• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,396,227 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,269 other subscribers
  • June 2008
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

When Civilizations Die

An article by Clifford D. May, reminds us that the ancient Christian capital of Constantinople fell to Muslim invaders 555 years ago in 1453 AD. The churches were converted into mosques and the city’s name changed to Istanbul. It was, indeed, a dark moment in history for the Christian West. Greece, Serbia, most of Hungary, and part of the Balkans would soon fall as well.

The idea of empire building is currently recognized as immoral by most people in the Western nations of our time. Our cultural and moral rejection of the idea, however, should not deceive us into believing that all human beings feel the same way. Just because we may reject conquest and empire building, we should not assume that Islamic terrorism is a “response to oppression” or some “legitimate grievance.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, “We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.” A former leader of Hezbollah, Hussein Massawi, said “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.” Yunis al-Astal, a Muslim cleric and Hamas parliamentarian has pledged: “Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad.”

The ignorance of some of our leading lawmakers is astounding when it comes to this issue. The Speaker of the House told the San Francisco Chronicle that the success of the surge in Iraq is due in part to the “goodwill of the Iranians.” What “goodwill” is that? CIA Director Hayden told the Washington Post, “It is the policy of the Iranian government, approved at the highest levels of that government, to facilitate the killing of American and other coalition forces in Iraq. Period.”

The great lesson of history is that civilizations die when they no longer possess the moral certainty to oppose evil. We must also acknowledge that there are those people in our own country who are more interested in acquiring power in Washington in their lifetime than facilitating the defeat of the proponents of terrorism and conquest for generations to come.

The Children Left Behind

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3, ESV)

In a Newsweek Web Exclusive article titled, “Your Child Was Out Of Line” by Kathleen Deveny, she writes of her frustration with the rude behavior and remarks of a young boy while waiting in line to buy ice cream. His parents were not around, yet she felt she could not say anything about his obnoxious behavior.

Later, she asked if it is ever appropriate to discipline other people’s kids on the message board at UrbanBaby.com. It seems that a “Big No,” was the typical response – with the exception of a child being in physical danger.

Deveny writes that, “The idea that we should reserve any editorial comments for our own little darlings has become so widely held that ‘Mad Men,’ the wonderful and creepy AMC series about a New York advertising agency in 1960, was able to play it for shock value. At a child’s suburban birthday party, one of the dads slaps a neighbor’s boy across the face for knocking over a drink. The kid’s father rushes over-and takes the grown-up’s side.” Obviously, this was not intended to be a reality show.

According to Stephanie Coontz, professor of history, Colonial American children expected to be disciplined by any adult. “Kids were not raised to internalize their own family’s particular values, they were expected to share the community’s values.”

As an educator for 31 years (now retired), I have had the first-hand experience of observing the general behavior of children deteriorate over that period. Many parents have taken the approach that they had rather defend their child’s obnoxious behavior than deal with trying to correct it. The truth be known – they lack the parenting skills to deal with their child’s behavior at home. They are embarrassed by it and so try to bluff their way through it by being offended by the other adult who points out the problem. They perceive it as a personal attack rather than a supportive action by another adult trying to help them rear a well-mannered child. “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10, ESV)

Modern parents are too often distracted by their professions, personal problems, need for “down-time,” and stress to give the quality of personal attention to their children that they need. Some parents are just too plain selfish and are consumed by their own needs to please themselves. They do not want to take the time needed for the effective parenting of a child. In effect, while moving on in their own personal lives, they are leaving their children behind to fend for themselves what moral guidance they may (which is all too little in our culture).

It is true that many single parents have to work long hours, overtime, and sometimes two jobs just to make ends meet. Children are spending a lot of time in day cares. Research has been coming out since the 1980’s about the many negative emotional effects that day care institutions are having upon the mental health of our children prior to school age. If your child must attend a daycare, choose very wisely. We must remember, however, that there is really no substitute for a child being raised in the home by his or her natural or adopted parent. Larger homes and expensive cars are not equal to the value of the time you have spent with your child.

A child with a bad attitude is usually a good sign that the attitude has been modeled for them at home. On the other hand, I have conferenced with parents of three children or more – the majority of whom were well-rounded all-American kids – who had one child that was the holy terror opposite of the others. The parents would sometimes break down in tears trying to understand what they did wrong with this one difficult child. It seems that sometimes they did nothing obviously wrong. I believe some children are just born cranky. It would be good to identify and admit this problem early and seek professional guidance.

One of the biggest problems children have in our culture is that their parents like to run interference for them. In other words, parents are too quick to try to prevent their child from suffering the natural consequences of their personal bad decisions. The early years are the best times for children to learn these kinds of lessons when the consequences are not too severe. I am not suggesting you allow your child to run out into the street in front of a car. I am suggesting that allowing your child to endure the consequences of missed homework, bad grades, poor conduct at school, making a mess, disobeying the teacher, and hitting or pushing others or being disrespectful to anyone usually serves as a good learning experience in which we should not interfere with the consequences administered by other adults. You also have the right to spank your child and should do so as needed. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15, ESV) Some children only require a warning. Others need to experience the consequences of sustained disbelief in your willingness and commitment to follow through.

Another frequent problem for children is parents who disagree with each other over how discipline in the home and elsewhere should be handled. Children are smart and they quickly learn how to manipulate disagreement between parents to their own advantage. Thus, effective parental discipline is neutralized. Children are good at playing the same game between parents and teachers as well. I was always amazed by parents who would tell me, concerning some problem at school that “My child never lies to me.” That statement was usually a good sign that I was dealing with a moron. Children will lie by omitting the facts or by changing the facts. All children will lie at some time. Get use to it. It is a consequence of original sin.

Television has become a major threat to raising a well-mannered, respectful child. Monitor its use carefully. Popular music lyrics are too often a reflection of an emotionally disturbed personality. Listen to what your child is listening to. Monitor peer influence on your child. Do not allow your child to hang out with bad role models. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) If you feel that another child in your son or daughter’s class is a bad influence on your child, request the principal to assign them to different classes next year.

There is no such person as the perfect parent or the perfect child. As parents, however, we have a high calling and responsibility to be good stewards of the children God has blessed us with. “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied. . . .” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21) Pray with and for your children regularly. Read them Bible stories and other children’s stories with strong Christian values. Take them (do not just send them) to church and Sunday school regularly. Teach them that our first duty is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

%d bloggers like this: