Pastor’s Podium: For the sake of the children

When parental approval is required to dispense an aspirin, but not to terminate a pregnancy, something is askew.

Today's political mantra, “It’s all about the children,” creates the illusion that the welfare, safety, and growth of our children is the main concern of the powers that be.

But in truth, legislations are enacted daily that create an ever-widening threat to the next generation.

Welfare isn't the first term that comes to mind when I consider the hyper-sexualized pop culture that delivers anything imaginable to a child at the click of a mouse.

Pornographers target a child at age 11, knowing that when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The entertainment industry follows suit.

At a time of life when young people most need sheltering, there is a growing tendency to immerse children in mature experiences and require them to make mature decisions.

As sociologist Neil Postman observes, “children are being robbed of their innocence, their naivete, their ability to even be a child.”

When the line between the adult world and the child’s world becomes blurred or erased, then childhood disappears.

Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care was the Baby Boomer's child-rearing bible.

It counseled parents above all to stop being overprotective.

Loosen up! Back off!

God forbid you should be a parent; be your child's buddy!

Today we've arrived: we live in the age of the underprotective parent.

The absurd theatrics taking place on college campuses today is the culmination of decades of radical education revision.

In a world inundated with texting and Facebook, cyberbullying and Internet porn, Teen Mom and Bad Girls Club, cutting up and hooking up... the biggest alleged parenting sin is still overprotection.

Really?

“We continue to let culture dictate what is normal,” says James Emery White, “If ‘everyone’ is doing it, wearing it, seeing it, going to it, or listening to it, then we feel we will be damaging our child if we don’t go along – even though parenting by ‘everyone’ is putting our children’s very childhood at risk. Yet some parents are more eager to be liked or accepted by their kids than they are to be parents to their kids.”

Some of the dedicated workers who minister to children at The Door Church in Tucson

Some of the dedicated workers who minister to children at The Door Church in Tucson

Now, ever since King David issued those fateful orders, "Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest; then pull back so he will be killed,” history has taught us that the most strategic conflict is found wherever the fiercest battle is being fought.

On the national stage, this truth recently played out in the rancor and contention surrounding the confirmation of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

As a champion of school choice, Mrs. DeVos’s posture runs counter to the monopoly-style public education system which enjoys a $70 billion federal budget and almost absolute control over curriculum.

Monopolies remove objectivity and quality performance as criteria for funding.

They hike costs and slash quality.

This certainly describes our educational system.

At her confirmation hearings, DeVos highlighted the disparity between wealthier families – who are able to choose better schools for their children – and the poor, whose kids are often trapped in underperforming and even failing public schools – a situation which she terms a “national injustice.”

Former Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. (under Obama) summarized the opposition's opinion that “parents, teachers, community leaders and civil rights advocates are rightly insisting that the federal role in education should be to strengthen public education, not abandon it, and to protect student’s civil rights including students with disabilities, low-income students, students of culture, LGBT students, and immigrant students.”

Not much attention is given in this statement to a child's actual education, but rather to ideologies, politicized scripts, and social engineering.

And isn’t that the nub of the problem?

Taxpayers forced to pay for an educational system that does not serve us?

While school choice itself may not be the universal remedy to what ails our public education system, it does propagate the singular mixture of public and private education, including homeschooling.

But like most conflicts, this one is far more spiritual than we realize.

The education and welfare of today's children has been a major spiritual and social battleground for decades.

Betsy DeVos really represents an opportunity to de-stabilize the leftist control and ideological stranglehold over education from pre-school through college.

The absurd theatrics taking place on college campuses today is the culmination of decades of radical education revision.

The confusion and madness is simply the result of students acting out in a way they’ve been fed for years.

Author Eric Metaxas said, “Every day there’s a new and maddening report of progressive insanity at our nation’s universities: so-called ‘safe spaces’ where students can hide from ideas that offend them or make them uncomfortable, Ivy League schools providing feminine products in men’s rooms, wacko professors getting tenure while those who speak in favor of traditional morality get hounded off campus.”

Andrew McCarthy notes that radical agitators of the '60s who used to bomb public buildings have turned their attention to infiltrating the public education system.

In the National Review he observes: “It dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.”

The result is a highly politicized public school system that fosters gender-identity policies rather than actual education.

When you connect all the dots, it takes us straight to the Lord of Lords, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The One who said, “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

He is the One who really does mean it when He says, “It’s all about the children.”

Jesus wanted to make sure His church would genuinely embrace two groups: the least and the lost.

He took the most vulnerable class of people on the planet and elevated them to the highest access when He said “Let the children come to Me.”

These are not the words of a self-serving politician.

They come straight from the heart of Jesus, Lord of all. “A loose paraphrase of His words would sound like, 'Don’t you ever, ever, treat children like second class citizens,'” says James Emery White. “'Don’t ever give in to a culture that treats them this way.

“Don’t you ever do anything that keeps children from coming to Me. You have no idea how precious they are to Me. So let’s get this one straight: You want to know what makes Me angry with a righteous anger? If you want to mess with the heart of God, then mess with a child.'”

It's been said that if we reach kids at age 6 and 7, we won't have to rescue them at age 16 and 17.

The Door Church in Tucson has been incredibly blessed with some of the most dedicated people who have caught the vision to minister to and shape the next generation.

Vastly innovative, our church's Next Generation Ministries provides a full-fledged children’s service on Sunday mornings which ministers to kids through a highly successful puppet ministry, a Young Servants discipleship program, drama, object lessons, prayer, and altar calls.

During our annual International Bible Conference week,  we rent out not only the TCC Music Hall, but also the adjacent Leo Rich Theater, where NGM ministers to more than 150 children nightly.

Our children's Bible hour, Quest 119, makes deep deposits of God's Word in K-8 kids every Wednesday night.

This last effort has proved more effective than traditional Sunday school. 

I’m not saying it’s perfect, or for everyone. But it is in keeping with Jesus’s command, “let the children come.” Does it cause a little bit more stress and effort on parents to be on time Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m? Yes.

But, what price tag can you put on the impact of a rich deposit of the Word of God in the lives of both parents and children?

In children’s education, whether inside or outside the church, the key factor has been found to be the parents' involvement.

The Lord closes the Old Testament with this warning: "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse" (Malachi 4:5,6).

Can you see that this dynamic of blessing and cursing is contingent on the parents’ openness and involvement?

Last week, we conducted a funeral service for a longtime member of our church family who had a sincere burden for the children in our congregation.

She was remembered by many as Mama Lupe. Her ministry story began many years ago, when an 11-year-old girl told a 5-year-old girl about a cool music scene at a church called The Door.

The 5-year-old girl, one of Lupe's daughters, came to check it out, and gave her heart to Jesus. Not front page news in the paper or on the Web, but what a significant transaction in the kingdom of God!

Soon Lupe also came and got saved, and from this small beginning grew a beautiful 30-plus-year bond with the Gutierrez family that continues unbroken in our church to this very day.

Who ever said that God can’t do great things through the lives of our children?

How many times throughout Scripture, when God was ready to do great things, did He begin with a child?