James 5:1 (KJV) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Division & Separation at Christmas

This letter is written on behalf of the many Christian parents who are spending Christmas alone because their children's spiritual lives do not reflect the faith and values which they were taught. There are thousands of versions of this scenario. If you have had a close relationship with your child, you might consider a letter.

"To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 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. 2 Tim 1:2-5

Dear Child,

Can you still remember all the wonderful Christmases we have had? I remember all of us sitting down at the table and one of us reading the Christmas story from Luke. And what a joyful time of conversation and laughter we had! Our conversations were so full of substance, so full of the Lord, as we discussed experiences with Him, as we celebrated His birth. We were all committed to the Lord. It was the major part of our lives. We had such wonderful philosophical conversations, such substance.

The past few years He is hardly mentioned. The scripture isn't read. The conversation isn't focused on the Lord, but on unimportant and mundane things - too often on self and self-interests and personal opinions. No one seems to have any stories of how the Lord is working in our lives.

The scales have tipped. Now we have heretics praying at your Christmas table while committed Christians are expected to listen in silence. Last year, for instance, we had to listen to the prayer of one who has deceived himself and everyone else into believing he is a Christian - even a minister, no less. Then he proceeded to insist, as he pounded his fist on the table for emphasis, that "everything is god...this table is god!" In years past, such a thing would never happen. Such an apostate would never have been invited after we had striven with him so many times, had presented the gospel to him for so many years, and he was still unsaved. We would have brushed the dust off our shoes and moved on to those who would listen.

"Whoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." 2 John 1:9-11.

Of course no one would follow that scripture anymore. It's politically incorrect. It might cause disagreements, even arguments. Someone's feelings might get hurt. Someone might be offended. We can't speak the truth or be obedient to such a disagreeable scripture. We've forgotten how offensive Jesus Christ was to the majority of those around Him.

Can you imagine if your grandparents ever asked you to come over and do some lawn chores (and even pay you!) that you ever would have turned them down, saying, "No, I don't think so." And yet we have repeatedly gotten this answer from our grandson. Never once did he say he would. We finally stopped asking.

Can you imagine if your granddad asked you to go fishing that you would ever have turned him down? Or to go around the skeet range? Or to the archery range? The only time our grandson ever said yes was when we offered to buy him a new suit. It's been obvious for a long time now that we should never plan turn to him for even the simplest of help. If a person turns down the small things, he will certainly not be there for the large ones. That's a very tragic thing ... even more so for him than for us.

Remember how you had real conversations with your grandma and grandpa? And how you would listen respectfully as they often offered you advice? And yet over the years we have asked question after question to try and get our grandson to share his life with us, and he just shrugs his shoulders or gives a 2-3 word answer that ends the inquiry. He had so much fun with us once. We never thought it would change.

And then, there's our granddaughter who we have loved since she was a little girl. But, we all experienced our first family betrayal (ever) by her hand, and it brought grief and heartache to the entire family. I hear she will be there for Christmas. Did she call you on the phone of her own volition with tears and repentance to beg forgiveness? Has she been deeply questioned as to her spiritual state - whether she is born again? Or did she finagle her way back through deceit and deceptions?

This friend she is bringing - is he a Christian? Will he be asked about his spiritual condition when he visits, or is this off bounds? If so, then she is about to once again make a fatal error. Of course, since you must "insist" that conversation be monitored "because we just want the family to be together and have an enjoyable time without bringing anything negative in that setting..." That kind of enjoyable time is phony, meaningless, without substance, and an invitation to more heartache, since the goal is to make sure no one feels guilty or uncomfortable ... or face the truth, all of which should be discussed before she and her friend are ever invited to your family Christmas. We certainly don't want to be a party to anything "negative" like right and wrong, or ... truth.

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." 2 Thess 3:6.

"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (v. 14,15)

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." Romans 16:17

I can't soon forget the incredibly arrogant and insolent 'stare-down' by my grandson, while asking me, "What makes your opinion better than mine?" Can you imagine in your wildest dreams ever speaking to your own grandparents in such a manner? The boy is a fool if he is really under the impression that he is as wise and knowledgeable as his grandparents. No Christian adult would - or should - tolerate such devilish behavior, and by so doing sanction it.

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers [even teenage teachers], having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." 2 Tim 4:2-5

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:34-37

And then the satanic tattoos - open disobedience to God's Word - which we can assure you came in some fashion from the whole video game and rock music scene which we tried to warn you about several times, even trying to educate you that the Christian rock came from the rock music scene; but you brushed it off. I know that it's hard for you to believe, but we have a lot of expertise in this area. If I may say so, a lot more than all of you combined. But, as the Bible says, "a prophet is without honor in his own country," something Christ Himself had to put up with. Actually, he didn't put up with it. He refused to stay there; he moved on to more fertile soil.

You have evidently forgotten that your parents have an element of insight and wisdom in this very area. So, while others see fit to value our opinions on such matters, it's getting rather tedious (and unscriptural) to be so dishonored by our own family, which continues to get into various kinds of fixes that could have been avoided had anyone asked or listened to the wisdom of their elders.

And, then there's June. Last year when someone made a (rare) comment about the Second Coming of Christ, she blew it off with a wave of her hand and a rude comment. Oddly, she irks us less than any other person there, since there are no pretenses going on with her. She's an open and confessed non-believer.

Somehow we lose our Christmas joy when we think of enduring another evening where we can only expect these types of things. And, fortunately, we know scores of other couples who no longer spend holidays with their children. We can get together and share our faith in meaningful and blessed conversation.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Tim 3:1-5

I could go on, but will spare us both. I leave you with this:

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" 1 Peter 5:5-6

If you examine all of this, I think you can surely see how your behavior toward your grandparents was worlds away from the behavior of your own children toward us, his grandparents.

These things are for the benefit of each of you, to make each of you have a healthier relationship with each other, to be healthier people yourselves, and to be what the Lord wants you to be. You need to re-learn the basics, and teach them to your family. I have been very truthful here, but with the kindness of a parent, I trust. I'm going to end with an important article.

Honor Thy Father and Mother

Honoring your father and mother is being respectful in word and action and having an inward attitude of esteem for their position. The Greek word for honor means “to revere, prize, and value.” Honor is giving respect not only for merit but also for rank. For example, some Americans may disagree with the President’s decisions, but they should still respect his position as leader of their country. Similarly, children of all ages should honor their parents, regardless of whether or not their parents “deserve” honor.

God exhorts us to honor father and mother. He values honoring parents enough to include it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) and again in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Honoring parents is the only command in Scripture that promises long life as a reward. Those who honor their parents are blessed (Jeremiah 35:18-19). In contrast, those with a “depraved mind” and those who exhibit ungodliness in the last days are characterized by disobedience to parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2).

Solomon, the wisest man, urged children to respect their parents (Proverbs 1:8; 13:1; 30:17). Although we may no longer be directly under their authority, we cannot outgrow God’s command to honor our parents. Even Jesus, God the Son, submitted Himself to both His earthly parents (Luke 2:51) and His heavenly Father (Matthew 26:39). Following Christ’s example, we should treat our parents the way we would reverentially approach our heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:9; Malachi 1:6).

Obviously, we are commanded to honor our parents, but how? Honor them with both actions and attitudes (Mark 7:6). Honor their unspoken as well as spoken wishes. “A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the command of God to honor their father and mother. They were obeying the letter of the law, but they had added their own traditions that essentially overruled it. While they honored their parents in word, their actions proved their real motive. Honor is more than lip service. The word “honor” in this passage is a verb and, as such, demands a right action.

We should seek to honor our parents in much the same way that we strive to bring glory to God—in our thoughts, words, and actions. For a young child, obeying parents goes hand in hand with honoring them. That includes listening, heeding, and submitting to their authority. After children mature, the obedience that they learned as children will serve them well in honoring other authorities such as government, police, and employers.

While we are required to honor parents, that doesn’t include imitating ungodly ones (Ezekiel 20:18-19). If a parent ever instructs a child to do something that clearly contradicts God’s commands, that child must obey God rather than his/her parents (Acts 5:28).

Honor begets honor. God will not honor those who will not obey His command to honor their parents. If we desire to please God and be blessed, we should honor our parents. Honoring is not easy, is not always fun, and certainly is not possible in our own strength. But honor is a certain path to our purpose in life—glorifying God. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).

Royal Heir