Co-authors, their latest: Traveling a Pilgrims Path (Tyndale, 2004)
Craig: Attorney; Pro-Family Advocate; Has argued cases before U.S. Supreme Court; Has also appeared before many federal Courts of Appeal; Testified before Congress on religious issues
Janet: Host of nationally syndicated radio program Janet Parshalls America; Former Spokesperson for Family Research Council
Both: Authors of fictional series; four grown children
Raising children has never been easy, but lately it seems to be an even greater challenge. Music, video games, and movies have filled the minds of children and teens with violence and super-sexuality. Our society has steadily drifted away from the idea of "one nation under God" and replaced it with hostility toward expressions of Christian faith in the public arena. A large percentage of teens in church don't know the core beliefs of Christianity, much less believe them. Many kids believe faith shouldnt be allowed to cramp their style when it comes to entertainment choices. "Thats no surprise in our comfort-first society," says Janet, "but it can be disastrous for our children."
Craig and Janet discovered a resource that can help parents prepare their children for the future. "The Bible is the ultimate authority in raising our children, a God-inspired road map," says Janet. "But there is a 'travel guide' that gives us hints about pitfalls to avoid." When their children were young, Craig and Janet began reading a childrens version of John Bunyans The Pilgrims Progress. It quickly became a favorite in their house. Although published in 1678, Pilgrims Progress has been ranked as the second most-read book in history (next to the Bible). Craig suggests reading a modern English version, since the original is written in the prose of Bunyans day. Bunyan was a preacher in England who was imprisoned for his faith. During his incarcerations, Bunyan pleaded with God in prayer. His doubts, struggles, and victories took on allegorical lives of their own through characters like Christian, Hopeful, Hypocrisy, and Danger. The idea for his book was birthed.
Straight for the Gate
The most important responsibility a Christian parent has is to direct children toward an eternal destiny. "We are called to instruct our young pilgrims about the reality of sin, the pitfalls of the world, and the need to head straight for the gate that leads to forgiveness and eternal life," says Craig.
The Parshalls say that their own children watched them carefully, wanting to see if what they said aligned with what they did. All of the Parshall children invited Jesus into their hearts in different ways at different times. Their two daughters, Sarah and Rebekah, responded directly to Janet and Craigs presentations of how to begin a relationship with God. Their older son, Samuel, was led to the Lord by his sister. Their youngest, Joseph, listened to the plan of salvation and wanted to think his choice over. (The next morning, he walked into the kitchen and announced he was ready to accept Jesus into his heart!)
Craig says that the No.1 transmitter of values today is Hollywood. "The entertainment world is teaching our kids values," he says. When we look at the world our children will face in the coming decade, with its physical dangers and cultural traps, it would be easy to let fear overpower us. So how do we compete for our kids when the world is screaming for their attention? Craig says parents need to search out quality alternatives and then sit down and talk about the choice the child is about to make. "Make it an open forum, not a forbidden fruit," says Craig.
In the Parshall household, their approach had always been to turn their home into a combination recreation center/coffee house/philosophy class for their kids friends (to be a positive influence). "We didnt always know the results of our efforts," says Janet. One teen at a class reunion told their daughter Sarah how he had been affected by the late-night chats at the Parshalls. Today, he is a Christian, married to a believer, and is "on fire" for the Lord. Craig and Janet remind us that as parents, God equips us through His Word and His Spirit to protect and direct our children for their journey ahead.
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