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"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." (Gen. 8:19)

In my camp meeting ministry to thousands of children through the years, one thing has continued to amaze me. It is the number of older children, twelve-year-olds raised in church, whose parents are active in church. But they do not receive Jesus until those meetings. I often wonder, "Why wasn't that kid saved before he got here, what's been going on?"

Many, many parents in the kingdom of God love God and want to serve Him, but they do not train their own kids. Some moms and dads, just because they have the things of God, assume that their kids will somehow get those things on their own.

Other parents are not confident that they can train their kids in the way that they should go. But successful parenting in troubled times requires that parents are personally and actively involved in training their children. Children need the kind of influence demonstrated by Abraham, who was singled out by God as an example of a godly parent.

Caring Enough to Command
In Genesis 18:17-19, the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment."

God said He chose Abraham because he would "command his children and his household after him." The whole process of child training focuses on taking your children, making decisions for them and, as they get a little older, pulling back a little bit to allow them to make decisions on their own.

If you will do this, by the time they are grown, they will have made so many decisions. Then they will know how to handle things like money, sex, rebellion, drugs and temptation, all the things that pressure them in the world. Commanding your children means making decisions for them that they are not ready to make. It requires you to exercise your authority as a parent.

When I was younger, I lived with my uncle, who was a pastor. He once told me about a family in which the mother would not allow the father to discipline the children, including an older son who was seventeen. This woman was against smoking, movies, drinking, and dancing. But she had a tongue about a mile long. She was always criticizing my uncle, the pastor, and planting seeds of discord in the church.

At the same time, this woman could not control her children. Finally, my uncle said to her, "You need to watch your step.You curse me and come against me and speak evil against me, but if you don't train and discipline those children and start listening to what I'm trying to teach you, the day is coming when your own son will curse you to your face."

"It will never happen," she said. But less than a year later, the seventeen year-old came home drunk one night. His mom caught him and when she confronted him, he just cursed her to her face.

She was not a successful parent. She did not command her children. As a parent, you have to make up your mind right now that there are a lot of things that you'll have to do because you know to do them, and not because you feel like doing them.

Abraham commanded his children and his household, even when it did not feel good. In Genesis 21:8-12, Ishmael, Abraham's teenage son by Sarah's handmaid Hagar, was caught mocking his younger half-brother, Isaac, "the heir of God's promises." Scripture says the thought to send Hagar and Ishmael away was "very grievous in Abraham's sight." But Abraham could see how growing up with an older brother continually dogging him and cutting him down would not be good for Isaac.

Now today, you can't cast out older children when they hurt the little ones. But if you have anybody living in your home, they should abide by your rules. Abraham was not the kind of man to say, "Whatever you want to do, do it." He was a man of authority. He said, "If you're living here and I am paying the bills, you're going to abide by my rules." When he was circumcised, every man in his household was circumcised. He commanded not only his children, but his entire household to keep the way of the Lord.

Know What They're Exposed To
Another responsibility you have in influencing your children is to know what your children are exposed to. There was a great difference in Abraham and his grandson Jacob in this matter. Genesis 24 tells us that when Isaac was a young man, Abraham sent his servant back to the land of his people to find a bride for Isaac so he would not marry a Canaanite woman.

But Jacob was careless about what he let his children be exposed to. According to Genesis 34:1-2, "Dinah, the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, Prince of the Country, saw her, he took her and lay with her; and defiled her."

The Canaanites were a wicked, immoral, ungodly people who worshiped devils and practiced witchcraft. Jacob allowed his daughter to go out without any supervision to meet the daughters of the land of Canaan. Because of his carelessness and failure to teach his children, Dinah stepped out of protection and was harmed.

"Well, I thought Jacob had God's protection. He was from the seed of Abraham," you may say. Yes, he was the seed of Abraham, but he failed to teach and influence his children for God. He didn't look out for them.

In the same way, you need to know where your kids are and what they are doing. You need to know who their friends are. You should be very aware of what is going on in their lives.

Several years ago I had a secretary who prayed for her little girls all day, every day. But one time, despite the fact that she had a check in her spirit, she let one of them spend the night with a friend next door. All night long the mother was burdened to pray in the spirit for her daughter. Early the next morning, she learned that the neighbor's ten-year-old son had tried to molest her daughter.

You can't assume anything about another family. We like to have the kids our children are playing with come in the house every now and then. That way we can meet them and look them in the eye and discern what kinds of spirits these kids have before we allow our children to continue playing with them.

There is one group of kids in our neighborhood that we do not allow our children to play with. Although they are from a church-going family of professing Christians, a terrible spirit of strife follows the children wherever they go. When they are with our children, they try to turn our boys against each other or against their little sister. We finally had to tell this family, "You keep your kids at home."

Not only do you need to know to whom your children are exposed but also to what they are exposed. When our boys were younger, they bought little action figures from a certain television series before we had checked it out carefully. When I read the book that came with the figures, I saw the phrase, "We called the spirits into our bodies and they came into us and they changed us." They were talking about inviting demons into their bodies! You can call it play-like and fantasy all you want to, but that type of imagery is a very real thing. You just don't play with those things.

Never Quit Praying
There may come a time, as your children grow into their teenage years, when your influence may not seem very great. Even if you can't influence your kids, don't assume that no one can. God can repackage His message and send it to them in another vehicle.

My own parents never really had any godly influence over me, but every time I went to Grandma's house, she'd talk to me about the things of God and preach to me and tell me I ought to be in Sunday school. I didn't listen to my grandmother, and finally she just gave up talking to me about it. But the one thing she didn't give up on was praying and believing God for me. Then when I was seventeen, some things happened in my life that made me just sick of the world. I began to get fed up with the hypocrisy that I saw in my friends and the way people used people.

When evangelist James Robison came to my high school about three weeks after that, I was ready to get saved. That happened because of my grandmother's prayers. Although her influence on me had totally dropped, she never lost her influence with God.

Don't ever give up being involved in the lives of your children. God will show you how to train them in the way they should go. Make the decision to exercise godly authority in love toward them, even when it is not pleasant to do so. Decide that you are going to know what they are exposed to.

God likes to make covenants with parents who, like Abraham, are careful what influences they allow for their children. The blessings He promised to Abraham belong to parents who will make the right decisions about their kids "who will command their children."

You can influence your children for God.

Source: One Word From God Can Change Your Family
by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Willie George
Web site: Church On the Move
At age 20, Willie George began an outreach with Sunday School buses and quickly learned how to hold the attention of rowdy, unchurched kids. In the decade that followed, his groundbreaking techniques brought him to national prominence as an authority on children's ministry. In 1982, he created a wildly successful, nationally broadcast kids television program, The Gospel Bill Show.

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