had a vital, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus—a relationship that would sustain me when I was out on my own and would motivate me to make right choices once I was outside the protective walls of our home. The “faith of our fathers” had become my own.

I’m not boasting about any of these things. I can’t take any credit at all—they were gifts from the Lord and from parents who took seriously the responsibility to raise godly sons and daughters.

Children will cultivate an appetite for whatever they are fed in their earliest, formative years. I have known young people from “committed” Christian homes who know more about movie stars and rock groups than they do about the patriarchs or the disciples. They can sing along with all the top hit songs but do not know the great hymns of the faith. I can only assume that they have an appetite for what they have been exposed to.

And here’s how I concluded this section:

If we allow our children to listen to music, attend movies, read books and magazines, and hang out with friends that promote profanity, negative attitudes, illicit sex, rebellion, and violence, we should not be surprised when they adopt the world’s philosophies.

God intended that our homes should be like a greenhouse, a potting place for young, tender plants, where they could be nurtured and brought up in the ways of God until they were prepared to go out into the world and withstand the attacks and the storms of life outside your home.

Let me just say to you as moms, don’t be afraid, you and your husband, to say no to your children. Remember, they’re not in charge. God’s given you that responsibility. Now there may be moments when you’re not their best friend, but that’s okay. They will rise up and call you blessed as I do my parents today.

So let me ask you: Are you protecting those under your care from ungodly influences, those that God has entrusted to you—the children? Those that you’re influencing. Those in your sphere of influence. Are you protecting them from ungodly influences? Even more importantly, are you providing the kinds of influence that will create in them a hunger for God? That will cause them to say, “I want to know God as you do.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has gotten me thinking. Are there any potential dangers in my kids’ lives, and how can I show them how exciting a godly life is? These are the types of questions Nancy is provoking in parents during her series, Leaving a Godly Legacy.

If you’ve missed any, you can order a copy on CD and get some important perspective on investing in the lives of your children. You can order at ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can look at our improved Revive Our Hearts Tote Bag. I didn’t say new and improved because it’s not exactly new. We retained parts of the design that women loved in our last tote bag, but we improved the quality of the bag itself.

As you head into summer, you’ll have more needs for carrying things around and this bag will be a good conversation starter while you do it. You can explain the verse from Colossians that’s printed on the bag when people ask you about it. That verse says to "Put on . . . compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience." Take a look for yourself at ReviveOurHearts.com or order by calling 1-800-569-5959.

If your child wanted to do God’s will, would you encourage them even if it took them far away to a dangerous part of the world? Consider that tomorrow as the series, Leaving a Godly Legacy continues.

Now let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Give us wisdom, Father, about how our lives can be a godly influence on those in the next generation. And then I pray for moms in this room in particular. Would You give them courage? Would you give them wisdom to know in their homes how to protect their children from unwholesome, ungodly influences and how to bring into those homes the kind of influence that will lead their children toward righteousness? We pray for Jesus’ sake, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

 

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