The lives of your children are in mortal danger. Satan, like a roaring lion is out to get you — your family, your children. The statistics are in! Problems of child rearing in God's Church will amaze you. There are many unguarded back doors. You may be shocked on investigating your own child-rearing faults. The truth about your own children may astonish you!!
"OUT YOU!! O... cur!! Get out before I throw you out!" Before the aged and graying mother could respond, her son struck her across the bridge of the nose, gave her a left-hook to the body, grabbed her by the wrist and the nape of the neck and threw her down the steps into the street. The door slammed shut. Mrs. "Jones" writhing in pain struggled to her feet wondering what had gone wrong "What have I done to deserve a son like this?" A neighbor cautiously helped her into his home. In a daze, wiping away tears, she mumbled into the phone asking the sheriff for a warrant and the arrest of her son Charles. The sheriff soon appeared on the scene. Stepping out of the patrol car he walked up the steps — then suddenly a shot rang out — then another — the sheriff slumped to the sidewalk clutching at his chest. Gasping for breath he cried out in mortal pain. The sheriff's leg and muscles spasmodically reflexed in death, his head dropped limp in a pool of warm red blood!! The deputy ducked for cover and then began an hour-long gun fight in which the deputy was wounded. The gun battle ended when the son turned the gun, pulled the trigger, killing himself! Shocking, you say? What is this world coming to?? It's more shocking than you think, brethren! The above incident occurred in a quite respectable American community — the report came NOT from the newspaper — but from one of our ministers who comforted the aging mother in her sorrow. She is A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF GOD!!
Only the Names Changed
In writing, I've changed the names and supplied the details. The story actually happened just a few months ago. An unusual account — but by no means an isolated one from the lives and affairs of the members of the Church of God! Another report follows from a minister a few states removed. The minister stopped by to talk to a member of this church about his son's murder trial and government in the home! Mr. Blank's son had shot a man to death in a brawl. He shot him when the opponent attacked with a broken bottle. The son is in jail with a penalty of death by hanging staring him in the face. The shooting, the murder plot began many years ago. The father innocently helped design the circumstances, the conditions necessary for this tragic event. The home he headed has never known the meaning of real love or discipline. Family government, God's government in the home has not been a part of their lives. Notice the remainder of the minister's report. "The second oldest son living at home is rebelling against every attempt of authority!" Summarizing his report the minister wrote these final words: "Family is sobered by this and many family and personal troubles!" The purpose in citing these examples and others to follow is NOT to bring more grief to the families involved, or point an accusing finger at them. The purpose is to wake YOU up! I'm sure these people join me in the hope that their sad example will spur others to ACTION — before it's too late! No matter how sorry or how great the repentance, it's pretty difficult to undo years of mistakes, especially in the life of a teen-ager. You really feel for those brethren who are now converted, who are doing their level best to overcome, to change, to salvage the family. It's sobering to realize, that any one of us who grows careless is also subject to problems of equal magnitude. "Thy Kingdom come" should certainly become a more vivid part of our prayer life. True, not every child-rearing problem erupts into the chaotic violence of the preceding two illustrations. The point is that every child-rearing problem can, unless curbed, explode into the same type of trouble. Compared to the world, God's people have done an excellent job in child rearing. That's as it should be. This is a pretty rough, turbulent world in which we live. Considering who we are and the God we serve, there should be an even greater contrast in the lives of our children. One such incident as described is one too many!
The Church Report on Problem Visits
Too often, we the members of the Church of God, survey the world around us, abhorred by what we see and hear — then sink back into our comfortable easy chair believing all is well on the home front. In some cases Junior has just been given the car and a couple bucks to go — who knows where — while we gaze sleepily into the vortex of that seeping sewer — TV — prominently displayed in a favorite corner of our living room. Brethren, do you know what the greatest, single problem in God's Church is today? I have a report from the office of Mr. Roderick C. Meredith, Superintendent of ministers, in which he gives the number one problem in God's Church as lethargy — too lazy to overcome, too sleepy to rule, love or direct our families. As might be expected, child-rearing problems are not far behind. This is what takes up the greatest percentage of the minister's visiting time. Sixty-seven percent of some 21,375 visits in recent months were on problem visits!
Child Rearing a Serious Problem
Child-rearing problems are serious in God's Church — not just in the world. Too many members live in a dream world. They falsely, lackadaisically assume their calling in God's Church somehow protects them from the world and its dangers, from accidental death, persecution and the penalties of broken child-rearing laws! Brethren, the only protection we have comes as a result of OBEDIENCE! Obedience to God and His laws is what protects!! God will not excuse or nullify a penalty just because we happen to be a member of His Church. He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). God will not suddenly reverse the law of gravity because a mother carelessly allows her two-year-old to play on the edge of a cliff. Neither will God excuse or revise His laws of child rearing because you suddenly find yourself in trouble as a result of ten or fifteen years of broken laws!! God's laws must be obeyed — action must follow reading the Word of God (James 2:14)!
We Are Responsible Before God
We are responsible now; we are the called out ones. Our minds have been opened. When our minds are given the light of truth, knowledge of God's ways, then we become responsible before God to diligently obey His laws. We must practice God's child-rearing laws as part of our own program to salvation. With knowledge comes greater responsibility and accountability (Luke 12:48). It's time we shake off lethargic ways, including our lacks in discipline, love and concern toward our families and God's laws regulating our children. The irrevocable laws of God, when obeyed unfailingly, produce healthy, vibrant, strong, happy children. As called out ones, we have to be on guard against every sin, against Satan and his malicious plan to destroy the human race and the family! Satan is out to get the Church of God. He's like a roaring lion! He's after you in a way that you may least expect! Most of us are aware that we can fail as a result of wrong attitudes, jealousy, lust and greed. We are usually on guard against our own evil nature, our rotten, carnal ways. We are busy guarding the front door. It's supposed to be bolted, locked and barricaded with prayer and study. Foolishly some of us lock the front door and forget to lock or guard the back door. In many cases the back door is left standing wide open! One of the greatest crimes ever concocted in the demoniacal mind of Satan is working right now under your very nose. He has struck a low blow and is entering many of your homes through the open back door! He's getting at you through your own children, where you least suspect. Satan, as never before, is taking advantage of these last times, gaining access through the rear entrance, the open unguarded door of poor, neglected, child-rearing practices!
A Letter to Dad
On my desk are two letters written by a member's teen-age son to his dad. The son is in jail — this time for good. I happen to know this family and the boy. Several years ago Mr. Portune and I counselled him and the family at the Feast of Tabernacles when he got into trouble. I've talked to his parents since and personally counselled the son. I've wrestled and played with him on occasion. I've had opportunity to extend him God's love and mercy. Yet I knew and predicted this would be his end. Why couldn't this terrible, wretched, pitiful problem be stopped? Why did it have to happen? There is an answer to the question. The truth made plain, in the Child Rearing booklet, IF PRACTICED, could have prevented all this. Even though serious mistakes had been made, it wasn't too late to avert this unhappy end!! In one of the boy's letters, written from a cold, dank, jail cell — let's call him George — he writes: "I've taken God's Word, His mercy for granted too many times — it's not so good in here, Dad, I get very hungry. They only feed you twice a day and that's a long time between meals. I haven't been eating any of the meat. Most of it is pork and I have made up for it by eating a lot of bread. Now I don't even eat the bread. For seven days anyway!" The letter was written during the days of Unleavened Bread by a boy who had heard hundreds of sermons, attended God's Feast days — all seven of them! But he didn't listen — his dad didn't correct him as he should. When he did, Mother objected. He wasn't made to obey while there was still time. There was no real penalty for disobedience!! When George was young he really never had to account for his time. Even the Feast days were often spent in riotous living, stealing and playing the BIG GUY. Now he writes, "The other two boys (both teen-agers) haven't been involved. I did such a good job of covering up for them, that they didn't have a thing on either one. But now I'm doing time. I don't think I like the idea of taking the 'rap' for anyone else. I deserve what I'm getting, but I kind of wish the whole truth were known. It wouldn't be so bad if I knew they would learn a lesson from it. But I know they are still up to the same old things." He's right, the boys are still up to the same old things, stealing, using dad's car to drag race, take out the girls and necking, bragging about conquest of the (in some cases) nonexistent girl friend — and so are some of YOUR children! It starts with a desire to be big in a home that usually does not offer love, companionship and discipline. Out of vanity, the desire to be big, the child will lie, cheat and steal in order to impress the other kids. This is your son, your daughter in the flesh! This is their desire arid it was yours in youth. It takes the strong, loving arm of discipline, of concern, of diligence and the practicing of God's child-rearing laws to the full to prevent a child from going AWOL from the way of life taught in God's pulpit. How long has it been since you practiced these laws? How long since you read the booklet on child rearing? Better yet, how long since you read, understood and APPLIED these God-given principles? Many of your children are already involved in serious crime, sex and pornography. Many are already making sneaky, disrespectful remarks about the "old man" and "old lady" and telling dirty stories. Your children are not immune to the evils of this world just because you're a member of God's Church and practice one or two of the child-rearing laws. It takes all of God's child-rearing laws and much dedicated study, prayer, companionship and counseling to rear a child in these degenerate times!
We Are Living in Sodom and Gomorrah
You must, as never before, be faithful in child rearing or your children will become a statistic. The National Crime Commission reports that six out of every ten boys now growing up in American cities will be arrested sometime during childhood That's a conservative figure. For Negro children it's even higher — nine out of ten and it's going to get increasingly worse. The report did not exclude the members of the Church of God or your son or daughter! That depends on you! Some of you when you find out what's going on in your own home, will be shocked. You have been asleep at the switch. You may even find out after it's too late — too late to recover a son or daughter
George's dad was more fortunate than most. He knew his son was involved. But "Mom" just wouldn't stand for her son being punished. George's dad is a fine member, a respected servant, dedicated, working hard to overcome. He wants a happy, converted family as much as you or I. However, in weakness and a misguided love, he was too willing to forgive when there was no repentance, no punishment. He just couldn't bear to see his own flesh and blood suffer a good paddling or a period of real correction. When his son grew older and became large enough to work, dad forgot the instruction of II Thes. 3:10. Out of "love" he worked and let his loving son sleep in till noon and stay up till dawn, never giving account for his time. In a letter to his dad a few days later, George closed with: "While I'm writing this letter, you are observing the last day of Unleavened Bread, typifying the complete putting out of sin out of your lives. I have tried to do the same, and want to believe that it is so. It sure is a lonely feeling thinking about all the brethren meeting in one accord, obeying God's Holy Days and myself not being able to attend. OH DAD! WHERE DID I GO WRONG? WHY?" I said earlier — this is now the time of Sodom and Gomorrah all over again! Only once before have times been as difficult to rear children. Too many of us do not realize the times. We are naive concerning the powers of Satan and this age with its effect on our children. We have deluded ourselves and gone to sleep while reading God's Word. Too many of us are trying to make membership in the Church a cloak of all-encompassing protection without really practicing the laws that PRODUCE the protection! We must be alert to the times. We need to realize these are the "last days" of which Paul prophesied. Paul was writing to us, to the Church — not the world when he said we live in perilous times. A time when our children would be disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (II Tim. 3:1-2). Isaiah prophesied of the same conditions. He spoke of Israel, God's own people being oppressed by their own children — and why? Let Isaiah finish, because God's people "err, and destroy the way of thy paths" (Isa. 3:12). Did you notice what Isaiah said He didn't say the fault was of the times, the end time — no, he placed the responsibility where it belonged! On your shoulders and mine to obey and teach the law to our children. We do "err" when we don't obey, when we are not cognizant of the times and the need for extra effort toward proper child rearing. God's way, His law, when practiced, absolutely guarantees success in child rearing (Prov. 22:6)!
Examine Child Rearing in Your Home
Unless they wake up, many in God's Church will, in the tribulation, when it's too late, realize that they have erred in child rearing. Maybe your very own child is destined, because of serious error on your part, to be lost in the siege. Examine yourself! Don't be so sure you are right!! You may be deceived in what you think is right — what you think you are doing — what you think you know about your children's conduct. Some of you who think your children have not been involved with this world are going to find out that your son or daughter has already smoked behind your back — even tried LSD — already been DRUNK — already tried out sex, FULLY! Others of you tend to get the picture — every picture that is presented, every sermon you hear, every article you read. You agree, oh yes, that's me! The minister, God, meant me, I sure am going to change and rear my children the way God has shown me. You make a great pretense about doing good, you talk but don't act. With your mouth you draw nigh, but in practice you are only moving your lips (Mat. 15:8). In vain you teach, by lack of real action, or worse, practice foolish, modern child psychology in child rearing — "the doctrines of men" (Mark 7:7).
Your Action Speaks Louder than Words
We have all seen church members, even Ambassador College graduates, break every rule in the book on child rearing. I've seen daddy's little angel paddled with such vigor that the "manly" wallop used would just about make a dent in soft butter! I've seen dad after administering such a beating, pick up daddy's little boy and slobber all over him. "Did daddy hurt his little man, there, there now, you must obey daddy and he won't have to paddle you for being naughty." What kind of love is that? What does God Almighty think of such foolish, effeminate love? Give the child a few more years and he will have nothing but contempt for his father and the "no backbone discipline." These same people praise their own child-rearing practices, exalting little Johnnie all the while preparing him for sacrifice to this world and death! I've seen people who read the Bible, who have two copies of the Child Rearing booklet, so frustrated with telling Johnnie to behave that they scarcely knew anyone else was around. They go their "own way" trampling all over Proverbs 13:24; 23:13; 29:15; 30:17; 28:7; 22:6. I've seen men who think they are men act like women as they exercise authority in weakness — and that is NOT authority at all! In contrast we have the big bully. The father who literally beats his children! He never lets up. He tramples Col. 3:21 into the mire, "Fathers, provoke NOT your children to angel, lest they be discouraged." Dad, that means you. Be a loving father! Show them as much love as you do correction. Correct in love. It means being a father who is loved and respected by your sons and daughters. A dad that they want to take into their confidence and share their triumphs, their joys and sorrows. Paul means, don't always be scolding your children so much that they become discouraged and quit trying. It means to have balance!
It Could Happen to You
Yes, the statistics are in. A little fifteen-year-old girl of a member swallowed thirty-two aspirins and slashed her wrist just recently in an attempted suicide. Four boys operate a theft ring. The oldest, a fourteen-year-old teenager, acts as ringleader in this church family's home. The four are busy stealing the neighborhood's grocery store blind. Recently two of the brothers attacked their father. Mom had to come to the rescue and beat them off with a boat paddle. Later she found an ice pick hidden in the older fourteen-year-old's room. Or take two other examples of families with visit after visit on the subject of child rearing — one was warned that improper relations between two children was probable. The father was insulted. A week later he apologized when the truth was known! The other family, on the most recent visit revealed incest between two of the children — a brother and sister! It makes you sick to examine the facts! Even minister's children, my children, are not exempt! Satan is roaring mad!! Remember Samuel? He made his sons judges over Israel. "And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment (I Sam. 8:3). Samuel ruled with authority, yet something went wrong. Maybe Mom didn't uphold her end of the job. Samuel suffered because of his sons' conduct. Then there was Eli's sinful sons. "Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel, and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (I Sam. 2:22). Eli lightly, effeminately, corrected his sons. He spoke to them and told them they really shouldn't do such things! God sentenced him to death along with his sons because he failed to punish in a manner befitting the crime. Eli honored his sons above God (I Sam. 2:29). Just a few minutes ago I sat down with three tearful, sobbing females. A mother and her two daughters. It was enough to tear your heart out! One, the eighteen-year-old, as pretty as a picture, was two months pregnant. It all started the night of graduation, a little whiskey, a moment of weakness, then tears for the rest of their lives!
Train Them Up In the Way They Should Go
The times are wicked, brethren. It's time to be shocked. It's time to act with wisdom, love, stability, compassion and mercy — but with force, knowledge and power, eyes wide open! The time to act is before trouble shakes you out of your favorite easy chair. Should it come, it could be quite a jolt! Your responsibility to your children is to train them successfully God's way! It is your first and highest responsibility given to you by God. You are charged by God to "train them up in the way of God!" That includes every last precept in the Bible guided by the truth on child rearing made plain in Mr. Ted Armstrong's Child Rearing booklet. To neglect your God-given duty is to neglect salvation! Failure to teach the child, failure to enforce discipline and love God's way — not YOURS — could mean the difference between eternal life and eternal death! Look at it this way! If you aren't able to rule well your own house, your own children, how in the world can you expect to rule in the World Tomorrow, the Kingdom of God (I Tim. 3:5)? The fact is you couldn't, you won't! If you, out of neglect or careless child-rearing habits, ruin the lives of your own children and you don't REPENT (become so deeply concerned that you learn how to rule, live and teach your children correctly God's way) you will not be in the Kingdom of God! What good would you be? God will not give the parent who fails in child rearing an opportunity to ruin millions upon millions of lives in the Kingdom. Failure in child rearing, failure to repent means DEATH — ETERNAL DEATH!! It's about time some of you who thin& you practice child rearing God's way WAKE UP! You're ruining the life of a potential God, a child that's not really yours. Children belong to God — God only trusts them to our care for proper education and rearing — His way! There is a way, it's in the Book of Life, your Bible. You've heard it in sermons and read it in the priceless Child Rearing booklet that too often gathers dust in the magazine rack. Train up children in the way they should go. "And thou shalt teach them [God's Laws) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them [God's way, His laws] when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deut. 6:7). Child training is simple if you follow through and train your children in Bible study and by example. It's just as easy as training an animal to do tricks. You're dealing with only ONE BASIC, easy to understand concept. Do good — get blessings! Do evil — get curses! (Deut. 30:15-19.) But you must teach them when they are young and pliable. Dad and Mom must cooperate 100 percent in discipline. Dad's word must be final, he is the ruler of the home (Eph. 5:23). When our children become teen-agers it's usually too late! A child must always receive punishment for wrong — the kind that hurts you as well as the child. Proper, never-neglected punishment will bring the child to one conclusion, the uric God wants all of us to learn! Doing well (good) is a blessing and pleases God and parent. Obedience always brings happiness! Doing wrong is harmful to others, to self and will always bring personal punishment. In this way, the child learns to fear to do WRONG! There are three keys to successful child rearing. First, know what is right conduct! Second, always, but always, punish wrong conduct! Never fail!! Thirdly, always reward good conduct. How many of these keys do you practice? One practiced without the other will bring failure. You must show and practice proper love as well as punish. Your responsibility is a serious one. Child rearing can be accomplished successfully God's way! Shoulder that responsibility while there is yet time. Satan like a roaring lion is ready to pounce on your weakest fault. He will slip in the back door if you leave it unguarded through improper, neglected child-rearing practices. If you wait until you hear the roar of the lion, it may be too late! A lion roars when dealing the DEATH BLOW!