Your kids have imaginary enemies, real enemies and a real enemy that most people think is imaginary. I loved this picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex charging onto a soccer field in Carson, California. I thought the dinosaur had been photo-shopped into the picture and was completely fake, but if you look closely you can see it is a man wearing a costume. So, was the dinosaur real or imaginary? The answer: both. Is Satan real or imaginary? Same answer: both. How do we protect our kids, spiritually? We teach them when and where to run, and when and how to stand their ground. They have an enemy, but they might not recognize the real threats from the imaginary.
The first spiritual battle is for the mind. Your children will learn their values in many different places, none so powerful as their home. My favorite beatitude is Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Jesus taught his disciples to come to him as children, pure in heart. We have all been embarrassed by a three-year old who said something that was completely true, much to our chagrin! Children are pure in heart and childhood is a great time for them to see God. I am a HUGE believer in spending as much time with your children as possible. When you have to be gone, choose your child’s caregiver thoughtfully. When you select the social groups, teams and activities they will participate in, make those choices because of the spiritual influence rather than the social. Will that person or place teach your child godly values or something less? Protect your child’s mind, keeping it pure, so he or she can see God. Why is this so important? Your children’s values will drive their choices as they grow up and away. Pray they will grow to think like Romans 12:2 teaches, not conformed to the pattern of of this world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds. Then they will be “able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How do you protect your children’s minds? Teach them to avoid Satan by running to God. Tryon Edwards said, “The devil has one good quality, that he will flee if we resist him. Though cowardly, it is safety for us.”
It is important to teach our kids what to value, but that isn’t enough. Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard professor, wrote a great article on the subject, “Why Teaching Values is not Enough.” He said: “We need to help children not only know values but develop a deep commitment to values.” Parents today have a much trickier battle on this front. When I was growing up most people agreed with Christian values, even if they didn’t choose to live with them. Hollywood is influencing politics and politics are influencing legislation, and many churches are compromising biblical truth in order to look more relevant or popular. Are you a stronger influence on your children’s spiritual lives than television, popular opinion or even their teachers and leaders at school and church? Even if you feel like you are sending them to all the right places, keep this wise thought in mind: Martin Luther said, “For where God built a church, there the devil would also build a chapel. Thus is the devil ever God’s ape.” Children should be committed to biblical values, not just aware of them. That commitment will help them discern truth and enable them to stand their ground, even against the tide of public opinion and popularity.
Satan likes to convince people that he isn’t real – just “photo-shopped” into the picture. If a person looks closely, Satan would suggest that the dinosaur is only a costume, no real threat. The truth of the photo is this – we don’t know what the guy under the costume is going to do, he is hidden – not yet uncovered and free to run where he wants. That is true of Satan, until one day Jesus returns.
Ronald Knox said, “It is stupid of modern civilization to have given up belief in the devil when he is the only explanation of it.” Satan is real and so is his influence – but the truth is, your influence can be much stronger. Keep teaching and keep watch. Satan is masquerading around your children, and he will make a run at them. Is the Tyrannosaurus Rex a danger to your kids? Not if they know to get out of his way.