ANSWERS TO “IT’S THE FRIENDS THAT COUNT” DEVOTION
I received a number of sincere questions in regard to my last devotion about encouraging godly friends for our children. In case others are thinking similarly, here are my answers to some of the questions.
WHERE CAN I FIND GODLY FRIENDS?
Some asked what they can do if they cannot find any suitable young people for their teens. One asked, “How do you find the appropriate friends for your children to "hang out" with when you feel there are none in your church, or none or next to none, in your homeschool group or neighborhood? Our young teens—16, 14 and 12, are exposed to a lot of un-neighborly-like conduct and bad influences...”
I am sure there are many who can relate to this dear mother. Make it a matter of serious prayer. Pray together with your husband daily that God will provide godly teens for your children. Pray that He will provide godly husbands and wives for your children. God is a prayer answering God.
I know it is not always easy to find likeminded people. But you can always reach out to other families to share with them. As they see and enjoy your godly lifestyle, they too can become like-minded people. People are not always likeminded at the beginning. And then there are families who may not be fully like-minded, but their children still have good attitudes and are not a bad example.
In the meantime, don’t retreat. Go on the offensive. There is a difference in “hanging out with friends” and ministering to those in need. Your teens need to be part of changing the world. Talk and pray about it together with your children and ask God to give you creative ideas on how you can reach out to people in need to bless them and minister to them. There are so many people in society who need to receive the practical love of God. I will give you some ideas but I know God will give you many more ideas that will suit your family and He will tell you what He wants you to do.
This is a wonderful thing for families to be involved in. Check out what is near you and see how you can get involved. There are many opportunities for ministering to the poor and to people in the projects.
WIDOWS OR OLDER PEOPLE
Why not prepare a wonderful meal for all the widows that you know? Your children and teens can be involved in helping to prepare a beautifully set table and cook a lovely meal. They can be involved in waiting on them at the meal table. After the meal they could entertain them with musical items. They could sing to them, or if they don’t sing, they could recite poems or entertain them with whatever gifts they have. This is a wonderful way for them to exercise their gifts and at the same time to bless older people. And they can then pray for whatever needs the folk may have.
You could do this at different times, reaching out to two or three widows at a time. One time I put on a luncheon for older people living on their own. Actually, I had so many people on my heart that I couldn’t do it on my own, so I roped in other families to help me. We ended up doing it in a church hall and gathered in about 100 older people. Together we provided a wonderful feast. There was so much food that we thought they wouldn’t eat a quarter of it. We were amazed. They scoffed the lot! They were all so blessed. And then the children sang songs and gave items that blessed them so much.
Some families like to go to Aged People’s Homes as families and sing to the older people. That’s always a great thing to do.
James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Actually, I have just thought of this as I typed this Scripture again. Maybe a good way to keep our teens unspotted from the world is to get them involved in reaching out to the needy, such as orphans and widows!
It is difficult to raise children on your own. If you know a single mother, you could find out any urgent projects that need doing around her home. You could go with your teens to fix these up and also help with her children. Or you could invite a couple of single moms and children to your home and give them a night out, feeding them and ministering to them in whatever way God reveals to you. Remember, this is not something you do on your own, but together with your teens and children. Get them excited in ministering into people’s lives and helping them. They will become excited, fulfilled and blessed as they forget about themselves and their own needs and start ministering to others.
I think this is one of the greatest things we can encourage in our young people—to forget about themselves and think of how they can bless others. This is a great habit for them to get into so that it becomes the pattern of their lives. We read in our daily reading this morning, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Maybe there is a family in your church or in your neighborhood who have a particular practical need. Find out what needs to be done and go as a family to help them, or get your teens to help them.
The above are only some basic ideas. The Lord will show you specifically what He wants you to do, especially as you talk about it with your teens. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with. They’ll never have time to miss friends when they start helping others.
I DON’T WANT A BAD INFLUENCE IN OUR HOME!
“Our children are from ages 15 through 22.I want to have company (children and adults), in our home. But what if the adults drink? I want "a safe haven". We rarely have company and yes, our children go to other people’s homes that I don't want them at. Please, what advice do you have for me?”
Yes, your home is a safe haven for your family. Of course, if you are reaching out to adults who drink, you can invite them into your home to show the love of God, but you don't have to provide drink for them. When they come to your home, they come to enjoy the loving and godly atmosphere of your home. You don't bring in their atmosphere, but you bring them into your atmosphere and the lifestyle of your home.
I have always taken the principle that God gave to the Israelites that whatever law He gave them, the same law was to apply to the stranger. If someone who comes into our home has a conflicting lifestyle, I don’t defer to his or her lifestyle, but expect them to adhere to the principles that we hold to in our home. This solves all problems in this area. Here are some Scriptures to read:
Exodus 12:49, “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourns among you.”
Leviticus 24:22, “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of our own country: for I am the Lord your God.”
Numbers 15:16, “One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourns with you.” (Also Numbers 9:14; 19:10; 15:14-16, 29, 30-31).
If someone is staying in our home and they smoke, I expect them to go outside and smoke as we do not allow smoking in our home.
If someone is staying in our home and they are used to watching TV during the day, they would not be able to do this in our home. We don’t have TV anyway. We only allow movies (that we approve) in the weekends or on special evenings during the week.
If a family is staying with us and their children jump on the beds and the sofas, I will ask the parents to refrain them from doing this as we do not allow jumping on sofas or beds in our home.
I only allow food in the kitchen and dining area in our home—not in the lounge or the bedrooms. Therefore I expect this same rule for everyone who comes into our home.
Each family has their own rules which help to keep their home running smoothly. People who come into the home should be expected to keep to the rules of the home also. And we do not need to apologize for this.
HOW CAN I AFFORD TO HAVE OTHERS IN MY HOME?
“I wondered what advice you can give to families STRUGGLING financially to even put food on their OWN table, let alone feed throngs of company! I know gatherings mean food. When we had more money we had people over ALL the time for dinner, now it is sooo tight that we haven’t had much company at all. My children miss it but I am not sure what to do right now… any thoughts?
I know it is difficult at this time. We are facing it too. However, you can still get together with company. There is always a way.
When you want to gather another family, or a few families with young people, to your place for a meal, ask them all to bring a dish. You can have a potluck meal together. People don’t mind doing this. When each one brings something, everyone has plenty to eat and you all get to fellowship. We do this every Sunday after church too. But we do it at other times also. In this way, you don’t have to hinder getting together with others.
Another idea: If your young people want to get together for a meal with some other young people, get them to take the responsibility of the meal. Teens need to realize that food doesn’t come out of nowhere. It has to be paid for! They could pool together for a PIZZA NIGHT. Or what about a DESSERT EVENING where they each make a dessert themselves--or whatever food they like to eat.
Actually, we are doing this at Christmas time. We are getting all our grandchildren who are old enough to cook to make a dessert for our dessert time. We have Christmas Dinner at mid-day and then have dessert later on in the early evening. Can you imagine what it is like when thirty or so children come for dessert at once? Help! It’s all gone before you can say “Jack Robinson”. So this time us adults will make our own desserts and the children will make theirs. I am going to give a First, Second and Third Prize for their best desserts so they are all excited about making the best one!
Have you read my manual, THE FAMILY MEAL TABLE AND HOSPITALITY. The second section of this manual discovers what God has to say in His Word about hospitality. Hospitality is a Biblical doctrine that starts in Genesis and weaves through the pages of the Bible until the last book of revelation. Hospitality is not an option, but the lifestyle of the kingdom of God It is an extension of our mothering and homemaking ministry. And amazingly, it is not dependent on our finances or lack of them! You can order this book through the web page, www.aboverubies.org
Also go to the webpage and click on ARTICLES AND STORIES. Then click on HOSPITALITY where you will find the answers to EXUSES FOR HOSPITAILITY.
WHAT’S IN THEIR HEART?
“Do you think that a teen’s seeming 'rebellion' is a mark of where their heart was initially? When they 'fall away from faith' and leave the home, I wonder if it was THEIR faith at all or just their mom and dad's.”
Yes, you have a good point. If there is a seed of rebellion in their hearts, they will be easy prey for the enemy. And they will be easy prey for the wrong company. That is why it is so important to faithfully train our children and to watch out for any seeds of rebellion when they are very young. Rebellion must be dealt with immediately and not left to grow. We don’t wait until our children are teens to train them. We start at the first sign of disobedience and rebellion.
Of course, our highest aim is to raise children whose hearts are so dedicated to the Lord and so completely delivered from the power of this world system that they can go into any situation in this world and into any evil company and not be tempted by it.
This is our vision. We are raising them to go out into this hurting evil world to bring God’s love and truth and salvation. We are not raising children for hibernation, but for the revelation of God’s heart to the world. They were born to bring light into the darkness. They were born to be truth-bearers in this deceived world. We are preparing them to bring God’s love to the hurting and His salvation to those who are bruised and devastated by sin. When the the scribes and Pharisees complained about Jesus eating and drinking with publicans and sinners, Jesus replied, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)
But you have to know your children. If you know they are not ready for this yet, you have to continue to strengthen them in their convictions and guard over their company. There are other young people who are strong in their faith, ready to conquer evil and who are not touched by the spirit of this humanistic world. They will not be interested in “hanging out” with ungodly friends. They’ll only be interested in bringing salvation and help to the ungodly.
Above everything else, pray for your children and your teens. Pray that they will have a born again experience and a real encounter with God; that they will be rooted in Christ and His Word; that they will love righteousness and hate evil; that they will hate the spirit of this world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, and will only want to do the will of God; that they will love to pray, love to read the Word and love the fellowship of the saints; and that they will have a vision to impact the world for Christ.
We are training world-changers!
Hope the above few tips may be a blessing to you.
Love from NANCY CAMPBELL, ABOVE RUBIES