Family Discipleship: Guarding the Gates

Josh Buice

God has given parents the responsibility of protecting their children from the evils of society and the sinful traps of the world.  That responsibility transcends a good security system.  Protecting the family goes beyond locking windows and doors at night.  Family discipleship involves spiritual, emotional, and physical realms of life.  Years ago, it was an easier task than it is within the information age of continual connectivity and cloud based information hovering over your home like a cultural drone ready to dispense information upon request.  The challenge presented to parents today is centered upon how to disciple and shepherd your children in the midst of so many competing voices.  While we must admit that our homes are full of sin because sinners live there, we as parents are given the responsibility of leading our homes in the way of righteousness and protecting our family from the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

An Honest Evaluation

Who are the parents of your children?  Are you and your spouse the parents who teach and instruct your child or are the Internet and the television outlets the main influencers in the lives of your children?  Who is teaching your children how to pursue a spouse?  Who is teaching your children about marriage?  Who is influencing your children’s worldview?  Answering these questions with honesty matters.  How do your children learn about life – through a screen or through real life?  How well do your children communicate?  Are they unable to engage in a real conversation with real people because of their constant communication through information processing devices?

Before you can make advancements in the right direction regarding the gate of your home, you must begin with an honest evaluation.  The evaluation involves answering good questions and exploring the ebb and flow of your home.

  • What are the ages of the children in your home?
  • Do you know their temptations?
  • How well do you know your children?
  • How much is technology really needed your home?
  • Do you have control over your television, music, and Internet?
  • Is the Wi-Fi in your home open (unlocked) or does it require a password to login?
  • Who pays for the technology that enters your home?
  • Who will stand before God and answer for your use of technology?
  • Who purchased the technology devices that your children use?
  • Have you had an honest conversation about temptations and predators who use the Internet?
  • Do you know what music is on your child’s iPod right now?
  • When was the last time you searched the browsing history on your child’s computer?
  • Do you know what search requests have been made through Google on your child’s computer or iPad?
  • Do you know of the Incognito search option on Chrome’s web browser?
  • Do you know about the “Private” setting on the Safari web browser on your child’s iPad and iPod?
  • Does your family have an organized family discipleship time where you gather for Bible reading, prayer, and a song?

Engaging in the War

To sit back and take a passive posture to parenting is to expect unlikely and improbable results and receive what you never intended.  As parents, we must learn to view life through the lens of Christian warfare.  The battle is raging around us, and the devil is playing for keeps.  To engage in a spiritual war as a parent is to plan ahead, remain educated, and make wise decisions rather than popular decisions.  We live in a day of images.  Even Google has a section completely devoted to images.  Instagram and other social media outlets are completely devoted to images.  We pass images on billboards as we drive and we are bombarded by them through television, magazines, and a multiplicity of other options through the Internet.  We can’t control what images are plastered upon billboards and printed in magazines, but we can control what enters our home.

1.  Monitor and Manage Technology

Would you go to bed at night with your door wide open?  Why do you go to bed with the gate to your home through technology standing wide open?  What about during the daytime hours, do you leave your door wide open?  Why do you think it’s appropriate to leave your technology gate wide open during the day?  One of the reasons children are becoming sexually aware and getting hooked on pornography at such a young age today is because of the wide gate of technology.  Face the facts, your children were born with an information device in their hands.  They will never experience what it was like to login to the Internet through a dial-up modem and hear that infamous sound of the computer attempting to connect (which was not always a success).

Learning about good tools and getting them established in your home is key.  Routers, firewalls, and software that prevents harmful information from entering your technology gate is paramount.  You want to make sure you lock the gate to websites that provide harmful content and protect the eyes and ears of your children.  David wrote these words in Psalm 101:3 – “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”  Make that the commitment of your home regarding all forms of technology – including the television.  A good DVR system will allow you to record episodes and fast forward the commercials without subjecting your eyes and ears to marketing schemes that can be harmful to you and your family.

2.  Pleasing God – Not Children

Fear of man issues can cripple a man.  It can also cripple parents who seek to please their children and are constantly gripped by fears of being “disliked” by their children.  Learning to limit or restrict children from the use of technology while they are living in your home and under your direct care is something that you as a parent must be willing to do.  It has to be more important for you to guard your family from evil than it is to be the cool parent.  Becoming best friends with your children is not an option while they’re living under your roof.

It’s essential for you to teach your children that technology is not a right but a privilege.  It doesn’t matter how old a child is, he or she doesn’t have a right to use technology in your home and under your care.  The level of technology usage and the boundaries of technology use fall upon the shoulders of parents rather than the children.  It’s extremely important to be proactive and preventative in this area rather than reactive.  The idea is to prevent harmful content rather than treating your child after discovering that it made it into your home through the open gate of technology.

3.  The Bible in the Home

Hearing the Bible in the home is of far greater importance than hearing a constant barrage of talk show hosts and commercials.  It may surprise you to know that many people who have argued about the removal of the Ten Commandments from the public schools don’t actually read the Bible openly in their own private homes.  For many people it was more about politics than it was about God.  Taking time to read the Bible, sing, and pray with the family is critical to the development of a Christian worldview.  It’s not enough to lock the gate to the eyes and ears.  We must actually engage the mind and heart through the eyes and ears with the Word of God.  When parents capitulate in the area of family devotions (aka family worship), the devil is prepared to take over the responsibility of discipleship.

John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, also authored The Holy War.  The spiritual parable is a tale about a monster called Diabolus who takes over the city named Mansoul.  The city of Mansoul was literally invincible.  There was no way to overcome the high walls and powerful gates to the city.  The way that Diabolus was able to enter Mansoul and overtake it was by convincing the people who lived there by persuasive lies to open Eye-Gate and Ear-Gate.  It was through those gates that he entered the city and conquered it.  If we are to guard our family from the pitfalls of sin and the attacks of the devil, we must guard what enters the ear gate and eye gate of our family.

As we think about the complexities of controlling what enters our minds through our ears and our eyes, we must remember that it’s not just about protecting the children.  As adults, we are prone to wander and to leave the God we love too.

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Author Family Discipleship: Guarding the Gates

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.