Bring Children Up in the Instruction of the Lord

photo of child reading holy bible

Since 2016 there has been a very sharp rise in mental health issues among youth. NBC News reporter Elizabeth Chuck wrote a piece a few weeks ago, saying this: “In a joint letter, first shared with NBC News, leaders from the federal agencies called the issue a “national youth mental health crisis” and encouraged states to carefully plan how they use block grants, Medicaid state plans, waivers and other resources that come from multiple federal agencies so they are being executed without duplication.” Anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and suicide among young children are all up sharply. This trend is here to stay.

So where does this leave us? Paul gives a very clear recipe, citing the first commandment to obey parents with a promise: “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:3 ESV). But the very next verse, in my opinion, is by far the most important: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (vs. 4).

It’s evident that many of the mental health issues stem from abusive or unstable homes. As mental health issues among the young increase, there is a correlation in the rapid decline of membership in churches. This trend is strong and we need fathers to step up to the plate and instruct their children in the Lord. There is no reason why this many young children should be suffering irreparable harm. The numbers are too staggering for us to take a casual approach to the problem. We need to protect our children from abuses that they face and teach them to be strong disciples of Jesus!

Ingredients for a Productive Church

silhouette of tree near body of water during golden hour

I love the book of Acts! It chronicles the genesis of the church all the way through Paul’s missionary journeys and final arrest. If ever there is a potent book on churchology, Acts is it. Acts 2 gives, in my opinion, the “sweet spot” of productivity. All the ingredients are present for productivity, and we see the church quickly flourish and thrive.

Certainly conditions were right for this kind of initial growth, but it’s the sustained growth that is also impressive. In Acts, the common theme among Christians is commonality–everyone had all things in common. This is incredibly rare in divisive environments. But in Acts, the Christians didn’t lay claim to their own possessions and their foundation was built upon sharing. They shared meals together. They shared possessions and gave to the needy. They shared their time together. They were the polar opposite of possessive.

Luke records it this way: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:42, 44 ESV). They were glad, thanking and praising God! They were genuinely thankful to be in one another’s company. This really is the perfect combination of factors that lead to productive growth and sincerity in faith.

While it’s very important to equip people for works of ministry, it’s just as critical to equip people to be selfless and to devote themselves to fellowship, instruction, and prayer.