Happy New Year, is the greeting we are hearing today as we wish blessings on each other for this new year and new decade. It brings with it such great expectations but it also holds great responsibilities. Nothing much has changed from the start of yesterday, it's just another day. It is us who act as if there is some significance in the passing of a year and as such it is our attitude that also changes. The most significant thing about this day is that it brings us another day closer to the return of Jesus. This should also bring to mind that there are certain things we can expect as well as certain responsibilities we cannot afford to ignore as we come closer to this reality.
This is a time of reflection as we consider the many lists that come out at this time of the year. We have the top 10 news stories of the year, the top 20 songs of the year, the top 10 movies of the year and so on. I wonder what our personal top ten lists would look like; my top ten life-changing events; my top ten significant people in my life; my top ten best moments, and so on. One thing I know is that many of these lists will be changing as we progress closer to the event of Jesus' return. Many of the prophecies give us glimpses into the changing world and Jesus warned us of some of these things. Even the Apostle Paul was given some knowledge into our future. Through him the Spirit warned us:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
I think most of us will recognize that this time is already upon us but most people either do not recognize it or do not recognize the danger of it. Many people look for this false teaching to come from behind the pulpit and it is good to be on your guard, however, most of the danger is found in the day-to-day stuff we allow to fill our minds. Actually, it is amazing how people who so correctly discern the Word are so blind to what they are allowing into their mind from other sources. It is not that they allow these things in as much as they do it with no guard in place. In every television show, every movie, every news cast, every game, every school lesson, these is a philosophy and perspective being taught. We drink it in without a thought and our thinking process molds it to fit into our Biblical understanding. Those who are weak in the Spirit and in the Word soon have a distorted understanding of Jesus, the Church and our place in it.
Most parents are blissfully unaware of the philosophies being taught over the Internet and through the games and movies that make up the world of our children. Such things lay in their thoughts until they are old enough to start taking action. When some parents become aware of what is happening they take swift action by denying such things to their children, but unfortunately such action is far too late. Taking these things away now will just cause anger, resentment and a great deal of turmoil. Although it will be impossible to avoid confrontation when parents insist on certain behaviours, the best approach is countering the perspective and philosophies with the truth. Parents need to take a proactive approach by being involved in their children's world, showing where the false teaching is and covering it with the truth.
The dawn of this wonderful age of communication, knowledge and creativity brings with it the good and the bad, as well as the fact that parenting has become harder not easier. I live in a part of the world where parents are shut out of the medical life of their children at the age of 14 years. At this age girls can decide on abortion without the parents knowledge, they are given sexual activity counselling from their doctor without parents knowledge, children can make decisions about surgery without parent input. One 14 year old daughter took her father to court because he took the internet away from her and the judge ruled that the father could not deny his daughter this right. I doubt this relates to your part of the world but I use it to show that the world's attitude towards our children is changing and we need to be as active and involved as possible so that when there is a choice our children will want us to be involved.
The world is continuing to change and we must understand that these changes are reflected in the values found in movies, tv shows, music, and computer games. It is no longer an exception for people to live together, it is now the norm. The acceptance of homosexuality has gone beyond the norm but is now indoctrinated into our children in many schools as well as TV shows. Even euthanasia is debated in the schools, is shown in a positive light in the movies, is portrayed as an acceptable alternative in the news and is being planted as a seed in the generation moving toward government. We won't even bother discussing abortion because you are aware where the world is concern the murder of innocent children. Without the strong hand of guidance in our children's lives, these teachings, philosophies and perspectives are taking root in our children. They are beyond the influence of a twenty, forty, sixty minute sermon once a week. They learn much differently now, and the enemy knows it and is busy teaching our children through these new methods.
The first step parents need to take is to know the Word themselves. We need to be people of study, taking on the responsibility of instructing our children. We need to be people of prayer, teaching our children to pray and praying with them. We need to be people of the Spirit, learning to be sensitive and obedient to the Spirit so we can teach this to our children. We need to be active parents, teaching our children how to serve Jesus in our communities, taking them with us to volunteer in service projects. We need to show our children that there is more to Christianity than a bunch of words and rules, that there is real depth to living in Christ Jesus and him living in us. We have to stop relying on the Sunday School teacher to instill in 60 minutes the values that will be attacked during the other 6700 minutes in our children's week. We need the Sunday School teachers but even more we need parents to take their proper place.
I know the truth of this as I watch my three oldest children struggle in the philosophies of this world, turning their back on Jesus. I taught the values of Jesus in my home but I left the Biblical instruction to Sunday School and their Christian School. Now they have turned their back on Jesus and as they talk to me I hear the voice and philosophies of the world. I see the same in my friends' children and I realize how uninvolved we were in our children's world. We were not there to see the teachings they were subjected to in the games, movies and music and we were not there to defend them. Parents, we need to wake up to the fact that the enemy has had a plan to rob us of this generation, to try to starve out the Body of Christ.
I am not panicking because I know the Word and I see that God already knew what was coming. I see his attitude in the prodigal son and the lost sheep. I know he will chase after my children, never giving up. I know where I was at the age of 17 and I know the extraordinary measures Jesus went through to bring me home. I know this but I am also much more aware of my part in it. I have six more children and I will do everything I can be be part of their lives, to be that hand of guidance, to counteract the plan of the enemy, to help them to see the beauty of God and his plan for them. The world is only going to get darker and people are going to deny the light with greater force. We need to be aware of how our own thinking is changing when we are not in the Word and we need to be aware of the effect on our children who are yet too young to fully understand.
If you consider today a day of making new decisions and promises, then make the decision to become the defender of your children. Start playing their games with them and teach them as you do. Watch movies with them and point out what God's Word says about it. Use these times as an opportunity to reveal God's heart, become their teachers and guides in a world that is becoming uglier by the day. Stand with your children now so that they will stand with Christ in the days of great trials ahead of them. Please be aware, we will have to give account for what we have done with everything that our Father has given to us. May this new year, new decade be filled with a growing awareness of our responsibilities along with the strength and determination to follow through on those responsibilities until the day of Christ's return and may the Lord bless our children with great wisdom and discernment.