Proverbs 29:15 "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
This will be the first time in these almost 24 years of writing articles that I will give some of the details of my childhood. Those who have known me for the last 40 years of my 69 years of living, do not know the things that influenced my life previous to my becoming a Christian at the age of 29 years old. I was born in Valdosta, Georgia where my dad worked as a machinist. Dad was a drunkard, a real one at that. “Hump” was known all over town. Many a time I was sent from Lee street to downtown to find him and I always knew where to look. I was too young to be embarrassed at the time, and I walked freely into the bars looking for him. If he wasn’t there, I knew the hangouts. The most memories I have to this day of home life are not good. There was nothing to be proud of in dad except the fact that he was known to be one of the best machinists in the area. It is sad that I couldn’t tell you what foods he liked or what things he liked, but I can tell you his favorite beer and can still hear him name it to this day. It was mom who encouraged us to go to Lee Street Baptist Church for Sunday School and Church what little we went, probably just to get us out of the house while he was drunk. Understand that I am leaving out some of the more serious incidents between a drunk dad and a young son, like me pouring out his liquor and being tackled by him and such like. Note: I do not think anyone can justify drinking alcohol of any sort, in any setting to a person who has seen the long term results and bad memories of this as I have. When I was nine years old, mom got sick and it was bad. Cancer had progressed undetected and reached her liver, and she died November 5, 1953 at 36 years old. I was ten years old. Since dad was a drunkard, and obviously was not willing to give up his drunkenness to raise 3 children, ages 8, 10, and 12, the discussion among family was to split us up among my mother’s siblings, one to each family that lived in Valdosta. My grandmother said, “Nothing doing! They will not be split but will come live with me!” Only God knows the outcome had she not took us in and with my uncle and aunt, raised us. I thank God for His tender care for us when we were helpless and at the mercy of others.
I could have become angry and bitter at dad, but thankfully, he became a Christian at the age of 71 and died at the age of 73. I preached his funeral. I could have become bitter and angry with God, or I could have taken my frustrations out on the world, or the people who cared for me more than anyone else. I could have blamed the police or the teachers for my problems. When I think back on my life, I think it is even more of a miracle that I am Saved, not to speak of being called into the ministry. This probably explains why sometimes I lean more toward grace when it comes to children in these stressful situations of life. But for the Grace of God, I could have died on the streets of Valdosta following in the footsteps of my drunkard dad.
As I have said before in previous articles, children are the most neglected group in our society. While it is true that senior citizens are as well, I do not think they are to the same degree. When I think back over my past childhood days and compare to our day, I realize the vast difference in how we were accountable compared to our day. It is true that I had what now would be considered a privileged life living on a large South Georgia farm with everything a young boy would want.
Any day of my life, after chores, I could roam almost 2000 acres of paradise with hunting and fishing and a host of other clean activities which I took for granted. While it is true that I could freely come and go when nothing was expected of me, I still had accountability for where I was and who I was with. There were unspoken expectations that were respected and you were not told more than once what you could and could not do.
When I was 16 years old, I had no idea of where I would go in life or what I would do in life. Somewhere in my life though, there had to be something that made me want things to be different from what I knew as a young man. I had seen and heard enough to tell me that there was more to life than what I had experienced. When I compared my life to that of my cousins and friends, I knew it was not normal.
On this past Wednesday night I preached on “Two things that determine the direction your life will take.” (July 25, 2012)
Please read Eccl. 11:4-9 and then chapter 12:1, 10-14
Chapter 12:11 tells us “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.”
First of all, we need the pricks of God’s Word. The word “goads”
refers to a sharpened rod used for prodding cattle, or sheep. It is used to bring the animals along in a certain direction. Notice they are used by the “Masters of assemblies.” In Acts 9:5 Jesus speaks to Paul and says, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” This is talking about conviction of the heart. It matters how we respond to the Word of God spoken to us. This is one of the things that will determine the direction of your life…how you respond to the sharpness of God’s Word to your heart.
We, pastors or parents, are not trying to kill all your fun; we are trying to keep your future safe and secure until you have been prepared to face it without oversight, yet under God's watchful eye.
I had an uncle that I had an attitude with in my youth. I resented him trying to tell me what to do or not to do. The truth I have come many years ago to realize is that he was right. He was trying to help me and I was resenting it because I did not want to stop my worldly habit.
2. We need the nails of Biblical truth fastened to our hearts. In
chapter 12:11 it also states, “as nails fastened.” The masters of assemblies would be those who attempt to teach Biblical truth that will stay with our young people as they grow up, and in time give them the direction they need in life. Psalm 119 deals almost exclusively with the value of God's Word in our lives. This is why we try desperately to get the nails of biblical truth in our children while they are young.
The children of America are in desperate need of Biblical truth guided by the conviction brought as the Spirit of God applies the truth to the individual.
Sadly, our children are left to feel helpless and hopeless in a Godless society with little to no goads of guidance or nails of truth to hang their lives upon. May God help us to give them something that will give them hope beyond tomorrow!
If you have grown up without the goads and nails, you cannot change that, but you can determine to give them to the next generation, making an eternal difference in them and for the glory of God.