Raise Up A Child

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Andrew Cencebaugh 3If you’re a parent, you’ve probably referred back to this Scripture from Proverbs 22:6 many times, especially when you’re children do something really dumb or that drives you crazy… but that’s for another topic for another day.

While this Scripture is not necessarily a law, it is a strong principle from God’s Word that reminds us of our responsibility, as parents, that our first priority is to raise our children to love Jesus and to put Him first in their lives.

However, many who may be reading this entry right now are painfully aware that there are no guarantees. We may do everything right, modeling and leading our children on the right path of following Jesus, only for our kids to grow up and walk away from their faith that we have helped to instill in them through their early years. How does this happen? Simply put… Free will. Ultimately, each one of our kids will have to make their faith in Jesus personal; they will have to own it someday if it is ever going to endure.

You see, this reality is fresh on my mind because a couple weekends ago I had the awesome privilege of baptizing my son, making him the last of our Cencebaugh household to follow the Lord’s example in this wonderful experience. And just like the times that I baptized my three girls, I was once again overwhelmed with emotion and a deep sense of pride and gratitude as I led him through this moving encounter. It was a priceless moment that I will always remember and cherish… even as my own children grow older and begin to “walk on their own”, slowly but surely becoming more and more independent. My only prayer is “Lord, I trust that Karine and I have raised them right and that they have cultivated a faith that will endure.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 gives us some great steps to building this kind of strong family:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (NIV)

As you can see, it all begins with loving God with everything you’ve got, giving Him all of your passion, dedication and devotion. It all starts there.

We are also given some basic instructions as to how we can demonstrate our love for the Lord and building a solid Christian home. In verse 7, there are three golden opportunities that we can take advantage of and begin to apply every single day. But, I’m also a realist, and I understand that with today’s family schedules as they are, every single day may not be feasible. However, the following is a solid pattern. Let’s strive to instill “faith talk” in our families on a regular basis…

  1. at the dinner table,
  2. when you travel, and
  3. at bedtime.

This is a great way to raising children in “the way they should go” and creating a home that is filled with faith in God and love for one another. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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Are You Mostly Dead?

Mostly DeadIf you’ve seen the Princess Bride, then you probably remember the classic scene where Inigo Montoya brings the lifeless body of his friend, Westley, to Miracle Max (played by Billy Crystal) in order to try to attempt to revive him. When Inigo tries to explain that his friend is dead, Miracle Max says, “No, he’s not dead, he’s only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

Simple, yet so profound. You see, the grim reality is that there are multitudes of people that are “mostly dead.” You possibly work with them, go to school with them, or live next door to them. They may be physically alive, but are spiritually dead. But God has a remedy!

That’s where the power of the Gospel comes in. Jesus said, 

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NLT)

This is the Message of Life and Hope that we have in Jesus! Those who are currently “mostly dead” still have hope. It’s the very reason He came. Here’s the deal:

JESUS DID NOT DIE TO MAKE BAD PEOPLE GOOD; HE DIED TO MAKE DEAD PEOPLE LIVE!

That’s what he does best! He takes what appears to be an impossible situation (death) and miraculously turns it around (life). That’s why He made this declaration:

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

One of the most alarming realities is the fact that there are those who think they are alive, but are in reality dead. This can be seen in one of the growing sub-cultures of our day which is commonly referred to as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). Many churches have even allowed this philosophy to creep into their teachings.

In a nutshell, MTD is a religious brand that seeks to be morally centered, pursuing a happy, pain-free life, and loving God from a distance, just comfortably enough to be loosely associated with Him (or church). It’s a reformatted version of religion. In other words, it’s a belief system for the “mostly dead.” It’s mantra is “Just go to church, say a few prayers, give an occasional offering, be nice to others, and you’ll be alright.” However, the Apostle Paul describes those who follow this pattern as such:

“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” – 2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)

What’s frightening is that you can be a really good person, never hurting anyway, always treating others with dignity and respect, and even attend church on a regular basis, and still be “mostly dead.”

The good news is if you’re “mostly dead” that obviously means that you’re slightly alive. And if you’re slightly alive, you can still make the conscious decision today to embrace new life in Jesus!

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(NIV)

As we approach this Christmas season of gift giving and receiving, let me encourage you to receive the “gift of God” by simply praying a prayer, inviting Jesus into your life, asking Him to forgive you and to give you a new start. Then, you will have crossed over from death to life (see John 5:24)! You will no longer be “mostly dead” but FULLY ALIVE!

If you would like more information on how to receive this new life in Jesus, please feel free to email me at James@BethelUpstate.com or go to the following link: ABCs of Salvation