“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
What started me thinking about guarding you heart was the depression of two young friends. They have been listening to ungodly music – one was fascinated with the Beatles and the other with Katie Perry. Another friend committed adultery while he was attending Bible college. He told my husband Jim that he had started listening to worldly music on his way to school.
Thinking negative thoughts, filling our minds with impure music, T.V. shows, magazines, books and computer sites leads to sin, guilt and depression. If there is sin in our hearts, the devil will use it to cause us to fall.
One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. It is our responsibity to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 Sometimes we can’t control what we feel or what passes through our mind, but we can control what thoughts we dwell on and our reaction to events.
Our goal should be:
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We are to choose what Jesus would have us listen to and watch. This might take wisdom and discernment.
Parents have the obligation to protect their children from the world:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
Parents are a powerful influence. Their prayers and protection are very important.
The following in our testimony of helping our children control their minds. Other parents might not want to follow these rules, but they may suggest guidelines for their family. Just make sure Jesus is your Counselor.
My husband Jim did not want me to read any stories to our children that were not Christian. At first I didn’t agree because I had liked nursery rhymes and fairy tales when I was little. I guess I associated them with the comfort of being loved by my mother. She was a wonderful Christian, but lacked discernment in that area. There was not much proper teaching or variety of Christian material at that time.
I listened to Jim. In a while I could see that nursery rhymes were often silly and a waste of time and, especially fairy tales, even evil. Our daughter Jill had an experience with our granddaughter Gracie concerning a fairy tale. Someone gave Gracie a Polly Pocket on Cinderella, and Gracie became fascinated with that story. Jill let her listen to the story leaving out the part about the fairy godmother. Fairies are really demons. In Cinderella the fairy godmother takes the credit that should belong to Jesus; she helps the disadvantaged and performs the miracles.
Also, contributing to the Robin Hood Syndrome, so prevalent in our society, is mice stealing to make Cinderella’s gown, and we are supposed to approve of their good deed. The Robin Hood Syndrome is stealing from one person to give to another. That person might think it is the right thing to do, but it is NOT what God thinks is right. This is what they did in the time of the Judges in Israel:
“…everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 17:6, 21:25
Gracie wanted to act out Cinderella and chose to be one of the wicked step sisters. Jill would explain to her why their actions were wrong. Jill gradually got rid of all Cinderella material (unfortunately when relatives heard what Gracie liked, they gave her presents concerning that story). Eventually Gracie enjoyed other princess stories more and eventually outgrew the fascination.
When they were growing up, Jim and I read the Picture Bible to our children over and over. We read Danny Orlis books. Today there is even more variety. By the time she was ten, Jill was reading adult books. When she was older Jill and I enjoyed reading each other books while the other cooked, did dishes, etc.
One time Scott brought Archie comics home. They are not so bad, especially compared to what it out there today, but we did not allow nonChristain magazines and books. He said they belonged to someone else so I couldn’t throw them out. I told him he had better return them to the someone else or I would throw them out! Remember, you have the right to allow and not allow what comes into your home.
Reading only Christian literature was a major contribution to having godly children. Another thing we did was to get rid of our T.V. Television is neither good nor evil, but the programs on it are usually a waste of time or evil. Television can be used to show godly movies or for learning. We do have a computer and watch news and other programs, and our children watch Christian movies using DVD on T.V.
We got rid of our T.V. when Scott was four. Scott was only allowed to watch Sesame Street and the Flintstones before then. I got my work done when he did, because he was a active little boy. But we felt we should, and when we did he calmed down for the whole day. Jill, who was two at time, never was subjected to the influence of T.V.
Cartoons are often filled with witches. Even a good witch winning over an evil witch teaches that we can fight witchcraft with witchcraft. Also, the producers of Sesame Street also produce ungodly shows. This is a sign that they have an ungodly agenda.
Scott wanted desperately to have a T.V. when he was about twelve. It was a battle. We were leaders for the children at the time and had a retreat for children. Our speaker fasted and prayed the whole weekend. Maybe it was his relating how he had turned away from God as a teenager,for after the retreat Scott changed his mind. He said, “I guess I don’t want a T.V.” That weekend was an answer to our prayers.
Our children watched T.V. at their grandparents. Their grandparents supervised what they watched to some extent, but their standards were not our standards. Once Scott was watching a program, and when I saw what was happening, I prayed that God would open his eyes to what was wrong. Later, Scott said he saw nothing wrong with that program until I came in the room.
Our children experienced many things of which we would not approve. You don’t have to purposely expose your children to evil. For instance, once a friend was saying how bad a certain movie was. Scott said, “Oh, I saw that movie”. He’s seen it at a Christian friend’s home. Christian parents all too often say a movie is good, when there is much that doesn’t agree with God’s standards.
There are some parents who watch a movie with their children and explain what is wrong. I would do this if I could not avoid having them watch the movie. I would explain to them what is wrong if they go to the public school and must watch something with which I disagree. Our children drew pictures of witches, etc. at Halloween, but they knew what witches really were.
We didn’t let our children participate in Halloween. I loved Halloween as a child and saw nothing wrong, even directing a Halloween play for our small community. I took Scott “trick or treating” when he was three. During that year God showed me that Halloween was from the devil. We had moved to Nova Scotia from Montreal, but were back in Montreal for a couple months because Jim had a business course. That Halloween I bought a box of apples to give out (before the time of razor blades in apples) and wondered what I would say when Scott saw other children in Halloween costumes. I didn’t know the manager of our apartment building wouldn’t let anyone in the building. We were on the third (top) floor.
Jim was away that evening. I prayed, not knowing what to do. I felt to read the Bible to Scott and Jill. We sat in a circle on the floor and I opened the Bible. All I saw were the words “Witch of Endor” 1 Samuel 28. That night I told them what witches were and what Halloween was. I felt safe in our almost empty living room. That night there was a rape in our apartment complex and a murder down the street.
When Scott and Jill were teenagers, they were in the class play. When Scott showed me the script I showed it to Jim, and we showed it to other Christian parents. We had a meeting with our children, and they said they would bring it up to the teacher. Even though fifty dollars had already been spent on the play, the school cancelled it because so many Christian students were in the play. The teacher/director chose another play. Jim and I did not approve of that play either, and when Scott told his teacher, he said, “I know Scott, I know.” They did go ahead with that play because Scott and Jill were the only ones not allowed, but it was never presented. Scott and Jill were in the community play of which we approved.
Our children accepted Jesus as their Lord when they were young. That was a real blessing. It gave us a real advantage when explaining God’s principles. God gave them discernment. Once Scott talked me into letting him go with his nonChristian friends every other week. He had a point – he said he went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening, so why couldn’t he go with his other friends instead of youth group every other Friday. His nonChristian friends were nice, and sometimes I disagreed with what happened in youth group. For instance, one time the leaders were gone so the kids watched T.V. and ate junk food at the pastor’s house. We didn’t allow T.V. or unhealthy food at home.
So we let Scott. The first night he went, his nonChristian friends brought out the Ouji Board. Scott left and always went to the youth group after that without us having to say anything.
Another time, an acquaintance of Jill wanted Jill to go to the dance. She knew our standards, but asked if Jill could just look in the window. I said yes, but afterwards prayed thinking maybe I had made a mistake. When Jill came home, she said, “I couldn’t even look in the window, Mom.” I had gone to dances when I was young and feel they were a bad influence on me.
It required continual watchfulness of our parts as parents to guard our children’s hearts. We have to resist their criticism and even the criticism of other parents. Some told us that our children would rebel because we were so strict. I thought, “I’m just obeying God. He is in charge of the results”. Once when Scott was sixteen he wanted to do something and I said no. He said he would when he was eighteen. I told God He had two years to change Scott’s mind and He did.
Our children didn’t give us any trouble in high school. In fact, they did more for Jesus than what we expected. Scott would even read his Bible in the halls at school and often preached a sermon on written reports when he could. Because he was a good athlete and such a happy, pleasant person he didn’t get much ridicule. He did get opposition from the church, but even that he stood up to in the correct way.
Once Scott asked me to teach an in-depth Bible study on Daniel to his youth group. The pastor said that youth didn’t like their parents teaching them, but when I said that Scott asked me, he said it was OK. Scott spent a few hours convincing the other youth leader to have the study. I did, and it probably benefitted Scott the most.
Scott is a leader, and sometimes the qualities that made him a good leader made his leaders think he was being rebellious. I remember Jill crying because she thought they were mean to Scott. But Scott never complained.
He did start a Bible study on end times without asking his superiors and only asking us if he could have it in our home. Lots of teens came to several meetings before his superiors knew he was having one or us knowing he hadn’t discussed it with anyone. No one complained because it was so successful.
Jill found it difficult being a Christian in a largely nonChristian environment, but she stood strong in her own quiet way. She didn’t tell us that she often prayed for a close Christian friend. She doesn’t make friends as easily as Scott, but makes close friends. She became close friends with one girl, and Scott led her to know Jesus. God answered her prayer.
Several times our children have told or written us about how they appreciated their growing up. Today Scott’s job often involves working with worldly people and activities like conferences at bars, but he strands strong for the Lord.
Jill once said, “Mom, you haven’t got more rules than anyone else, just different ones.” After Scott and Jill were grown, I heard a teaching from La Leche League (a breastfeeding organization of which I once was a leader) that you should limit your rules to what would hurt your child physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. We had done that.
Jim and I only listen to Christian music. We have been rewarded. I am a D.J. for a volunteer community radio station and have lots of Christian music. There is no lack of Christian books, magazines and music today. We seldom watch movies, but there are good Christian movies, also. When I was growing up there wasn’t much variety, but today there is no excuse to resort to things of the world.
Just because a person, movie, book etc. claims to be Christian doesn’t mean that he/it is. A person’s ccharacter, actions and the results of his actions are a good barometer:
“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:44-46
We can always ask God for wisdom.
Controlling what we listen to is only part of the battle. There are always bad influences. We should choose our friends carefully:
”A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26
“Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company…” Proverbs 24:1
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
We also have our sinful nature to contend with (probably the most difficult):
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18
“Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:25
We have to replace evil thoughts with good:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Paul wrote most of the New Testament so when he says “put it into practice” whatever we “have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me” he is talking about putting into practice what we have learned, received, heard and seen in the Bible.
It is easier said than done to “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” However, like the other fruits of the Spirit (“…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….” Galatians 5:22-24), Jesus is more than willing to give us self-control:
“you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13
Don’t think we have always done things right. But when we gave our problems to God, He answered us. We are far from perfect people. We are ordinary people – with faults we try to overcome and faults we are not aware of:
“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14
The fact that we are ordinary people is a good thing. Then you know that you can be successful, also. We are all ordinary people who need Jesus. Just call on God. Ask, trust and obey Jesus in order to guard your heart and the heart of your children.