A number of years ago I read a book by Jerry Bridges entitled, Respectable Sins. Within one of the chapters, Bridges defined the word "ungodly" as something that is void or absent of God. Too often as a parent, I'm only guarding against the "bad stuff," i.e. cursing, immodesty, violence my children are taking into their minds and hearts. Yet, what could be even more damaging are the daily activities and media they take in on a regular basis that lack any presence or reverence of God.
"Specifically, ungodliness is defined as 'living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God's will, or of God's glory, or of one's dependence on God.'" (Respectable Sins)
As a dad, I need to remember that the enemy would love to keep my kids busy with "good" activities that are void of God. Our lives are meant to be a "living sacrifice" and "act of worship" to God (Romans 12:1). This is why it’s so vital as Christians to renew our minds and keep our focus on God in everything we do. God's word is clear, if He's not renewing our minds, the world will gladly do it for Him.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2
A big part of renewing our minds and the minds of our children means we're in God's word on a consistent basis. Verse after verse speaks to the need for us to treasure God's word, to hide it in our hearts so we won’t sin against God. His word is "living and active." It teaches us and trains us in righteousness. God's word—His truth, sanctifies us. It's not enough that are kids aren't like the "other kids," they need to be transformed by God from the inside out. If God is in control of the "inside," the "outside" will work out just fine.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
To be a Christian father commands me to build God's word into the hearts and minds of my children—in every aspect of life.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:5-7
God's word is also armor for our children—it is the sword of the Spirit. If we want God's fullest protection for our young ones, we must be diligent in teaching them the whole counsel of God. I can still remember my mom would tuck notes of encouragement in my lunch bag or place them on my bathroom mirror. Almost always, she would include a Bible verse alongside her words of affirmation. I know that each one of these notes were covered in her prayers as well. I can't thank her enough for making God’s word a part of my childhood.
Our kids need to learn at an early age that everything in life should have a vertical component, i.e. always looking to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). It's the abiding principal that we find in John 15: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." And this is essential—we must set the example. The lives we're living today are creating a pathway for children. Our kids will often follow where we've already been and likely head in the same direction we're going.
It's not enough that our children are well-behaved. At the heart of this matter, is the need for our children to enter into a relationship with their Savior God through Jesus Christ and then live the life worthy of their calling. While we can't make that happen, we've been given the amazing assignment to point their hearts and minds toward Him (2 Corinthians 5:20)—to be Christ's ambassadors to our children. If you're like me, this translates into a lot of prayers and the need to be much more intentional with what matters most.