One minute they were there. The next they were gone.
There we were at the zoo watching the hippos. It was a crowded room, and the four youngest asked if they could scoot closer to get a better view. Just stay together was my only instruction, and off they went. Alex and I stayed in the back with the baby in the stroller.
The hippos enthralled all of us, and when I did a headcount, I noticed that the 11 yr old and the 9 yr old had backed up through the crowd to be closer to us. But where were the 7 yr old and the 4 yr old? I craned my neck over heads; I squinted through legs and bags and shoes, looking for those two familiar faces. No luck. Alarmed, I turned to Alex. "They're gone. Stay with the baby." And I took off around the corner, hoping that I could get to the front of the crowd and spot them from that vantage point. Again, no luck. I ran back to Alex. "Keep everyone together. They are not in the building. Stay here."
I flew out of the building. Looked to the right; nope, not there. I looked left. And there, far down the path, I could see that bashful 4 yr. old grin. Two teens were talking to him. But...where was the 7 yr old? I took off running, and as I got closer, I saw that she was standing there with him, her protective arm around his shoulders. My heart laughed and cried at the same time. The four year old was oblivious to the danger he had been in; the seven year old was in tears. Even as I recall this, my adrenaline is rushing.
I fell to my knees and grabbed them and hugged them. The seven year old let her tears really go at that point, and the four year old just kept smiling bashfully. He knew something was wrong; he just wasn't sure what.
We went over rules that day. I asked the seven year old what those teens had been asking them. They asked for her phone number, she said, but she told them she wasn't allowed to give it to strangers. Good. She knew that. And my eyes still get misty when I remember her arm around her little brother. She knew it was her job to protect him. But she didn't know to stay put.
That day was a stark reminder to me that we have to have repeated discussions about what's wrong with the world, about potentially dangerous situations. As distasteful as those conversations are, we do it because we love our kids.
A few weeks earlier...
I was tucking the four year old, who'd been having, shall we say, a bit of a behavioral slump, into bed. And I started telling him about the wonders of heaven. We were both getting excited and laughing and dreaming of that amazing eternity which awaits us. I came downstairs and told Brett, "I've been telling J all about heaven!
"Huh. I've been telling him all about hell."
Usually I'm the fire-breathing parent, and Brett is the nice guy.
But you know what? We have to tell the kids about both. They need a solid doctrine of heaven and a solid doctrine of hell. Just like they need to know about Stranger Danger in case we get separated, they need to know what awaits the disobedient, the perverse, the wicked for all eternity. They have to know this stuff because we won't always get to be with them. They need to know that there is a real bliss awaiting God's people. And there is a real torment awaiting the rest.
They also need to know a little bit about Stranger Danger in the Church.
Take self-styled Millennial spokeswoman, Rachel Held Evans, for example. (Though my own Millennials laugh out loud at her attempting to speak for them...) Ostensibly, she's waging war on evangelicalism. In truth, she's waging war on Truth. (But never--no, never--has God ever instructed us to stand down when it comes to Truth. Never.)
And I called her a goat..as in, not a sheep.
Upon further reflection, I'd like to recant.
It's far worse than that.
She's an Angel of Light. No, of course she's not THE Angel of Light. Think types and shadows here.
Second Class perhaps. Not quite got her wings. Yet.
You lead them into wrong; you make it look so right.
You lead them into darkness and make them think you lead them into light.
What's an Angel of Light?
First, they claim identity with Christ. They claim an excellent way.
Second, they take the Truth of Scripture and twist.
Third, they are offended by the True Gospel and are aggressive enemies of it.
They tame God; they civilize the Gospel; they make it palatable to the reprobate.
But the Gospel is offensive to the flesh. Regeneration is required to make it potent.
No amount of redrawing the lines or rewriting the rules will bring in converts, not real ones anyway. Redrawing and rewriting does not make Evans and her ilk Christians; it makes them rebels.
But I know where you're going, too bad you're not alone.
If it wasn't for the real Light, I might have never known.
It is imperative that we raise our children to spot snakes in the Church lawn. Imperative. And I don't know of any other way than to continually tell them the Truth. It is imperative that we show little Johnny the filth they are spewing and sit down and walk through why that is wrong.
Or little Johnny will have no idea that it is wrong.
Because it's slick.
But horse puckey that is spit shined is still horse puckey.
And Little Johnny will be in serious danger of growing up to become a parent who tells his own children that sponsoring a child is more important than standing for the Truth. Wrong. Or that the Gospel is about social justice. Wrong. Or that Jesus died to redeem Creation rather than sinners. Wrong again. Or /cough/ that Jesus is not the God of the Old Testament. HA! Wrong.
You've got the clergy workin' overtime to widen the narrow way.
It is imperative that our kids learn Stranger Danger in terms of false teachers. And the false teachers of our children's generation are masterful scripture twisters.
"God doesn't hate sin."
"The crucifixion is cosmic child abuse."
"Everyone goes to heaven."
"There's no such thing as hell."
And so goes the Millennial war on Truth.
Develop an appetite in yourself for Heaven.
Tell your kids what the Bible says about Heaven and who gets to go there.
Develop an affinity only for teachers who love the God of Heaven.
Develop an aversion for hell.
Develop an aversion for Scripture twisters who are on the Wide Path to hell.
Tell your children what the Bible says about hell and who must go there.
Raise your kids to be so shrewd about and so steeped in Truth, that they can spot someone who lies about Heaven
about the Gospel,
For their spiritual safety.
Angel of Light, you're telling me wrong is right, but I won't let your evil take control.*
It was absolutely frightening to lose my precious little ones in the crowd that day. It was terrifying to realize that they didn't know to stay put. But that would be nothing, nothing, to losing them to hell.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. 2 Timothy 4:3
*Angel of Light, Robert M. Hartman, 1981