Tag Archive | Parenting

The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

Free Kindle book for a limited time. {Today 12/17/13 Kindles are $49}

In this companion resource to The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas helps dating and engaged couples work through the critical issues and questions they must address before they decide to marry. The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide features 9 sessions of biblical study for couples, as well as a pastor/counselor’s premarital plan for walking a couple through the guide.

The The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why? is available for $2.99 for a limited time.  I have read this book and it is one of the better books dealing with dating or courting relationships.  It does not go off into the extremes of patriarchy where the father picks the fellow for his daughter nor does it leave couples floundering around hoping that dating gets them the “perfect” marriage partner.

What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy but to make you holy?

In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas will transform the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.


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Obedient Children – John Piper

Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children

A Tragedy in the Making

I witnessed such a scenario in the making on a plane last week. I watched a mother preparing her son to be shot.

I was sitting behind her and her son, who may have been seven years old. He was playing on his digital tablet. The flight attendant announced that all electronic devices should be turned off for take off. He didn’t turn it off. The mother didn’t require it. As the flight attendant walked by, she said he needed to turn it off and kept moving. He didn’t do it. The mother didn’t require it.

One last time, the flight attendant stood over them and said that the boy would need to give the device to his mother. He turned it off. When the flight attendant took her seat, the boy turned his device back on, and kept it on through the take off. The mother did nothing. I thought to myself, she is training him to be shot by police.

… Continue reading Here.


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Proverbs 4 – Path of the Wicked

Proverbs 4:14-19 concerns avoiding the path of the wicked.

Proverbs 4:14-19 (ESV)

14  Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15  Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18  But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19  The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.

This passage gives us several methods of avoiding the wicked path.  We are to avoid it at all costs.  We aren’t to go up to the edge and peer over.  Nor are we to walk along just slightly off the beaten path.  Nor are we to take “shortcuts” utilizing the path of the wicked along our walk.

Avoiding the Path of the Wicked

  • Do not enter the path of the wicked – Proverbs 4:14
  • Do not walk in the way of evil – Proverbs 4:14
  • Avoid it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Do not go on it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Turn away from it – Proverbs 4:15
  • Pass on – Proverbs 4:15
  • Deep darkness – Proverbs 4:19
  • Do not know over what they stumble – Proverbs 4:19

Notice how similar Proverbs 4:14-19 is to Psalms 1:1 and Proverbs 1:15-16?

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

Proverbs 1:15-16 (ESV)

15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.

The Lord takes seriously our sinful human tendency to be persuaded to evil by those we associate with.  That is why we have the Bible full of warnings like this to avoid the path of the wicked.  We also need to not become complacent in thinking that we aren’t hanging around with wicked people so this doesn’t affect us.  Some companions that many forget about are the companions on TV, in the music industry (both secular and “Christian”), computers, the characters in books, and the characters in movies.  These companions have much more influence than many realize.  Often it amazes me how children are allowed to watch and read about circumstances that no one would allow them to participate in real life.

“The sins of others leave some kind of stain upon the conscience. I question whether you can read a newspaper and scan the story of a murder or a robbery, or survey with more distant glance in any book of history the sin of your fellow men, without being in a degree injured therewith.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Charles Spurgeon

 

As we get closer to Proverbs 4:23 concerning guarding or keeping your heart we see how avoiding the path of the wicked is important to the idea of guarding your heart.

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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Proverbs 4 – Wisdom

Let us look at an over view of Proverbs 4:5-13.

In Proverbs 4:5-13 the instructions are to “get wisdom”.

Proverbs 4:5  Get wisdom; get insight;

Proverbs 4:7 …Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Proverbs 4:11 I have taught you the way of wisdom; …

Wisdom is referred to in a feminine sense as something very desirable.

This is what Wisdom will do:

  • Keep you” – Proverbs 4:6
  • Guard you” – Proverbs 4:6
  • Exalt you” – Proverbs 4:8
  • Honor you” – Proverbs 4:8
  • Place on your head a graceful garland” – Proverbs 4:9
  • Bestow on you a beautiful crown.” – Proverbs 4:9
  • When you walk, your step will not be hampered” – Proverbs 4:12
  • If you run, you will not stumble.” – Proverbs 4:12
  • Is your life” – Proverbs 4:13

Now we can do a whole Bible Study on Wisdom but just a summary is I will do right now.  In this passage Wisdom is used as an analogy to a  female.  However, we are later told more about Wisdom. Who is Wisdom?

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (ESV)
30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Wisdom is Christ.  Let’s read each of the above and see that Christ does all that the passage in Proverbs says Wisdom will do.

Christ will:

  • Keep you” – Proverbs 4:6 / Revelation 3:10
  • Guard you” – Proverbs 4:6 / 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • Exalt you” – Proverbs 4:8 / 1 Peter 5:14
  • Honor you” – Proverbs 4:8 / Romans 2:6-8
  • Place on your head a graceful garland” – Proverbs 4:9 / 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
  • Bestow on you a beautiful crown.” – Proverbs 4:9 / Isaiah 28:5
  • When you walk, your step will not be hampered” – Proverbs 4:12 / Psalms 18:35-36
  • If you run, you will not stumble.” – Proverbs 4:12 / Jude 24
  • Is your life” – Proverbs 4:13 / Colossians 3:4

 

So our goal is to Get Wisdom, Get Christ.

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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Proverbs 4:23

Let’s start by reading Proverbs 4:23 in context.

Proverbs 4 (ESV)

1 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.

3 When I was a son with my father,  tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,

4 he taught me and said to me,  “Let your heart hold fast my words;  keep my commandments, and live.

5  Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;  love her, and she will guard you.

7  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.

9 She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10  Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.

11 I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.

13  Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

14  Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.

15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness  and drink the wine of violence.

18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

19  The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

20  My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.

21  Let them not escape from your sight;  keep them within your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

25  Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

26  Ponder the path of your feet;  then all your ways will be sure.

27  Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

 

Notice something missing?  The word “guard” is not there.  As far as I can find the NIV is the only version that uses guard.  The other translations use the word “keep“.

So what might Proverbs 4:23 mean by “keep” or “guard your heart“?

Look back at Proverbs 4:1 “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,“.  The chapter begins with a Father speaking to his son.  Proverbs 4 verses 10 and 20 reference “My son“.  Proverbs chapter 5 also begins in a similar manner “My son, be attentive to my wisdom;  incline your ear to my understanding,”.  So obviously this verse is not directed specifically to young ladies as many might imply.  Nevertheless the general principles of the verse does apply to all believers.  But it isn’t particularly in reference to guarding your heart in relationships, unless you are speaking of your relationship with Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 4:5-10).

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Guard Your Heart series

 

 


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Guarding Your Heart

What does the saying “Guard your Heart” mean to you?

A lot of that may depend on your age.  When I was young (a long, long time ago), I don’t think I ever heard that expression.  But often today you will hear that phrase tossed around usually directed toward our youth and especially toward our young ladies. Most often in the ideology of “guarding your heart” during relationships in dating.

Where does that phrase originate?

Proverbs 4:23 has the expression “guard your heart“.  Now probably all of us have read that verse many times especially since Proverbs is a book of the Bible that is easy to read and is full of essentially sound bites of information.  Sound bites is about all of the Bible, or even any reading, many today do.  But unless you are younger, a part of homeschooling or a part of the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” generation you may not have thought much about that phrase beyond the level of any other verse.

What might surprise you is this verse is one of many verses in the Bible that are often taken out of context and given meaning beyond what was intended in the Bible and by the Lord.

Take some time reading Proverbs 4:23 and we’ll look closer at it later.  You might be surprised. 😉

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Guard Your Heart series

 


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What is Thoughtfulness?

Thoughtful is:

1. considerate: treating people in a kind and considerate way, especially by anticipating their wants or needs

2. pensive: appearing to be deep in thought

3. carefully thought out: showing the application of careful thought

Encarta® World English Dictionary[North American Edition] © & (P) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

So why is being thoughtful important?

Deep and careful thought is necessary in order to be considerate of others, even to be considerate of God.  Our natural inclination is to think of ourselves and we must work at thinking of others.  Newborn babies are not thoughtful.  They demand food when they want it.  They sleep when they want.  They have no qualms dirtying the brand new diaper even if it is the last one.  A two year old doesn’t want to share their favorite toy nor do they care if moma really needs them to take a good nap.

It takes lots of teaching to teach children to contemplate and think of others.  Sometimes it hardly seems to be worth all the effort.  But as Christians that isn’t an option; it is a requirement.  Because if we fail to teach our children to be thoughtful and considerate they will struggle with pleasing the Lord and with loving others.  The two most important commands in the Bible concern this idea.

Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

38 This is the great and first commandment.

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The two great commandments encompass loving God and loving your neighbor. But in order to love both you must be able to think clearly about loving. We don’t love when we just go through life responding without contemplating our response. The Bible is full of explanations and encouragements on how to truly show love to God and others.

Matthew 7:12 (ESV) “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

This is a concept we teach our children from day one yet who hasn’t had a child twist the verse to say “Do unto others as they did unto you”? There is a big difference there. But sometimes the difference is hard for young children to grasp. They think because brother hit me I can hit him. It takes work to teach children to think out how this verse works without just being reactionary. Sometimes even adults struggle with twisting this verse.  Ever heard someone say because they did this to me I can do the same to them?

Obviously this concept is even more important and far reaching than I thought.

 


 

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No One Thinks Anymore

I’ll admit right from the start that I think too much.  Just ask my husband when it comes to making major decisions.  I want to consider all the possibilities before committing to a decision.  Nevertheless, I am astounded at how little the average person thinks.  Everyone seems too busy to think about much beyond what happens next in the day.  Even when my day is packed I find time to think.  Driving time, waiting in line, and even mindless tasks like laundry all are time when I can think and still accomplish other things.  But the most fruitful time for me to think is early mornings before the children are awake and in the evenings after the house is quiet for the night.  Then I can solve the world’s problems. :0  Actually it turns out that thinking and prayer go hand-in-hand.  Matters that I’m contemplating are brought before the Lord for His wisdom.  If life has become too busy to allow for an adequate amount of time to contemplate and think, then I will stay up late or get up in the middle of the night to make time.

It is hard to understand how some can sit and not think.  My husband when I ask him what he is thinking about nine times out of ten says nothing. ???  I thought this was an oddity of his; however, others have pointed out that their husbands do the same.

Many times I find myself getting irritated with children especially when they are in larger groups.  After pondering the issue I have decided what it is that bothers me.  Lack of thoughtfulness in children.  Granted children are children and they will be careless and childish, but a lack of thoughtfulness is something I desire all children to learn and not just my own.  Invariably, I find myself correcting other’s children when I see unthoughtfulness exhibited.  I haven’t arrived at a good way to encourage more thoughtfulness in other’s children.

I’m sure some would say “What is she talking about?”  Here is how I figured out ‘lack of thoughtfulness’ was bothering me.  I happened to be standing at my refrigerator and noticed our “The 21 Rules of This House”.  In a nut shell that whole list can be summed up with ‘thinking of others before yourself’.

First of all we are to consider the Lord before ourselves.  There is a multitude of subheadings that can fit under that.  While as believers we tend to say we put the Lord before ourselves, we must admit that often we don’t.

Secondly we are to put others before ourselves.  We know that but do we really think about all the ways we should be putting others before ourselves?  No, not really.  That is where the children come in.  See we must teach our children to put others before themselves.  Granted we teach them to share their toys and make special concessions to guests but there are so many more areas where thoughtfulness applies.

Thoughtfulness and thinking go together.  Thinking is the precursor to the behavior of thoughtfulness.

So begin thinking about how thoughtful you are in your life and if you are actually teaching your children to be thoughtful and think beyond the moment and themselves.

 


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Trying to Turn Apples In To Oranges

Most of us as Christian parents understand that we need to help our children grow into fruit bearing believers. However, often parents aren’t content with the fruit a child does produce. Some parents want orange trees while another wants an apple tree, yet a third parent may work really hard to produce a kumquat. There is nothing wrong with any of the above fruit but the problem comes when you try to turn an apple tree into a kumquat.

How do parents do that?

A parent may value education and deem it to be very important. I’m talking the focus on education beyond the typically expected learning of reading, math and science, the upper levels of education. They work hard to teach their child everything they possibly need to succeed in educational endeavors. They may struggle financially paying for a special private school which should ensure their child’s advancement educationally. Education can be a fruit if the child becomes a believer. The child could grow to be a very sound seminary professor who writes a well referenced Systematic Theology Book, like Grudem or Hodge. The child could become a world renowned doctor who finds the cure to cancer. Education as a fruit all depends on the Christian walk of the individual. Otherwise that same well educated individual might write a book trying to refute the existence of Jesus or develop a test so that imperfect babies can be aborted at the time a women finds out she is pregnant.

There are lots of fruit and good works that we can encourage our children in developing. Depending on their walk with the Lord will determine if they produce bad fruit or good fruit. But what happens if their parent tries to change the fruit from one type to another? To me this verse references that idea.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

What is the way he should go?

There are some ways that all children should go. They should be taught how to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit until they have the Holy Spirit guiding them along. Thus all children should bear the fruits of peace, patience, kindness and love like it says in Galatians 5:22. But when it comes to other matters we need the guidance of the Lord and also we need to know our children. While education itself is not a bad thing, we are not training our child in the way he should go if specific educational pursuits aren’t what the Lord has planned for him. See the Lord has good works planned for our children.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God has your child’s good works prepared beforehand. We as parents are to strive to equip our children to do those good works not to choose what good works they should do.

Most everyone knows examples of how in the secular world parents seek to produce apples from kumquat trees even to the point of plucking off the baby kumquats and trying to graft apples to the tree. Such as the father who wants a football star son and is driving his son to achieve football greatness yet the son wants to develop his skill in photography. Or the mom who wants a poised ballerina for a daughter but the daughter loves working with animals. We, looking from our standpoint, can easily see the problems with these examples. Of course, we as Christians and even as homeschooling families would not do that. Or do we?

How many times do we see an older homeschooled child and think that is what I want my child to be like? I’m not talking character or respectfulness but the actual skills (the fruit or works). Maybe an older teen girl bakes wonderful cakes, breads and pies which not only blesses her family and friends but provides a steady source of income. Now there is nothing wrong with teaching our daughters to bake and cook. All daughters should have at least a basic grasp of cooking. But what happens if we push for our daughter to be another “Miss Baker” while her heart’s desire is to play the violin. Can music not be as valid and as good of a fruit as baking?

Maybe we’ve got a son who dreams of owning a large farm with homegrown cattle, chickens and vegetables. He loves to ride and work on tractors but struggles with sitting still for school. Now granted there is a reasonable amount of education that all children should receive. But does that mean the parents need to pressure that child into achieving high scores on the ACT and going to college when he would rather learn from “Mr. Farmer” down the road forgoing the expense of college.

I seem old lately. 🙁  Old when it comes to homeschooling, at least, partly because I’ve grown so much and homeschooling has become so much easier to me. See I’m not trying to produce peaches from my life when in reality I’m a cherry tree. Gone are the days when I’m searching for the perfect curriculum or the perfect parenting book. Gone are the days when I read about a family that homeschools feeling we have failed to do so much. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try new things or change things when something doesn’t work well. But I’m not driving myself to be what I am not.

Baking bread happens around here but it isn’t a daily thing. It is also isn’t something I feel I must do to be a good mom. We sew some, but I found that I can buy clothes from thrift stores cheaper and with less hassle than making all our clothes. I’ve learned to take good but slightly imperfect clothes and make them work by sewing slits closed, adding an insert to the top or layering items. We have animals, which works well for us but that doesn’t mean every good homeschool family must raise chickens and goats. We have a garden, but not enough to sell and raise money. One child plays piano and violin for the church. She also teaches lessons now. My oldest son is the one everyone comes to for computer questions and repairs. That is some of the fruit and good works we produce here. I’m striving not to force them into some preconceived mold of this is what a good Christian homeschool family produces.

How are you trying to force yourself into producing different fruits or good works than God has intended for you?

Do you find yourself pushing for your child to produce fruit not in keeping with the “way he should go” but just your preconcieved ideas of good works and fruit? Or even worse according to the ideas of another “expert” on homeschooling Christian children?


 

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Fruit Bearing Children

Evidence of a Christian life is the fruit we bear.  That isn’t an option but a given.  A Christian bears fruit.

Matt 3:8 (ESV) Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Everyone bears fruit, that isn’t the question.  But as believers we should bear fruit for life, for God, for righteousness and the fruit of light.

Rom 7:4-6 (ESV)

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Phil 1:9-11 (ESV)

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Eph 5:7-12 (ESV)

7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Rom 6:20-23 (ESV)

20  When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

According to Galatians 5 there are some other fruits all Christians should bear.

Gal 5:22-23 (ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

No option is given. All Christians should bear the following fruits for God:

  • Righteousness
  • Light
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

Believe me, as a parent, teaching children to bear those fruits can be difficult and encompass all your time, partly because we as parents are still learning to bear the same fruits.

Sometimes the Lord blesses us with children who have fewer struggles bearing some of the fruit than others do.  There are babies who are born who naturally are more loving and more joyful while another child in the same family may struggle with being loving and joyful. That doesn’t mean that we as parents can allow that struggling child to get by with less because they display that sin nature more so than another.  We, and they, might have to work harder to produce fruit.  But the fruit will be more cherished when it comes because it required such hard work.

There may be a long time before a child bears fruit on their own.  Just as we don’t expect a real fruit tree to bear an abundance of fruit the first year we plant it.  However, there is a lot we as parents can do to help encourage our children to bear good and lasting fruit.  Just as we would water, fertilize and train a tree, we are doing similar for our children. Those trees that do not eventually bear good and lasting fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matt 3:10 (ESV) Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

While we as parents can only encourage, disciple and train our children to bear righteous fruit, it is the Holy Spirit who will enable our children to bear true Christian fruit.  Prayerfully at some point the Holy Spirit will come along side and convict and guide our children, taking over for us, as they strive to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness.  If your older child who claims to be a Christian is not showing fruit or at least showing buds of fruit you may need to question them and have them consider if they are truly a Christian.

 


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