Proverbs 23:26, My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.  For several years now, I have taught on the family.  Kim and I have been married 32 years and both of our daughters have now grown up and are out of our home.  Both girls and my son-in-law serve God in independent-fundamental Baptist ministries.  As a Pastor for more than twenty-five years, I have seen a lot of pain in the lives of Christians over the matter of their children.  It has caused many people to not serve God and to have bitterness in their lives.  The sad commentary is that most children who grow up in church do not end up serving God, and go through a lot of pain themselves because of their refusal to serve the Lord.

Kim and I are at the time of our life where we are looking back and evaluating what we did and how we did it?  Also, what mistakes did we make, where did we fail, and what we could have done differently.  Of course, the Lord has also shown more things to us along the way.  Recently, we have been working with two children in our church. Their single mother was saved, but the home was a total disaster.  These two children were in the fourth and sixth grade and could not read.  The mother has decided that she wants God to work in her life and wants her family to be all they can be for Him.  Kim has been working in home schooling these two children.  They are now reading at 3rd grade level after a year of work.  These children have been given a gift that they would have never received otherwise only by the grace of God.  Their lives have totally changed.  The sadness is there are multitudes of children like these children.  In this case the mother is a hard worker and must work to support the children and the family.  Dad is nowhere to be seen and hasn’t seen the children in a long time.

That is not uncommon, as in the last year in the United States 40 percent of all children have not seen their father.   In fact, 57.7 percent of all marriages end in divorce and those that remarry the second time, 75 percent end in divorce.  Someone might say, Well Pastor that is the world, not the church.  Hardly the truth.  Recently, an independent fundamental college did a survey of their graduates and 40 percent had divorced since they left school!  Divorce is a part of our culture and why is it that most children who grow up in church do not end up serving God?  Why do so many Christian marriages break up?  The church and the cause of Christ has been hurt and the lives of many destroyed by this matter.  God knows my heart on this.  This is not a preacher trying to lay a guilt trip on anyone.  It is a preacher with a broken heart trying to help someone who will listen.  I have come to the conclusion if I can help just a few to change their life and have the joy that they could have, then it will be all worth it.   Kim and I have spent some extra time studying this most important subject.  The principles I will be presenting in this series of articles will be from God’s Word and have been used in the lives of people to change their life and turn around their marriage and their children.  This is not someone who does not know what he is talking about.

Quite frankly, in all my years as a Pastor, what I have seen is most folks would like their marriage to change or their children to actually serve God, but are unwilling to pay the price that must be paid for that to happen.  Folks, that only happens when people have a real, intimate, personal, passionate, relationship, with the Savior and are really willing to apply the scripture to their life.

Many times I have heard from folks, Well Pastor I know many Pastor’s kids who have not grown up to serve the Lord.  I understand that, and many Pastors have had a lot of pain in their lives as well, because of this.  Many have destroyed their lives, their ministries, and their churches.  Also, many Pastors live in denial.  The answer that most folks give is, Well we did all we could, but they went the other way.  Of course, when you start digging into the matter, you find all they could do, really did not line up with God’s Word.  But, I am not making light of that because they really do believe that.  It is one of the devil’s lies, you did all you could.  Also, let me say this in defense of Pastors, there are many godly Pastors whose children have lived for God.  The Pastor cannot live your life for you, he can only instruct you from God’s Word.  You will make the choice of what instruction you apply to your life.

For those who want to discount with me Proverbs 22:6 with excuses like it is not for this time, it is a proverb, it really does not mean that, let me remind you,  II Timothy 3:16-17 says very plainly, ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.   Last time I looked, Proverbs is in the canon of scripture and is there for our profitability.

So, let’s get to the heart of the matter.  The parent who says, I took them to church, I prayed for them, we had devotions, and we put them in a Christian school, or even home schooled them and they went the other way.  I feel for you, but none of those things are a guarantee that your child will desire to walk with God.  I understand the child broke your heart.

First of all, you need to do all that can do to make sure your child is saved.  What a tragedy that a child would grow up in a Christian home with saved parents and never come to know Christ as Savior.  The devil will do all he can do to see to it that your children do not get saved.  Keep in mind for the Christian; once you do come to know Christ as Savior, you are in a battle.

Let me see if I can put it in proper perspective for you.  You are fighting the devil for your child!  You are also fighting for his or her future generations.  I think most Christian parents fail to see this.  I Peter 5:8-9, The devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.  Whom resist steadfast in the faith.  The devil doesn’t care about how pretty your church is, or if you look good, or act good, smell right, or dress right.  He makes war on babies and he will make war on your babies.  This is a spiritual battle!  II Timothy 2:4, No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.  One of the problems is right here.  We do not understand we are in a war and secondly, many Christians are so entangled in affairs of this life that they do not understand the war they are in and the damage that is happening right around them in their own family and in their own home.

First of all folks, you have to understand the matter is a spiritual battle.  You have to be prepared to do battle for your child.  If someone broke into your home and tried to take your wife or children there would be a battle.  However, the devil has blinded many Christians to the battle they are in to the extent they do not even know they have lost their husband, wife, or children.

I have had many parents tell me that they thought everything was okay with their child and then tragedy strikes.  They did not have a clue what was going on inside the child.  Numerous times I have heard a parent who had their child in a Christian school or home schooling the child and the child runs off or gets in to drugs, pornography, immorality, and many other things.  Was the child going to church? Was the child doing devotions? Was the child active in the activates of the church?  Yes.  So, what happened?

Through this series of articles we will find out what happened and how we can prevent it and how we can do something about it when it happens.  In all my years of pastoring and schooling, I have hardly ever heard anyone deal with the root of the problem and I have heard hundreds of messages from many different preachers.  I believe that is the real reason we have such a disaster going on.

Proverbs 23:26 is the key to spiritual child rearing.  My son, give me thine heart.

Let me ask you a most serious and sobering question.  Do you have your child’s heart?  You as a parent have to get the child’s heart.  Not only must you get the heart of the child you must keep the heart of the child!  Do you know how to get your child’s heart?  Failure to do so will cause the tragedy that we see around us today.  Before we are done with this series of articles you will be able to know.

I can hear someone say, Pastor I knew a Christian family where there were three children and two of the kids grew up to serve the Lord and one was a horrible rebel.  The answer is here, the parent did not have the heart of the rebel or they did not keep the heart of the rebel.  Did you know there are more than 60 different passages of scripture that deal with the heart issue?

When you get right down to it, if there is a problem it is a heart problem.  A parent who has the child’s heart will have access to everything else in the child’s life.  There is a companion verse to Proverbs 23:26 and it is in Malachi 4:6, And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.  Did you notice the order?  There is also a promise to what will happen if the hearts are not turned.Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  Like 1:17, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.  How do your children see you?  Do they see you as just?  That is how they should see you.  I want you to notice hearts of the fathers to the children.  God is so concerned about this; He had a huge section of the book of Deuteronomy dedicated to it.  See our web site and the message is called Not Forgetting the Children.

Dad have you turned your heart to your children?  Mom have you turned your heart toward your children?  This has to happen before you can and will get their heart.

Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.   You may wish to read Psalm 78:5-7 and Deuteronomy 6:1-2 in connection with this.  Here in Proverbs 22:6, the phrase train up means to dedicate or pay the price.  A price has to be paid in a spiritual battle or any battle for that matter.  If someone is going to train, they must dedicate themselves to the task and pay the price.  As a former professional baseball player I spent many hours training.  It took dedication, time, and effort.

I want you listen very carefully right now.  The real problem in contemporary Christianity is parents being willing to change themselves.  Folks, there is a price to be paid to rear our children for God.  God knows all about you and me and He knows if we are willing in our heart to pay the price.  It will mean denial of self.  We have to be willing to pay the price of turning our hearts to our children and turn our hearts and theirs from themselves, others, and to the parents.  You have to get the child’s heart!  The problem in every spiritual problem is the heart!

Folks, rebellion begins in the heart.  Children’s lives wander because their heart wanders.  Have you ever heard anyone say, Some rebellion is normal and to be expected.  THAT IS A LIE!  IT IS A LIE OF SATAN!  Listen to me on this, rebellion is a serious matter and is not normal it is Satanic.  The devil wants you to believe that it is okay.  After all it is just a child that is normal.  The devil then has got you convinced you don’t have to deal with it.  The sad part is the parent does not know how to deal with it and shoves the child further into rebellion in the heart.  I Samuel 15:23, For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, Jeremiah 5:23, But this people have a revolting and a rebellious heart.   Ephesians 6:6, Doing the will of God from the heart.  The heart of every spiritual problem is the heart.

Listen carefully, if you do not have the child’s heart you have the potential for rebellion, and terrible, wicked, horrible things can happen from that.  The one who has the child’s heart eventually will have his life and his loyalty.  Whoever has the heart, will eventually have the child.

You can tell a lot about who has the child’s heart by looking at their bedroom walls!  In ending part one, I am going to tell you four things about the heart and then I will pick up in part two the particulars of the matter of the heart.

  1. Pray for and ask God to give you your child’s heart continually.  Pray that you will be able to keep their heart.
  2. You can lose the heart of your child.
  3. Your child’s heart can be hardened.
  4. Your child’s heart can be stolen.