This article is important to Christians because, unfortunately, when a teenage boy goes
astray I've witnessed the attitude in some Christians of, oh well, boys will be boys. And, don't
worry, they are just sowing their wild oats and they will get over it in a couple of years. This "sowing of
wild oats" should never be expected, nor accepted with our children. If a teenager was in a sinking boat would we
have the attitude, Oh well, boats do sink at times and if we just ignore it, all will be fine? Of course we wouldn't
think that...yet when it comes to a precious soul, do we dare turn away and not reach out to rescue a soul before it permanently
sinks to destruction? Even though the world around us is so use to sin, let us never allow ourselves to get so callous that
sin is to be accepted and ignored. --Pat
Expect More Out of Your Kids
Earlier this week, I participated
in a discussion concerning alcohol and advertising. The debate was over whether alcohol companies target youth in their advertising.
There is very strong evidence to suggest that the alcohol companies do in fact target adolescent audiences even though such
persons are under the legal age to consume alcohol. The prevailing thought that came out of this group discussion was that
large numbers of teens in our country drink and there are a number of factors that contribute to this problem. Perhaps part
of the blame can be shared by the alcohol companies and a permissive society. Some said the blame falls squarely on the shoulders
of parents. I believe this to be true, which leads me to ask, “What about parents today who have the idea that teens
are going to engage in this behavior no matter what?” I know of parents who have built areas in their own backyards
in order for their children to have “parties.” One parent who did this told me, “at least I know where my
son is, and I do not have to worry about him driving home drunk.” At the time, his child was well under the legal
The idea of its going to happen anyway is everywhere in our society. Not only do we hear this in reference to teen
consumption of alcohol, but we hear it in other areas as well:
Sex: We are told since it is going to happen we better supply our youth with so-called “safe-sex” alternatives.
Some parents now allow their children to have their boyfriend/girlfriend over to sleep together at home, because it’s going to happen anyway.
Drugs: In Oregon, state legislators have passed a needle exchange law for heroine addicts. This
is so they can turn in their dirty needles and exchange them for sterile ones in an effort to suppress the spread of HIV.
It’s going to happen, we’re told and because of this some now
even lobby to legalize drug use in America.
The it’s going to happen anyway line of thinking is scary because it places our culture on an extremely
slippery slope. Could we not apply it to cheating? Lying? Smoking? Homosexuality? Reckless driving? Anything and everything?
There is no end to it! Christians beware! The world can and does influence our thinking. Are we prepared to stand up
for godly values and moral principles? Are we ready to do the hard work of
instilling these values into our children?
What the it’s going to happen anyway approach suggests
why you need to be aware of it:
suggests a defeatist mentality. In effect,
big business, some parents, and society in general attempt to lower the bar for our youth on a daily basis. How dare we throw
up our hands and say we are helpless to correct a problem! Parents…expect more
out of your kids. Hold them to high standards of morality and conduct. Peter wrote, "do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One
who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior" (I Peter 1:14-15). We need to believe
in our kids – they are capable of doing incredible things for God. They can be tremendous sources of light – if
we will lovingly encourage them to do it.
It suggests a certain degree of parental laziness. In most cases, parents who give themselves
over to this approach are not holding themselves to high moral standards. It takes time and effort to train our children in the ways of righteousness. It is the job of the parents to bring their children "up in the discipline and the instruction
of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Too many parents have let their careers and hobbies steer them away
from raising their children. How many children in America are forced to raise themselves – even with both parents living
inside the home?
It suggests a lack
of belief in moral absolutes. There are
matters of right and wrong that are unshakable. We must beware lest we give into the dominant thinking that there are different
standards of morality. There is only one and it is from God. We need to humble ourselves before Him and submit to His ways.
Christians have been told to "walk as children of Light ... trying to learn what
is pleasing to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8,10).
It suggests that some parents are fearful of being called hypocrites.
There is a well-played public service announcement on many radio stations that encourages parents to get over the fear of
being called a hypocrite by their children when they tell them not to do drugs. Some parents operate under the mentality that
if they once engaged in bad behavior that somehow they are forever disqualified from holding their children accountable for
reckless behavior. The idea is that they are a hypocrite. If the parents have ceased the behavior and have learned from their
mistakes, they are not being hypocritical when they forbid their children
from unacceptable behavior. Going along with this, must our children know every detail of the “bad” things we
did? We must be careful lest by revealing our past we give our children a “green light” to do things we would
rather them not. It is easy for a child to rationalize that since his parents did it, he can too.
Parenting in today’s world is hard. But it has always been hard. Our generation is no different from those who have
come before us. Imagine trying to rear children with godly values in the corrupt, first-century Roman society. For those of
us who have children at home, let’s raise the level of expectation. Let’s live by example in holding them to God’s
standard and teaching them to trust in God’s ways. He
"He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues
evil will bring about his own death. The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk
are His delight" ( Proverbs 11:19-20).
Setting high spiritual expections
for our child means that we teach them God's law and love and we expect them to obey God and grow into godliness. Of course
we are talking about their age-related capabilities, never pushing and stressing them beyond what they are capable of handling.
However, in many cases the opposite holds true, parents don't see what their child is capable of handling spiritually
and they don't expect enough from them. I'm afraid that is especially true in our children's bible classes. In
setting high expections for our children, we ourselves need to be an example of having the same high expectations in our own
Setting high expectations for our child will not work if we do not teach and discipline in patience and
love as our heavenly Father does with us. And just as our Father expects us to obey, we must expect that from our children.
Apathy and laziness has no place in parenting, no matter what age our child is. pg
I Was Sentenced to Death in the Electric Chair
– A True Story
by Clyde Thompson
The following article is the true story of Clyde Thompson, once known as the “meanest man in Texas.”
It wonderfully relates how the power of the gospel of Christ changed a vicious murderer into a great, soul-winning instrument
of evangelism on behalf of men behind bars. This narrative was first published in a small tract (now out of print) distributed
by Star Bible. It is reproduced here (with some slight editing and reformatting) for the benefit of our readers.
There are two motivating
factors in a person’s life. One brings him to God; another is love for God. Fear brings a man to realize the consequences
of his sin and turns him to God, and love for God will cause one to grow in God’s favor. He loves God when he sees the
love that was manifested in the Son of God.
When people have committed great sins, they sometimes feel that God cannot forgive them and therefore they are fearful
before God. But when they come to realize that the blood of Christ is all-sufficient and can wipe away the guilt of sin, then
they commit their lives to Christ, and no longer do they fear and tremble; they have put their trust where it ought to be
and they know that God can and will deliver them from the power of darkness.
Wild Youthful Days
It is great and wonderful what God did for me. At the age of seventeen, I was sentenced to death in the electric
chair—the youngest man ever sentenced to death in Texas up to that time. At the age of nineteen I was the youngest man
ever placed on death row at Huntsville in 1931. I had sixty days to live.
There were three of us young men—I was seventeen, another thirteen, and his
brother eighteen. We went hunting one night down on the creek; we had borrowed the pistol and shotgun of the brothers’
daddy without his knowing it. Having reached the creek, we debated which way we would go. We finally decided to go up the
creek. We met two men, one of whom had had some trouble with the older brother and his daddy. We got into an argument and
a fight with them, and shot and killed both of them.
Young people, I want you to understand that it makes no difference how good you are, how wonderful your parents are
(my father was a gospel preacher) or how wonderful your elders and your deacons and your preacher are. If you are in the wrong
place at the right time you could be in serious trouble, and it could take you a whole lifetime to get out of it, if you ever
The Death Sentence
I was sentenced to death twice in the same murder
case within a year’s time. The first sentence was reversed; I was again tried and sentenced a second time. A month after
my trial the eighteen-year-old boy was tried and sentenced to death also. After I had received the death sentence the second
time, his case was reversed after about twenty months, and two years after his first trial he was tried again in the same
case and received a five-year suspended sentence. You know, this is the difference in what money can do. My folks had no money.
I went to death row while this young man was still waiting trial in the second murder case. They had two cases of murder against
A Commitment to Christ
While I was waiting on death row, they dismissed
the second case against me. I heard brother P.D. Wilmeth preaching the gospel over the only radio at that time in the penitentiary.
Now there are radios all over the prison system; everybody has access to either a radio or a TV. The radio over which I heard
brother Wilmeth belonged to a guard; he had it out in the corridor of death row and I heard the gospel preached there.
Here I am, nineteen years old, and I had never made
a commitment to my Lord. I sent for brother Willmeth and asked that he come up and baptize me, and he did. I was taken off
death row and baptized there in the Walls Unit at Huntsville. That was six days before I was to be executed. Two days before
I was to be executed I received a stay of execution to await the third trial of the other boy—which was the second murder
case. Had that young man received the death penalty in that murder trial I should not be here tonight, I assure you.
The governor said that he could not see justice
in letting one man die when there were two men equally guilty and he wanted to wait until the young man was tried in the other
case. After the stay of execution, I had ninety days to live. Well, I thought that this time it would be the end of it, since
I was sure the other boy would receive the death penalty and I would also be executed. But six hours before I was to be executed,
the warden came in and told me that my sentence of death had been commuted to life imprisonment. I didn’t even believe
him. I had made up my mind that this was the end of life. They had already taken me out of my cell and given me my last bath;
they had offered me my last meal. You can have anything within reason you want to eat for your last meal when you are to be
executed, but I didn’t have any stomach for it.
A Hard Road Ahead
governor debated about commuting my term to twenty years, but decided, on advice of counsel, that he would commute it to life.
They took me off death row, and for a year I lived as faithful to my Lord as I could in prison. Not one Christian from the
outside came in to encourage me in the way of the Lord. Had Christians come in, and services been held in that institution,
I am sure that the horrible things which happened afterward would not have happened and I wouldn’t have spent twenty-five
more years in prison after I had already been in for three. But I spent twenty-eight years in confinement.
A year after I was released from death row they
sent me to the Retrieve Farm which is down close to Angleton on the Gulf Coast, and this was a living hell on earth. They
worked us as high as seven or eight weeks (from daylight until dark) without even one Sunday of rest. There was no time to
even wash our socks. We would come in so tired at night that we would just fall in bed and not even remember that we had come
into the building or whether or not we went to supper; we would just fall exhausted and then the next morning we were up and
at it again.
I lost my
faith completely. I didn’t believe that there could be a God who was merciful and could let these things happen to me.
My daddy came to see me after I went to the Retrieve Farm, and I took the Bible that he had given me on death row and handed
it to him and told him to take it because I didn’t believe it any more, and I would not try to live it. I know how that
must have hurt my daddy, and it probably put him in an early grave. In 1938, he died at the age of fifty-three.
The next six years I tried with great determination
to escape from prison. I made four major attempts to escape, but I was always plotting and planning to escape. I felt that
if I was going to spend my life in prison it would be a very short one. And I would make them kill me or I would get away.
At one time, trying to escape,a young man was shot down by my side and killed, and another one was shot and wounded. The guard
rode up to within thirty feet of me and said, “Stop or I will kill you, too.” I stopped and looked back and saw
him about to shoot me and I ducked my head. I had a high crowned hat on and he shot it off with a load of buckshot. Had his
intentions been carried out I would not be here tonight.
I had two knife fights with fellow inmates on that prison unit and killed both of those men. Because of my past record
of having been sentenced to death for murder (and this is a good example of what a past record can do for a person) they tried
me for my life. Ordinarily a fellow would get five years or maybe ten for a crime of that kind in the prison (for fighting
for his life and killing somebody) and yet they sentenced me to life both times. I now had three life sentences in the penitentiary
and practically no hope of ever getting out, unless I broke out.
Well, things went from bad to worse. The officials soon realized that I was not
a man who was afraid to die, and that I was determined to get away, so they put me in with other people of this kind so that
we might be watched more closely. This was at the Central Farm. Then they built what they called “Little Alcatraz”
out on the Eastham Farm, Northeast of Huntsville, and they took me out there with about twenty-five other fellows. They wouldn’t
even let us out to work in the field without two guards over us because they knew that we were going to break if we could.
Finally, over on the Eastham Farm, four of us plotted
and planned to take the arsenal and give guns to everyone who would shoot one. We hoped to kill anybody who got in our way
as we escaped from that penitentiary. I had fallen so far that I would have killed every official and every inmate in the
institution to escape from it. I was determined to get out of prison.
We captured two picket guards, got their two pistols, and with our knives and the
two guards as shields, we went up the stairs to the arsenal. But they had laid a trap for us and we went right into an ambush.
As I stepped out to open the door where the men could go into the arsenal, I was shot with a 30-30 slug through my shoulder.
The guard was shooting at my head and missed. As I pulled this door open I looked around and saw these two men, that were
friends of mine, lying on those steps dying. One of them still had his pistol in his hand. I ran over and grabbed it, but
I could only use my left hand and I’m not a very good left-handed shooter.
I stayed in the hospital forty days and forty nights and they sent me back to Eastham
Farm. I couldn’t even raise my arm. It was about two years before I could use it. I went out in the field and worked
with a hoe with one hand. About six or seven months after I went back out there, a man was killed in the wing where I was
and they charged me with murder for the third time in the penitentiary. (They were determined to sentence me to death.) You
know, if one of those guards had been killed that I was shooting at, I certainly would have received the death penalty again.
But it was just fortunate they were not. All three of those men who went up those stairs with me died, and it is just amazing
that I didn’t—or that I hadn’t killed somebody and been executed for that. So they charged me with a stabbing
though I didn’t kill the man, and the only reason they didn’t try me for my life on that case is because they
couldn’t find witnesses to testify against me.
To the Dungeon
officials of the penitentiary finally gave up on me. There was an old morgue behind death row that they had abandoned. It
was an old concrete building containing six slabs that they had used to put caskets on. They put a steel door on it and put
platted bars over the door opening, which was about a foot square. All the light I had came through those bars. The small
cell was sandwiched between two tall buildings, and about five hours a day was the only time I could see my hand before me.
All the time I was in that building, I was allowed
only a pair of shorts. They were afraid if I had anything else I would hang myself. They wouldn’t even let me have a
light, running water, or anything else. I didn’t even have a spoon to eat with, for they were afraid I would sharpen
it and kill myself or somebody else. Did you ever eat chili with your fingers? I have! When you have just a little bucket
of cold water to wash your hands with, and you pour it over that chili with the grease and grime, you can rub your hands together
all you want, but it won’t come off.
A Haunted Existence
is the crowning glory of God’s creation. God made man in His own likeness and in His own image, and that’s why
it is a sin to kill a man. It’s not a sin to kill an animal. If you just go out and shoot a dog, that is not a sin;
but if you kill a man, that’s a sin. Why? Because man is made in the likeness and image of God.
There are eight people in their graves because I
have lived, people who probably would be alive if I had not gotten them into trouble or killed them with my own hands. It
is mighty sad to know that you’ve killed somebody and that you can’t do anything about it as far as giving back
that life. We teach that repentance involves restitution, and this is true insofar as it is possible. But if you’ve
ever killed somebody, you can’t restore that life.
The Lord knows that I would gladly take the place of any of those people in those graves if he could stand on the
earth and be a child of God; but I can’t take their places. Then what is life for me? The mercy of God, the goodness
and the blessing of God, that He showed to us through the blood of His Son. Sometimes we want to limit the power of the blood
of Christ. And we say, “Oh, well, you can be forgiven of this sin or that sin, or some other sin, but the Lord just
can’t forgive this one.” Beloved, if He can forgive one sin He can forgive them all, and if the blood of Christ
is sufficient for one sin, it is sufficient for all sins. I didn’t realize this at first.
In this isolation cell I had three steps to make
from one end to the other, and I walked back and forth in there like a wild animal for five and one-half years. I wore holes
in that concrete floor where I made the turn at each end (with my bare feet). My feet got as hard as rocks.
A Time for Reflection
After I was there two or three months, I asked the
guard who brought my food if he would bring me a Bible. I knew they wouldn’t give me anything else to read. He went
to the warden and received permission to bring me a New Testament with Psalms. At the time I didn’t think much about
it. I just wanted something to read to keep from going mad in that place.
I had trouble reading it since I had only a fourth-grade education. The King James
Version was quite difficult then, though now I love it since I have educated myself in it. Somewhere I’d heard that
the Bible was a book of contradictions, and so could not be the Word of God. Having nothing better to do, I decided I could
prove that. So I started studying to prove the Bible was a book of contradictions.
The more I studied it, the more it convinced me that it was a book of truth and
I was false. When I came to realize that this was actually the word of God and the only hope for man in this world, I repented
in tears, on my knees day and night for months. I read the Bible and kept asking God if He could and would forgive a wretch
like me, and take me and use me to His honor and glory. He did. I began to write articles for Christian papers—some
of you may remember reading them many years ago. Christian friends would write me and send me literature, and I would take
that literature and hand it to other people.
I wasn’t a hippie, but I must have looked one, because they only gave me a bath and shave once a week. They
would take me out of my cell and down a corridor where there were men on each side, and here they would bathe and shave me,
and I would pass out literature. The guard was very lenient with me. He would let me talk fifteen or twenty minutes. It wasn’t
long until I had three fellows wanting to obey the gospel.
I wrote to a preacher in Dallas and asked him to come down and baptize these three men. He came and the warden came
around and got me and the three men and they were baptized. They had built a new chapel in the Walls Unit since they baptized
me. In the old chapel they had a baptistry, but when they built the new one they conveniently forgot the baptistry. So they
didn’t have a place in the Walls to baptize anybody. Somebody remembered this old deep bathtub around on death row and
suggested we use it.
went down the corridor of death row, where men were waiting to be executed, and where I had been waiting once. There I saw
these three men buried with the Lord in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life. I was there to greet them and to say
a prayer for them when they came out of that old bathtub where I supposedly took my last bath. You think that wasn’t
a thrill to me? It sure was! A number of other people were baptized in that bathtub, too.
I continued to study the word of God. They finally let me
begin to get other things in there to study, and they even let me have a light in the place; finally they put running water
in there, too. They just fixed me up to stay! Well, I had turned back to the Lord and I didn’t care any more about my
freedom. I already had changed my attitude toward man, and it wasn’t too hard to get this hatred of people out of my
The hardest thing
for me to overcome was cursing and bywords. I had lived about six years with every-other-word I said being a curse word or
a byword. For about two years after I turned back to the Lord these things would pop up in my mind, but I would say in my
heart, “They won’t come out of my mouth,” and they didn’t. It took about two years to overcome this.
I understood what James meant when he said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
I studied diligently in that cell to educate myself.
Among other courses of study, I took a two-year Bible course from Lee College in Tennessee. When I began studying in that
isolation cell I couldn’t even speak or spell the most common words correctly. Your little seven- or eight-year-old
children can spell better than I could spell at that time. When I quit school in the fourth grade, I was fourteen years old,
the oldest and dumbest kid in my class—and the most embarrassed.
My daddy always planned for my younger brother to be a preacher, but he didn’t
become one, and neither did my older brother. But the “ugly duckling” became a preacher. My daddy died before
I came back to the Lord, though, and I’m sad about this, because I wish he knew that I am a preacher—for that
would please him very much.
that my life is a testimony to the fact that a person who has committed murder can be saved. I committed murder, and there
are a lot of people saved in this world today because I have lived in it—even though there are eight dead because of
me. I thank God that He used me for His cause, but I don’t thank God for sin. I thank God that He brought me to a sense
of understanding that I couldn’t save myself, and the only hope was His mercy through Christ Jesus.
When one finds out that he is a sinner, lost, undone,
and without hope, and he turns back to God, God will help him, and use him in this world. If we have committed sin, we need
forgiveness of that sin, and until we realize that we are lost and undone, and unless we have repented of sin, we won’t
sent me out to Ramsey Farm and I did real well. I put the Christmas play on for Captain McAdams the last two years, and I’m
real proud of those plays and the men who worked with me. Those men were from the Bible class I was teaching on the farm.
When I left Ramsey Farm, I had eighty-one men in class and sixty of them had been baptized into Christ. We baptized nine out
there at one time in a stock pond.
my case came up for consideration for parole. The parole officers decided they would put it off for three years, and they
wrote me a letter to that effect. I’d been in prison twenty-eight years, but they said they would review my case again
in three years.
gotten acquainted with a Christian lady through a preacher friend who had been coming to see me. After a year of knowing one
another, she and I fell in love and planned to be married as soon as we could. She worked and would not give up. She went
to everybody about me—trying to get me out of isoIation and then out of prison. Mr. Ellis, the manager of the prison,
told her one day, about four or five years before I got out, “Young lady, you might as well go on and forget this fellow.
He’ll never get out of prison.” Well, that was the opinion of most of the officials down there and most of the
inmates—and me, too. I just thought there wasn’t much hope of getting out of there. But all of these people underestimated
the power of God and the influence of a good woman. The board turned me down, but two months later they released me on conditional
I was released
from Huntsville prison after being in two months past twenty-eight years. My wife was there with a suit of clothes, a borrowed
shirt, and a necktie. I was an old country boy and I had never owned a suit of clothes, and had never even worn a necktie.
My Concluding Work
My work now involves meeting those released inmates. When
those boys come out, I invite them to my house and dress them in a suit of clothes so they will have something decent to wear
when they ask somebody for a job. Before I send them on their way, I try to teach them the gospel of Christ and bring them
to the Lord.
I have counseled
with a number of men on four units of the prison system, but the doors are practically barred to me now because there were
too many of them wanting to be baptized, and the denominational chaplains and the manager of the prison did not want those
people baptized. It was all right to teach them and encourage them to live right, but not to baptize them. The devil is pretty
smart; as long as he can keep a person from being saved he is real happy, and he has a lot of people working for him in this
the possibilities of teaching people who have been in trouble are tremendous. These people are really open-minded. They know
they need help, and all it takes is somebody to guide them in the right way.
I want you to know how glad I am to tell you that there is a God in heaven, who
is a merciful God. And Jesus Christ His Son died for your sins. It makes no difference how great your sins or how small, the
blood of Christ is the answer. And then a faithful life unto death will bring eternal life to you.
If you haven’t obeyed the gospel of Christ
we would encourage you to do so while time and opportunity are given you. If you have fallen short of God’s will, won’t
you make it right with Him and live for Him in full dedication of life that He may bless you here and hereafter?
[NOTE: Clyde Thompson died of a heart attack July
1, 1979. His life story has been recorded in a book by journalist Don Umphrey (The Meanest Man in Texas, Quarry Press, P.O. Box 181736, Dallas, TX).
Courier August, 2007
used with permission
A NOTE FROM A READER: "As with many nights I have a great deal
of trouble going to sleep early, so I get on the computer and search for something good to read. I usually find it on
OURHOPEONLINE. Tonight I read in the Archives the article by Clyde Thompson. That article touched me deeply to
know that he suffered so much and still remained faithful most of the time to God. Also read the article about a wayward
child - which also hit directly home. I too learned not to get angry with him but to say "I love you" and
hug him if he will allow me to hug him. I keep telling him he maybe a middle aged man now but he is still my "boy"
and I can hug him and say I love you. Now he will hug me for no reason and say I love you Mom. Wish he would change
his sinful ways that lead to trouble with the law. Keep telling him he is getting to old for such young foolishness.
Just hope and pray he will return to God before it is too late." -anonymous
Thank you for writing and for your nice comments. My heart goes out to you. I love to picture you hugging your "middle-aged"
man child, telling him he is still your boy... it's true isn't it? My oldest is 32 but I would imagine when he is
62 (if I'm still alive) I would still feel the young child when I hugged him. Keep being a good example, loving, teaching,
and hugging! --Pat
mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked.
the guide said, "Yes, and the way is hard and you will be old before you reach the end, but the end will be better than
But the young mother was happy, and she would not
believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children and gathered flowers for them along
the way, and bathed them in the clear springs; and the sun shone on them and the young mother cried, "Nothing will ever
be lovelier than this."
Then the night came, and the storm. The
path was dark and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle.
The children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near and no harm can come."
the morning came and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary and the mother was weary. But at all
times she said to her children, "A little patience and we are there."
the children climbed and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you." And
the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my
children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage, today, I've given them strength."
The next day brought strange clouds which darkened the earth; clouds of war and hate and
evil. The children groped and stumbled and the mother said, "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children
looked and saw, above the clouds, an everlasting glory and it guided them beyond the darkness.And that night the mother said,
"This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children, God."
days went on, and the weeks and months and years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were
tall and strong and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her for she was as light as a feather. At
last they came to a hill and beyond they could see a shining road and the golden gates flung wide. The mother said, "I
have reached the end of my journey. Now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone and their
children after them.
And the children said, "You will always walk
with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates. And they stood and watched her as she went on alone and the gates
closed after her. And they said, "We cannot see her but she is with us still. A mother like our's is more than a
memory. She is a living presence."
The Mother of the Prodigal Son
is the mother of the prodigal son
On that day so long ago?
What were her thoughts
And what were her fears
As she watched him turn and go?
How many times in the dark of night
Did the tears slide down her face?
she get out of bed
And fall to her knees,
Just to pray that her boy was safe?
How were the days when she did
Was he alive? Was he warm? Was he well?
Who were his friends?
And where did he sleep?
anyone there she could tell?
But, oh, on that day
When she looked down the road
As she had looked since her
son went away,
Did love unspeakable flood her soul?
Did she cry?
What did she say?
I think when the father
had welcomed their son
And the boy had greeted his brother,
That the servants made a path
For him to enter
And the waiting arms of his mother.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray,
and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
Why Do “Good” People
by Wayne Jackson
Not infrequently one is shocked when he hears of a “good” person who has done
a very “bad” thing? How are such tragedies to be explained?
Some years ago a prominent Jewish scholar wrote
a book titled, When Bad Things Happen To Good People. Though the book was not totally void of merit, it was flawed seriously
in that the author suggested that whereas God might wish the situation were otherwise, he is powerless to remedy the problem
of evil. The writer’s solution was a classic example of the old saying, “the cure is worse than the ailment.”
is a question that is equally gripping. ”Why do good people do bad things?” Of course all of us sin, and we daily
need the grace of God (1 John 2:1). Occasionally, though, we are stunned, sometimes traumatized, when people we have known
for many years, and for whom we have entertained the highest regard, do outrageous things that seem so terribly out of character
for them. What has happened? We thumb through the pages of our minds trying to make sense of seemingly senseless deeds. Is
there any answer? Let us briefly, and with reverence, explore this issue.
the first place we must concede initially that only God knows the inner recesses of a person’s mind. “Jehovah
sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7; cf. Luke
Experts may study a person’s past, pursue physiological and psychological tests, and engage in prolonged
interviews with the “evil” person himself, and yet the causes of what appear to be random acts of wickedness may
never be known completely. Paul contended that no person can really “know the things” of another (1 Corinthians
2:11), and sometimes it is the case that not even the “bad” person knows why he did what he did—though perhaps
that “non-explanation” is more frequently than not a rationalization for not wanting to reveal the actual problem.
this article, we would like to suggest some possible explanations for why “good” people do “bad” things.
At the very start of this discussion we must concede that it is possible for
a “good” person to slip into a state of irrationality (i.e., become incapable of reasoning, hence, be mentally
irresponsible), and thus do things he would never do under normal circumstances. The causes triggering such aberrant behavior
may be varied, and in some cases entirely unknown. If one has become irrational, therefore, and is not morally culpable, while
the act itself technically is “bad,” it is not so for the perpetrator, for he does not comprehend the nature of
A very fine Christian man, an industrial painter by trade, committed suicide in a most horrible fashion. When
many of his acquaintances heard the tragic news, they were dumbfounded. How could a gentle, caring person possibly do such
a thing? An autopsy revealed that over many years noxious chemicals within the paint were absorbed, which seriously damaged
his brain. His faculties for making spiritual decisions had been nullified.
I knew a deeply spiritual man who was as
close to the Lord as anyone within my acquaintance. As he grew older he became consumed with cancer, his brain being seriously
damaged. He gradually turned into a stranger, using the vilest profanity, and occasionally making lewd suggestions to ladies
in his presence. The body was that of a good man; the words were from his pre-Christian past—still in the brain’s
storage, but not issuing from his godly soul!
Varying circumstances may alter a person’s clarity of mind; they
could be genetic, environmental, disease, etc., and consequently illness could lie behind his/her inexplicable conduct. These
would be deeds for which one is not accountable. Unfortunately, this rationale is probably used to justify the person in more
cases than is warranted. But God knows the truth and will do right by all (Genesis 18:25).
Façade of Goodness
Some “good” people, who do bad things, actually are not good people
at all. They have feigned goodness out of various motives, but inwardly they have been corrupt for a long time. Though Judas
Iscariot obviously had some good traits initially (otherwise he would not have been chosen as an apostle — see Acts
1:17), there were hints of his spiritual depravity before his actual betrayal of the Lord (cf. John 12:4-6).
Rader became known as the BTK serial murderer (BTK was a self-adopted code title for “bind, torture, and kill”).
For some 30 years Rader appeared to be a model citizen. He was a Cub Scout leader, was active in his church, and had the respect
of his associates. All the while he was periodically committing the most atrocious brutalities in the annals of American criminality.
His arrest February 26, 2005 left numerous friends and associates in a state of absolute shock. He was a “good”
man who wasn’t!
It is not unusual for some prominent religious leader to be exposed as a deviant. Those of his
religious fellowship are terribly traumatized by his exposure, only to learn that his perversion spanned several decades.
The term “hypocrite” seems almost too tame for such creatures.
Here is an important point. A good person
can never go through the motions of evil, for such would be evil itself, and therefore contrary to the principles of truth
he holds dear. But a wicked person can mask himself in the disguise of goodness with little, if any, pangs of conscience.
One more deception is scarcely a bother.
The Power of Choice
people do bad things simply because they can! One of the marvelous gifts of God is the power of choice. It is one of those
aspects that is a part of the blessing of being created “in the image” of God (Genesis 1:26-27). However, the
Lord, as a Being who is without limitation in all his attributes (which includes being infinitely good — Psalm 33:5;
Romans 2:4), never chooses the option of evil—nor does he ever even wish to (James 1:13). As created beings though,
we are finite; hence, we make choices between good and evil; and all too frequently, to our own hurt, we make stupid and wicked
With sufficient motivation, an evil person can choose to change his life and seek God’s pardon (Acts
2:38; 22:16). Clyde Thompson was known as “the meanest man in Texas.” A multiple murderer (two of these committed
when he was only 17), he was the terror of the Texas prison system. He killed two prisoners while on death row. But a kindly
guard gave him a Bible, and through reading and ingesting the Holy Scriptures, his life was radically changed. Eventually
he was paroled, and he became one of the most vigorous prison-evangelists of the century, leading many souls to Christ (see:
Don Umphrey, The Meanest Man In Texas, Dallas: Quarry Press, 2004).
On the other hand, for reasons perhaps known only
by oneself and God, a good person can choose to turn from goodness and do evil—recklessly, with unrestrained abandon
“But why?” we ask. Why did Peter, a very good man, deny he knew Jesus? Was it overconfidence?
Fear? Both? We may speculate, but the simple fact is—he did it, and it was wrong.
A variety of possibilities might
be suggested as to why people do things that are perceived to be abnormal for them. A long-held, subdued grudge, under certain
circumstances, may flare into a roaring flame. A spouse, perhaps neglected or abused, might reach a level of frustration,
rebel, and commit an immoral or criminal act. An aging husband or wife, in a period of depression, might have a “fling”
in an attempt to recapture a missing dimension in his/her life. Sometimes people are desperate, and no other person knows
it but them; desperation can trigger rash and ungodly acts.
The truth is, we may never discover why certain good people
do bad things. One thing we do know is this. Our ability to “choose” is a gift that may be employed righteously,
or devilishly; we must constantly cultivate a passionate desire to make wise choices to the glory of God.
Saul, the first king of Israel, started his reign admirably. Blessed by God,
he valiantly defeated some of the pagan enemies that troubled the nation of Israel (1 Samuel 11). But the ruler had some significant
weaknesses. In his arrogance, he set aside divine instruction and determined he would exercise his own judgment (cf. 1 Samuel
13:8ff; 15:1ff). When the courageous young David began to attract considerable attention after his defeat of Goliath, a spirit
of jealousy (perhaps lying dormant already) seized the king and led him down a path of spiritual abandon (cf. 1 Samuel 16:14).
He hardly was recognizable as the former “Saul.”
Every person has weaknesses; the one who says he does not
has perhaps revealed his greatest weakness of all. Even the indomitable Paul struggled to bring certain fleshly temptations
into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; cf. Romans 7:14ff). If this amazing apostle labored under tremendous internal pressures
(cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7ff), should we be surprised at our own inclinations?
It sometimes is the case that a person will
struggle with a personal weakness for years—holding his own, yet yielding on occasion. He makes progress, however, and
does well over all. Then, for some reason that may not be apparent to others, he/she totally surrenders to those unspeakable
acts that baffle family and friends. These people “break” spiritually, forfeiting all implements of moral/religious
defense (Ephesians 6:10ff). Are rational people accountable for these acts of rebellion? They are indeed and they will appear
before the Lord in judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10). The lesson we should learn is this: our personal weaknesses must be identified
and assaulted—through study, prayer, and association with godly people who can provide us with moral support, even if
they are unaware of the specific nature of our needs.
Some people are more fragile than others. A tragedy in their lives,
for example, virtually dissembles them. A lady recently lost a wonderful Christian friend to cancer. With tears streaming
down her face, she told me: “I just don’t know how I can believe in God any longer.” Did she expect her
friend to live forever? Doesn’t death come to all? We must be stronger than to go to pieces when disaster strikes. One
thing is certain: heartaches won’t cease just because one turns “bad.”
The human conscience is an inward faculty, unique to those made in God’s image.
It either accuses or excuses a person’s thoughts, words, and actions (Romans 2:15). The conscience does not determine
what is right or wrong (Proverbs 14:12; Acts 23:1); rather it merely judges one, based upon the standard of conduct the person
has adopted. It is clear, therefore, that the conscience must be educated by divine revelation (the Scriptures), and constantly
cultivated to remain sensitive to truth (Ephesians 4:19; 1 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 5:14).
The Bible speaks frequently about
the “hardening of the heart.” The conscience is such a sensitive instrument that it becomes wrong to violate it
even in matters of expediency (Romans 14:23). There are some people who let their consciences gradually erode; eventually
they slip over the edge and do terrible things, of which others never dreamed them capable.
Richard Kuklinski was a
“hit man” for the mafia. This professional murderer was known as “the iceman” because he sometimes
froze corpses to disguise the time of death. Ironically, he also was emotionally frigid as well, having killed approximately
125 victims before he was arrested in 1986. In a television documentary, Kuklinski attributed much of his apathy towards violence
to his father, a mean-spirited, brute who beat his son regularly—apparently for no reason at all. Growing up as the
victim of abuse, young Richard eventually pursued the path of viciousness himself, killing his first victim at age 18. To
look into his eyes (via several television documentaries) was to peer through clouded windows into a vacuum where there appeared
to be no remnant of conscience. He claimed to have no remorse over the slaughter of his victims. How very important it is
to: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
When Paul penned First Corinthians to a church in a very corrupt city,
he cautioned: “Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (15:33). Actually this is a quotation from Menander, a
Greek playwright, who, in that context, spoke of the danger of consorting with prostitutes. Another proverbial expression
says, “lie down with dogs; get up with fleas.” This is not in the Bible, but it surely makes a point.
his parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus told of a foolish youth who took his inheritance, gathered his possessions, and “took
his journey into a far country. There, he wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). It does not take much
imagination to picture the many newfound companions who flocked to the lad, wresting him from his spiritual roots, and joyfully
helping him waste his inheritance.
There are numerous warnings in Holy Scripture of the danger of close association
with the ungodly. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs
13:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6, 9ff; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; 2 Peter 2:2, 18-20). Some folks, basically good people, have been caught
up in relationships with ungodly companions who have led them—like lambs to the slaughter—away from the source
of their spiritual strength.
In an intimate environment of wickedness it becomes infinitely easier to do unbelievably
terrible things. I know of a young man who right now is on death row in a major prison facility. A murder was committed one
night; though he denies any personal involvement, he admits he was “with them,” and now he awaits an uncertain
I have known of Christian parents who were stunned to learn abruptly of their children’s wicked lifestyles,
themselves seemingly oblivious to the fact that for years they, with considerable pride, had thrust their youths into a corrupt
environment—under the guise of wanting them to cultivate “social” skills.
The composer of Psalm 11 once asked: “If the foundations be destroyed, what
can the righteous do?” (v. 3). There is a principle here that warrants investigation. A structure is no stronger than
the foundation upon which it rests (cf. Matthew 7:21-27). People who have but a veneer for a spiritual base are very vulnerable
to temptation and apostasy.
Good conduct ultimately is tied to God. The atheistic philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, was
quite correct when he wrote, “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.” While there are many skeptics
who are moral, relatively speaking, they are so because they have “bootlegged” their ethics from elsewhere, and
not because such is intrinsic to their blighted system. The best people are those who nourish their souls constantly with
the strength that is resident in the Bible. “Your word have I laid up in my heart that I might not sin against you”
(Psalm 119:11). When the Son of God was severely tempted after the forty-day ordeal in the wilderness, his source of power
was “it is written” (Matthew 4:4-10).
It is a grim and tragic reality that many people who are “good”
people basically, do not keep their souls strong, hence eventually they drift into a state of weakness (Hebrews 2:1). One
can profit from reflecting upon Paul’s discussion of those who are “strong,” versus those who are “weak,”
in Romans, chapters 14 and 15. The difference between the two classes is divine knowledge, assimilated and applied.
is an indisputable fact that the pages of church history are littered with cases involving “good” people who lacked
or neglected the discipline of study and perseverance, and so permitted the assaults of unbelief to chip away at their moral
sensitivity. Progressively they became weaker. Finally, with nothing to fall back on, they give in to pride, anger, frustration,
immorality, and/or even criminal conduct. Once the “foundation” has rotted, the person becomes easy prey for Heaven’s
The “Security” Illusion
It is most likely that there
are some “good people” who labor under the illusion that just because they have lived faithfully for many years,
a breech of faith, even a dramatic one, will not jeopardize their salvation. Apparently they entertain the notion that their
longevity in Christ grants immunity from the consequences of evil deeds. Some doubtless have absorbed that noxious dogma of
Calvinism—that the child of God can never be lost. No matter what he does, his heavenly destiny is secure, they allege.
However, a prophet of God declared:
But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity,
and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has
done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die
These are sobering words indeed. The fate of the rebel is too transparent to misunderstand.
The benefits of this study may be twofold. First, it can serve as a preventive for
those of us who want to enter heaven more than anything else, and we are concerned about how to maintain our spiritual integrity;
how to avoid some of the pitfalls that lie in that perilous route.
Second, a consideration of these truths may assist
us in understanding, and coping with, the defection of loved ones and friends who have so disappointed and discouraged us.
is filled with struggle and heartache. But giving in never accomplishes anything. It only complicates.
1998 - 2007 by Christian Courier Publications.
All rights reserved. ISSN: 1559-2235
used with permission
Parents and the Prodigal
The Parable of the Prodigal
(Luke 15:11-32) is at once one of the most pensive and disturbing of Jesus’ famous illustrative narratives. It connects
to the human heart in a way that is direct and arresting. It speaks of losing, but it speaks of winning, too. It speaks of
sadness, then gladness, then sadness again. It’s very much like life, this parable. Please note these things parents
can learn from the parable of the prodigal.
The far country is an enemy of the family. Forbidden fruit has always had its appeal. It’s the same with the lights
of the far country. This lad didn’t just get up one morning and decide he was going to “waste his substance with
riotous living.” It was a process. He had thought about how great it would be for a long time. He had dwelt on its pleasures
and contemplated its delights long before he decided to go over there.
We live in an age where restrictions are few and where the far country is not really very far. Its enticements, furthermore,
are not frowned upon in many families and its allurements are not discussed because the family is not actually together very
much. We need to wake up to the dangers of the culture we live in and warn our kids about its possible encroachments and the
ease with which it can tantalize and tempt them and how quickly it can carry them away. It’s fine to let out a little
rope, but we need to pull on it once in a while, too.
Good families can have bad kids.
There is no indication in the parable that the Father’s values were ill-defined, or that his restrictions were loose
and ambiguous. Actually, the indication is that the rules were strict and the values carefully stated and that’s the
reason the son wanted to be loose. He felt cramped by the rules, and his fun was hampered by the restrictions. No one knows
what causes good families to have bad kids, but one thing is certain: every person has his own will and ultimately makes his
own decisions. This young fellow came from a good family; but he wanted something else. He decided what he wanted by himself.
And so a good kid went bad. Why? Who knows? He just went bad because he decided he wanted to.
if a kid goes bad, it ought to be after we’ve done all we can. Far more youngsters go bad on account of a lack of restrictions
than go bad in spite of them. We should not despair because our restrictions are thought to be impositions. We should not
grow weary because our rules are disdained and our restraints despised by our children. We must keep in mind that love and
discipline are always connected (Heb. 12:6).
Bad kids don’t always stay bad. This kid went bad—really bad. He “wasted his substance with riotous living,” and probably “devoured
thy living with harlots.” That’s bad, folks. Not only that, but he went so bad that he was feeding pigs and was
ready to eat the millet they ate. He was about as low as you could get, wallowing about in a pig’s sty. But, you know
what? He came to himself. That’s right, he came to! Furthermore, he remembered where he came from. He knew what to do
about his situation. He decided to go home.
just so that bad kids don’t always stay bad. Some do, that’s for sure; but many don’t. Instilling high values
and good morals is not a waste of time. It’s encouraging that sometimes when they’re at their lowest ebb, your
training and discipline come to the fore. It’s then that they remember their up-bringing and decide that maybe it wasn’t
so bad after all. It’s then that they come to their moral senses and realize that your nagging and scolding had a reason.
It’s when they need to come home that it all begins to make sense. This kid came to himself and he went home.
The ones that stay home aren’t always
so good either. The elder brother apparently had the
same rules and restrictions, but he didn’t leave home. But that doesn’t mean he was a good boy. In fact, his attitude
at his brother’s return shows that while he was at home, his heart wasn’t in the right place. He didn’t
disobey the rules, but that didn’t mean all was well with his soul. How is it that he could not rejoice with the father
at the return of his brother? Why did he react as he did? Why was he not pleased to see his brother’s return home?
The attitude of the older brother proves one thing: you can
be evil in the midst of good surroundings. Just being close to good doesn’t argue that you’re good. Just looking
good on the outside doesn’t really argue anything; it’s what’s on the inside that counts in the ultimate
up. “But when he was yet a great way off, his
father saw him…” How do you account for that? Simple. His father was continually watching for him. He no doubt
had prayed for his return. And prayed. And prayed. He knew what direction he had gone when he left, and he knew that the boy
knew the way home, so he just kept on looking. And looking. And looking. And one day he say him coming.
There is never any give up in love. Love just keeps hoping and hoping, just
keeps looking and looking. No matter how long it’s been, no matter what has been done, no matter how deep the hurt or
how long the anguish, the Father just keeps on looking; and so must we. Notice, I did not say “the father,” but
“the Father.” We may leave him, but He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
It’s always in order to go home, no matter how far away you’ve been.
Parenting is hard business. I hope this has helped a little.
Copyright (C) 2002-2005 Southside Church of Christ
All rights reserved.
used with permission
A PLEA FOR HELP
(Response by Pat Gates)
I am grieving my son's being in the world and using drugs, alcohol and fornication daily. He's committing
slow suicide which I have to watch. I am depressed, anxious, have panic attacks, and am now suffering numerous health
problems from the sleeplessness, and nervousness involved in this. We have 3 sons; 29, 26, and 23. Our youngest has
decided on living the lifestyle of Hollywood. Please help me with your encouraging newsletter and pray for me to have
strength to trust in God's all-seeing, all- knowing and all- powerful abilities.-ANONYMOUS
My dear sister,
I wanted to write you as soon as I read your note because I know the pain you are going through. You did not give
your email address, which I understand, so I couldn't respond. After you read this, if you want to correspond,
please feel free to do so, but don't forget to give me your email address. When I say on this site that you can write anonymously,
it is true...even I can't see the email address unless the box is filled in.
My heart goes out to you and you did the right thing to write this group. You are not alone in your grief; many of
us have experienced the pain of having an unfaithful child. No matter the age of the child, no matter what the child is or
is not involved in, the suffering all the parents go through is great, but when the unfaithful child is involved with dangerous
substances, of course the concern increases.
realize the following may not apply to you, but here are some suggestions I found helpful:
GET RID OF GUILT: We mothers
often consume ourselves in guilt thinking we haven't been good mothers and every mistake we've ever done
with our children, from their birth on up, comes to mind. Yes, we make mistakes, but most of the
time our guilt is irrational. If guilt is a big issue, then we need to pray and ask forgiveness for anything we've
done wrong as a mother and, after doing so, not torture ourselves with guilt. Our children make their own choices.
A young man who repented let his parents know it wasn't their
fault, that the life he had led, was entirely his choice. Thinking back on my own wayward time when I was young, I wasn't
blaming my parents, I was living the life I had chosen.
If there is something we feel we did or did not do for our child and that lays heavy of our mind, then it may be
good to apologize to our child, for their sake as well as our own peace of mind. But they do not need to use that for their
crutch and their excuse to continue in sin, so the apology should be sincere, but not said in such a way as to look like
their choice of life is all our fault. It's not and it would be harmful for parent and child to believe that.
PRAYER AND TRUST: There was
a time years ago I continually prayed for my child. I prayed and prayed and I worried and worried. See something wrong
with this picture? Although it's been well over ten years ago, I clearly remember the time I was sick with worry and it dawned
on me I was feeling that way right after I had prayed to God. These words came to mind, "But let him ask in faith, with
no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." I'd been praying in doubt. I
had little comfort after the prayer, because I was not praying in trust and hope, rather I prayed in doubt and desperation.
I felt a shock of fear that I had been praying in vain and I was hurting my child. I would not let that happen again.
I repented, prayed again for my son, and would not allow myself to worry. When I felt anxious I would force myself to remember
my prayer and the promise that God gives us that He hears our faithful prayers and will answer them.
A PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT: I
got into many discussions with my son and sometimes I would get upset and emotional and we'd end up arguing.
Our home was far from peaceful when this happened.
During this time I was writing a Christian woman in Texas. We had met through Our Hope and although we had never
met face to face, we became good friends through our letters. She had a faithful son who was in his early 40's but she told
me when he was young, he had similar experiences that my son was presently going through. She gave me some soul-saving advice:
Don't argue. When my child says something that could provoke an argument, let it go and keep my mouth shut. My role was to
show my son I loved him and to give him a peaceful environment. She told me to hug him and say, "I love you," even
if I had to force myself when something was being said that angered me. It worked.
It wasn't long after I started doing that, that my son came home. That wasn't the sole reason for his coming home,
but I'm sure it helped him to know he was indeed welcomed back and was loved. I am forever grateful for this dear sister who
showed me a better way of helping my child. This also helped me emotionally; I didn't have to live with the memory of
those arguments day after day. I remember the first time I tried my friend's advice, the time I chose to keep my mouth shut
when I heard something that disturbed me and instead of arguing I chose to hug him and tell him "I love you." It
felt so good and it felt good to feel him hug me back.
immediately saw the wisdom in expressing love, rather than arguing. My son knew what I believed because I had let him
know many times in the past. But the "discussions" were being repeated over and over and they were getting nowhere.
I decided to leave the conversations up to my husband who was more calm than I was and to pray for other Christians who would
help, to come in contact with my son (this took a couple of years, but my prayer was answered).
TOUGH LOVE AND CONSISTENCY IN DISCIPLINE: Our
children, no matter their age, no matter if they are faithful or unfaithful, they need to see consistency in their parents.
If they are taught God's law, they need to see their parents carry it out in their daily lives. If they are taught God is
displeased with sinful actions, they need to see we are displeased. If they are taught God's discipline, they need to see
their parents discipline. If they hear us tell them not to do a certain thing or they'll have to be disciplined, then they
need that discipline to take place. Consistency is important to a child's emotional and spiritual well-being.
The peaceful environment mentioned above will not help them
turn back to the Lord if that is all they are receiving. If the unfaithful child does not receive discipline and knowledge
of where his/her parent stands, the peaceful home will only lead to further digression. The reason my friend's advice to quit
arguing and just give love worked, is because my son knew he wasn't getting away with anything. He knew where his parents
stood and sin would not be permitted in their home, nor condoned in any way.
Tough love is, at times, painful. We sometimes have to make a decision that goes against all our motherly
instincts to care and provide for our child's needs. There are times when supporting our older children financially may
be hurting them spiritually, if they are choosing a path apart from God.
My son later told me that my husband's and my discipline and toughness is what helped him so much. He needed those
set boundaries. These boundaries also helped me emotionally (even during the pain) because I didn't have to worry if I had
made the right decision whenever I did what God instructed me to. Remembering the story of Eli's inconsistencies with his
sons was a great strength and comfort when I had to use discipline; I knew God would be displeased if I overlooked sin.
IGNORE ATTACKS: Children
learn at a young age how to manipulate their parents and how much they can be manipulated. One of the things they master with
their mothers is how to create guilt in her. Yes, I know, we mothers are known for making our children feel guilty, but the
child learns how to master this as well. Although I've never heard "I hate you" from my children, many parents do.
But it doesn't have to be those words, the manipulation can be more subtle to where the mother thinks she won't have
her child's love, even if she never hears the words, "I hate you." This concern of losing a child's love often causes
a mother to cave in and make allowances for her child when she shouldn't.
Their display of anger or words of hate may cause many sleepless nights and
needless worry. During this time we need to think rationally; saying no to a child because it is for their good is not
something that will make our child actually hate us. They may try to make us feel guilty in order to get their way, but
we must not allow this to happen. If we discipline in love and patience, we don't need to not worry that
we will lose our child's love. We won't. We may get the backlash of their disappointment and anger because they
didn't get their way, but they know we are doing our parental responsibility and will have more respect for us in the long
WORRY HURTS OUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR HUSBAND: Worry can get in the way of our relationship with our husbands and with our other
children. Sin has already disrupted the family when it wasn't our choice so why allow it to disrupt further when we
have a choice. Our husbands need us. He is just as concerned, but he may not show it in the same way as we do. In
general we women express our concern and display it in outward emotions, but men usually do not, to the same degree, and they
are more capable of not dwelling on a problem 24 hours a day. At bedtime our husband may easily fall asleep
in the midst of a crisis as we lay awake wondering how in the world he can sleep. Surely he just doesn't care as much
as we do, otherwise he would not be able to get the problem out of his mind. This isn't correct. He cares just as much,
but men were taught as young boys not to display emotion, as well as the fact that God has created male
and female brains differently.
allowed, can replace the affection between a husband and wife because stress demands attention and problems arise when we
remained focused on our stress and give it the priority over our spouse. We then excuse our actions or our lack of attention
to our husbands because we are engulfed in the selfishness of being stressed out. In reality, our pain, even our
child's unfaithfulness, should never come between the relationship between husband and wife. If it does, we'll end
up blaming our husbands, we'll feel lonely because we think our husbands don't understand, and we allow them to
be the "whipping boy" of our pain.
Our worry can cause us to look at life and our husbands through gray-colored glasses. We can't see them
clearly and we forget they are the ones who have always stood by us and understood us. They don't need to see
constant tears and hear constant conversations about our child. They deserve more from us.
WORRY HURTS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS:
The other children in the family don't need to hear constant anger and worry. They too need a peaceful environment
and worry gets in the way of that. They need attention and they need to know they are just as important
Our spiritual family and our
friends need us and constant worry uses up our energy to see to other's needs.
Our unfaithful children do not need to see and hear our constant worry. While
they do need to know we are not giving up on them, coming home to a distraught mother only adds to the stressful
environment. Our children may never use these words, but I would imagine they feel lost and confused, dealing
with so many conflicting emotions and thoughts within themselves. Because of this, they need a stable, secure home to
come home to; they needed to see the strength and peace that God provides.
WORRY HURTS HEALTH: As you have pointed out, worry does
indeed hurt our health and can leave the door open for numerous problems. When we encounter stress, our
body goes into a "flight-or-fight" mode. Our pituitary gland releases more adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which
signals other glands to produce additional hormones. The pituitary tells our adrenal glands to release a flood of stress hormones
into our bloodstream, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help us to concentrate better, speed our reaction time
and increases our strength and agility.
the stress is over, the levels of hormones decline and our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and metabolism return to
normal. But if stress continues to a long time, our body doesn't have a chance to recover. This can cause obesity, digestive
problems, heart disorders, a suppression or overactivation of our immune system, insomnia, a worsening of skin conditions
and asthma attacks, and depression.
I'm well aware
of the physical results of stress. I had been under a great deal of continuous stress from 2002 through 2004 because
of serious health problems with different ones in my family. 2005 was a much better year and my stress level decreased,
but the physical outcome has not been good. The past months I've been in almost continuous flareups of my illness, having
symptoms that I have not experienced in the last several years. I have developed new problems in my joints and physical
and emotional symptoms of depression and stress had become overwhelming in the early months of 2005. After
months of experiencing the physical and emotional symptoms of stress, I decided to take an antidepressant. I realize with
some people, they may not work very well or they may cause side-effects that are intolerable. With me, it was if someone had
magically lifted a great burden from me. There is no tranquilizing effect, rather it gave me more clarity of mind and helped
me to better organize my thoughts and actions.
know there are many Christians who think no Christian should ever put themselves in a position where they feel they have to
take a antidepressant. I won't go into this in depth (we'll talk about this some other time), but first of all, most of the
time we don't "put ourselves into stressful situations" for they are beyond our control. Second of all, stress can
cause physical symptoms and if a pill helps with those symptoms, than that's great. Is it a sin to take medicine for
a migraine when it has come from stress? No one thinks anything wrong with that. We need to gain knowledge and be fair-minded.
I recommend them if we are also working on our thinking according to God's wisdom and not just relying on a pill (that
doesn't work anyway).
HELP FROM GOD'S WORD AND FROM THE STRENGTH AND COMFORT OF THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND. I'm so glad you wrote us. Please continue
to do so. Tell us what you need. Unfortunately, in my experience, I didn't have much support from other Christians at the
beginning, but later, in another location, I did. I'll speak more on this another time, but seeking help from Christians
who understand and who want to help is so comforting. Again, you did the right thing to write us.
Also, as I'm sure you know, God's word is the source of comfort and instruction
for us. As I said, the story of Eli helped me to be tougher and consistent. Proverbs helped me to understand the nature of
rebellion. The Psalms comforted me and reassured me that God sees my pain and hears my prayers. The New Testament gave me
assurance of hope and God's desire to help my son.
HELP OTHERS: We need to help others in similar situations. This, in turn, strengthens us and we can
use a bad situation for good. How about those of you reading this--have you any words of comfort and wisdom to share? We need
HOPE - HOPE: Never lose hope, no matter how hopeless the situation seems. God can do what we can't and He provides
within His wisdom, will and time-frame. We must be patient and trust our loving God who wills that all men be saved. "Be
still and hope in the Lord."
children, now, are strong Christians, full of faith and trust in God. Never give up on hope. I have seen men in their 60's
repent and turn back to God and their families, but I pray that peace will soon be for you and your family.
I am praying for you and your son,
The following poem was written from the perspective of physical
death, but let's read this with spiritual death in mind.
I never knew,
you lost your child,
what you were going through.
I wasn't there,
I stayed away,
I just deserted you.
I didn't know the words to say.
I didn't know the things to do.
I think your pain so frightened me.
I didn't know how to comfort you.
And then one day - MY child died,
and you were the first one there.
You quietly stayed, by my side,
and held me as I cried.
You didn't leave,
the lesson learned is....
Now, I know.
~Author Unknown ~
Your Parents Can't Make You
Go to Heaven!
by Ted J. Clarke
One of the greatest miseries
of being a child is being made to do things that a child does not want to do. Eating vegetables, brushing teeth, taking a
bath, cleaning one's room, going to Aunt June's, going to school, attending worship and Bible study -- these all rate
high on the list of things that many children and teens do not like to do at some time or another.
As children get a little older, they often
can see the wisdom of brushing their teeth or taking a bath, and many like going to school, even if it is not because they
see the value of a good education. But mom and dad still make them attend church, even after they have complained sufficiently
to be exempted from visiting Aunt June. Why?
Some young people feel as though they have finally broken the stranglehold parents exercise over children, when they
have removed themselves from parental power to make them "go to church." A number of older people have told me that
the reason they do not attend church in their adult years is because their parents made them go when they were children. Most
of us know that really is not the reason. The real reason is usually twofold. One, the young person was not made to see the
need for attending worship or Bible study as he was growing up, or the child simply did not learn the lessons taught. Two,
the young person has grown and has made a decision that he does not need God in his life. His interests are simply not served
by religion. In the growing process, the wisdom of eating properly bathing, and brushing teeth made sense, but somehow God
was never made as real or as sensitive as those other things? Why?
Well, growing up is more than just getting older and bigger. There is a maturing
of the mind (a true sense of seeking for answers to the questions of "Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens
to me when I die?"). When we really grow up, there is a soberness about life's purpose and death's destiny with
those who are truly mature. Young people, it is not easy to force yourselves to think about these things, but it is important
that you do so!
you develop and grow older, try to grow in wisdom, too. When you become a young adult, your parents cannot make you do many
things they used to do. You may be happy about that, but your parents did what they thought was best for you (Hebrews 12:9-11).
There is one final thing that your parents cannot make you do! They cannot make you go to heaven. As much as they would like
to see you there, they cannot make you go! That is a decision you get to make. You do not have to go, if you do not want to
go! Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 say that "each one of us will give an account of himself." Growing
up is great! The adult life is a continuing education. There are tremendous and eternal consequences attached to the decisions
you make as young adults! Use your freedom to make the right choices for yourselves.
Should I MAKE My
Attend Worship and Bible Study?
- God commands us to "bring them up in the nurture
and admonition of the Lord."
- We are to do whatever needs to be done to help
our children get to heaven.
- Children who are "made" to go to every service
understand that it is a natural part of their lives and they don't expect it to be any different.
- Yes, some children grow up and have enough of school and don't choose college. Some grow up and
don't brush their teeth 2 or 3 times a day. Some grow up and quit making their bed. But are these good reasons for not
making them do these things when they are growing up? Do you feel like you are abusing your child as you force them to go
to school, brush their teeth and clean their room? No? Then why feel badly for forcing them to meet with the saints that is
for their eternal good?
- Most children don't feel forced when the family is
faithful in attending all services, but once in a while if they do get upset because they are missing out on an event
they want to attend, they'll get over it and deep inside they know where they are suppose to be.
- If you aren't consistent with your children in attendance they are more likely to grow up to be
unfaithful adults because they weren't trained to put God first.
- If you are
consistent and your child grows up and chooses to be unfaithful, there will be pain, but you will know you tried to do what
God wanted you to do and you loved your child enough to set him on the right path. This will be a comfort to you and this
long-standing habit you gave your child as he was growing up will have more of an impact in helping him return to his God.
Daddy prays, he doesn't use
The words the preacher does;
There's different things for different days
But mostly it's for us.
When Daddy prays, the house is still,
His voice is slow and deep.
We shut our eyes, the clock ticks loud.
So quiet we must keep.
prays that we may be good boys,
And later on good men.
And then we squirm, and think we won't
never think, to look at Dad,
He once had tempers too.
I guess if Daddy needs to pray.
We youngsters surely
Sometimes the prayer
gets very long
And hard to understand
And then I wiggle up quite close
And let him hold my hand.
I can't remember all of it
yet, you see.
But one thing I cannot forget
My Daddy prays for me!