I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth
If any of you have had children or loved ones that did not conform to your Christian faith, you will understand this writing.
We raised our 3 children "in church", but sadly, as we later discovered, our kids knew far more about "church" than they did God, Jesus, or the scriptures. Although our oldest held on to Jesus through the difficult teen years, our other two became totaly bored with, and openly rebellious to our family's church attendance.
Being the "faithful" and supportive church members we were, we forced them to go with us to church because "OUR FAMILY GOES TO CHURCH!", "THAT'S WHY!". But inside, even Linda and myself were becoming disillusioned with the church routine and programs, as we struggled to do what we had faithfully done for the 20 years of our married life.
The 10 minute drive to the church became a heated battle zone and by the time I walked through the door, none of us were feeling very Godly or worshipful. The services did not help either because they were dry and predictable and the sense of close fellowship had been lost long before, even though we still cared for the people at our assembly. My wife dutifully labored at her choir-leader role, we tithed and gave, we attended mid-week meetings, but it had all become hollow.
Looking back, I really can't blame them. We had substituted a Sunday routine for a living, life-changing experience. Mundane youth classes and philisophical sermons were sensible but as dry as the summer hills.
For our two sons, the icing on the cake was when our church did a big production called "Hotel Hallelujah" in which church members pantomimed the roles of saints and sinners. The hard rock numbers such as Kurt Cobain and Nirvana struck a strong and rebellious nerve in our boys and it was through this production that they quickly went through a door into the world of dark and satanic music.
There were other tragedies and spiritual fallout in the wake of this "church play", and our family entered into the stormy waters of adolescent rebellion. The next 5 years were our most painful, challenging, and crushing. However, the Lord used those same elements to drive Linda and I to our knees and have our own revival and renewal. -right at home.
We "prayed through" to a fresh Spirit-filled walk with God, and we returned to diligent study of the Bible from which both our church and ourselves especially, had apostasized.
And we did the unimaginable, we left the church we had helped establish.
But what about our children?
Today we are thankful that our daughter is following the Lord whom she never really departed from, although she was sorely tested. Our oldest son, has recently repented, and the change in him is miraculous. Only last night he was at a local football game WITNESSING, something none of our old church youth group did, although they did go to Great America and some Christian concerts. He went by himself to witness and talk about the Lord. He is reading and studying the scriptures and praying.
So if you will indulge me a bit here, we are using this to publicly thank the Lord Jesus for this great and mighty miracle.
Several years ago, we took hold of a number of scriptures and claimed them by faith, for our family, and we would like to share them with you:
Proverbs 11:21 Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
Isaiah 54:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Acts 2:39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him
Acts 16: 31
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house
Yes, the Lord does save, heal, and deliver both us AND our children.
I really like the way David Eells said this verse in 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy....
He said it thus: "the children are set apart for special treatment by the Lord". Thus, by faith in the promise, they are sanctified, i.e., set apart for special treatment from God Almighty. Do you believe God knows how to get through to them?
So we trust in God who has the power to change their heart and draw them to Himself. -and we quit trying to reason, counsel, and manipulate them into Christian discipleship. Do you know what we found out? -it is that God does a much better job than us if we get out of the way. Our part was to live and serve the KING, and pray for them in faith that God would perform His Word in all of us.
God's job is to convict and bring them to repentence. We are witnesses to a mighty miracle and rejoicing over our prayers being answered. As with all of God's promises we obtain through faith, the Lord desires we stand, hold fast, and openly confess the "things which are not seen" "as though they are".
Praise be to God.