Passing Faith to the Next Generation

As you peruse the pages of the Old Testament, one thing becomes absolutely clear. God does not want His people to forget Him! God knows that when man becomes prosperous his natural proclivity is to forget the one from whom the blessings came. For this reason, over and over again, God reminds us that He is the source of all good things. In order for present and future generations to know God, the parent generation must purposefully expose Him through personal examples and vivid reminders. God states in Psalm 78:4-7;

We will not hide them (God’s works) from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he has done… That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

In a culture that has a distorted view of the meaning of success, Tim Kimmel aptly defines success as “the conscientious stewarding of future generations.” A steward is someone who carries out the dictates of his master. One significant dictate from the Master (Jesus Christ) to Christian parents is that we show our children and grandchildren the praises of the Lord for the wonderful works we have personally experienced from Him. We must pass on to our children the faith that was delivered to us. Parents cannot and must not assume that their faith will be passed on to their children and their children’s children, but rather parents must purposefully pass on their faith!

We see a lucid example of this in Joshua 24. Joshua gathers all the tribes and leaders of Israel together and reminds them that God has blessed them through His deliverance (verses 5-6), through his protection and provision (verses 7-13), and that God has sanctified them (verse 14) to be holy.  Joshua in the remaining verses of this chapter does two significant things.  First, he asks the people to make a commitment to put away all false gods and choose to wholly follow Jehovah God. (verse 15). Next, he sets up a stone (verses 26-27) as a witness (a reminder or memorial) of their commitment to God so that every time they see the stone they will be reminded that they chose to serve God alone!

Unfortunately, a few years later, in Judges 2:10-13 we see that the next generation knew God and His works, but there arose another generation who did not know the Lord or the works He had done in Israel. What happened to the commitment and passion of Joshua’s generation?  Because the middle generation failed to describe the details and wonder of the works of God to their cchildren, this third generation did not experience God, became confused, and turned to idolatry.

I’m reminded of the old Scandinavian Proverb that tells of a spider coming down from the lofty rafters of an old barn on a single strand to a window sill. From this window sill, the spider  began to weave a web to a corner in the barn. Over time the spider became very fat and prosperous. One day as the spider walked across the web, he noticed the single strand going up to the unseen above. Forgetting the significance of that single strand, the spider snapped it and his whole world caved in upon him.

Like the spider, the second and third generations described in Judges Chapter two had forgotten the unseen hand of God which had been the source of their many blessings. As a result their whole world began to crumble. God summarizes their condition in Judges 2:25 when He says that “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.

America has been extraordinarily blessed through the providence of God in the forming of this great nation.  God has protected us and provided for us in a way that no other nation has ever experienced!  Yet America has become a post modern nation in which God has become merely an afterthought. How can we as parents practically insure that the faith and works of God that both we and our forefathers witnessed are passed on to future generations?
First, parents and grandparents must humbly and honestly answer several convicting questions:

1. Do you love Jesus more passionately than anything else in this world?
2. Are you willing to destroy the idols in my life (money, sex, pleasures) that are coming between me and my relationship with God?
3. Can your children see and hear your passion for Jesus in your daily conversation and conduct?
    Parents, who cannot answer these questions affirmatively, must repent and allow Jesus to rule supremely in their life. With passion and wonder for our amazing God parents must:

    • Share your salvation experience with your children.
    • Share with your children how God has supernaturally answered specific prayers (healing, finances, protection, ability to have children).
    • Relate stories of special workings of God that happened in your family when you were growing up.
    • Watch DVDs and read books to your children that detail how God providentially directed the founding of America. We recommend resources from historian David Barton.
    Next, follow the example of Joshua by displaying memorials in your home that are a reminder of God’s deliverance, protection, and provision. Then, repeatedly tell your children the story of God working in your life that the memorial represents. Webster defines a memorial as an established remembrance of a person or event. What are some of the works of God in your life and family that can be represented by a memorial of God before your children that they might set their hope in God and not forget His works?

    In a corner of our family room, we propped up a movie reel that represents the first fulltime ministry that God called us to. Twenty five years ago God directed me to establish a Christian theatre outreach to present the truths of God’s Word and principles through Christian films. We have related to our boys numerous stories of how God provided for our family and taught us to depend totally upon Him. The movie reel is a witness not only of the miraculous provision to our family but also a witness to the people that were saved and the lives that were changed by Jesus in that theatre.

    You may also want to consider building a shadow box that houses certain items representing the specific works of God in your life. Place the shadowbox or memorial item in a place where your children will often see it and be reminded of the great works that God has done. You must intentionally and diligently pass on your faith and the great works of God to your children that you might leave a Godly legacy to future generations!

    Suggested Resources:

    Leaving Memorials Message on CD

    How to Keep Dennis from Becoming a Menance message on CD