Raising a Daniel in today's world......
Dan 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself" NKJ
I do not proclaim to be an expert in child rearing and I am not done yet either but I am the mother of older children and I am beginning to see some of the fruits of our parenting labors here. We have a son nearly 19 now (OK yes I was way to young and NO I do NOT look old enough to have a kid that age LOL) and the thing is, he is an amazing young man. Not the "I'm his mom I think he is great" type of amazing. I mean a mature, responsible, polite, agreeable, smart, funny, capable and able to think things out, but most of all GODLY young man. He is even nice to his little sisters!
It all started back in Hinesville, GA in 1995, early in the year, when Pastor Phillip Byler at Bethesda Church preached about purposing in your heart. At that point I had read about Daniel in my read through the Bible in a year process but had never really paid attention to that phrase......purposed in his heart.
What was purposing in your heart??? The short sweet to the point answer is making the decision on how you will do something before you are faced with the situation. Daniel chose, before faced with any trying circumstance, that he would always honor the Lord in all he did. With his body and his mind. In what he ate and how he acted. He would choose before being tempted to not give in to his human nature but to do things the Lords way.
Now, this was an amazing concept to me, revolutionary! My husband and I discussed it in our next phone call because, as luck would have it, he was in Korea for a year! He asked me to send the tape of the service and I did. Our letters went back and forth.....what if we could raise our kids to be this way? What if WE could raise Daniels?
We started with us. We began making decisions ahead of time for us. We chose at this time (we were newer believers, baby christians) to get out of debt and stay out; to steer clear of questionable movies and music; we made sure we did not swear anymore; we worked hard to steer away from gossip. Basically we cleaned up our own lives and decided that when faced with situations that were questionable we would already have a "plan."
When people would ask us to participate in parties (as often is a part of military life) we would say no if we knew it was going to be an enviroment that would compromise or tempt us. When people wanted us to go out with them to eat and we didn't have enough in the budget for dinner out, we would say no....well you get the picture.
NOW, we began with our children. This was not rocket science, it was a concept we could definitly explain and teach to young children. We look at our children andsee innocence but the Word tells us they are sinful and selfish. So we stopped saying they were naughty or bad and called the bad behavior what it was...SIN. We followed the charge in Deuteronomy to discuss the law of the Lord while we were walking and while we were eating and when we sat and when we worked.
See, early on children can learn to choose ahead of time the Lords way. They can decide before they get angry not to throw a fit. They can choose before they are facing it to not lie. These are the building blocks. As they grow older we begin discussing the other things ahead of time, cheating in class, bullying, talking back, sex, smoking, drugs, drinking. We discussed it before they were faced with it so they were prepared, they had a "plan." They already knew what to do. We discussed scenarios, how other kids would act, what they might say and why.
See in order for Daniel to purpose in his heart he had to know what Gods law was and thus what would be a violation of it and why it was wrong. I think as Christian parents we are pretty good at telling our kids what the "rules" of being a christian are but we don't tell them what the violations would be and why. We are afraid we will ruin their innocence or over expose or frighten them but when done in a Godly ,age appropriate way we are helping them by giving them tools to make a decision beforehand.
Now I am not advocating showing them drug paraphenalia or something crazy, I am saying that not discussing it or presenting the information to them in the right way does not mean they won't get it. So, either you as the parent have to prepare them, disciple them, or the world will do it for you.
Daniel knew the law, it was not a set of rules for him but obviously something living enough that he desired, even without parents or priest around for him to want to keep. He could have chosen to do whatever he pleased and no one would have been wiser or blamed him in his decision. He was carted off to Babylon for heavens sake!
So, who made the Lord law that alive and good to him do you think? My guess....his parents. So don't just teach it LIVE it. We never did revert to "mom and dad" movies, to this day we don't watch things the kids can't; we still don't swear and work very hard to avoid gossip. No credit cards, just a house payment and monthly expenses. It is our job to discipline our thought life and our mouth and our witness. See, in deciding to raise our Daniels we ended up changing ourselves as well.
My son is a Daniel, he stands out among the young men around him. He chose without our urging of any type to go before his youth group and make a purity vow; he chooses to never be alone with his girlfriend they are always with others or in public. He chooses to not defile his body with illegal substances and such. He chooses to lead in his youth group. He goes to church when we don't. He keeps himself set apart for the Lord. Is he perfect? Absolutely not but he is a young man pursuing God.
I can never thank God or Pastor Phil enough for revealing that word to us and letting us see that even in this day and age, with all the trials of a military family, it is still possible to raise Godly children.