Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A bright future despite climate change.

My wife gave birth in four different decades. Each decade brought new challenges as we raised our twelve kids, and we worked hard to water their faith and cultivate character in a climate that wasn't especially conducive to spiritual things.

Fast-forward to 2015. Now our kids are raising kids. New challenges still pile on top of the old ones, but the issues have intensified. Terrorism, school shootings, inconceivable national debt, the attempted dismantling of our country and our sacred values ...these dominate the headlines of the world my grandchildren are growing up in. Their parents - my children - are trying to raise their crop of kids in tougher conditions and in an environment more hostile to Christ than the world I raised my kids in. Drastic climate change has set in. No, I'm not talking about global warming, but a spiritual ice-age.

Quickly fading are the days when sincere followers of Jesus were simply smirked at or ridiculed. There was a time when those who didn't share your moral convictions might still respect you for having some. Back then, many who didn't embrace the Bible's teachings for their own personal lives still referred to it as the "Good Book." Maybe you've noticed that the climate has changed.

This drastically-changed cultural climate wants to leave Jesus out in the cold. Young followers of Jesus today face an environment that isn't merely growing harsher - it's growing toxic. Oh sure, things like angels, heaven, miracles, spiritual energy, karma, etc. are acceptable and remain topics of bestsellers; and for many, believing in God (or god) remains the decent, patriotic position to take. But Jesus? Nobody makes people nervous like Jesus can. He's a threat. And the Bible? It is rapidly getting a cultural makeover that attempts to subtly redefine its terms, cleverly reinterpret its teachings, and insolently reprogram those who once tried to live by it. The "Good Book" isn't getting such good reviews lately, with a growing number of Biblephobes portraying it as a collection of myths & fairy tales at best, hatred & bigotry at worst.

In a climate so hostile to the Christian faith, what chance do parents have to raise their tender plants to bear eternal fruit? Is there any possibility for the children of believers to have a bright future? Emphatically, YES! Here are 7 reasons why my children can have a bright future:

1) Because I am free to invest every free moment that I choose in my children's lives. I can take them on outings, read them powerful stories, and share fun & wholesome entertainment with them. With the wonders of God's world, wonderful books, and pleasant conversations I can shape their worldview, their values, and their futures.

2) Because I have opportunities that others don't to probe my children's minds. This gives me the advantage of intimately knowing their likes, dislikes, fears, dreams, passions, insecurities, etc. By really listening and truly caring, I will gain access to their hearts, because they'll know that they are in mine.

3) Because no law can ever keep me from praying to the One "who is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes." (Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

4) Because Jesus promised that in Him we "can have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)"

5) Because "I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return." (2 Timothy 1:12 NLT)

6) Because despite our weaknesses, "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4 KJV)

7) Because of "the incredible greatness of God’s power...the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms...far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things..." (Ephesians 1:19-22 NIV)

The first three reasons motivate me. The next four reasons embolden me. These precious promises are worth memorizing and playing over and over in your mind. They do wonders to encourage this grandpa's heart!

Years ago, I split wood by hand for hours each night to keep our drafty old farmhouse warm. When the wood pile ran out I busted up and burned pallets I found in the shed...old furniture I found in the basement...whatever it took. I just couldn't let my family freeze.

This cultural ice age doesn't have to claim our children. The love of God burns within us. His Word blazes our trail. Read it with your kids. Pray with your kids. Talk to your kids. Read stories to your kids. Play with your kids. Now is the time to spend more quality time with them than ever before. It will likely take some sacrifice. But, hey, it's really cold outside! Bust something up that you really don't need and throw it on the fire. God is eager to help you keep your kids' hearts toasty warm.