IT’S THE CHILDREN, (STUPID)
BY: E. M. ‘ED’ DUPAS
NOVEMBER 6, 2008
Eight years ago, when I came to Stephenville, TX, I already had received a key insight concerning God’s plan for His Church. That insight consisted of four words:
IT’S ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!
Within a few months of coming to town we heard about the ministry of the pastor at Agape Way Family Church. His congregation consisted almost entirely of high school and college students. I was amazed by the way he had brought young people together to love the Lord and one another. Because of that I felt it was important to meet with him and share my insights about the children. He agreed with me, but I don’t believe he got it. That is to say, I don’t believe he saw God’s plan the same way I did. I could see that his congregation was affected by his teachings and leadership in positive ways, but it seemed to me that they were still reserved in what I’ll call the things of the Kingdom.
IT ALL BEGAN TEN YEARS AGO…
Looking back further, I would say it was about 1998, one day while at work, I was led to look at Deuteronomy 1:35-39, as if for the first time:
35Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers, 36except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because he has followed the LORD fully. 37The LORD was angry with me also on your account, saying, ‘Not even you shall enter there. 38Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. 39Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it.’
Here Moses is telling the Israelites, who came out of Egypt, that except for Joshua and Caleb they would not be crossing over into the promised land. Moses himself would not be allowed to go. Only their offspring born in the wilderness would inherit the land.
SEVERAL THINGS OCCURRED TO ME THAT DAY:
- As I read verse 39 I immediately thought of Adam and Eve, who LEFT their ‘promised land’ because they acquired knowledge of good and evil. How interesting, I thought. Only without the knowledge of good or evil would anyone enter the ‘promised land.’
- This led me to consider the possibility that in order for someone to possess the Kingdom (within them) today they might have to come to a place where they had no awareness of good and evil. I have since satisfied myself that this truly is a requirement. I won’t expound on it now, other than to remind the reader that we are called to follow Jesus Christ, who never exercised judgment about good or evil, OTHER THAN WHAT HIS FATHER gave him.
- The biblical story of the “children” possessing the land of Canaan was also given for our benefit and instruction—it is a true historical allegory, where Canaan represents the Kingdom of God—the land flowing with milk and honey—which the children of God are meant to possess. Jesus reinforces this when he says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” (Luke 18:17 NASB).
- I understood the reasons why the Israelite adults could not possess the land while the children could. You may have heard it said that a child’s character can be set by the time he is two years old. Some say that age is six years, but whatever it is, we have all witnessed how important the teachings, examples, and experiences of those first few years can be. The grownups coming out of Egypt never knew or trusted the Lord as children. I imagine that after the death of Joseph the Goshenites knew only the hard rule of the Pharaoh and his representatives. They were overworked, essentially slaves. They knew about Egyptian gods, but did not know their God. Early on, some may have passed along folklore about Him, but where was He? Their hearts cried out for deliverance but apparently no one heard. Generation after generation, this darkness grew, until the time came that they had little or no awareness of their God. Finally, they were delivered by His almighty hand through the words and staff of Moses. Good news! There was a God who cared… or was there? Apparently, during the preceding 400+ years, they had lost the teachings of Jacob. They had forgotten God. While in Egypt they had seen his power for a few days, in the ten plagues and the parting of the waters, but what had He done for them lately? And what about tomorrow? After twelve days or so in the wilderness they needed a God fix, so they fell back on what they knew… they tried to appeal to Him by fashioning a man-made representation of what He might look like, as the Egyptians had done. After their exodus, time and again, the Israelites accused the Lord of bringing them out of Egypt only to “torture” them in the desert. At times they longed to go back to Egypt, to the familiar. Here’s the point… even after FORTY years in the care of God, who provided their every need, who kept their clothes and shoes from wearing out; whose pillar of fire kept watch over them every night, and whose pillar of cloud reminded them by day, THEY STILL DID NOT TRUST HIM to provide their current wants or future needs. In other words, their individual and collective character had already been set and was not about to change. That early Egyptian ‘programming’ was virtually impossible to overcome, and God knew it.
- On the other hand, the children born in the wilderness knew their Lord. As infants, they first opened their eyes to the sight of the Cloud and Pillar and somehow were comforted by their presence. I assume the Cloud cooled the desert sun by day and the Fire broke the chill of night. Day in and day out they watched the provision of food, of water, and of healing. As far as they were concerned, clothes and shoes were meant to last forever. What would make them suspect that things could wear out? (You children of the Kingdom, are you getting this?) Every time they awoke from sleep their eyes caught sight of God’s provision and they took comfort (I call it faith) in that. There was never a moment in their entire lives when they were not aware of God’s faithfulness and provision. When the time came to trust Him against giants…the children were ready. How different their early days were from those of their parents!
- The forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness was more about teaching and preparing the children, than about training the adults. Both were tried, but the adults failed the course, through no fault of their own.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TEACHING THE CHILDREN.
I hope you are thinking ahead of me in this. I dare say that all of life is about teaching and preparing the children—the next generation. The point is: to possess the land of Canaan (i.e., the Kingdom within us) requires total trust in God—listening for his orders, instructions and commands and then executing them. This requires a faith typically found only in children, or in the child-like. If we are to possess the ‘land’ it will be as children only, as Jesus said.
Some of you gracious enough to listen to my ravings have heard me say “IT’S ABOUT THE CHILDREN.” But the above story says more. It’s time to be blunt. If the Church (the children of God) is to possess the Kingdom TheY have to leave behind THE PRECEPTS OF THE WORLD, INCLUDING those PEOPLE who haVE HAd their characterS, ideas, theology and limitations FIXED by the world. For these purposes, I understand the world to mean everything that operates outside Kingdom of God principles. This means if we are truly to follow Christ into the Land, we have to leave behind those who won’t or can’t possess the land because they are holding on to Egypt. We also must be willing to leave behind the goods and materials in which we have trusted.
Please understand that leaving some behind has nothing to do with God’s love for them, or for that matter, our love for them. The Lord loved every single Israelite whom the children left behind to remain and live out their days in the wilderness. No doubt He continued to provide for them for the rest of their lives—that is what a loving Father would do. Remember the words of Jesus, concerning the Kingdom of God:
But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:22 NASB)
This sounds harsh, to be sure, but think about where the church is today largely because they rejected the so-called tough teachings of the Lord. They often ignore the words of the Son of Man but cling to the teachings of the children of men, many of which teachings have become little more than aquarium walls to contain the fish. Think about this…children will often be willing to tackle things that grownups fear. This can be dangerous IN THE WORLD, but is absolutely necessary IN THE KINGDOM. I am not so callous as to tell you to walk away from family and friends indiscriminately. We simply have to be prepared to, if that is what is required to truly follow Him. Remember another hard saying of Jesus:
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me”. (Mat 10:37 NASB)
THE ENEMY KNOWS ABOUT TEACHING CHILDREN
I want to give you a real world illustration of how this teaching can work:
To lay the groundwork let me remind you of another saying of Jesus which is seldom taught or sermonized:
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8 KJV, emphasis mine)
In speaking about the children of this world, remember that Jesus said their father was the devil. Obviously the Lord God is the Father of the children of light.
I believe it was about 1963, forty five years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Bible had no place in schools—because this violated the Constitution’s so-called wall of separation between Church and State. It seems to me this is where the enemy went main stream in his plan to teach the children. Under this legal covering the enemy began to instruct children with a perverted message. You might say he planted a garden—at least he sowed some critical seeds:
- Using the threat of lawsuit and financial intimidation, he quickly removed the Bible and subsequently organized prayer from public schools.
- He (using the world system) took parents, mainly mothers away from homes, out to work, making them less available to teach and model the things of God in the homes.
- He took fathers out of homes through divorce and strife. This was helped along over time by the removal of God’s view of the sanctity of marriage from the schools.
- These changes might have been somewhat containable, if schools were still allowed to teach the children about godliness, but alas, that had been largely stopped, at least in public schools.
- Hey, no problem! We still had the church, right? Unfortunately, the children were craving love and empowerment, and fathers, too. Most churches did not teach kingdom truths, which include all of these. What the children did receive, though often good, did not resonate within them, and so church time became something more akin to enslavement. Because of this many left in droves as soon as they could.
- Not content with getting God out of schools the enemy used schools to start to move children, in a perverted way, away from traditional values of right and wrong. This they did by blurring and blunting the notion of sin. That is, that the notion of good or bad depends on the situation. They were also told that because evil exists God can’t be all good. They were taught that not offending people was more important than not offending God. They were taught about societal norms. On the issue of sexuality they were taught protection and damage control instead of how and why to abstain. This redefinition of the evil of sin was a counterfeit of God’s truth—which says that while we are living (hidden) in Christ, and He lives in us, sin is not an issue. Sin exists in the world, but as John said, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9 KJV) How often the enemy counterfeits the things of God!
- The enemy supplanted the wisdom of God by the science of men such as Charles Darwin. Science became the purveyor of knowledge, instead of the Wisdom of God.
- He used the courts of the land to illustrate that the Constitution says what we decide upon today. Since much of the Constitution was established with an eye toward God’s laws, by implication God’s laws mean what societal norms and personal choices dictate today.
- He used technology to entertain and connect the young people. Technology, such as cell phones, video games, Blackberrys, and laptop computers have connected people (in the natural realm), and have made vast knowledge available via the internet. These things did resonate with the young people, because being spiritually one body, they are meant to be connected (to the Holy Spirit, who is ready to teach all things). Once again we see worldly substitutions replacing spiritual yearnings.
- When the time was right, the enemy put in the sickle for an early harvest—the 2008 election cycle. (Please bear in mind that what I am going to say is my opinion. You have the right to disagree. By the way, when I speak of children or young people, I mean those brought up and taught since 1963).
- During this election cycle millions of young people have been newly contacted, marshaled and encouraged to register, serve and vote. They were skillfully tethered by text messaging and heightened peer pressure, spurred on by atheistic teachers, professors and role models. Their moral compasses had been shifted away from God’s truth. They were led, or rather misled by trusted media over an eight-year period into believing that their existing President, a god-fearing man, was inept, detached, and probably corrupt. This caused many to run in the opposite direction from the President, including some members of his own political party. Fueled by approximately $600 million in campaign reserves, an enormous effort was made to elicit millions of brand new voters, and redirect the minds of previous young voters. The outcome included the election choices which would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
Because the young people don’t really know their God and His provision, He became irrelevant. They were certainly not looking to Him. Because they had not been taught the sanctity of life, that was not really a consideration. Because they are essentially godless (as I understand godliness) they acted as though there are no ongoing consequences for actions. So they listened to voices which convinced them things were far worse than they really were (you might say the enemy tickled their ears). With unrest stirred up this was a tinderbox just waiting to be set afire. Enter Barack Obama and his supporters. I can’t help thinking that the behavior of these “oppressed” people is like that of an unruly mob—carried along by an energy and spirit that no one really understands. Though often physically separated, they were joined by common ideals, supported and connected by technology. We have called it the strength in numbers, but that ignores the spiritual power of collective thought which the enemy uses. It reminds me of the stories of Vladimir Lenin and Adolph Hitler – both godless men – appearing in troubled societies. Each appealed to young people and used their energies and strength to redirect a nation. As for America, it is troubled, but the economy is the least of it. The poor economy was a convenient tool for the enemy to usher in a changed society.
I’m not trying to rehash the outcome of the 2008 election. It is far too complicated for me to understand, let alone to explain. It serves, I believe, as the successful culmination of a multi-generational program of teaching the children.
HOW DO WE TEACH THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM?
Here is what the church must do.
- Re-think the traditional church Sunday school. Teaching has to start much earlier than that.
- We must begin to create an environment where children are taught from the cradle and even earlier about the unconditional love of God. It may not be accomplished in one generation or two, but it is important for us to begin. And we need to start YESTERDAY!
- Start to prophesy to the unborn child in the womb, and don’t stop prophesying.
- Ask the Holy Spirit what He wants the child to know, and speak God’s blessings and love over the child.
- Do not be concerned that the child can’t understand words yet—speaking the thoughts and words of God will be “deep calling to deep” as it were, and the child’s spirit will quicken to it.
- In everything we must reveal to the children the character of the Father.
- We must be parents and elders whom the children can relate to easily and honestly, and who can be fully trusted. This will make it a natural transition to “hand them off” to their God, the ultimate loving Parent. It is critical that they have a full and real relationship with their heavenly Father.
- We must let our lives be godly examples of His love, recognizing that the children are temporary gifts, entrusted to our care, but for His purposes.
- We are to teach them to live and walk by faith and not by sight. As much as possible, we must show them that the supernatural is to be natural for them.
These are just a few suggestions. They are not meant to be exhaustive. I simply want to bring the knowledge and challenge to the Church. Again, this may take generations, but if we are faithful, God will do His part, which is actually everything. I believe this is the Lord’s plan for the Kingdom. He is waiting for us to begin His work.
Once again, I am not hung up on this particular (2008) election. I just use it as an apt example to show how we find ourselves on an interesting path, which may well be a one-way journey, made possible BECAUSE SOMEONE ELSE TAUGHT OUR CHILDREN.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8 KJV)
The enemy knows how to work the system. Do we?
IT’S ABOUT THE CHILDREN (STUPID) [E. M. ‘ED’ Dupas] 11-6-08 1