I Have Trouble With My Children, What Shall I Do?


I Have Trouble With My Children, What Shall I Do?

March 28th, 1982 @ 7:30 PM

Genesis 4:1-12

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 4:1-12

3-28-82    7:30 p.m.


This is the pastor bringing the message entitled I Have Trouble with My Children, What Shall I Do?  Turn with me to Genesis chapter 4, and we are going to read out loud and together the first twelve verses.  Genesis 4:1-12; Genesis 4:1-12, and we are going to read it together out loud, Genesis 4:1-12.  And share your Bible with your neighbor if he does not have one.  And on the radio, you at home you turn to the first book of the Bible, and we read the first 12 verses of the forth chapter of Genesis.  Now let us start:

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

But unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

And He said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.

And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

[Genesis 4:1-12]

I Have Trouble With My Children, What Shall I Do? That problem is as old as humanity itself.  These are the first two children born into the earth, the elder named Cain, and the younger named Abel.  And Cain slew his brother Abel and poured out his blood upon the ground [Genesis 4:8, 10].  We have like story, and I have not time to enter into it with Noah and Canaan, a homosexual transgression.  We have trouble in reading the story between the twins, Esau and Jacob.  We have a story, a tragic one in Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, the high priest.  And because of their transgression, the whole nation was sold into the bondage of the Philistines.  There is not a more tragic story to be read in literature than that of Absalom who wooed away the hearts of Israel against his father, David, and precipitated a violent and terrible civil war.

Old as humanity, and with us today no less, is the problem of children.  This is intensified by the example of the parents, many of the things that they do, they reap in the lives of their children.  A man had a little boy.  He got on the street car.  And when he got on the street car, he tucked the little fellow at his back and paid one fare.  Dropped one fare in that little glass cage by the driver’s seat.  And then, he took the little boy and walked down the aisle of the street car with him.  And when he did so, having succeeded in paying one fare, having done so and succeeding, he winked at his little boy.  Years later, when the lad is sent to prison for embezzlement, guess where he learned to steal and to cheat?

I was at a Cowboy game.  I go once a year on Thanksgiving.  I was in a box up there seated by a man who had his little boys with him in the box.  And as he sat there, and drank, and drank, and drank, which is what they do at these games so largely, as he sat there and drank, he discoursed to me about how terrible it was, the drug addiction among our young people, and yet he’s dousing down liquid pot, and the little boys, his own, watch him.

There are two things that older people almost universally do, and they have a tragic repercussion in the lives of our children.  One is the use of alcohol.  It is universally seen on television and in the movies.  I have been surprised from one side of this continent to the other; the preachers and the churches are advertising that movie, Chariots of Fire.  They make delegations to go see it.  They show the movie in their church houses, and from the opening scene in that movie to its last dramatic event, they are constantly drinking.  Every scene has some kind of a liquor presentation in it.  And as though that were not enough, our adults consume one-half billion amphetamine tablet pills every year.  It would be a strange thing if our children, seeing the adults incessantly drink, and seeing their parents unendingly taking drugs, if they themselves did not follow suit.

Another thing that that contributes to the delinquency of our children are the worldly and godless homes in which they live.  Once in a while, maybe twice in my lifetime, have I seen an altar in a home.  But I have seen bars built in our homes world without end.  But not only the example of the parents lead to the delinquency of the child, but they are intensified, the problems they face, by the pressure of their peers, the young people that are around them.  That is why I seek to create a Christian community in our community so that there might be a place that they might go to school, go to worship on Sunday, find retreats and social activities and recreation and a thousand other things with Christian young people like themselves, to pull them out of the world.

There are two terrifying discoveries in teenage life, two of them: one, to discover that the youngster is using drugs, and second, to discover that the youngster is engaging in premarital sex and falls into pregnancy in the case of a girl.  The desire to be “in,” the desire to be popular, the desire to be accepted leads to that peer pressure that makes a girl succumb when ordinarily she wouldn’t, and a boy share in a tragic triangle or duet that ruins his life, scars his life forever.

There’s another thing that leads to that, and encourages that, and that is the modern theological teaching of situation ethics.  That’s the name for a philosophy that has overrun the entire Christian world that says there are no absolutes.  “God’s law and God’s Word is not a final court.  You are.  And whatever comes naturally, and whatever you feel like doing, do it.”  They leave God out of life.  And the commandments of the Lord are no more than theological propositions to be discussed.  Consequently, the destruction of age-old principles by which the generations in the years past have lived, are today crumbling before our very eyes.  And you see it in the children of our generation.  They are drug addicts, they’re alcoholics, and they have a barnyard approach to sex.

Let me illustrate that to you in my studying and reading.  The Gallup poll made a survey of fifty-five of the great colleges in America, and they found that on those college campuses premarital sex was optional, it is unimportant.  If you wanted to engage in it, that was up to you.  If you didn’t, it was up to you.  But there was no equation of right or wrong in premarital sex.  And the Gallup poll said, “seventy percent of all brides are not virgins.  Twenty-two and five tenths percent of them are already pregnant.  There are three hundred thousand teenage abortions every year.  There are two hundred forty thousand illegitimate children born every year.  And there are more than twelve million teenagers that are afflicted with sexual disease”; this from George Gallup.

I have just briefly summarized the problem that we face in this present generation in rearing our children.  I want to take the time to speak of the solution, not the problem.  We all sense it and know it, and what I’ve just said is a summarization of things that you read and experience and know as well as I.  What is the solution?  That’s why your preacher is standing here tonight presenting a word from heaven.

Number one: take time to listen and to answer your child.  I don’t care what he says or what it’s about.  If he says it, if he asks it, you take time to listen and to talk to him and to answer.  A little boy came to his father, who was buried, his nose in the newspaper.  And the little boy said to his father, he said, he said, “Daddy, do you love God?”  Looking at his newspaper, the father said, “Why, certainly, son, course I do.”  Then the little boy said, “Daddy, have you ever seen God?”  “No, son, I never have seen God.”  And he keeps his nose in the paper.  And the little boy says, “Well, Daddy, how can you love somebody you’ve never seen?”  And the dad with his nose in the newspaper said, “Shut up, son.”  And in a little while the little fellow tugged at the knee of his father and said, “Daddy, is that the way to talk to a little boy that wants to know about God?”

Whatever that question is, most of whom, most of which we can’t answer.  I can’t myself.  Every once in a while, a little old child, I mean a little bitty one will come up to me after church and ask me a question I have no idea how to answer.  But listen, take time, let them talk to you, and you talk to them.

Now, when you have a child, when you have a boy or a girl or both, the time is coming inevitably when they are going to ask you about sex.  Now what do you do?  You can’t obviate it.  You can’t interdict it.  You can’t skirt it.  It’s going to come.  There was a little five-year-old Baptist girl, her family was Baptist, that lived next door to a five-year-old Catholic family, had a little boy five years of age.  And back in the yard of the Catholic family was a little plastic pool filled with water for the little five year olds to wade in.  So, the little Baptist girl was over there in the backyard of the little five-year-old Catholic boy, and they were wading on a summer day out there in the pool.  Well, being innocent children, they decided to take off their swimming trunks.  So the two little kids wading back there, took off their swimming trunks.  And when they did, the little Baptist girl looked at herself and looked at that boy, and exclaimed, “I didn’t know there was that much difference between a Baptist and a Catholic.”

How do you teach your children sex?  It is coming up.  It will inevitably arise, and it is vitally important.  How do you do it?  There are two things that you have to watch.  Number one; don’t try to explain too early.  A little boy came up to his mother and said, “Mother, where did I come from?”  And the mother said, “Now, Lord, help me.  The inevitable moment has arrived.”  So she sat down by the side of her little boy, and she began to explain to him all about his father, all about her, his mother, and the deposit of the sperm and the fertilization of the ovum and this process of mitosis and finally, after eight months, he was born.  And the little fellow stood there at the knee of his mother and looked at her in bewilderment and said, “Mother, Johnny with whom I play says he came from Indianapolis, and I just wanted to know where I came from.”

Let them lead.  Don’t go into a too-early-age explanation.  Again, don’t go to the other extreme and it’s too late.  A little fellow came to his mother and said, “Mother, I’m in the sixth grade, and I’ve been given an assignment on physiology and I’ve decided to write a paper, my paper on where I came from.  Mother, where did I come from?”

And the mother said, “Now your daddy is in the den, you go ask him.”

 So he went in there where his daddy was and said, “Daddy, I’ve got to write a paper in physiology, and I’m going to write on where I came from.  Where did I come from?”

And he said, “Son, your granddaddy is in the living room, you go ask him.”  So the little fellow goes into the living room and explains to his granddaddy that he has to write a letter, has to write a paper on physiology, and he chose where he came from, “Now granddaddy, where did I come from?”

And granddaddy says, “A stork brought you.”

And the little boy says, “Well, granddaddy, where did my daddy come from?”

And the granddaddy says, “A stork brought him, too.”

And then he looks at his granddaddy and says, “Granddaddy, where did you come from?”

And the granddaddy replies, “A stork brought me, too.”

And the little boy wrote his theme and said, “In three generations there has not been a single natural birth in our family!”

 When that inevitable time comes, ask God for wisdom.  And let them lead in the way.  Not too early, not too prolix, not too verbose, but let them lead in the way.  And always faithfully and honestly answer.  They will come along beautifully if you do.  And when you talk, whether it’s about sex, whether it’s about a thousand other things that children will bring to you, always speak in the context of love and affection and acceptance.  There’s no exception to that ever, always talking anything in the context of deepest love and appreciation.

I want to illustrate that.  A mother in exasperation said to her daughter, “I do not know what I’m going to do with you.”

And the girl replied, “You brought it on yourself.  I didn’t ask to be born into this world.  It is something you did and that’s why I’m here.”

And the mother made a perfect reply, she said, “Dear, I know.  I asked for you.  And I’m so glad I have you.  And since I asked for you, I want you to have a beautiful and a happy life.”

And that little girl confided to a friend, a little girlfriend later about what had happened and she said, “When Mother thus replied to me, saying, was I ever ashamed of myself.”  For what the mother had done was, instead of laying it out to that girl, how much the girl owed to her, the mother, in love and affection, described how much she owed the daughter.  And it moved the girl beyond compare.

Now may I speak in the home and in rearing our children of the necessity for discipline?  The Latin word discipulus means the teaching and the training of a child by a teacher.  And there is no possibility of rearing a child without rigorous and faithful discipline.  The child has to be taught.  It has to be trained.  It is easier to form a character than it is to reform the character.  The child is born without education.  The child can be taught one language just as much as another.  And the child can be trained to be a communist, or a goose-stepping Nazi, or a Catholic, or a Baptist, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim.  The child is there before you to be molded in whatever pattern you decide to impress upon that malleable life.

And children without discipline are unable to cope in the world. Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” “And fathers, do not provoke them to wrath” [Ephesians 6:4].  Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”  Revelation 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”  Hebrews 12:6-7 says, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.  If you endured chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons…”  I one time heard it said, “You know, a pat on the back is sure good for a child if it’s low enough.”

We can take a tip from the animals.  There are no juvenile delinquents in the animal world.  Animal parents do not permit it.  No where in the animal world is the offspring allowed to do as it pleases.  It is only humanity that ever rears its young without discipline.  Explain to the child what is allowed and what is not allowed.  Explain to the child the limits and the off limits and the boundaries.  And keep those limits and those boundaries.  The child is no happier if the child lives in a permissive world, a permissive life.  The child is strengthened and helped if there is boundaries and limits and discipline.

Now I want to read this to you.  It is entitled “The World’s Meanest Mother.”  That attracted my attention, so I read it and this is it:

My mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times.  She insisted that if we said we’d be gone for an hour, that we would be gone one hour or less.  She made us work.  We had to wash the dishes, make beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things.  She always insisted on our telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  She embarrassed us by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us, not honk the horn and come out there.  While my friends were dating at the mature age of twelve or thirteen, my old-fashioned mother refused to let me date until I was fifteen or sixteen.  My mother was a complete failure as a mother.  None of us has ever been arrested.  None of us has ever been drunk.  None of us has ever been busted for drugs.  Look at the things we missed.  We never got to take part in a riot or a gang war or a million other things that our friends did.  She made us grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.  She was the word’s meanest mother.

That kind of caught my attention.  And as you know, I read Ann Landers, so here we go with one in recent days.  You read it too because it was just printed a few days ago.

Dear Ann Landers: This letter is for every teenager out there who is boiling over with rage because he or she thinks his parents are too strict.  All through high school I was very resentful because Mom and Dad insisted on knowing where I was going wherever I left the house.  They also had to know which friends I would be with and when I would be home.  Every Sunday, my brothers and I went to church whether we wanted to or not.  If we borrowed money, we were expected to return it even if it was a nickel.  I thought this was ridiculous, not to mention stingy.  We were not rich, but we weren’t poor.  We all knew better than to touch cigarettes or alcohol.  Our father scared the daylights out of us with his “So help me, if I ever catch you” speeches.  None of us would have dared go near booze or cigarettes.  We all missed the drug scene even though most of our friends drank liquor and smoked pot and many tried LSD and pills.  Some psychologists might say scare tactics are not the right way to bring up kids, but they worked for us, and I plan to bring up my children the same way.  They can hate me if they want to all through the teen years, but they will be grateful later as I am now since I’m 20.

And she writes to this Florida teenager: “What a gracious tribute.  I know your parents feel awfully good when they see it.  I agree that fear can be a healthy thing.  The trouble with too many young people today is they are not afraid of anybody or anything.  Kids who grow up knowing their parents are in charge are much happier.”

And I have one other.  This is from a teenager in Bridgeport, Connecticut:

Dear Ann Landers: Every now and then some teenager complains about his folks treating him as if he were still in rompers.  He resents being asked, “Where are you going, with whom, when will you be back?”  Well, my folks never asked me any of these questions.  I am free to come and to go as I please, and I don’t like it.  I have the feeling if they really cared about me, they would make some rules.  But when rules are made, somebody has to enforce them, and that means work.  It’s easier to let the kids run wild.  How I wish my mother would say, “No, you can’t go ice skating with that clod.”  But she never does.  She always says, “It’s just up to you.”  I feel frightened and alone because I have too many decisions to make.  I hope those kids whose parents asks a lot of questions and do a lot of bossing know how lucky they are.  It means somebody loves them!

That’s right!  When you talk to your children and when you guide them and ask questions and seek to help them, it is a sign that you care.  And ultimately, it means life to them.

Now may I expound on a scriptural passage.  It’s in Proverbs [22:6].  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” [Proverbs 22:6].  Now there is a moral overtone in that, but it is an overtone.  That passage is not what you think it is.  What that passage says is this, and I can expound upon it, in the translation of one word that is in it.  It’s the word, derek, d-e-r-e-k.  Train up a child in derek, according to the way of his going.

Children are not all alike.  They greatly differ.  Some are impulsive and superactive.  Some are despondent and sensitive and phlegmatic.  Some are susceptible and some are credulous.  Some are gifted musically.  Mozart was playing and composing beautiful music when he was four and five years of age.  Some are athletic.  Doak Walker—who built the Cotton Bowl, it was built for him in his days—Doak Walker, from a little bitty boy, was guided by his scholastic father to play football.  Some of them are spiritually sensitive like a little Samuel; like Paul says of Timothy, he knew the Scriptures from his childhood [2 Timothy 3:15].

What this passage says is we are to discover what God has placed in the child, what capacity he has, what affinities and proclivities he has, and then to train the child in that direction.  The parents make an awesome mistake when they go against the natural in-born affinities, tendencies in that child.  Many times a parent will do things just for pride, that he may brag on the child.  We don’t leave the children to themselves, we want to make them what we want them to be.  And we seek from them performances to outclass and outdo the Jones.

We need to see our children as God-breathed immortal souls, loaned to us for just a while.  The child is a God-given life, God-breathed.  And it doesn’t matter; absolutely it doesn’t matter whether the child becomes a rich man or a famous movie actress or anything else, absolutely not!  All we want to do according to the Word of God is to train the child, to derek, in the way of his going, in the natural proclivities, and affinities, and desires, and likes, and capacities, and gifts of the youngster.  And if the child is thus trained, he will bear fruit all his life.  It will be second nature to him to do the way God has created him to do.

Age hardens and stiffens, and the youth learns, and the age doesn’t forget it.  That child has moral sensitivity, that’s the image of God.  The child has capacity for evil.  Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of the child.”  He inherits the backdrop of depravity from us, but he also has a proclivity for good.  Matthew 19:14, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Children are peculiarly susceptible to religious impressions.  A child will pray just as naturally as it eats.  A child will love Jesus just as naturally as it loves father and mother.  And we are to train that child, derek, in the way of his going, in the way of his natural associations and likes and proclivities.  Don’t try to make a musician out of a child that has no interest in it whatsoever.  Don’t try to make an athlete out of a little fellow that is as studious as a scholar, just guide the lad; train up the girl in the way of her going, and when she is old, when she is grown, when he is a man, he’ll be that according to the purpose of God who created him.

Now I close.  Our time has passed.  The ultimate decision lies in you, the child.  You are accountable and responsible before God.  I don’t care who your parents are.  Nor does it matter what kind of an upbringing or training that you have.  Your father may be a heel, but you don’t have to be like him.  Your mother may be a promiscuous wretch, but you don’t have to be like her.  The only way that I can understand the Bible, in our accountability before God, is that each one of us is responsible for the choices that we make.

Now let me read you out of the Word of God; in Ezekiel 18:2.  “What mean ye, God says, that you use this proverb…The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?  As I live, saith the Lord…the soul that sinneth, it shall die” [Ezekiel 18:2-4].  Whatever our parents have done, or whatever they‘ve said or not said, “The soul that sins, it shall die” [Ezekiel 18:4].  The choice is with us.

“If any man begat a son” [Ezekiel 18:10]—and then there’s a long series of verses about the vileness of that son—“His blood shall be upon him” [Ezekiel 18:10-13].  Now the next paragraph, “If any man begat a son”—and it has a long list of the good things of the boy—“he shall surely live” [Ezekiel 18:14-17]. 

Ultimately and finally, you are accountable.  You make the choice, the decision is yours.  I had a neighbor right down the street who was the executive secretary of the State of Texas and one of the dearest friends I ever had.  He had several children, and one of them was a boy.  At sixteen years of age, his boy brought sorrow into the home.  He criticized unmercifully his mother and everything about the house and the home.  And the father said to him, “Son, you don’t like us.  You don’t like your mother.  You don’t like me.  You don’t like the house.  You don’t like anything that goes on here.  Now, son, you just take your things and leave, and maybe you can find what you like in some other place in some other life.”

So the boy said, “Well, fine, Dad, I’m leaving.”  And he left.  It wasn’t long until he was back home apologizing to his mother, apologizing to his father.  And apologizing to God.  It wasn’t out there in that world, where he had to make his own way, as he thought it was, without the restraints and the boundaries and the limits of his father and his mother.

Now, once in a while, that doesn’t work.  I was in the home of the greatest preacher that we had following Dr. Truett.  When I was a youngster, Dr. Truett, the pastor of this church, was the great preacher of his generation.  The man that succeeded him in the far-famed oratory, I went to see him just before he died.  The pastor of the church where he preached for so many years, took me to see him.  And there on the piano and all over the wall were pictures of his daughter and his daughter’s family.  They were just everywhere.

So when the visit was over and we had our prayer, as I walked out of the door with the pastor, I said, “Pastor, didn’t he have a son?  Didn’t he have a son?”  And the pastor said, “Yes, but he is never mentioned.  There’s no picture in the house.  There’s never a reference made to him.  He is lost to the house, to the family, his mother’s dead, to the father, to the world.”  Sometimes it doesn’t work.  It was in his choice, though he was reared in a minister’s home.

I held a revival meeting with a pastor in a city and was in their home visiting.  And I found out that out of the goodness of their heart, they had taken a sixteen-year-old prostitute off of the streets.  She was diseased.  She was ragged.  She was dirty and filthy.  They took that sixteen-year-old girl and adopted her, brought her into the parsonage where I was visiting.  They gave her a beautiful room.  It was an affluent pastorate; gave her a beautiful room, gave her a car, gave her beautiful clothes, took her to the hospital that healed her diseased condition.  Gave her everything that money could buy, and made her a part of the family in the church.

And in the middle of the night, she slipped out through a window and went back to her life of dirty, filthy, diseased prostitution.  How do you explain that, breaking the heart of that godly man and his wife?

The choice is yours.  Not up there.  Not out there; in here in the heart where you live.  Let me tell you a judgment that I read, Jack Cole, these things always interest me, a court scene.  The judge said to the teenager, “Son, stand up to be sentenced.”  And the teenager stood up to be sentenced to prison by the judge.  And I’ll never forget his first sentence.  He started off his first sentence with this word.  “Young man, in the free land of America, every boy has the choice to damn his own soul in hell.”  That was what the judge said in his first sentence.

Some boys and some girls are hell-bent.  They choose a life of vile promiscuity.  They choose a life of drugs and drunkenness.  And however their godly parents that weep, and however the wonderful home in which they’re reared, they are evil and choose to follow that depraved bent in their lives.  And all you can do is cry and weep and lament before God.  Like Cain, like Canaan, like Esau, like Absalom, like ten thousand others.

I close.  There was a teenager in the hospital, real sick.  And the pastor came to see him, and he said to the pastor, “Pastor, you see that boy over there?  He’s not a Christian, and I am as sick as he is, and I don’t see the difference between us lying here in this hospital.  I am a Christian and he isn’t.  I don’t see the difference.”

And the reason that this made an impression on my heart is because for days and months in my coming here to the church, right there in front of us, imploded this afternoon was a tall building.  Had scaffolding around it, had all kinds of hammering on it, and right here one block on this side of the church, a tall building with scaffolding around it and hammering on it, those two buildings, that one there and this one here.  It just happened to be that in that city hospital where the pastor was visiting that teenager, he looked out the window and saw the same thing.

There was a building with scaffolding around it and debris and hammering, and another building in view with scaffolding around it and hammering.  One of those buildings was being prepared for destruction and demolition, and the other building with its scaffolding and debris and hammering was going up.  And the pastor said to that teenager, “Son, out that window through which you’re now looking, do you see those two buildings?  They look very much alike.  But one of them is headed for destruction, and the other one is headed for construction.”  That’s the difference between you and a lost soul.  One of you is headed toward God, toward heaven, toward eternal life!  And the other is headed toward judgment, and death, and damnation, and destruction.

Isn’t that what the Book said?  Derek, according to the bent of your life as the twig is bent, so the great oak tree takes its form.  And as you follow the bent of your life, the ultimate answer will be found in heaven or hell, in life or in death, in construction or destruction.  And you make the decision which way your life will go.  O Lord, that there might be such a heart in us that always we choose what is godly, and heavenly, and blessed and leave the way and the how and the results to His gracious choice.  Bless you young people.  It’s your decision.  May we stand together?

Our Lord as only God can bless, sanctify, and hallow this message from Thy Book, how deep and destiny determining are these words in the Scriptures. Lord, Lord that there might be such a heart in us that always we would choose Thee.  And may these young people who are so malleable find it in their hearts to move toward God.  And may their lives be filled with all the blessings of the Lord Himself.  We pray for our homes and our families that insofar as we are able and capable that we will guide our children in the way of salvation.  Then when the choice is made, God grant they make it Christ-ward and heavenward.

And in this moment that our people pray, that we stand before God tonight, would you make that decision for Christ?  “Here is my family, pastor, and we are all coming tonight.”  “This is a couple of us, my wife and I, my friend and I, my sweetheart and I; we are coming tonight.”  Or just a somebody you, “I feel the Spirit of God calling me, and I am answering with my life.”  In the balcony round, down the stairway, in the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, we have decided for God and here we stand.”  On the first note of that first stanza, take that first step.  And the Lord bless you and angels attend you in the way as you come.  And thank Thee Lord for the sweet harvest You will give us tonight, in Thy saving name, amen.  While we sing, come, and welcome.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 4:1-12


I. The problem is as old as humanity

II. Intensifies by parental example

III. Peer pressure

IV. Gallup poll

V. Scriptural admonition Proverbs 22:6

VI. Ultimate decision