Guest post by Alan Melton
Our family lives on the edge of a natural area. The abundant wildlife attracts abundant predators. Coyotes in particular proliferate in our area; their distinctive yelping is rather eerie when they attack and consume their victim. At twice the size of a coyote, wolves are similarly very cunning animals. They instinctively work together to separate and devour unprotected sheep and other weak prey.
Jesus used wolves as an analogy for dangers. In Luke 10:3 Jesus instructed His disciples as He sent them out in pairs, “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Jesus was talking about human wolves that are agents of the devil. Today the wolves are more numerous, more cunning and more sophisticated! Even more alarming is this fact: wolf attacks are not limited to outside the home. Consider the cyberworld. Wolves are attacking inside our homes too.
How do wolves attack? They try to make us disciples of the devil by convincing us to spend our time being taught and influenced by them. These wolves separate, disarm and devour unprotected victims.
Jesus gave us a warning about wolves, but He also gave us a promise, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus defended His followers by keeping them together (usually with Him), by warning them and by teaching them the gospel.
Here is my top ten list of wolves attacking inside your home and some Christ-like defenses:
10. Wolves attacking through books with worldly philosophies. All kinds of non-biblical lifestyles are being promoted through books; occult, sex-romance, evolution, etc. Jesus exposed His disciples to biblical content, not rubbish! When you select books, consider the worldview that is being taught. Select books that are written by Christian authors from trusted publishers. Research them online first.
9. Wolves attacking through network television and movies. Entertainment helps no one except those who sell it! Families waste massive time on this medium. The lion’s share of entertainment is produced by unbelievers, promoting all kinds of unbiblical lifestyles. Soap operas and sitcoms are training the minds and hearts of parents, and animated movies ”babysit” and are training the hearts and minds of children. Jesus personally “entertained” by telling stories with biblical themes, and grounding His followers in the gospel. He warned them about false philosophies.
Place your television in a public area. Carefully select videos and movies. Point out false philosophies and unbiblical lifestyles. Install a filter, or better yet, don’t subscribe to cable. Tell, read and watch biblically-based stories.
8. Wolves attacking through video games: more entertainment. Graphic nudity and pornographic sex are installed on many video games, even some children’s versions! Players are trained to kill and seduce. Other dangers exist through gaming with strangers. Jesus was always interacting with His disciples. Choose games that encourage you to interact in conversation while playing. Play board games, card games, outdoor games and family video games that you can do together.
7. Wolves attacking through secular music. Now Satan uses music to seduce and to indoctrinate disciples. Jesus provided the gospel and now Christ-glorifying music is available in every genre. Select Christian music for your home and car. Train your heart, soul and mind for Jesus!
6. Wolves attacking through texting. Texting is another activity that can be used for evil. The sports icon Tiger Woods used texting inside his home to arrange for sexual liaisons. You have probably read about “Sexting,” a common way that teenagers are sharing pornographic images of themselves. A device that is enabled for texting is a tool that is very hard to monitor and not essential to living a productive life or glorifying Christ. Jesus was open in His communication. Avoid secret activities in your family.
5. Wolves attacking through guests in your home. Hospitality is a biblical way to share the gospel with your neighbors, service people and extended family. You should practice hospitality! But be aware that we all can fall if separated. Jesus interacted in groups. Remember that wolves separate in order to harm but Jesus kept believers together for safety and accountability. Keep your family together when you have guests, or at minimum make sure that you or your spouse visit along with your children.
4. Wolves attacking through the Internet. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions of our time! It is being used to spread the gospel and to help in many ways. However every category of attacking wolf exists on the Internet through websites, e-mail and chatting. Pornography is attacking the minds and hearts of most, including Christians. Place your computer in a public room. Use a good Internet content filter for the children. Use accountability software like Covenant Eyes for adults and older children.
3. Wolves attacking through social networking. Although this medium is used in great ways, this may be the most dangerous tool of all. Just this past weekend a man was convicted for seducing four underage girls he captured through social networking. Spouses are meeting old flames. Children are being kidnapped. Families are being destroyed. The wisdom of twos employed by Jesus in Luke 10 is the key here. Establish joint accounts with your spouse or know one another’s passwords. Know your child’s password and carefully monitor their activity. Warn them about predators. Only allow friends and followers that you personally know. Once again, use Covenant Eyes software for protection.
2. Wolves attacking through your children’s sin nature. Sin entered all people in the garden. Your children do not require outside influences in order to sin! They are born sinners; help them to know that fact. Help them to learn to self-diagnose sinful behavior and readily confess their sins.
1. Wolves attacking through your sin nature. This is the “top wolf” for a reason. Your sins will blind you to the wolves that are attacking you and your family. Be spiritually cleansed so that you can see the enemy and protect your family! Confess your sins to the Lord and to your family. Be accountable to your spouse and church. Get the victory over your sins by asking the Lord for help.
You and your children are being discipled every waking moment! Who or what is doing the disciple-making: Jesus or wolves? As a family shepherd, you must protect your sheep. Destroy the wolves that threaten your family, or at least keep them at bay. The writer of the 23rd Psalm had no fear of wolves because Jesus was with him. Do what Jesus did and experience the abundant life He promised.
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Alan Melton founded Disciple Like Jesus ministry in 2008. The ministry equips parents and grandparents to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. He is co-author of two books, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents, available through Calvary Press, and Little Disciples, available in Spring 2011.
what do you do when you ask for forgiveness and believe that you are forgiven of your sin but you commit that sin again but you know in your heart that is not what you want to be doing.
@Marvin – Good question. Without knowing the specifics of the situation, I think what you could be describing is the feeling Paul expresses in Romans 7. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (vv.18-21). Paul experienced a similar inner tension: on one hand he delighted in God’s law in his mind, but he found himself going back to the same temptations and sins over and over again.
Paul’s answer to this tension is first to understand that it is normal. Between now and eternity, we live as new creatures inwardly but as old creatures outwardly (2 Corinthians 4:16). Until the day when God resurrects us and renews the whole world, we have the Spirit of Christ within us as a down-payment of the glory to come (Ephesians 1:14), and through His power we are called to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). I actually just finished a whole series on killing sin you might be interested in reading.
Yes,the series Luke is describing, “Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers,” was a much anticipated series posted new every Monday that has been preternaturally beneficial for me. I couldn’t wait for each new one. I highly concur with Luke about this recommendation.
…BTW, Luke, if you read this…”WHAT”S NEXT??” Maybe “The Christian in Complete Armour,” by William Gurnall…??? I don’t know. But thanks for the wonderful 14-week study and all the time and energy you put into it!
@David – Thanks for the encouraging word. I dubbed it “Mortification Mondays.” :)
Gurnall’s work would be an undertaking for sure. I aim to have more thought provoking material soon.
With all due respect to Alan, I have to say that this article is sweet-scented garbage. It has good intentions, but he is telling us to live the impossible Puritan lifestyle. I mean, it would be nice if we could have only pure media, but it simply isn’t realistic.
Starting with number ten (yet really touching on all of the media commentaries) there are good books written by non-Christian authors. Let me take Brian Jacques as an example. I discovered his world of Redwall about 11 years ago. While he was not what we could call an “active” Christian, his books are some of the cleanest material I have read in my life. In fact, cleaner than the Bible. There is nothing about two daughters sleeping with their father, nor any reference to bloodthirsty brothers out to get revenge. So it is important to not look for just Christian-produced books, but clean material in general.
Same for 7-9. Six, however, was a blatant, un-Christlike attack. Tiger Woods, despite his mistakes, is still a spiritual child of God, and we should not make him an example of the general population.
Number five made me a little uncomfortable, because it suggests that we be out with people all the time, when it is in our quiet moments that we receive personal revelation from God while praying or reading the scriptures.
While I disagree with more than half of the statements, #4 is one I concur with. My own church leaders have publicly given us the same counsel.
Number three is borderline. While I discourage social networking, it has connected me with Christlike individuals who I will not see regularly face to face. On the other hand, social networking can be used for evil, wicked purposes, like taking advantage of young girls or creating false relationships with others thinly based on strings of HTML.
Number two is probably my least favorite of all. In my religion, we believe that men must be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. As human beings, we are born with a “connection” of sorts to the devil, and he is ablie to tempt us to do the wrong. Yet children are free from that pain, and it is only their natural inclinations driving them to “sin”.
Number one, while I agree, still makes me feel uneasy. We do need to be there to help our children, but isn’t it a little forward to say that one must be a cleansed individual to find these wolves? My own father has been, I believe, addicted to porn since I was about seven years old, and he has still been a great dad to me and my five siblings.
I suppose this was just an extremely wordy way to say that the article was unhelpful.
@Mark – I can respect the fact that you didn’t find the article helpful. Each blog post will speak to people differently. But I believe some of your criticism is making Alan say things he isn’t saying.
As I read Alan’s post, the predominant theme I see is not, “Don’t watch, read, or listen to anything non-Christian,” but rather, “As you watch and read and listen, discern what to embrace, what to discard, and what to engage critically.”
I agree with you (contra Alan) that we should read some non-Christian literature. After all, the apostle Paul clearly did or he wouldn’t be able to quote pagan poets (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). But I hardly think the admonition to be highly selective for your children is “sweet-scented garbage.”
As for #5, I’m not sure where you got the idea of Alan saying we should be out with people all the time. Nothing in that paragraph gives me that impression.
As for #2, I think this where you and Alan most clearly but heads. No doubt about that one.
As for his Tiger Woods comment, I think Alan was using a well-known example of someone who misused texting. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by Tiger being a “spiritual child of God.” I’d love to get your take on the article I wrote about his public confession.
@Marvin — Just saw your post, Marv. Here’s the scoop. You can begin your repentance once more. Our God is a God of mercy. He gives us second chances. And third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances. He will grant us whatever forgiveness we may require, so long as we come to him sincerely, and with a broken heart and contrite spirit.
Recurring sin may also be due to a deep wound that has not been addressed. Look past the behavior and ask Him to reveal the cause. Heb 12:1, La 3:40
Either way, at the end of the day, how is my own heart? And how is my own relationship with Jesus? And how am I living with peace and unity?–you know, being a mercy-DOER, rather than fixing my gaze upon the errors of others with an obvious intent to exalt self and criticize. I have fallen into this snare of Satan quite publicly before and was rightly rebuked.
I have since repented and have come to realize that I was one of many who are so ready to argue about what we think we know and yet cannot even do the things in The Sermon on the Mount, let alone get through the first gateway of POVERTY OF SPIRIT in (Matthew 5:3). If we would just do the Beatitudes we could turn this world upside-down, or right-side-up!
“You profess to have been baptized into the spirit of the gospel of Christ, but the gospel that makes wolves and lambs agree NEVER teaches lambs to turn into wolves and devour other lambs.” -(William Gurnall, “The Christian in Complete Armor,” vol. II, pg. 343).
A lost and dying world continues to watch in amusement as Christians devour one another and quarrel over petty prejudice and selfish trivia. All the while, men and women who are supposedly carriers of the Truth and its power to heal, restore, and redeem, enter into the frightful folly of critical-spiritedness and endless debate.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on ME…” (Mark 10:47).
Thanks brothers for your feedback. Thanks Luke for your defense. Please forgive me for creating this extra work for you. Luke you are on target about my “creating a list of do nots.” As a matter of fact, I wrote a lead in to this article on our blog with this disclaimer after I sent it to you. In retrospect perhaps I should have sent my edited article to Luke, but I was already over my word limit. Here is the lead in on our blog:
[“Some think this article is over the top. You be the judge. My intention is not to impose a bunch of “thou shall nots.” Rather I am pointing out the wolves so that you and your spouse can make some decisions. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit what you will allow? What discussions will you have with your family about unbiblical content in media? What you will warn your family about? What wolves will you drive out of your home? Keep in mind that change typically comes over time. If you have older children and teens, it may be a little risky to come home one day and make a radical change all at one time. Check out our article “Top Ten Ways to Begin Making Disciples of Older Children.” Blessings to you, Alan”]
Brothers, we were led of the Lord to start this ministry because our present discipleship process is losing between 75% and 94% of our children, according to Barna, Lifeway and Focus on the Family. I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with these results for my family!
Keep in mind that our ministry is “Disciple Like Jesus” and our thoughts flow from this premise. Our goal is not “clean” or “Puritan,” our goal is “Jesus.” We are challenging parents to make disciples of their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. None of us can really make disciples like the Son of God, but we can all make disciples MORE like Him. Jesus is the standard by which we are called to. Jesus showed us for over 3 years how to make disciples and then commanded us to make disciples. He knows how to make disciples better than anyone. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and do what He did!
Well, controversy seems to have followed in my wake. This’ll be a nice workout for a broken finger…
@Luke — You know, we should debate more. This is fun.
I was a little hasty with words in the comment. I just feel uncomfortable with the whole “Christian media-diet” speeches. I recognize that there is a world outside of Christianity with good media acting as an oasis of sorts. Granted, I am the calculated risk-taker, and I always am willing to test the water first. So I take a dip into what trusted friends say is good, and step out if I don’t like it. But a lot of these articles say to only stick to what you know. That’s my only issue with these restrictive suggestions.
My reaction to number five definitely put words in Alan’s mouth. He was saying how wolves hit us easiest when we are alone. I guess all I should have said is rhat it allows us one-on-one time with God.
Number two definitely makes my religion different. Joseph Smith, the founder of my religion, published a set of specific beliefs called the Articles of Faith. The second one states, word for word, what I said about man not being punished for Adam’s transgression. But I accept and understand the other side of this idea.
Interesting that you bring up that article. I read it about a week ago, when I was searching through the archives. The article itself was very informative, though there seemed to be a slight condescending tone. Granted, everyone uses that tone when they talk about TW these days. Now the spiritual child of God thing…I don’t know who believes this doctrine. In my religion, we believe that we are all spiritual children of God. That He created us. So attacking Woods the way Alan did is basically like going to your brother with evidence that he is an adulterer. That’s all there is to that.
@David — Thank you for your criticism about my criticism. Don’t you find it fascinating that you just preached to me about being preachy?
Please forgive me. I was not intending to be so attacking, but to point out what I personally felt uncomfortable with. The article stirred up my emotions, and I wanted to give my side. Please don’t try to tell me that I’m a sinner and that I need to go beg at Jesus’ feet. That is for my church leaders to concern themselves with.
@Alan — I’m not attacking you, so you can hardly say that Luke came to your defense. After prayer, and a long discussion with a good friend, here is my stand on this article.
I agree. Our goal is Jesus. But what does that mean? Personally, I believe that coming unto Christ is aligning our will with His. Trouble begins when our will is perpendicular to His. But I do not think His will is solely composed of Christian media and avoidance of social networking. The counsel He has given us is to “seek ye out of the best books.” This actually comes from one of our books of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a set of revelations given to our prophets in our day. (Doctrine & Covenants 88, if you’re interested.)
So I would like to ammend my previous statements. Your article was a good compilation of all our considerations for being in and not of the world. I just found it too focused on Christian media.
@Mark – I’m also not comfortable with the prevalence of “read only Christian stuff” in the church today. While I don’t think that attitude is mainstream by any stretch, I do think it is common. I believe we need to be discerning primarily in how we read, not just in what we read. The same should be said for media. It is easy to criticize media for its overt content (too much sexuality, profanity, violence, etc.), and while I don’t disagree with those criticisms, I believe we should be even more discerning over the subtle things. Discernment, as I see it, does not mean isolating ourselves from literature or media that clashes with our worldview, but engaging those mediums with an eye for detail.
@Mark – There is nothing to forgive. You did not offend me, nor was I calling “you” a sinner, or telling you you need to “beg at Jesus’ feet.” I find it peculiar to see that you missed the fact that I was pointing the finger at myself, and at the same time must have touched a sensitive nerve in yourself; not at all “my” intentions.
My point was obvious in that we as Christians can be so wrapped up in concern for the ‘this and that.’ However, if we would only take all that effort and energy we put into our selfish ambition and redirect it into our willingness to love one another the way Christ Jesus commanded us to in (Matthew 5-7) surely we would render ourselves more efficacious in bringing people to the risen King of glory. Let us crucify our fallen words and sanctify our motives and actions.
This was and is not a word of “preachy criticism” it is the Truth and the fire of God to which I also long to hold myself; as it is that I included myself in my first comment. This was supposed to be a word of exhortation first to me and then to share here.
I never told you to “beg at Jesus feet.” But in light of that remark, let me say, that is exactly where I want to stay – all the time – a beggar at Jesus feet, because that is all that I am and all that I want to be in this life. It is there where I find pure joy and peace so to expend it in the valleys of the afflicted and oppressed. When I try to be anything else than this, it is then when I am a complete selfish jerk!
@Luke — I’m glad you agree. But what do you mean by “an eye for detail”? That confused me.
@David — Again one of my flared temper spots. I apologize in advance if I get a little intense this time around.
I did not miss the finger pointing at yourself. However, I think there was a knife hidden somewhere in your comment. I got the feeling you were saying “I’ve repented. Why don’t you?” Yet, while that’s the vibe I got, I recognize you weren’t attacking me.
I also want everyone to know that my critical comments are not merely criticisms. I critique a lot, with a goal of starting a literary agency later on in life. It’s just what I do. And when I read something that, to me, doesn’t sound good, I tell the author why. There are plenty of Christian authors who are foulmouthed, and I’m not afraid to tell them it makes me uncomfortable. (Not that I’m calling you foulmouthed, Alan. I’m just giving an example of the same principle.)
David, truth means something different from everyone. I am certain you and I come from different religious backgrounds. I was born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We Mormons certainly are looked down upon as not true Christians, just because we do not agree with the Nicean creed. Yet millions of others do. So you telling me that your way is the truth is similar to telling a chocolate-lover that chocolate is bad.
in addition, why would you want to stay at Jesus’ feet? I mean, the concept of the atonement is so mind-blowingly spectacular, but it must be understood that we crawl to Him in our crippling, sinful state, and He heals us and picks us right up to go bring others unto Him? In other words, how can one do His work if they are too busy crying on Christ’s nail-pierced feet? If we come to Him, He will purify us.
@Mark – By “an eye for detail” I mean we really engage media even in its most subtle messages, not just in its most overt content.
Thanks brothers for your comments and sincere effort to see one another’s perspective. I’ll make a couple comments and then I’m done.
Regarding point 5 I believe we all need time alone with the Lord. I was referencing the danger of time alone with a stranger (for us or for our child). The way wolves work is to separate a sheep from the flock so they can devour the sheep. The principle of two’s given by Jesus was for disciples who were leaving the flock and going in the midst of wolves.
Lastly, regarding entertainment (and all other activities) we should ask ourselves this question: is this activity glorifying the Lord? Jesus told entertaining stories but He always had a purpose behind His stories; convey a biblical truth. We might also do what Jesus did in making choices about our activities. Should we engage in an activity that would please our flesh, or would it be more helpful to us and to others if we took our family to feed the poor, help widows, support orphans, etc?
I want you to know that I enjoy good entertainment as well as anybody else. But every choice I make and you make has a disciple-making impact on us and on our families. Are we making disciples of Jesus or the devil? Or maybe a combination of the two?
Yes, well, Alan…when are we going to voluntarily walk into a dark alleyway? I’m not about to say “Ooh, hey! Stranger! Let me meet you so you can attack me, take my money, and kidnap my children.”
I could be the odd one out, though… /:(