Ask Father Paul 09-05-12

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Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations.  Here are a few that I have received in my ministry over the years and via email for this column.

 Dear Father Paul:  My sister and I have a big controversy going over whether or not to “make” our teen age kids go to church with their parents.  My husband and I insist that our three boys, ages 11, 13 and 17, go to church with us each and every Sunday while my sister has begun allowing her two kids to stay home,  sleep in or play video games whenever they “don’t feel like attending.”  We are close knit and all go to the same church.  Frankly,  their “go or don’t go” attitude with their kid’s church attendance is causing more than a small problem with our kids’ attitude. Sister says her kids are mature and that youngsters should be “able to make up their own minds about spiritual matters.”  Any thoughts? —   No Name.

 Dear No Name:  This is a pretty common problem for parents in today’s secularized environment.  Studies indicate that over 75 percent of American kids are not in church on any given Sunday.

 But the simple question often not asked by parents in these situations is, “What does God want?  Not what do the kids want, but what are God’s expectations of parents in the area of spiritual training for their kids?”

 God’s will and instructions for us as parents in this area are clear.  He gives us our children as a gift, but a gift that comes with responsibilities. For instance, we are first responsible for their physical well-being and rearing.  Good nourishing food, clothes, a warm dry house, rest and exercise, medical attention when needed, etc.  Most parents do a fairly decent job in this regard.  Some of us even “spoil” our kids with too much “stuff.”

 Secondly, God next expects us to see to our children’s education and preparation for the time when they must earn their own living.  Many parents fall maybe just a little short here. Many are not active in their children’s school activities, with athletics often the exception. They do not monitor homework, meet regularly with the teacher or limit TV or time on the computer.  Still, all-in-all, most kids do fairly well education-wise and end up in enjoyable and productive careers or jobs.

 But thirdly, for way, way too many parents, their children’s spiritual and moral training and development are seriously lacking or totally and completely missing. Far, far too many parents are like your sister with her modern, ”let the kids decide for themselves about spiritual things,” way of thinking.

 Letting children decide for themselves whether they should be in church, to me, makes about as much common sense as letting them decide for themselves whether they are going to eat good, nourishing food and go to bed at a reasonable hour to get the rest they need ... or, on the other hand, letting them decide to consume a diet exclusively of potato chips, soda, candy and ice cream, and stay up until 2 a.m., not do their home work or even go to school at all.  No parent in his/her right mind would rear their children this way.  And yet, for all too many parents, totally ignoring their children’s moral and spiritual development, has become “normal.” “Let them decide,” we say.

 Is it any wonder that all around us we see a crude culture dominated by moral and spiritual decay?  Things that we now see as OK, “normal even,” our own parents would have looked upon with embarrassment and revulsion.  How very sad.

 The answer is for parents to not give in to the culture of 2012, but to raise their kids according to the Bible.  B-I-B-L-E ... Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Listen to what the Bible says about child rearing: Proverbs 22:6, written by King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, ”Train up a child in the way he should go (the Lord’s way) and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 A few years ago I was honored to give the invocation for the retirement dinner of one of Georgia’s leading Juvenile Court Judges. I will never forget this comment he made that night.  He said, “In my nearly thirty years of service as a juvenile court judge, I can recall less than the number of fingers on both my hands, of kids who appeared before me for serious and major law violations whose parents had taken them to church every Sunday since they were five to six years old.”  Wow!

 Do you have a question?  Email it to me at paulmassey@earthlink.net and I will try to answer it in the paper.

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Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia.  Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, sacramental / liturgical church where Jesus is Lord.  You are cordially invited to worship with us this coming Sunday.  More information on the church, worship times, directions and pod-casts of Father Paul’s Sunday messages are at:  www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com.

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