COVENANTAL FAMILIES: BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP LEADS TO BIBLICAL CONVERSATIONS PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families

 

Over dinner, new homeschooling parents lamented to us how their pastor suspected that they had an agenda to proselytize other church parents to stay home to disciple their children, when in fact they had none. We replied that they should not even be in a church where that was an issue, as the pastor clearly is not a man about God’s business, but that they better have an agenda to bring others in accordance with God’s Word no matter where they are!

 

altConsider the following facts from Kevin Swanson’s The Second Mayflower. Keep in mind that this book was published in 2008, so all of these figures will have increased by now. “The United States retains only 5% of the world’s population yet claims 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. Six million children live with homosexual parents. 70% of the women applying for artificial insemination are lesbians. A full 67% of those who have post-graduate degrees support homosexual marriage, and 70% of those under 35 years of age support homosexual unions. Since 1973 48,589,993 babies have been aborted, which is equivalent to the population of 20 states. The illegitimacy rate now stands at 37%. There has been a 720% increase in the rate of single parent births in only 45 years. The number of families with husband, wife, and children fell from 40% in 1970 to 24% in the 2000s. At the turn of the 20th century barely 10% of mothers in this nation had left the home for the labor market. By 1985, the percentage of mothers with children under six working outside of the home passed the 50% mark, and today it stands near 65%. The number of elderly employing the reverse mortgage has increased 2000% over the last 10 years! Incredibly, CNN Money.com reports that only 8% of the population will receive an inheritance and only about 1% will get anything significant.”

 

Obviously the deficiency goes far deeper than a monetary inheritance. In truth our nation is theologically bankrupt, which makes “to whom much is given, much is required” paramount at this critical juncture. That is why it always astounds us when “Christian” homeschoolers respond to our question as to how they addressed opposition with, “We did not say anything because we did not want to offend them.”

 

Our response is, “You don’t want to offend man, but you will offend God by preferring compromise over His Word? Silence is not love. If we love others, our first concern for them will be their salvation and subsequent obedience to God.”

 

As we have reiterated over and over again, the strength of a nation is founded on the strength of families. God’s strategy for victory is not a Republican president and certainly not a church with youth groups, Sunday schools, nursery and all other schemes designed to fragment the most powerful force on earth because God designed the family as the foundation of both church and state.

 

By the way, when someone tells us that they have a really terrific church, we always ask these questions: Are the families worshipping together instead of being torn apart? Are the church activities family activities? Are the fathers leading their families in Bible study and prayer each day? Are the moms keepers at home? Are the children being discipled? Are the young ladies staying at home to invest in their families? Are the children encouraged to marry and stay close to home rather than scattering like quail?

 

When they reply to the contrary, we always admonish them with this truth: “If your church does not have the family right, they have absolutely nothing right, and your family will pay the price no matter how much you work to keep them together!”

 

Families, we are in a horrific battle where evil has nearly engulfed our entire nation; a battle nearly lost because our ancestors abdicated their duty to disciple their children and then failed to rout the enemy at its inception. The enemy is now at our door, and yet we have homeschoolers who say that they don’t want to offend! The deluge is upon us for that very reason. So let us get past “luv” and truly love our enemies with the sword of the Spirit, “destroying every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Corinthians 10:5,3,4).

 

Certainly we have not raised our children like Beatrice in More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George Lewis Prentiss: “Then comes a damsel named Beatrice, who has taken me upon trust just as you did. You may be thankful that your parents are not like hers, for she is to be educated for the world; music, French, and Italian crowd almost everything else out of place, and as for religious influences, she is under them here for the first time. How thankful I feel when I see such cases as this, that God gave me pious parents, who taught me from my very birth, that His fear is the beginning of wisdom!”

 

However, let us not pride ourselves in this alone, for unless we engage the culture with the sole purpose of glorifying God and restoring His law order, we have missed the boat—that Second Mayflower of homeschoolers that Kevin Swanson points to in his book, who are destined to take dominion of a land engulfed in darkness. The Pilgrims did not die on these shores because they did not want to offend their neighbors. They died on these shores while working to dispel the darkness that engulfed this land by taking dominion of it for the glory of God.

 

So yes, God requires His children to become biblical scholars, but not just for entrance into heaven. When someone tells us that the most important thing Christians can be doing is getting people saved, our first response is “Saved for what?” And then proceed to point out that God did not intend for us to live on this earth for an average of 80 years just to wait for Him to return so that we can go to heaven. What a bizarre notion!

 

As pointed out in our three prior articles, God intends for us to labor as biblical scholars, but for what purpose? Surely it is not for obtaining a scholarship to an Ivy League university or for attaining an elevated position in society; and surely not to cloister us until He returns. But as He restored our relationship to Him, so we in like are to restore His law order upon earth, taking dominion for His glory, a life endeavor for all Christians—up until the last two centuries. That is why we are now in a world of hurt. No one wants to offend. No one wants to push the antithesis. Yet tolerance of apostasy is apostasy in itself.

 

It is not about getting people saved, but about making disciples, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded. Discipleship, then, is altogether different from a worldly education and produces far different consequences, the chief being biblical conversations.

 

James 3:13 “Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”

 

My Cup Runneth Over

 

Living in a land of plenty, it is hard to imagine someone dying from thirst, but for one who lives in a desert region, it is a reality, making water the most precious commodity for life. That is why David used this poignant analogy in Psalm 23:5 to depict how God prepares a table for the weary, parched soul. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

 

Certainly all of us have experienced the welcome sight of a plant near death being revived through rehydration. When we think of it in this way, we come to realize the significance of what God does for our souls. Yet God not only quenches our thirst, but also gives us a river of living water to pour into others.

 

John 7:37,38 “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

 

John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

 

Let Our Conversation Be As Becometh the Gospel of Christ

 

Some time ago, I was asked a very interesting question that truly reflects this point. The question was asked if, being a woman, I ever felt inferior with anyone or in any situation. My answer was immediate because I am never thinking of myself—how I look, how I come across, if I will make a good impression because I am always looking outward—thinking of how I can best represent my Father while pouring water into others’ souls.

 

For, I, too, was once a wretched sinner; a destitute vagabond; a weary, wandering, parched soul, who for lack of living water was dying from thirst, when a call went out to invite me to feast, which has kept me from ever thirsting or hungering again. I can hardly believe that God would want such a wretched sinner such as myself, and yet He adopted me as His own. Consequently, I never feel inferior because I possess all the treasures in my Father’s kingdom due to His mercy upon my wretched soul. Truly every grace I possess comes from my Father’s presence. In truth even every life giving breath I take comes from Him. For in Him I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

 

So out of gratefulness and obedience to my Father, I make every breath He gives me count toward manifesting the excellence of His Holiness, the power of His sovereignty, the soundness His doctrine, the glory of His grace, and the justice of His will. So regardless of whom I meet, whether it be the grocery attendant, the waiter, the receptionist, the doctor, the mailman, the new or old homeschooler, I labor to invest in their lives, to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and destroy every lofty thing raised up against Him because He is not only my Father, but the King of kings (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

 

2 Corinthians 4:6,7 “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

 

Of course, I try to conduct myself in a manner worthy of my Father, but other than my endeavor to keep from marring His character, I really don’t care what people think of me. My first priority is faithfulness to His commission to make disciples. Granted, I don’t deliberately go out to offend others, but quite frankly God’s Word is offensive to those who are in rebellion to Him because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it is not even able to subject itself to the law of God. Or as the KJV says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7).

 

Yet God tells us in Philippians 1:27 to make certain that our conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ. Taking this seriously, I take great care to make certain that my conversation manifests my Excellency’s magnificent attributes. As Matthew Henry said, “Duty is ours; the event is God’s.”

 

Hebrews 6:7 “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation, useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

 

It must have been marvelous to be in Moses’ company after he had spent so much time in God’s presence. So filled with God’s light, Moses truly emanated His presence. Is this not what all God’s children should look like after spending time with Him—in His Word and in prayer? God is light, and if we are His, we will radiate His light.

 

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

Isn’t it a marvelous thing to be in the company of another Christian who pours forth living water into the well of our souls? As Christians, our goal should be to fill others’ souls from the river of life.

 

“I think it is not very difficult to discern by the duties and converses of Christians, what frames their spirits are under. Take a Christian in a good frame, and how serious, heavenly, and profitable, will his converses and duties be! What a lovely companion is he during the continuance of it!” –John Flavel

 

Come Eat of My Manna and Live

 

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)

 

Just as God’s rain upon the fallow, parched ground brought forth fruitful vegetation, our conversations should offer our hearers everything that is pleasant, delightful, and nourishing to make one fruitful.

 

For a clear contrast between those who prepare a feast of manna that leads to heavenly discourse and those who prepare a feast of foolishness that leads to death, let us turn to Proverbs 9:1-5 which says, “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the highest places of the city. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him. ‘Come eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.’”

 

By deliberate and arduous labor, a wise person builds his house upon the pillars of the Word of the Lord by furnishing his mind with manna so that he can feed the poor and hungry with the bread of life. He proactively exhorts—urges, presses, pushes, encourages, insists, and gives earnest advice—to those in a world of want to forsake the foolish and live by feasting at the Lord’s table. For wisdom is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast (Proverbs 3:18).

 

Of course not all will partake nor appreciate the delectable words of wisdom, but as swine trample precious pearls under their feet and just as Esau chose pottage instead of the choicest meat, so, too, will men reject the truth. And yes, this also will cause some men to hate us, but we must continue to press on, for it is a matter of life and death to those whom we speak.

 

1 John 4:4-6 “Ye are of God, little children, and have over come them: because greater is he that is in you, than he who is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

 

Proverbs 9:7,8 “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame; and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”

 

Considering that Christ subjected Himself to cruelty and death for us while we were yet sinners, what manner of courage should we posses in doing His will? For our conversation is God’s means of giving life to others.

 

Proverbs 9:9-11 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.”

 

Conversely, conversation can provide food of another kind, which leads to death as we see in Proverbs 9:13-18: “A foolish woman is clamourous, she is simple and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city. To call passengers who go right on their way. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, ‘Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he knoweth not that the dead are here; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

 

Just as Satan impersonates Christ, so, too, the foolish woman imitates the wise woman’s plea with the same words, “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for him that wanteth understanding,” yet the similarity stops there. Whereas wisdom pleads with her guest to “forsake the foolish and live and go in the way of understanding,” the foolish woman entices the fool with delectable things that are done in secret—those things that God forbids.

 

On the one hand, wisdom withholds no good thing from her guest, while on the other foolishness offers that which leads to death. With this in mind, let us realize that the manner in which conversations are presented, whether openly or in whispered secret, manifests the source from which they come. Such as the fool, who although devoid of wisdom, demands recognition while contending for personal honor rather than for the souls of the lost.

 

Furthermore, just as Satan spoke to Eve with words stolen from God, slightly altering them to give an entirely different meaning, so the foolish woman uses stolen water, making Spurgeon’s analysis quite poignant: For it is not so much discerning right from wrong, but right from almost right.

 

This reminds us of Talkative in Pilgrim’s Progress, who fitted his conversation according to whom he spoke. So to the Christian, he spoke with Christian jargon. To the heathen, he spoke that which appealed to him, making spiritual discernment paramount. Thus, as parents, we must tune our children’s ears to the Words of our Father that they may discern right from almost right, as Satan frequently presents himself as an angel of light when indeed he crouches like a lion to see whom he can devour.

 

It is obvious, then, from the perusal of this chapter in Proverbs how important it is for us to examine our own conversations and those of our children’s, for all our words shall be tried—both those in open and those in secret.

 

Matthew 12:36,37 “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

Romans 2:15,16 “In that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”

 

1 Corinthians 4:5 “…the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

 

The Intent of Man’s Heart

 

God is always concerned about the intent of our hearts, regardless of how we appear to others, for we can appear as an angel of light when in fact we are the devil’s demon, advocating his kingdom instead of God’s. So let us be very careful to examine our own hearts, lest our hearts deceive us into thinking we are working for God when in fact we are working for Satan; thinking we are seeking God’s glory when in fact we are seeking our own; or thinking we are loving our neighbor by remaining silent when in fact we are loving ourselves because we don’t want others to think badly of us.

 

Basically it amounts to whether we speak to serve our own ends or those of Christ’s. And since Christ was singularly focused on His Father’s will, those of us who call ourselves Christians must be about our Father’s business, as well. It is at this point that the boys are separated from the men, so to speak, or in other words, the foolish from the wise. Not as condescending, prideful men who boast of God’s goodness, but whose intent is to glorify themselves through their knowledge of Him, but as humble, grateful servants of the Living God who works regeneration in the hearts of men.

 

For we are either full of ourselves, or full of our Father; full of foolishness, or full of wisdom; full of dead men’s bones, or full of life giving manna. The reality is that until we are totally emptied of ourselves, being Christ-conscious instead of self-conscious, we cannot begin to fill another’s soul. And then it takes serious study of God’s Word before we are able to reveal God’s mind and will to others. However, there is hope, for once we are emptied of our own thoughts, and instead filled with God’s, our conversation goes from worthless to valuable; useless to useful; futile to fruitful; hopeless to hopeful; ineffectual to effectual.

 

1 Peter 1:18,19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your father; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”

 

“You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath spoken much to you in the Scripture; labor to understand as much of what he saith as you can. God hath made you all reasonable creatures; therefore let not the noble faculty of reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not yourselves with having so much knowledge as is thrown in your way, and as you receive in some sense unavoidably by the frequent inculcation of divine truth in the preaching of the word, of which you are obliged to be hearers, or as you accidentally gain in conversation; but let it be very much your business to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor with which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold.”

–Jonathan Edwards

 

Foolishness or Sarcasm: To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required

 

Matthew 12:35-37 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (NKJV)

 

Matthew 15:18-20 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man …” (NASB)

 

Thomas Watson said, “To learn Christ is to be made like Christ, when the divine characters of His holiness are engraved upon our hearts.” God says in 1 Peter 1:15: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” And in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image.” 1 Corinthians 2:16: “We have the mind of Christ.”

 

Therefore as Paul warned Timothy to avoid trifling conversation in 1 Timothy 6:20: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’” so we should speak only for the benefit of others for instructing in righteousness.

 

Only for benefit since idleness is a sin even when it pertains to our conversations because it steals and destroys, instead of laboring for the kingdom. Therefore John Calvin rightly stated, “As idle talk is often concealed under the garb of jesting, and wit, the Apostle Paul expressly condemns pleasantry, which is so agreeable as to seem a praiseworthy virtue, as a part of foolish talking (Eph. 5:4).”

 

For foolishness, whether done in naïveté or in sarcasm, is condemned by God in Ephesians 5:4: “There must be no filthiness nor foolish talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting,” for “he who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin” (Proverbs 10:10).

 

I cringe when I think of my former days of continual sarcasm and the utter foolishness that poured from my mouth. When Candy and I were first married, there were times when I would have her in tears just minutes after my arrival home from work. Sadly I did not understand then how crushing my sarcasm was to her. As a matter of fact it took years of maturing in Christ before I realized that sarcasm has no place in a Christian’s conversation, for as Candy points out, it is nothing more than searing rudeness cloaked in playfulness. The sad part is that it had become such a habitual form of communication that I would easily fall right back into it when around others who were sarcastic. That is why I beseech young parents to train children in godly habits, one of which is to train their children to speak only that which is for edification.

 

For one thing, Candy always says what she means so that our children and I never have to guess her meaning. She also is very gracious and grateful so that her words comfort, direct, guide, soothe, and instruct unto righteousness. In essence, she builds us up all the time.

 

When it comes to the children, she never allowed sarcasm or making fun at the expense of someone else. From the beginning, she taught them Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Anything outside these parameters was simply not permitted.

 

It is a lesson that has taken my entire lifetime to embrace because I grew up in a family that continually jabbed at one another through sharp sarcasm, resulting in an insecurity that in turn caused me to make certain that I tore another down before they destroyed me. So instead of listening, I inevitably was thinking of what to say in return so that I could top the other guy’s cutting quips. Thankfully, however, I now understand that sarcasm is vicious and devastating, and no parent should allow it.

 

Like Christ, we possess joy, but singularly focused on executing our Father’s will, we must realize the life and death consequences of our associations. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is the One who catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:19). Therefore, “We have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

 

Jeremiah Burroughs aptly confirmed this when he said, “Oh, it is an excellent thing to see the conversations of Christians in a due order, all guided with spiritual wisdom and holiness.” For the chief end in all things should be to honor God and enrich others.

 

Wives and Mothers

 

In Walking from East to West, remember what Ravi Zacharias wrote about when he first met his wife that “she was a remarkable conversationalist—very well read, intelligent, solidly informed, and able to talk about virtually any subject.”

 

These are the attributes that drew Ravi to Margie and made her suitable for his brilliant mind. Can you imagine what his life would have been if he had settled on a woman of lesser caliber who did not read, who was not informed, and who was not a good conversationalist? Knowing his thirst for God’s wisdom, we know that he would have been miserable.

 

Josephine’s Tearoom is a wonderful place to gather over lunch, but our family prefers arriving nearer to their closing when most of their patrons have departed because most of their patrons are women whose talking becomes deafening at the height of the lunch hour. Let’s face it, women not only love to talk, but also they have an inherent urge to talk.

 

Consider for a moment the recent studies that substantiate this fact. One states that the average woman speaks 30,000 words in a day, compared to man’s 12,000; another said that a woman uses 20,000 words to man’s 7,000; while one said 8,000 to 2,000. Some women may attribute this increase to the fact that they have to repeat everything at least once to their husbands, but the point is that women speak a lot each day, making the governing of their verbiage crucial to ensure righteousness.

 

So what is my point? If our own minds, and that of our daughters, are not being continually filled with biblical wisdom, then the output is nothing more than incessant, inconsequential prattle.

 

Therefore, our daughters continue to fill their minds with the precious pearls of knowledge so as to be equipped for intelligent husbands who will seek their advice. There is nothing wrong with sharing concerns over the baby’s swollen gums or the toddler’s apparent disinterest in potty training, but a husband who comes home from a long day of working away from home should not find a prattler or gossiper waiting for him, but a companion who fits his intellect, who both stimulates, comforts, and supports him.

 

Many years ago, I remember lamenting a young homeschooling father’s arduous schedule of working three jobs until I met his wife, and then I lamented his foolishness in marrying such an incessant prattler. How sad! How very, very sad!

 

Salt pork and boiled potatoes might be tolerable for one meal, but insufferable as common fare. Yet even though none of us would choose that off a menu, it has more substance than the trivial frivolity that passes for conversation today.

 

In light of this travesty, let us impress upon our daughters to forsake worldly fables, but instead embrace discipline for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) by training them to love nothing less than heady conversations where theology, history, government, science, and the finer arts of homemaking are discussed in great detail.

 

Search for Knowledge

 

When I am in the presence of others more adept at certain subjects, I spend my time investigating their knowledge by asking probing questions and intently listening as they explain truths I have not yet discovered. I certainly am not ashamed at my lack of understanding of new concepts. Insecurity does not plague my ego, and so I continually ask questions about the things that I do not perceive clearly, including the meaning of words that are unfamiliar to me. And so my children are never afraid to ask questions, but they are encouraged to learn all they can from those wiser than themselves. For “the mind of the prudent acquires knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).

 

Brilliant people became so because they asked plenty of questions. However, with that said, let me state that they also applied themselves diligently to the answers. So we have trained our children to listen intently to adults’ conversations, reflect circumspectly, and apply their knowledge judiciously.

 

Recently we were invited to a function of lawyers and judges. Before responding to the invitation, I asked if my children could attend with us. The response was that my children would certainly not enjoy themselves due to sheer boredom. Sadly this is the world’s mentality, when 200 years ago, our young men and women held conversations the likes of which most of us have never experienced because of the watered down fodder passed off as conversation today.

 

Although we talked all the time at home, when my parents were discussing anything or other adults were present, I remained silent because that is what children were supposed to do. But while I was remaining silent, I was listening and reflecting upon every word. This training taught me to respect my elders and learn as much as I could from them. Quite frankly, growing up in an adult world tended to train my young tendrils to reach higher than most children.

 

To raise wise sons and daughters, we must not only practice wise conversation in the home, but also must make certain that our children sit at the feet of other wise adults whose conversations are ordered according to God’s Word; who share and support our vision and commitment to family discipleship; who desire to sharpen our children’s perception of biblical truths; who speak wisdom and understand the significance of the authority vested in parents; and who support our endeavors and reinforce the biblical precepts and principles we impart. In truth, our friends should be chosen with our children’s best interests at heart.

 

Equally important is showing by our example that honor is due to those who are wiser than we and to those who invest in our lives. As the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, so those who emanate His wisdom deserve honor and reverence. God’s command to “honor our father” implies far more than just our physical father. As the Westminster Catechism rightly states, “By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts, and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.”

 

Hebrews 13:7 “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

 

Laboring Day and Night

 

Living in a fast food culture where shallow sound bites replace nourishing reading and godly conversation, parents must do everything in their power to train their children to think deeply and then converse from the depths of God’s thoughts. Like the magnificent cathedrals of yore, which were painstakingly built stone by stone, often taking centuries to complete, we must labor day by day, month by month, year by year to lay the stones of godliness. This can only occur where discipleship takes place when we rise up, when we walk along the way, and when we lie down. By God’s own description, it means that parents must keep company with their children, occupying their days and their nights with deep and meaningful intercourse.

 

At this point you may be asking yourselves why we take so much time repeating these things over and over again. It is because the world continues to urge, and press, and push, and encourage, and insist that children need activities to give them purpose, to make them well rounded, to provide them with friends, and to make them happy. After all, the world does not want children around their parents all day.

 

And so as homeschooling families continue to convey their hectic schedules to us, the recurrent response our family expresses to one another is, “How sad!” How sad!” How sad!” Because the constant activities that these families boast of frame a picture of very fragmented families, whose activity-driven life makes discipleship impossible.

 

For discipleship requires a steadfast commitment to read, study, discuss, converse, and pray together throughout each day. It requires continual engaging and interacting, not with others, but with our children.

 

Since everything can be known about us by how we spend our time, with whom we spend our time, what we read, what we don’t read, the words we speak, and by the things we don’t say, where are we personally, and where is our family?

 

Candy and I could rest from our urging, our pressing, our pushing, our insisting, and our encouraging if the families we love and labor for each day were not in such a state of worldliness—broken, wounded, sick, and groaning. So, like the great physician, we leave the sanctuary of our Father’s Kingdom to bring living water, manna, and medicine to the dying, the parched, the starving, and the sick. Our godly affection for others’ souls prompts us to continually instruct, exhort, reprove, comfort, and show the way unto happiness, for truly there is no place like home.

 

“Christ is the most tender-hearted physician. He hath ended his passion but not his compassion. He is not more full of skill than sympathy, ‘He healed the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). Every groan of the patient goes to the heart of the physician.”

–Thomas Watson

 

Raising Our Children for Royalty

 

Let us return to Ravi Zacharias’s wife, one last time, as an example of her parents’ preparation for a godly prince. “She was a remarkable conversationalist—very well read, intelligent, solidly informed, and able to talk about virtually any subject.”

 

Equally important to training our children in accordance to their royal heritage is helping them choose a spouse best crafted for their own noble upbringing. And since the strongest influence on family is the unity of parents, this consideration is paramount when choosing a companion for this inseparable union.

 

Contrary to the world’s justification of their wrong choices by emphasizing that opposites attract, we must impress upon our children’s minds the vast importance of being equally yoked through common doctrinal convictions, intellectual ability, passions, and interests.

 

After 33 years of marriage and over 25 years of counseling many couples, I can say without a doubt that differences cause conflicts that often become insurmountable. Of course, none of us will agree on everything or hold everything in common, but the more couples share, the less they strive against one other.

 

Opposites may initially attract, but it has been our experience that the opposing character traits that first attracted them to each other become the very issues that later drive a wedge between them.

 

Although Candy and I differ in some ways, which sadly has led to heated arguments, the strength of our unity remains deeply rooted upon those things mentioned above—our doctrinal convictions, our intellectual abilities, our passions, and our interests—for these are the very elements that cement two into soul mates as God intended.

 

Our shared love of God’s Word and history probably has formed the strongest part of our union, for we both love to read, study, and discuss Scripture, other theological books, and history, providing many hours each day of supreme enjoyment. For there is no deeper attachment that we can form than communing together in the presence of the Lord, while feasting together on His choicest meat.

 

This passion for learning truth led us to a shared vision for making disciples of our children and others, teaching them all that God commanded. Thus we have walked in lockstep with this vision for our family, for our church, and for CHEF.

 

Candy and I also possess an exuberance for life, which manifests itself in our interest in everyone and everything. We both love deep theological discussions, excellent food, cooking, fine dining at home and at restaurants, entertaining, traveling, leisurely walks, hiking, fishing, four wheeling, swimming, tubing, tennis, horseback riding, and gardening. And so each evening, we gather around our table for fine dining and deep conversations, followed by playing games and reading with our children. These are the things that bring enormous contentment into our lives as we continually share our deepest interests with one another.

 

Being married to one’s soul mate and forming a family on that foundation is the strongest bond on earth, in turn forming strong churches and strong communities. In truth it is the strength of nations. No other success compensates for its failure. No nation can survive without strong families. So let us join together to strengthen families. Let us take our heavenly agenda into our communities, into the marketplace, and into the workplace.

 

Isaiah 58:12 “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” (NAS) “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.” (KJV)

 

Of interest at this point is that the hallmark of our relationship, and the thing that everyone noticed, was that we spent all our time together in deep conversation.

 

Something to Strive for

 

From More Love To Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George Lewis Prentiss: “Dr. Payson possessed rare conversational powers and love to wield them in the service of His master. When in a genial mood—and the mild excitement of social intercourse generally put him in such a mood—his familiar talk was equally delightful and instructive. He was, in truth, an improvisator. Quick perception, an almost intuitive insight into character, an inexhaustible fund of fresh, original thought and incident, the happiest illustrations, and a memory that never faltered in recalling what he had once read or seen, easy self-control, and ardent sympathies, all conspired to give him this preeminence. Without effort or any appearance of incongruity he could in term be grave and gay, playful and serious. This came of the utter sincerity and genuineness of his character. There was nothing artificial about him; nature and grace had full play and, so to say, constantly ran into each other. The same qualities that rendered him such a master of conversation, lent a potent charm to his familiar religious talks in the prayer meeting, at the fireside, or in the social circle. Always eager to speak for his master, he knew how to do it with a wise skill and tenderness of feeling that disarmed prejudice and sometimes won the most determined foe. Even in administering reproof or rebuke there was the happiest union of tact and gentleness.”

 

Let us labor together for the souls of men, making His will our chief endeavor and His glory our chief end; fearing God and not man; remaining firm in our convictions regardless of men’s opinions; not allowing man’s praise to lull us into a spiritual death, remembering that men are fickle compared to God’s immutability. As living epistles, let our conversations induce others to seek the Lord by challenging them to reach deep within the Word of God through diligent study.

 

For “whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23).