I was reading the book of Amos (Chapter 4) this morning . . . a book that documents the absolute refusal of Israel to repent regardless of cost or consequence. And I couldn’t help but once again, see the parallels between Israel and the current state of our own nation. Gross unrepentance by so many. Refusal to turn to God no matter what. Insistence on plowing forward headlong into hedonism and self-serving even to the point of destruction.
As I was reading and praying, I realized, that yes, our nation needs to turn back to God, and we’ve seen movements . . . revivals . . . recently, within colleges and universities here in the United States and in various places around the world, that bring me such great hope. I believe so deeply that this next generation is being set up to reach the world for Christ like never before. But the absolute truth is, it doesn’t start at that level. It doesn’t start big and get smaller. It starts small and grows exponentially from there. It starts with a tiny seed. It starts in each individual heart, and then in each individual home and family. It’s why I believe so fervently in the institution of family and God ordained, biblical marriage. It’s why I believe in the biblical outline and authority set up by God, for marriage . . . between one man and one woman, who are absolutely equal in God’s eyes, but also, with the husband as the head of the marriage and the house, leading the family with sacrificial love.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:22-31
These scriptures and this line of thinking are not wildly popular, even amongst Christians. And to some extent that’s on Christians because for years, we’ve only gotten it partly right. We’ve hit some of the points, but rarely do we hit them all. These verses have been twisted and abused by men and women to get their own way. They’ve been taken piecemeal and used to manipulate and control, but that was never what God intended. Having said that, the devil has had a heyday with attacking what God intended to be holy and sacred in our marriages and families, and we’ve let him. Sometimes we even jump on board. I could write a book about this topic, and entire books have been written, but I’ll just say, if you’re married, this is the rulebook you should be following, in its entirety, if you want a Godly, thriving, biblical marriage. God never gets anything wrong. Period. And I’ll go further and say, I believe this is where the repentance and transformation begin. Not in a big auditorium or stadium with thousands of people . . . not in our churches on Sunday mornings . . . not in our bible studies and small groups on weeknights . . . we want and need to see transformation and repentance in all those places, but it starts at home. It’s why I believe the restoration of biblical marriage and the family unit are so important. It starts in our families . . . in each individual heart . . . in our marriages and in our family units and extending outward. Because that’s where change and transformation start. That’s where repentance begins.
And to take it one step further, if we are parents, we have not only a huge responsibility, but the great privilege, of raising our children to love and serve and know God. It’s not that we’re perfect . . . far from it, and thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness and redemption for all our mess ups and mistakes and sins at the foot of the cross . . . but we have a responsibility placed on us by God to raise our children in a Godly home. To guide and lead and teach them the things of God, the love of God, and yes, the statutes and commands of God. Ultimately, we can’t choose to follow God for them. As teenagers and young adults, they are going to have to choose which path to follow, but we need to be doing everything we can, taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible, to set them up for success. And as parents we have to walk the walk . . . we can’t depend on everyone else to raise our children in the things of God for us . . . we have live out what it looks like to serve and follow Christ . . . not just on Sunday morning but daily.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way they should go. The way they should go . . . not the way we wish they’d go . . . not living vicariously through our children . . . not in giving them everything they want and we wish we’d had as a child . . . but in asking God how to teach and lead and guide them in the way they should go. This takes courage, boldness, and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. It takes standing your ground at times even when they may be angry with you. It takes leading not just with words but by example. It means apologizing and seeking forgiveness when you get it wrong . . . and yes, God knows, I often get it wrong.
Back to Amos 4 . . . I don’t have all the answers, but I truly believe that if we want to see a nation and a world reached for Christ rather than a people who repeatedly choose to live unrepentant come what may . . . if we want true, deep, lasting transformation . . . if we want revival that leads to repentance and salvation of the lost . . . then we have to start in our homes and with our families . . . with our marriages and with our children. It doesn’t have to be super spiritual. I’m not saying you need to have hours long prayer services every day in your homes. I am saying, put up the phones, put away the devices, connect with your kids, play games, talk about life and God and all the things, drag them out of their bedrooms (not literally . . . and it won’t kill them), engage with them, let them see you reading God’s word, pray with them and for them, ask their forgiveness when you mess up, and when appropriate (not everything needs to be shared with your children), let them see your struggles . . . believe me, my family is well aware of how imperfect I am, and I’m certainly not saying to be holier than thou, fake, and pretend to have all together all the time. Kids can smell insincere and fake a million miles away. Be real, and as we’ve been saying in Christian circles for decades, let them see you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Because you can send them to every Sunday School class, every church camp and retreat, every youth service, and never miss anything anytime the church doors are open, but if you’re not living it, in a very real way in front of them, in your home, they will know. And believe me, they will take note. We have to walk out our salvation, day by day, humbly trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, fill us, and change us, and subsequently, our families, our communities, our world will see the effects and reap the benefits of that.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15