Psalm 127:3, Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: (means given to us by God for safe keeping for Him) and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Several years ago Kim and I started Hope Biblical Counseling Center because we were concerned about the number of children that were growing up in Christian homes and not going on to live for God.  Depending on whose statistics you look at and how they were taken 60 to 80 percent of all children who grow up in an Independent-Fundamental Baptist Church do not go on to serve the Lord after the age of 18.  A high percentage of Bible College graduates also do not go on to serve God after they graduate as well.  The number of Christian marriages that end in divorce is around 50 percent.  Folks that is utter failure.  There are many reasons for this.  The most important reason is the individual does not have a real, intimate, personal passionate relationship with God.  Therefore, when the devil puts outside pressure on the person’s life by circumstances, people etc. the Christian has no power at the point of spiritual impact.  They are not a submitted person, James 4:7 and they do not turn things over to God at the point of impact; therefore, they live the Christian life in their own power.  Satan does this to control the mind, emotions, and will.  The will of course is where we make our decisions.  Therefore, the Christian makes decisions based on how they feel rather than what God says.  Nothing but disaster happens from that type of decision making.  Proverbs 13:13, “Whoso despiseth the word (does not give proper attention to) shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

In epidemic proportions the parents of Independent Baptist children are losing the hearts of their children.  Sad and disastrous consequences result from the child’s destroyed life and the other people they influence.  I get to do a lot of counseling with parents and children.  I have heard hundreds of people who weep and cry over their children. The disasters and pain are very real. It never ceases to amaze me at the lack of spiritual living and spiritual parenting by parents. I have found that most parents would like their child to live for God, but are not willing to make the changes in their life that needs to be made to see that happen. The lack of a real, intimate, personal, passionate relationship with the Saviour is the single most important reason parents lose the hearts of their children.  To understand what it means to have that relationship with God please go to our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounseling center.com – How To Have A Real Relationship With God 

I decided to make a list of things that I have seen over 34 years of ministry that cause parents to lose the hearts of their children. This list is in no particular order.  The most important thing about rearing spiritual children is for the spiritual parent to get and keep the child’s heart.  Proverbs 23:26, My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. The parent must be committed to getting the child’s heart and keeping it. You must pray for this daily and work at it.  Part of getting their heart is to ask heart questions.  You must make time to communicateYou must draw out what is in the heart.  Remember that if you lose your child’s heart, find out where you lost it and make every effort to get it back as soon as possible.  Your child’s heart can be lost, hardened, and stolen.  These are the three steps every child takes to rebellion.   These steps are taken because the parents lose the heart of the child.  To read more about Getting The Heart Of the Child, visit our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com

The goal of every Christian parent in life should not to be to rear a good kid or have students who are excelling academically, are great athletes, and so forth.  The goal is to equip our children, these young saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12, Mark 10:45).  Our goal as Christian parents is to train them to stay on the road of usefulness to God.  If, in the end, they are unusable to Christ, they are not handling life spiritually and wisely, both they and we have failed.

1.  I can lose my child’s heart by being in a poor church.  This is becoming a very hard task to find a good solid church.  If I am in a good church I need to support it and be thankful for it. Don’t be deceived about this!  The Christian life is all about making right choices.  One of those choices is to find a good Bible teaching church and be faithful in my attendance.  We receive many inquiries here at For The Love Of The Family from people concerned about their church or not being able to find a good church. First of all, let me say I am a supporter of the local church.  I believe God’s program today on this earth is a spiritually sound, doctrinally sound, spirit-controlled leadership, Bible teaching and preaching, and practically sound independent-fundamental Baptist Church.  However, there is a wide swath today in independent-fundamental Baptist churches.  Folks, let’s just be honest, many independent-fundamental Baptist churches today are not a good place for a spiritual person to try to rear their family spiritually.  

I am in the ministry because God called me to help people get saved, learn, grow, and have an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God.  To have a real relationship with Him and to not have a mechanical one that leads to destruction.  

All around us today we see spiritual destruction of the lives of people in the church.  Honestly, some of that comes because of bad spiritual leadership in the church and some by disobedience to God and His Word by people in the church.

 Let me say, while I am a supporter of the local church, I am not a supporter of a church that has sin in their leadership or in their assembly that the church is not willing to deal with.  The apostle Paul addressed the issue to the Corinthian church of their unwillingness to deal with their sin.  They were a carnal church led by their emotions and their lusts.  Romans 6:12-13, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield (submit) yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  I would suggest reading and meditating on Romans 6:11-19.  Ladies and gentlemen sometimes in a church sin has to be dealt with.  Sometimes sin has to be dealt with in the leadership of a church. God will not bless a church that does not do so.  It will affect the lives of the people negatively if it is not dealt with. I have heard and seen horror stories of churches out of control and lives being destroyed because of un dealt with sin of the leaders of the church and the people in the pew. When this happens we get a local church that has all the sins of Ephesians 4:31, Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.  The church becomes a place of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour (public quarreling), evil speaking, and malice (a desire to hurt).  There is nothing Godly about any of that and it sure will hurt the family that wants to live for God.  The church becomes a place of anger and fighting, a literal “mad” house.

Dr. David Cloud in his excellent article, I Am Not Your Pastor  says, “In some cases there might not be a sound, spiritually-healthy, Bible-believing church within commuting distance, and I would not expect God’s people to attend a church that would undermine their faith or hinder their spiritual lives or that of their children. 

But my recommendation in such cases has always been to find a way either to help start a good church in that particular location or to move to a place where there is one. It has been said that “where there is a will there is a way,” and that is usually true.

Make sure you are attending a good sound Bible preaching and teaching church.  Make sure the emphasis of the church is upon growing spiritually, winning the lost, and not activity orientation.  Do not look for a church because of activities it has for children.  Every activity under the sun is not what your child needs to be a godly person.   In fact, it is the exact opposite.  Let me be very clear, a church is not a Godly church if the emphasis of the church is purely activities or an over emphasis on activities.  Also, make sure the church does not have an emphasis on sports. (Many people are swayed easily by an open gym!)  Most believers who do this are pretty shallow spiritually and do not see the danger to their children and family.    Look for a church that has emphasis on teaching spiritual truth to you and your family.  Look for a church that has the ministry of the Word of God as their primary emphasis.  Look for a church that encourages godliness, holy living and is seeking to build spiritual maturity in your children.  Not a giddy silly, “I have to have friends” orientation.  Friends steal hearts! You only have generally 18 to 20 years with what you are seeking to influence in your children’s lives. The church needs to teach what it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 and how to live a spirit filled (controlled) life.  The church must teach what it means to be a servant rather than living a fleshly lust indulgent life right in the church.  Romans 6:11-19, Ephesians 2:3.  By the time our children leave the home they should be making wise, spiritual, and mature decisions.  They should know how to have a real relationship with God not a life built on living for lusts.  Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old (leaves the house) he will not depart from it. So, as a parent I need to get serious about my child’s heart and the time he or she leaves my house.  I must as a parent take the responsibility God has given me seriously and the church I am in will have a huge influence.  

Look for a church that does not have emphasis on ungodly music (music that appeals to the flesh rather than the spirit) such as contemporary Christian music, Christian rock, southern gospel music, and an overall emphasis on music instead of God’s Word.  Many churches worship high powered youth groups and music rather than God.  (By the way, that is idolatry).  Look for a church that has an emphasis on hymn music.  Make sure the church believes in discipleship and practices it.  Make sure the church does not use worldly methods to reach people.  There are churches that have all kinds of worldly emphasis to try to reach people, but in the process actually is the instrument the devil uses to steal the heart of the child.  The parents encourage it and are oblivious to what is actually happening.  Yet the parents cry when the child is outside the home not living for God.

Folks, God wants your church experience to be one where you can grow spiritually, learn, worship with traditional Godly music, where people are treated with kindness, Ephesians 4:32.  It must be a place that preaches God’s Word from the correct Bible in the power of the Holy Spirit, is concerned about the lost and tries to win them to Christ, and wants to disciple and help people.  It is a place that teaches people how to deal with their sin and how to help families have a real, intimate, personal, passionate relationship with God.  It should be a place that is a family that cares about each other not an entertainment center.  Families that are controlled by the Spirit learn how to deal with problems in the church in a right manner and in their personal lives. All families need to learn how to deal with problems rather than fight over them.

When a church is doctrinally unsound, practically unsound, (a church led by programs that are totally appealing to the flesh, Romans 6:11-19) or there are problems that are so far out of control and sin is in the camp of a local church and no one wishes to deal with it then it is time to go on to another church or help start a church in the area you live in, or move to an area where there is a church that will be what is needed in your life.  Loyalty to a sinful church demanded by pastors who are “lords” is not Biblical and it is not Christ honoring.  Your family deserves more than that for God.  In fact, the spiritual health of your family depends on it.  Always make sure if you do leave the church it is for the right Biblical reasons, done in the right way, led by God, for the godly peace of your family, and a Biblically correct worship opportunity for your family.  

Make sure you are attending a good sound Bible preaching and teaching church. I cannot emphasis this enough.  There is nothing more important than your relationship with God and your family’s relationship with God.  The local church plays a big part of that so it must be the “right church.”

2.  I can lose my child’s heart by failing to guard their heart.  Many parents allow their children to be around other ungodly people, and act totally surprised when their children are involved in ungodly activity!  If you let them spend their time with lust driven people their heart will get stolen.  I have to understand unsaved family, friends, and neighbors, will affect the heart of my child.  In rearing our children, we made sure that Kim or I was present and paying attention at all times.   A parent who pays no attention will surely lose the heart of their child.  Make sure to guard your children from the worldly television influences, worldly social networking, worldly music, and worldly peer and ungodly friendship influences.  Make sure to not allow your children to start concentrating on the opposite sex at an early age.  Make sure you are the most important influence in your children’s life.  Take the matter seriously that you are to guard the child’s heart!  It is your serious sacred responsibility!

3.  I can lose my child’s heart by my ungodly anger.  Make sure that you are not living your life daily in ungodly anger, or the spirit of anger.  Ephesians 4:31-32.  Most parents lose the heart of their children by using ungodly anger on them.  Understand that the Bible says this will fail.  He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.  Proverbs 22:8.  Understand that the Bible says ungodly anger comes from pride, Proverbs 21:24.  Many Christians are operating in their daily life under the impression they are in fellowship with God and in reality they are running their life in sinful anger out of fellowship with God, I John 1:6-10.  Ungodly anger is deceptive and many Christians are deceived by it, Galatians 6:7-8.  By doing this, we open up our life to the devil and his destruction, I Peter 5:8.  This destruction takes place in our lives, in the lives of our family, and our children.  The essence of the Christian life is to be controlled by the Spirit of God, Ephesians 5:18.  We are not controlled by the Spirit of God if we live our life daily in ungodly anger.  Satan is very deceptive and ungodly anger is designed by Satan to destroy your family and your life.  Make sure you understand that love is kind, I Corinthians 13:4.  To read more about dealing with ungodly anger visit our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com

4.  I can lose the heart of my child by not submitting myself to God and living a holy life.  Make sure your children see you submit yourself to the Holy Spirit, James 4:6-7.  Encourage them to submit themselves to the Holy Spirit.  As the Lord works in your life, it does not hurt these children to see you come forward in a service and submit yourself more fully to God.   Make sure you live a holy life separate from worldliness, evil, and ungodliness.  Make sure your life is a testimony of holiness not only at church but home as well.  

5.  I can lose the heart of my child by being doctrinally unsound.  Make sure you explain the great doctrinal truths of the Bible to your children.  It is very important to explain how the Holy Spirit works in your life.  Explain what it means to be filled (controlled by the Holy Spirit).  Be a student of the word and make sure you have a real daily time in God’s Word.  Please look at our web site on How To Have A Daily Time with God. www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com  Make sure you show your children how to do personal devotions and that they see you read the Bible and do personal devotions.  Make sure you read and explain the Bible to your children.  Your personal, intimate, and real spiritual relationship with God will be the most important influence in rearing your children for God.  The second will be conveying to your children the way to have that relationship and for them to have an intimate, personal, passionate relationship with the Lord.

6.  I can lose the heart of my child by not teaching them to have compassion for the lost.   Make sure your children see you submit yourself to the Holy Spirit.  Encourage them to submit themselves to the Holy Spirit.  As the Lord works in your life, it does not hurt these children to see you come forward in a service and submit yourself more fully to God. Make sure you share your personal testimony of salvation with your children.  Tell them how you got saved.  Pray earnestly for your children to be saved and make sure they understand the gospel.  Seek to see your children come to know Christ at an early age.  Make sure your children see you give out gospel tracts to others.  Take them on visitation with you.  Make sure your children hear you give a clear presentation of the gospel to an unsaved person.  Teach your children how to give that presentation.

7.  I can lose the heart of my child by being unfaithful in my life.  My testimony of faithfulness is very important.  When you find a good church or help start a good church be faithful to the church services.  Nothing is any more harmful to the family than to be unfaithful in your local church attendance or to be unfaithful in having a real relationship with God daily in His Word.  As far as church services are concerned, in my counseling I ask people early on about their church attendance.  I have seen way too much missing of church services and a pattern of unfaithfulness in the lives of many of God’s people who are in destruction mode, Proverbs 13:13.  I strongly believe and the Bible teaches it is sin to miss the services on the Lord’s Day because I am traveling or for anything other than I am sick.  I do not travel on Sundays where I miss the Lord’s house and I encourage our church folk not to do so.  I encourage our folks to understand they are to be in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day.  Years ago, I had an evangelist come by and ask if he could put his travel camper at our church for a couple of days.  I said, “Sure”.  He arrived on Thursday and I asked about the Lord’s Day if he was going to be with us?  He said no, “He had to travel on Sunday.”  I ask where he was going and what was the reason for travel on Sunday.  He did not have to be to his destination until the following Wednesday and it was only a 5 hour trip.  I recognized this was not a person who had the proper understanding of the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s house.  He ended up in disaster in his life and not effective in the ministry because he is no longer in the ministry.

As a Christian I need to understand my attendance at our local church is important as I am commanded in Hebrews 10:25, to “exhort one another”.  I cannot exhort one another if I am not in church.  It is an extremely poor testimony to young believers and others.  I believe if I am going to be away I need to go to church on both services on the Lord’s Day in a sound, independent, fundamental, Baptist Church.  I need to plan in advance to find the right church and know the times of the services.  

I need to take into consideration my churches activities if I am making travel plans to be away from my church.  If it is an important day for my church then maybe I need to think about rescheduling or scheduling my activity at another time.  If I have a responsibility at my church I do not give it away to someone else and then miss important services at our church.  Sadly, what is going to happen is some of the people who are missing services are going to have gaps in their learning and it will come back to bite them and their family.  Satan will make sure of that.  It will affect their life negatively and seriously.

Faithful attendance in God’s house is not just about me, it is about others as well.  My testimony in this speaks loudly.  I see it as basic spiritual immaturity if someone does not or cannot understand that.  It is a spiritual level that needs to be corrected in many churches.  There are believers in many churches who have sadly never been totally faithful in their life.  It has hurt them badly and their family badly.

If I am a member of a local church, I am to be in attendance, support it, and be faithful to it.  Hebrews 10:25-27, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”  Notice it says “willful sin” so missing God’s house is “willful sin”.  Many people’s lives have been judged by God, because by “willful sin” I leave God no other option but to judge my life.  Then horrible things happen, with my children or marriage because of my “willful sin” etc.

Is your church having any special classes you have signed up for?  I encourage people not to sign up for classes and then miss them.  It is a basic lack of understanding that these are important classes not casual.

Many people who have family who ask them to come visit think they drop everything in their local church to accommodate that issue.  It is like they lose all spiritual sense if family calls.  I had one lady in our church when family came to visit her she stayed home from church.  Problem was that someone came to visit every other week!  Bring your family with you to church!  How in the world will you see them get saved by staying home with them?!  Also, if they do not want to come to church let them know you will be back after church is over, but they are welcome to come with you.  In this lady’s life her children are a disaster and their lives have been destroyed.   Then we have the folks who always have to go visit family.  When they do they do not go to church!  It is sin and it is spiritually dumb!  You are teaching your children that vacations and family mean I forget about God for this time.  It is unfaithfulness and it is sin!   Saying that, I did not say, do not go see my family, but I would encourage people to work around the Lord’s Day if possible.  If not possible, then be faithful to attend both services in a sound independent-fundamental Baptist Church.  Make sure it is not a compromising church.  If you have a responsibility in your church do you believe it is okay to miss the services consistently?  If so, they spiritually do not understand the Bible’s “exhortation” and command on this.  They do not think about the fact that someone has to do the jobs they are doing when they are gone and it is an unnecessary burden upon others in the local church.  Also, it is the wrong testimony to others in the church and most of all to their children

Obviously, there are emergencies where a person must be out, but I have found that people who are loose with their attendance on the Lord’s Day and the church services always have spiritual issues and generally their family and children suffer and later do not serve God.  (They are emotion led rather than Bible led and they certainly do not have the heart of their child.)

Years ago, I had a man in our church who worked for an automaker.  The automaker paid double time for working on the Lord’s Day.  He did so many times for the money, it was not mandatory.  He had two children who grew up to be disasters and he spent that money many times over getting them out of the jams they were in.  At the end of his life suffering from a debilitating disease he was wheel chair bound.  He told me, “Pastor I wish I had never done that by working on Sunday, I lost my children and look at their lives!” Folks the last six months of his life he sat in a wheel chair looking out a window crying over his family.  All his children were interested in was how much money they would get when he died!  He had raised selfish children.  They did not even put a grave stone on his grave for many years.

When I got saved I played professional baseball in the San Francisco Giants organization.  I was a pitcher.  I knew I could not continue to play because they play baseball on Sunday.  The Bible commands me to be in God’s house on Sunday.  I am to be faithful, worship, and learn what God has for my life on Sunday.  I know that many people in a sports oriented world don’t want their children to miss out on these activities.  Let me tell you that being unfaithful to God’s house to play sports shows lack of spiritual understanding and will lead to a stolen heart.  I did not say not to play sports, but I have to have the right priorities in my life.  When sports become a god spiritual disaster takes place.  Remember ungodly compromising people steal hearts. 

Don’t look at other people at your church and base your decisions on what they have done or do.  That is not a correct way to run my life.  Just because others make poor decisions that does not mean I should or even compare myself to them.  I want my children to grow up and walk with God.  They will not if willful sin is in my life and I am unfaithful. 

The Christians need to be exhorted to be in God’s house and not miss it.  It must be a priority in a person’s life and it will be an encouragement to their life.  God blesses faithfulness; He does not bless slothfulness, I Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”  Take inventory of your life; are you a faithful Christian in God’s house?  Your children’s lives and your marriage may depend on it. 

8.  I can lose my child’s heart because I am never home.  There are many parents who are just never home.  Jobs, activities, travel, sports, lusts, and the list goes on and on.  How can I convey anything to my children if I am never home?  I cannot parent my child if I cannot parent myself!  If I cannot discipline myself to be home, I will lose the heart of my child.

9.I can lose the heart of my child by listening to people for spiritual instruction who have lost the hearts of their children. It never ceases to amaze me that the people who have done a miserable job of spiritually rearing children always want to give spiritual advice and instruction to others.  Guard your mind from people who have failed in getting and keeping the heart of their child.  People want to get in groups and talk about how to rear children when their children are living ungodly lives.  Beware of this kind of wisdom. James 3:15-16, This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. Beware of “mom groups” where women who are not spiritually minded are trying to “support” you.  Many women get taken in by this sloppy, silly, foolishness and receive unsound spiritual advice.  In my counseling down through the years I have seen much damage done in this mentality.  Get your spiritual advice from those who desire to live for God, been successful in rearing Godly children and can give sound spiritual advice.  Of course, there are those who call everyone to get the gossip so they can share it with others under the guise of helping.  Beware what you share with those who pretend to care.  Use sound spiritual discernment. 

10.  I can lose the heart of my child by not educating them properly.  Make sure your children are educated in a Biblical, Godly, and Christian wholesome atmosphere. If I am guarding their heart, it is my responsibility to educate my children.  We home schooled all four children the Lord allowed us to raise and they all are serving the Lord.  Do not be deceived that educating your children in the world’s system (which is the devil’s system) will not affect your children.  Just remember if you send your child to college, even “Christian College” ungodly roommates can steal hearts as well.  This is also a heart guarding business.

11I can lose the heart of my child by not developing Godly character in their lives.  Make sure you understand that you have to develop Godly character in the lives of your children.  Their character is their destiny. The Bible gives at least 49 different character traits.  The devil will get interested in their character and your character.  He does not care about you or your children.  He has three desires, to steal, kill, and to destroy, John 10:9-10.  Realize you are fighting the devil for your children, I Peter 5:8.  Make sure to have character discussions in your home.  Learn to praise proper character in your children. (This may be the most important point).  Proverbs 27:21.  Generally, we do not praise our children or we praise the wrong things like beauty or achievement, which develops pride.  Praising character in your children develops their accomplishments further without building pride.

12.  I can lose the heart of my child by not having a loving nurturing home. Ephesians 6:4, And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.   Make sure your children hear you and your wife tell each other that you love each other. Make sure your children hear you express gratitude to God for His blessing in your life and family.  Make sure you tell your children you love them often and consistently. Make sure you explain Bible truths to your children and make practical application of that truth in the daily activities of life.   Make sure you put God first in your life and giving.  Make sure that you explain that all money is God’s money, not just 10 percent.  Make sure that you explain giving to the Lord to your children and that your children see you give to the Lord.  You cannot be in fellowship with God and fail to give regularly and systematically.  As your children are given money or work for money, make sure they understand that giving begins at an early age.   Make sure to encourage your children to read biographies and autobiographies of Christians of the past.  As a young Christian I immersed myself in these books and they were a blessing to my life.  We encouraged our children to read these books and it helped them to see how God had worked in other Christian’s lives.  Make sure your children hear you pray, and in your prayer let them hear you calling their name to God.  Teach your children how to pray.  Work at building a loving nurturing home.

Well folks, there is my list.  I am sure there is more, but these are the main things I have seen in parents who lose the heart of their child. Godly parenting is hard work and it takes much dedication to the task.  Galatians 6:7-8, Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 

We cannot fool God He knows my heart and He knows my child.  If I choose to live a lustful life, not controlled by the Holy Spirit, and be disobedient to God and His Word, then I cannot expect good results.  Most folks create their own chaos, by failing in the areas above.  Sadly, chaos follows them, their children, and everyone else they come in contact with.  God does not want chaos he wants us to have a life of life (abundantly) and peace, Romans 8:6.

It is our desire to try to help those who want to live for God.  It is our desire to encourage parents to live a Godly life and not to lose the heart of their child.  May God help each person who reads this article to see how important the heart of their child is to God.  A real question to ask ourselves is do I have the heart of my children?  After reading this article you know the answer to that question.  If not you must get serious, and if you need help feel free to contact here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center.