Questions and Answere - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple

Question No. 1

What can parents, most of whose families are grown, do when they hear these Biblical principles? How can they soothe a guilty conscience?

Answer : I am going to look upon this as two questions because, frankly, it is two, and I am going to answer the last one first: “How can you soothe a guilty conscience?” I don't think a Christian should ever try to soothe a guilty conscience. I think a Christian should confess his sin on the basis of I John 1:9 and believe what it says—that God is faithful and just to forgive him his sins and to cleanse him from all unrighteousness. What is covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ should never make anybody feel guilty. You should not have to soothe a guilty conscience.

If you should be a parent who has sinned against your child—and you have sinned against your child if you have not reared him according to the Word of God—if you have sinned against your child, confess it to the Lord Jesus Christ and accept the forgiveness that He offers for that sin as He does for any other sin. It might even be helpful to your child to confess to him that you have erred in his training—to tell him that you are not blaming him alone for the difficult situation, if there is one in which you find yourself, but that you are blaming yourself as well because you did not know, or because you did not do what should have been done.

Now, the first part of the question, which I will treat as a separate question: “What can parents, most of whose families are grown, do when they hear these Biblical principles?”

This is a question which many, many parents face for a number of reasons. One is that some parents find the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour after their children are well on their way in growth, or perhaps even grown. Although you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and the Holy Spirit has renewed your mind and given you a new outlook on things, you cannot by force put that same love into the hearts of your children. Certainly you cannot do it if they are unsaved; and neither can you do it, much as you would like to do it, if they have not reached the spiritual maturity which you have reached.

If parents have not trained their children according to Biblical principles because they have not known them…this includes a great many Christians. I am amazed as I go about at how many people say to me, “I never knew that was in the Bible,” when they have been in churches all their lives. “I never knew this was expected of me as a Christian parent,” they say. It is amazing how many Christian parents have not had the Biblical principles whereby they could rear their children.

What can you do if you have not heard them, and the children are grown, or are so far up that you cannot apply these principles? This has been asked in private conversations several times during this week, and I have said this: “One thing you can do, very generally speaking, is to salvage what you can. Salvage the years that are left. Salvage the time you have together, and then you can claim a promise.” Now, I believe in claiming promises from God's Word. I teach the Word of God according to Dispensations, but I do not believe that because the Bible should be rightly divided according to Dispensations, everything belongs to Israel.

I remember that when I was in school, there was a certain Bible teacher who came by and taught the book of Psalms every time he came. He was so interested in the nation of Israel to whom he was ministering that he even acquired something of a brogue because he spoke Hebrew so often. I remember he used to say, “This is not for you. It is for Israel,” always in the book of Psalms. So we developed a habit of saying, “Let's go to chapel and get another Psalm taken away from us.” By the time I was through school, they were nearly all taken away from us.

I do believe that every Scripture has one interpretation, and then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. Therefore I claim the promises of God's Word.

One promise that I encourage parents to claim—and I encourage others who have wasted most of their lives living for Satan to claim it—is the promise that God gave through Joel to the nation of Israel. They had lost harvest after harvest from a plague of locusts because they had rebelled against God. Joel said, “If you will come back to God and do what you should from this point forward”—this is the phrase I want you to rest on—“God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

How I thank God for that verse! What it means in pure, simple, everyday language is that although you may have wasted ten years of your child's life because you did not know what to do, if you are now in right relationship to the Holy Spirit of God, you can claim that promise and expect God to do in three years what He would have done in 15 years. He is able to restore the years that the locust have eaten. Of course, if you don't want to trust God and live a thrilling life, you may go around blaming yourself for what you could not help. But acknowledge your weakness, your faults, and then expect God to work. He is able to do it.

Question No. 2

Why should a boy just into his twenties leave a good home and live in an apartment in the same town?

Answer : If I knew who asked the question—whether the 20-year-old boy asked it or his parents asked it—I might know better how to answer it. Seriously, there are many reasons why this is often being done today. I can suggest to you some of the reasons which are given for its being done. Sometimes the individual concerned is not a Christian. He comes from a Christian home, and he knows that it would be difficult to do some of the things he would like to do in a home where a Christian testimony has been maintained. He leaves home because he has what we might call an ulterior motive in mind.

Sometimes a Christian boy, and quite often a Christian girl—oftentimes at 17 or 18 instead of 20—wants to move into an apartment in the same town because he cannot stand the incessant nagging that he receives from his parents. Now, there are some well-meaning parents—you 17, 18, 20 year olds who might like to move into an apartment, believe me, your parents do have your best interest at heart; they mean well. Because they do, they are consistently prying and probing, so that it is easier for you not to come home than it is to come home. Sometimes boys or girls want to move into an apartment in the same town for no worse reason than that. They don't plan to get drunk. They don't plan to have some girls in. They just don't want to listen to that incessant nagging that comes from well-meaning parents.

Then there is another reason. These reasons I am giving you are reasons which have been given me at various times as I have counseled with folk along these same lines. Sometimes the reason given is that the individual has felt suppressed; he may have been mothered too long. You know that is possible. The only way in the world he can assert his independence is to move into an apartment by himself. He doesn't plan to do a thing in the world that he wouldn't do at home; he just wants that show of independence. Believe it or not, sometimes some boys don't get courage enough to do this until they are 35, and then it is a real battle. I have had mothers ask me why a 35 year-old boy wants to move into an apartment by himself, when there is a perfectly comfortable house to live in.

Question :

Suppose it were your 16 or 17 year-old boy who wanted to do that?

Answer : My answer is that I would not let him. You notice that I said 16 or 17 year-old. I don't know much that you could do about an 18 or 20 year-old boy unless you stood behind the door with a baseball bat as he went out with his suitcase and tapped him on the head and dragged him back in.

Sometimes well-meaning, sincere parents drive their children away from home.

Question No. 3

Do you think that a child can get to the place where he can no longer be guided by his parents? In other words, is there a time when Mom and Dad no longer have the right to speak words of correction to the child, even though he is living under the parents' roof?

Answer : This is an involved question, and we dealt with it in detail when we talked about “Pleasers or Pouters” and about “Provokers and Providers.” But let me say this to you: If you mean by this question, “Can a child get to the place where he will not receive the guidance of his parents?”, I think it is a matter of salvaging what you can instead of forcing what you want. There is a vast difference. I am of the opinion that if, by God's grace, you start guiding the child right to start with, he will not get to the place where you cannot guide him. But if some mistakes have been made and he has reached that place—those mistakes can be made, and children do reach that place—then it is not a matter of whether or not you have a right to speak to him; it is a matter of salvaging what influence and authority you may have left in relation to him.

Should you tell him he cannot do certain things as long as he lives in your house? I think one of the gravest mistakes parents make is to say to children, “As long as you live in this house, you will not do that.” Immediately it implants in their minds the idea, “As soon as I can get away from this house, I can do it.” Emphasis should be placed on the fact that you don't do certain things, or you do do certain things, because they are wrong or right, as the case may be, and not because of the place you live. When that principle is instilled in your child at an early age, although he may reach the age where he chafes under what you expect him to do, he will not threaten, as some young people do, “If I can't do it, I will just leave home.”

Question : If he won't obey, do we have the right to order him out?

Answer : I suspect that you have the right; it is your house. But I would question the wisdom of it. If your children are making a mistake, if they have made a mistake, if they ever need you, they need you now. If you break the line of communication by saying to them, “Get out!”—whatever help you may be to them, whatever opportunity for help you have, will be gone.

Of course this isn't solved by a few statements. I suggest that if you have a child in your home who feels that you have no right to tell him what to do anad he is too big for you to make him do it, ask the Lord for discretion as how to salvage what influence you may have left, and I believe He will give you that discretion. If what you do is not what the preacher would do, if what you do is not what your next door neighbor would do, don't be concerned about that. Too many people have reared their children on the basis of what their neighbors might think. Too many people have rearedd their children on the basis of what the preacher might think. Your child is an individual. You have a responsibility to him, and God can give you the wisdom to know what to do. But never would I order a child of mine away from my house never to come back. I want the door left open.

Question No. 4

Please explain your views on the family altar. Should it ever be forced?

Answer : If I were to answer the second question first, and could be permitted only one word, I would say no; the family altar should never be forced. I think every family ought to have some kind of family altar—the kind that is most fitting to your individual situation, at the time that is best suited to your family needs.

Let me suggest that when your children are very small they might need to be taught, because they don't know the difference between a family altar and play time. They should be taught that there is a time of family prayer and be encouraged to participate, attend, whatever word you want to use. You might need to say to them, however you want to say it, “Now, this is not play time. It is prayer time. We are going to talk to Jesus.” You might even have to restrain them from making noise. You might even have to stop the levity that arises oftentimes when children will laugh because they are embarrassed. They are not making fun of anything, but something new is something different, and they just laugh because they are embarrassed.

I saw a little girl one time receive the Lord Jesus Christ and she gggled all the way through. one of the people standing by was indignant, but she did not know people well enough to know that this was not levity on the child's part. She was embarrassed, and when she got over her embarrassment, there was a depth of experience. So you might with the very young ones have to force them in the sense that you say, “No, no; we sit still now for this period of time.” But when I say the family altar should not be forced, I am thinking of maybe the low teens and high teens. When they get up old enough to begin to resent being made to sit at a family altar, I question the wisdom of forcing them to do it. I question the wisdom of making them quit doing something that they think is very important just to sit down and listen to you do something that you are doing simply because you have been told there is something wrong with you if you don't have a family altar in your home.

Of course you can be firm about the fact that you have a family altar and not give in and say, “Well, we just won't have a family altar if nobody wants to have it.” When your children get old enough to begin to make some decisions on their own, you might say to them, “We are going to have prayer together. Don't you want to come and join us?”

Our family altars at home are a little different from those of most folk, and I have even had some well-meaning preachers say, “Well, you just don't have a family altar.” I always smile and say, “Well, the Lord will take care of it if I don't,” because I am not vitally concerned with what they think about it. My wife, because I am gone so much at night, has developed a habit which is fine for us—you might try it; it might be very profitable for you—of going to each child's room and having family altar with him. When my girls who are in the university come home for the summer, many evenings as my wife has started down toward our room, I have heard them say, “Mother, aren't you going to come and pray with me tonight” It is not a matter of forcing it; it is a matter of their wanting it. When I am there and we are all together as a family in our family room, when we are through with whatever we may be doing, I say, “Now, let's have prayer together before we all go to bed.” Maybe some members of the family are scattered about the house; we have a large house and there is a second floor, and there may be a matter of sending a message. We may say to one of the children, “Do you want to go and see if so-and-so wants to join us for prayer?” He will go and say, “We are going to pray. come on down; we are going to pray.” Many times they will come. Sometimes they don't come immediately, and we don't wait and then send a second message, “Look, come on down here. We are going to have prayer.” We just go ahead with our family service. Many times they slip in a little late. You say, “Why didn't they come right away?” If it is a case of a girl, there could be any number of reasons why she didn't come. Quite often she is putting that last twist in that curler, or whatever it is they put in their hair. So, the whole thing in relation to a family altar is, I think, to ask the Lord for wisdom. Don't, please, don't be wedded to one way of doing it. Ask the Lord for wisdom to know how to do it, when to do it, and the way to do it.

We have a man in our congregation whose children are very rebellious about coming to church and about prayer, and I know the reason. He can't see it. His wife is a lovely cook and they believe in big breakfasts; she prepares a sumptuous repast for breakfast, and all the children gather around the table. He is reading through the book of Deuteronomy, and if the chapter has 180 verses in it, he is going to read every one of those 180 verses. Did you ever eat a cold, hard egg in the morning? Especially when you watched it getting that way. How could you expect anybody to enjoy a family altar if he saw the food getting cold? Pretty hard on the wife. She got up early to fix it. There it is, all getting cold, while he is reading a genealogical chapter in the book of Deuteronomy. I say it kindly; he just hasn't much sense. That is why his children are rebellious.

Well, that is it; I would not force a family altar; I would ask the Lord for wisdom to do the right thing.

Question : If a child just assumes that he is supposed to come as a part of his day, and doesn't seem to be paying attention, or maybe he is disrupting the others, do you just explain to that child that he doesn't have to come?

Answer : Oh no, no, no. If he is there because it is the family altar time, I would certainly welcome his presence, and I certainly would not let him disturb to the extent of disrupting the family altar; but I don't know that I would say, “Johnny, are you listening to what I am saying?”

Question : No, I mean if he doesn't realize that he has a choice about coming…

Answer : Well, don't let him know he has a choice. Keep that a secret as long as you can. He will find out soon enough. I might say this, too, in relation to forcing the family altar. They will try you to see whether they need to or not. So the first time or two they try, you might need to let them know they are supposed to be there. In speaking of forcing, I am speaking of a young person who is old enough really to have in mind what he wants to do, and he sits there gritting his teeth and clinching his fists and thinking, “Boy, if I can get out of this, as soon as I can I am going to get out of it.” I think that the discretion the Lord is able to give is the only way you can tell when to say, “You don't have to.” I don't know that you ever need to say it; you might just ignore the fact that they don't come.

Question No. 5

Is there any way to help a child grow spiritually, other than by taking him to church, having family prayer, praising the Lord occasionally as blessings are evident, and relating the Scriptures to problems as they arise?

Answer : I think this pretty well covers the subject as to how you can help your child grow spiritually.

I think one thing that would help tremendously in addition to these so-called formal things, if we may use that term in relation to them, is the matter of instilling in the child the realization of his personal relationship to Jesus Christ, not only from the standpoint of salvation but from the standpoint of his being able to depend upon the Lord for wisdom and guidance.

For example, oftentimes when our children have come to us about some particular problem, maybe a difficult subject at school, we have said—not piously, not in a rebuking fashion, but in a conversational tone which they understood—“Have you prayed about it?” Sometimes their answer has been, “You mean I should pray about that?” We have said, “Why don't you try, and see what happens.?” We have even suggested to them, adding a little theological doctrine, because after all doctrine is the basis of what we stand for, that because of what the Scripture says along a certain line, they have a perfect right to do that.

An illustration comes to mind. I called home and talked with my wife; that is the reason I was a little bit late. She wanted to know how things were going. I had asked her to pray especially about this series of meetings because, in view of the fact that many of you had heard the “Know Your Child” tapes, I did not want to be repeating anything needlessly. I asked her to be praying that the Lord would bring to mind some illustrations that might be helpful. She said, “Has the Lord done that?” I said, “Well, other than the basic preparation from the Word which one would natrually make, I don't know what I am going to say until I get up and the Holy Spirit brings the illustration to mind.” It may not always fit in as much as I think it does.

This illustration comes to mind, about how you can teach your child absolute dependence upon the Lord. My son Philip, who is sixteen years of age, got involved in a situation at school that could have created a real problem for him. He could have been expelled from school. Because—and we are thankful for this—the communication gap or the generation gap, or whatever the word is, does not exist in our family, we knew all about this. Of course we did not say, “You are the guilty one, and this is all wrong,” etc. We thought the matter out.

What happened was that he was going on a speech tournament in which, incidentally, he placed fifth—that may not sound like much to you, but according to his viewpoint it is very important. He had been asked to room with two boys who were football fellows, popular fellows, etc. Philip has always been forthright about his testimony. He doesn't carry a Bible around under his arm and stop everybody and say, “Are you going to Heaven or are you going to Hell?” People know where he stands, however.

These fellows asked him to room with them. One day when they were having lunch together, they said, “Philip, you don't drink, do you?” Philip said, “No, I sure don't fellows.” They said, “Well, we didn't think you did, but we wanted to be sure, because we are going to and we want somebody to take care of us and make sure that nothing too bad happens,” etc. You may not be aware that this sort of thing goes on all the time. These kids in high school who take trips with LSD and the rest of it make sure that there is somebody around who doesn't, so they won't get in too much trouble.

Well, Philip talked with me about it, and I said to him, “You are not obligated to wet nurse anybody, and you can't help what they do.” etc. Because he is somewhat philosophical, he unwisely, I think, went to several of the teachers with whom he is very friendly and said, without mentioning any names, “Now, in a certain situation, if this were true, and this were true, what would you do?” They each gave his opinion.

Then the Assistant Principal called him in and said, “Philip, what is going to happen on that tournament down in Houston?” Philip said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you have been talking enough that we know something is going to happen.” Then the Principal said, “You are not a priest, you are not a preacher, you are not a psychiatrist; you don't have any right to privileged information. I want to know who it is and what it is.”

Philip said, “I have a right to make one telephone call.” He said, “I want to call my dad and see what he thinks I ought to do.” The Principal said, “All right. Call your dad and he will tell you what you ought to do. He will tell you you ought to tell.” So Philip called me. He said, “Dad, am I obligated to tell on these boys?” I said, “No, you are not. The school has an administration; they have a Principal; they have teachers; and you are not obligated to ride herd on the Cooper High School student body. Now, don't lie, but you are not obligated to tell.”

Then I went on to tell him that if he had entered a school like the Air Force Academy or another one that I can think about in Christian circles where, when you enter you know you are obligated to tell what you are supposed to tell, that is a different story; but here you don't take any pledge or make any agreement. I said, “If I were you, I would say, 'I am sorry, but I decline to tell you who these boys are.'” He said, “Dad, really this is my problem: I know Tommy,* and I have seen him stomp two or three boys, and,” he said, “I just don't want to get stomped. What can I do about it?”

I said, “Well” — and this is the purpose of the the story — I said, “Philip, we can pray about it. We can pray that the Lord will give you the discretion and the wisdom to know what to do.”

When he hung up he told the Principal, “I decline to give you the information, and that is my privilege.” The Principal was rather wise—maybe sneaky is a better word. He talked about a number of things, and then he said, “Philip, by the way, was it so-and-so?” No, it wasn't so-and-so. “Was it so-and-so?” And then, right sudden-like, he said, “Was it Tommy?” Philip had to say, “Yes, Sir.” Then he knew he shouldn't have told. Anyway, the information got out.

Now, this is the real issue, the real point of the story. They called Tommy and the other boy in, and said they were seriously considering expelling them and expelling Philip because Philip had not told, etc., and they did not know whether they would let these boys go on this tournament trip or not. Of course, it was really important to the school spirit, a chance to win, and that sort of thing.

Tommy came out and found Philip and said, “Philip, old boy, I don't know whether I am going to get to go on that tournament or not.” Philip said, “Yeah, I know. Things are bad, aren't they?” They just talked general-like, and Tommy didn't say anything to him like, “Did you tell?” or, “How did this get out?” When Philip came home, he said, “Dad, there is something that bothers me. I didn't lie to Tommy. I didn't tell him I didn't tell, but I acted as if I didn't tell.” He said, “What would you think about my calling Tommy and saying, 'Tommy, will you promise me that you won't drink? If you do, I will go to the Principal and tell him you promised me you are not going to drink, and I will stay with you and you won't.'” I said, “That won't help, because Tommy may not keep his promise and the administration probably won't believe you.”

The reason I am saying it this way is that that was not his real problem. He was feeling his way along. He came back a little later, and said, “Dad, I will tell you what really is bothering me. I can't stand to let Tommy think I lied. So what do you think about my going to Tommy and telling him I was the one that told.” I said, “Well,” and this is my point, “if you feel you have grieved the Holy Spirit—and lying does grieve the Holy Spirit—then if I were you, I would acknowledge it.”

Here I am going to use a phrase that theologically is incorrect, but practically it is helpful. Sometimes we get so bogged down in theological controversy we miss the point. I am perfectly aware that one can get into quite a theological discussion about whether you should pray to the Holy Spirit or not. I am aware of that. But sometimes it is helpful to make a point, and I do it. I said, “Philip, if you feel that you have grieved the Holy Spirit, you might just say, ‘Holy Spirit, I confess that I have grieved you by lying about Tommy.' Then you go talk to Tommy about it.”

You see, you drive home a spiritual lesson by an everyday experience. Then I had an opportunity to drive home another lesson, because he said, “O.K. Now, Dad, that is what I am going to do, but will you do something? Will you pray that Tommy won't stomp me?” I said, “Philip, I will be glad to pray with you that Tommy won't stomp you, but I won't guarantee you that the Lord will answer that prayer. That might be one of the things that you will have to suffer for you testimony's sake.” He said, “It is sure going to be rough. I know that.”

Anyway, when he came home that day, I said, “Philip, how did it go?” He said, “Well, I went to Tommy and I told him, 'Tommy, I expect I am the one that created all this trouble. I told. I didn't mean to, but I did, and I am not going to lie to you because I am not a liar.” Tommy said, “Philip, that is all right.” He said, “I knew you were the only one who could have told, but it is all right. I really shouldn't have been planning to do a thing like that.” Then he said this, and this is what really thrilled Philip. He said, “Philip, will you go ahead and room with me anyway?” When we were talking about it I said, “Philip, that is how the Lord can cause the wrath of men to praise Him.”

I don't know whether that is of any help or not, but the point is that if you can relate spiritual things to ordinary, everyday experiences, you can do far more with your children than you can by sitting them down and preaching them, a sermon. Make it real. Make it live. Make it be an everyday experience. Oftentimes we have said to our children, relative to things which they have needed, “We will just have to pray about it.” I have said to them any number of times, “I don't have the money for that, but we can ask the Lord for it. If he supplies it, we will do it.” Sometimes I have said to the children, “You ask the Lord for it. If He supplies it, that is what we will do.” This does make it practical.

Once again I emphasize that the fount of inspiration does not rest with me. There may be other answers to these questions, but that is that, for now.

Question No. 6

What are your views on children of primary age attending church?

Answer : Please accept my answer purely on the basis of my opinion without involving anybody else. I don't know what you do here, you see. We were so crowded in our sanctuary at Abilene before we built our new one that we had Junior Church. I have always been opposed to it; I don't know how many people came to me and said, “Well, I never thought I would live to see the day that you would change, but you have changed.” I said then, “I haven't changed in my original feeling. It is a matter of expediency.”

Then they wanted to know what we would do when we moved into the new sanctuary. I said, and I was using an expression that I use all the time, “Well, we will just have to play it by ear. We will just have to wait and see.” Certainly it would be a very foolish thing to disrupt a practice that had gone on for a year and a half just because it is something I feel strongly about; but it turned out that because we have the room now, the Junior Church has died a natural death. No one has even mentioned it. The children all came into the sanctuary the first day, and of course we did talk with the folk who were in charge and said, “Now, let's play it by ear, and if they expect a separate service and the parents insist on it, we will have it, and if they don't we will go along.”

The reason I feel as I do is that I believe that at least once on Sunday worship ought to be a family affair, and at home I encourage our folk to sit together as families. We don't demand it, and nobody checks the pews to see that it is being done, but I encourage it because I believe that it is an invaluable help to the children to be with their parents in worship.

I have found this to be true: The reason that many parents like Junior Church, and we are using that term very generally, is that they don't want to be bothered with making their children sit still in church. They have said to me, “I can't get a thing out of what you say because I have got to be working on him all the time.” Well, I think that is an assumption that is erroneous; I don't think you have to be working on him all the time. From the time our children were born, my wife took them to church when she was able to go. I don't have any objection to nurseries as such. There is not much point to sitting holding little babies in church, and that sort of thing; but my wife always worked on the assumption that if you make it more uncomfortable for them outside than it is inside, they will stay inside the way they ought to stay. Of course she made sure that they went to the bathroom before they came to church. You know, a lot of folk don't think about that. Little children come to church and they begin to squirm. “What are you squirming about?” “I got to go.” “Well, you can't.” They keep on squirming, and they you wonder “Well, do they or don't they?” They know that you are debating it. This time they have to, so you say, “All right. You go.” Next Sunday they get to thinking, “Boy, that worked pretty good.” So they go through the same motions, and you are not real sure—and there you are. Then I think a lot of parents can't abide the normal movements of children in church. They want them to sit just so; don't move an inch. I don't know about you, but I can't do that myself. It is awfull hard for me to listen to somebody else talk. I squirm every which way, slide up, slide down, all around a pew, and here I am past half a century. How could you expect a small child to sit still? My answer is that I think it would be good if at least one time on Sunday the family could worship together, and in that sense I discourage Junior Church in my own work. But I think everybody has to have what the situation demands.

We have always made it a point, too, to emphasize that Junior Church is optional with the parents. If they want their children to come into the Service, that is their privilege. We have noticed in the case of some of the folk who wanted Junior Church so badly, that after the first few Sundays their children didn't go; they came in to the main Service.

Question No. 7

In a family which is not Christian, a 14 year old girl gets a “no” from Dad to everything she wants to do. The wife does not know why, and cannot talk to the husband. The daughter feels that Daddy doesn't like her. What is the trouble, and what can be done? As an illustration, the girl wanted to go to the movies with a boy and another couple and Daddy said he was not in favor of it, but it would be OK. Then the question was asked, could she go at night, and the proverbial “no” came forth. What is the difference? He won't let her go out at night even with a girl friend, for such things as skating, etc.

Answer : If these folk are unsaved, then that is the basic problem and nothing really can be done about it except normal suggestions related to everyday living. The reason for this, though, could lie in one thing.

My father-in-law, a very godly man, was very strict with his five girls. He was a Christian man, a godly man, but very strict with his girls. To illustrate how strict he was: The week before my wife and I married, he and I went up to a mountain cabin to get out of the way so they could get ready for the wedding. As we were ready to get into the car, sincerely and formally he said to me, “You may kiss Christine goodbye.” This was a week before we were married. Her little sister, who is a missionary in Ethiopia now, jumped up and down and said, “It doesn't look like the first time to me!” But he was not smiling. We drove down the road quite a piece, and strange as it sounds and even amusing, he turned to me very suddenly and said, “Joe, you realize you have to marry Christine now, don't you?” You would think that in a modern day nobody would be that impractical, or foolish, or whatever the word is; but he was absolutely sincere.

While we were at the cabin he said, “You think I am strange, don't you, the way I have treated my girls?” Then he said this: “I have presented you with a pure woman,” and that was true. Then he said this: “Joe, people laugh at me. My elders have criticized me. But I have not always been a Christian.” Then he told me the story of his life. He had been a professional wrestler before he came to know the Lord. That is one reason I didn't argue with him. He went on to tell me the kind of life he had lived. He had embedded in his mind the idea that girls had to fight to maintain their virtue, because they did with him, and he was interpreting everybody in the light of his own experience.

The man of whom we are speaking here could very possibly love his daughter more than he loves his life, and because of his own experience, or maybe because of what he has seen out in the world, he thinks he is protecting her. Because he does not know the Lord, and cannot seek the wisdom and discretion of the Lord about it, he is doing the only thing he knows to do.

And of course we don't know the details about this child. Everything may be perfect, but if you have dealt much with young people and with children, you know that quite often what seems to be an innocent skating party could be a front for something else. He may know that.

When I have made certain suggestions to my boys, they have said, “Dad, why do you say a thing like that?” I have said to them, “Because I haven't always been a father; I was a boy once.” I know how boys think. I know what boys do. But when you have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct, He can give wisdom and discretion so there won't be the unreasonableness that apparently there is in this situation.

If you have an opportunity to talk with the mother, you might help by suggesting that this may not be as bad as it seems on the surface. There may be a reason why he feels that way. It may help her to understand, and it may give her an approach to talk with him. She may need to remind him that things may not be as bad as they seem.

Question No. 8

How do you inspire children to do it now, when you ask them to do something?

Answer : That is good: Not how do you inspire children to do it, but how do you inspire children to do it “now” when you ask them to do something? I like the word “inspire.” How do you inspire them to do it?

Let me say, not too facetiously, that the best way to inspire them is with a little heat applied in the right place to motivate them to do the thing that needs to be done. Seriously—although I was serious about that—one of the big problems about procrastiantion is that your children have not learned to listen, and you have not taken the time to see that they know what you say.

I have discovered that more often than not the reason why children do not do now what you tell them to do is that they are not listening. It is just a mumble to them; it is just a sound. Consequently, they don't even know what you have told them to do. One way to inspire them to do it is to be sure they have heard what you said (See Lesson #4, page 4)

Then it is important, I think, to keep in mind that a way to inspire them to do it now is to let them know that that is what you mean. You have all seen little cartoons that say, “I don't have to go now. She has yelled only once.” All too often we let our children think that until we have spoken the third time they don't have to get excited. Let them know that when you speak the first time, you expect immediate obedience, and you won't too often have to apply the motivation of which I spoke.

Question No. 9

Do you have any specific suggestions for bedtime procrastinators or those who put off their homework?

Answer : You have the same problems here that we have in West Texas, don't you? Yes, I have some suggestions. One of them is to be sure before you get yourself out on a limb that you know what you are saying; what you may think is procrastination may not be procrastination. With all due respect to our teachers, I am amazed at the overload of work that children are expected to do in this day and time. I am amazed that teachers would expect a child to get so many things done in one assignment. So be sure it is procrastination. Be sure before you get too excited that it isn't a matter of their simply not getting it done, and because they are conscientious, wanting to finish the job.

If you discover that it is a matter of their having too much to do and they can't get it done, then quietly sit down with them and say to them (I have said this to my children any number of times), “Daddy is pleased when you bring home a good report card.” Incidentally, they have started a new system in our schools. I don't know whether it is here yet. Maybe it is universal. The parents don't have to sign report cards anymore; the children don't even bring them home. Well, we still instruct our children to bring them home. We let them know how interested we are, whether we sign our name or not. “Daddy is pleased when you bring home a good report card,” I say, “but there are some things more important than mere grades, and one of them is your health. You need a certain amount of sleep in order to get done the work that needs to be done, and even if you are not through, go to bed and don't worry about it.”

If you have had this experience, you probably know the thing that is said: “But what am I going to tell my teacher?” When I get that question, I always say, “If I need to, I will tell the teacher.” By God's grace, my children have enough confidence in me that if I say that, that settles it. They go to bed and go to sleep.

But we do recognize that there is such a thing as procrastination: too much TV, too much telephone conversation, or whatever. If you know it is procrastination, the way to nip this thing in the bud is to say, “I am sorry. We go to bed at a certain time. You should have thought about that while you were talking on the phone. You should have thought about that while you were watching TV. You should have thought about that when you were outside playing volley ball. This is the time we go to bed.”

Do that and hold firmly to it, and there won't be much more procrastination, because it won't do any good. You know children are human. I don't know why we think they are not. They are not nearly as ignorant as we think they are. If they discover they can procrastinate, they will procrastinate. You do it, don't you? If they find out they can't, they won't. It is a simple matter of letting them know that there are some things that are not done, and that is one of them.

* Not his real name.


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