At the time, I had also been training for my black belt in taekwondo which I did get. But after I received my black belt and the second testing to validate the rank, I had to completely drop out of martial arts training in order to help my wife who was becoming a little overwhelmed at the responsibilities of keeping up with two infants in the house. Additionally, I received orders to move to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1995 so that I could take a company command as a young captain. The additional responsibilities in that very demanding job did not interfere with my family life, but they left very little margin for error, which forced me to completely withdraw from my church responsibilities in order to be able to help raise my two young children and help with the third child that we added while we were living there in Columbus, Georgia. Our third child was born in the Army Hospital there on Fort Benning.
I knew that there was no way I could give any acceptable level of commitment to my family to raise my children properly and spend time with them if I did not curtail and/or stop my church work. Like my younger friend, I had also had to tell people “no” when they came around on a regular basis to ask for volunteers for church work. And like him, I had also gotten the disbelieving looks and the hard sell by people who thought that church work was more important than family life. In fact, this has been a consistent problem that I have written about before in earlier blogs – the phenomenon in many Christian churches during the last few decades of neglecting family for the supposedly more important work at church. I even distinctly remember a man and wife standing up to give testimony one Wednesday night at a church prayer meeting, and they related how they felt that God was directing them to devote more time at church and that He would somehow take care of the neglect that they were visiting on their children since the church work was more important.
I remember at the time that God told me in His still small voice that this was not Him speaking to these people but rather their own pride directing them to involve themselves more in church and to neglect the actually more important work of raising family. God convicted me repeatedly about family life being vastly more important than church work. Moreover, he validated this lesson numerous times by showing me families that were failing by neglecting their children in favor of more church work, or He validated the lesson by reminding me of children that I had grown up with, mostly pastor’s children, who went hog-wild in their teen years because they got no love or attention at home from their pastor fathers who were busy at the “more important work” at church. But like my younger friend, I also stood my ground and dug in my heels, pit-bull stubborn, to resist those who didn’t believe I was right. Amazingly, I got no support from people at church over this because they were more interested in their “churchianity” than they were about the real lessons that are clear in the Bible.
We are told in 1 Timothy 5:8 that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This provision applies to ALL the needs of the family, especially their spiritual, moral, and emotional needs. Additionally, we find in Psalm 106 a recounting of Israel’s recurring pattern of backsliding, getting in national peril, crying out to God, being delivered by God, living shortly in devotion to God, and then backsliding again to start the whole cycle over. One of the main reasons that they kept backsliding is that they did not teach their children the important lessons of their faith, causing their children to gradually backslide with each generation, further and further away from God until they were in open rebellion to Him. In Judges 2:10, we are told, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” They had neglected to “teach their children diligently” as God had instructed them to do (Deuteronomy 6:7).
It is so easy to get this lesson wrong, and so many Christians in our nation have gotten it wrong by devoting their time to the wrong things instead of training their children diligently. It is hard to believe, but the United States was once a very devout nation. If you doubt this, all you have to do is to read up on the Great Awakening in the United States or the American colonies which consisted of “three or four waves of increased religious enthusiasm occurring between the early 18th and late 19th century.” It was this period of revival that allowed us to get through the trials of the American Revolution and even the Civil War. Yet, when times became better in our country, we stopped teaching our children about our God, and the results speak for themselves if you look around you or read any news outlet these days.
I pray that America will once more experience a re-awakening and return to our devotion to and reliance on God, and that this revival will start with each of us in our own hearts.