My oldest son, Micah was walking on the college campus about 15 years ago when he was stopped by a student who asked, “Hey, are you related to Mark Fox?”
Micah grinned and said, “Yes, he’s my father.”
The student laughed and said, “I knew it! You look just like him.”
Micah and I have been told that many times over the years. I always apologize and explain that Micah had nothing to do with it, and we are hoping a plastic surgeon can help. The truth is, a son really does have nothing to do with whether he looks like his father. A daughter who looks like her mother is equally blameless. Nor is the father or the mother to blame. It’s in the DNA. But there is a deeper truth, a higher prize, a greater goal that parents can be deliberate and purposeful about with their children. Because not only will our children grow up looking like their parents, but they will also grow up acting like their parents. We have the opportunity — even the mandated responsibility from God, then, to train and disciple our children.
John wrote in his third letter, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
I would agree with the great apostle. Nothing thrills Cindy and me more than to hear that our children are genuine believers, lovers of God’s truth, committed to the local church, and followers of the Lord Jesus. I also would acknowledge that those kinds of testimonies from and about children will never happen by accident. They will never result simply from a transfer of DNA. Neither is spiritual maturity a byproduct of osmosis. If our children are going to walk in the truth, it is imperative that we teach them the truth.
I would suggest that you start with the book that does not just contain the truth, but is the truth. The Bible is truth, with a capital T. Read it to your children. Read it to them when they are too young to read it. Teach them to read it for themselves. Then let them participate in family devotions by reading part of the passage with you. For family devotions, choose a time in your daily schedule that is the least likely to be interrupted. At the Fox den, that has always been fi rst thing in the morning. For you, it may be at supper, or right before bedtime. One man in our church used to come home from work every day at lunchtime to have family devotions. The time of day is not as important as consistency. Commit to meeting the family for devotions at least four days a week, and then keep it up for at least a month. It will become a habit, for you and your children, and will produce tremendous fruit. Your children will start to look like Jesus in their speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.
The sad truth is that more than 700 people in the U.S. stop reading the Bible every day. So, though it is still the bestseller of all time, it may be the least-read bestseller of our time. We are starting to see the devastating consequences in a nation that has forsaken the truth and exchanged it for a lie. There is still hope for revival and reformation. But it will start with individuals, like you, who decide to disciple your children. They are going to look like you, anyway. Why not make it count? We will look at this matter of discipleship again next week.
J. Mark Fox is the author of “A Faithful Man” and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can Tweet him @jmarkfox and can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org