Bible Principles for Raising Children


My daughter-in-law, Rhonda, gave birth to premature twins. The doctor had given us little hope for their survival. White my wife, my son and I were with Rhonda in her hospital room, a nurse came to my wife and said, “I believe there is hope for your grandbabies. What they need is love from the family.”

Well, my friends, love was one thing I had plenty of It has been my privilege to work with and love children all over our fellowship. Having been blessed to preach two or three youth camps each year, I knew how to love children. After a few minutes, we were told that we could go into the neonatal intensive care unit at any time day or night. When we walked into the unit they explained to us how serious the babies were. We were asked to scrub up and we were given a package containing a brush with some strange smelling soap or disinfectant and a finger nail pick. We were asked to scrub our hands and clean our finger nails then we were handed a white gown and a mask then ushered into the room. I will never forget the sight I saw. The babies were laying on warmers, which are table-like beds warmed by lights from an overhead canopy and easily accessible to doctors and nurses. Large TV-screen monitors were placed beside them. The monitors were connected to the heart monitor pads and wires on the babies. The monitors allowed the medical staff to see at a glance the babies’ heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure. If the baby had an apnea spell, that means he stops breathing, an alarm sounded. There were I.V.’s placed into their scalps and arms and legs.

It became even scarier as they did a procedure called suction. The babies could not cough up the mucus in their lungs, so they ran small plastic tubes connected to a vacuum to remove the mucus from their lungs.

They were fed through a tube inserted into the nose down into the stomach. This method, called Gavage feeding is used because the babies were so premature they had not developed a sucking reflex. The doctor wanted to minimize weight loss by conserving calories that would otherwise be expended in trying to eat. The babies were so small they left the nasogastric tube in and were drip-fed and monitored by a machine. I had never been in a neonatal ICU before. All around were machines that beeped, machines that had blinking lights, machines that were buzzing and counting. As we were led to the warmers amid the maze of wires and tubes, I saw a sight I could not believe our babies did not look an thin like the babies I had seen in the nursery before. They looked like home-made miniature dolls. Their skin looked different. I could not believe how small they were. I then realized why the doctor said they could not live and that it would be better if they did not.

As I sat beside one of them and my wife, Shirley, sat beside the other, my emotions began to run wild. Nausea was first, then tears, then sobs. Then I picked up the nerve to touch them. I took my index finger and began to tightly rub the little leg of one of the twins. The nurse had said, “they will respond to love.” That thought burst into my brain like a mighty avalanche and I knew God could do anything. I began to talk to the twins and told them how much we really loved them as I rubbed their little underdeveloped legs. As we talked to them tenderly and lovingly, the monitors would measure their reaction. Their heart beat would become stronger. The breathing machine would register that they were trying to breathe on their own and everything would seem to improve. The nurses and doctors came over to the bed and told us whatever we were doing to please keep it up because there was definitely an improvement.

We would sing to them the good gospel songs. Shirley does not sing but you could hear her singing all over the nursery. Love was flowing from us to the babies. When Rhonda was able to come to the ICU, she and Bobby would spend hours talking and praying with the babies. They would sit and tell them Bible stories and tell them how much they loved them.

I had to return to West Memphis for our Sunday services and the nurses asked if I might make a tape of my talking and singing to the babies because when we were away their progress was measurably less. I sat down in my office at the recording equipment and made the most sincere tape I had ever made in my life, for I felt this tape was a life-line to my little grandsons. I left the tape with the nurses and they supplied a tape player and when Shirley and I had to come home, they would put the tape player by the babies’ beds and play it over and over to them. They were so impressed with the results, they requested permission to play the tape over the house system that could be heard by all the babies in the ICU ward. I gave them permission to do SO.

Bobby and Rhonda gave the twins names of Bobby Ray III and Billy Ray. This was thrilling to me inasmuch as I have a twin brother by the name of Billy Ray and my name is Bobby Ray.

The doctors informed us that little Billy’s heart valve would not close and they would have to perform surgery on him. This sent us into a lonely valley but prayer was made by people all over the country. He came through it and continued improving. Then little Bobby Ray had a number 4 brain bleed which was the worst he could have had. Even after that he tried to hold on to life but after 61/2 months in the NICU, they transferred him to Memphis. From there he went to be with Jesus.

We were able to take Billy home. However, he had to be on oxygen and a heart monitor but love brought him through.

You can readily see why crusades and youth camps are more than just a time of baby sitting and child entertainment for me, for I realize that children are real little people with real feelings and are very perceptive and I might add, receptive to Godly training. When Billy Ray was four, one Sunday night just before church was to start, he came to me with his Bible in one hand and a handkerchief in the other. His eyes were red and he said, “Gampy, I want to preach tonight.” I said, “Well, honey, Gampy will let you preach sometime.” He said, “Gampy I want to preach tonight. See, I have my Bible and my crying handkerchief and I want to preach.” I brought him to the pulpit and handed him a mike. He rubbed his eyes with his hankie and said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the (he stomped his foot and said) wiles of the devil.” He wiped his eyes, handed me the mike and went back and sat down with his Gandy. To me, it was one of the best sermons I had ever heard. I thought that is what all we preachers need, a Bible and a crying handkerchief instead of boxing gloves and a ball bat to club people.

I happen to believe that Pentecostal parents are some of the best parents in the world. Oh, you have heard of some tragic family problems among us and there are preachers who have had their children leave the church, I know that, but compared to the rest of the world’s standards, we have one of the best success rates in any category. I am not saying you are perfect but I am not going to let you take all the blame for all the failures that occur in children. There are children from the same family environment with the same father and mother, one will turn out successfully living for God, while the other will turn out bad. It seems the parents gave each of them the same attention. Cain and Abel came from the same parents and they all belonged to the same church with the same pastor and yet their stories are so different.

The Bible principle for raising your children is practical. The only thing you can do is emulate the Biblical parents that had the best success rate. I blame Adam and Eve for their sin in the garden. However, after their children were born, it seems evident to me that they gave them equal teaching and attention. However, they could not instill in Cain’s heart what he needed, but neither could God. Listen to God as He tries to tutor Cain into the right channel. Genesis 4:6 “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and 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.” After this Cain chose to slay his brother, and he never found his way back to God as far as I can tell.

The following are the rules I have tried to follow in raising my children:

i. I have tried to show deep respect and affection toward their mother and she has always reciprocated. This I think gave them respect for their mate. Ephesians 5:20 “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (22) “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as unto the Lord.”

2. Shirley and I did not make it negotiable whether or not we all went to church. This was a family unit and we all went to church. We all ate together. These things were not open for discussion. If you are worrying whether making them go to church will drive them away from God or not, forget it. If they don’t go to church, they are sure going to hell. Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

For this to work properly it must be implemented at a very young age and made a consistent part of your life. Don’t wait until a child is sixteen and has never been made to attend church on a regular basis and then demand that they be regular, unless you were sinners all that time and came to God after your children became teenagers. In that case, I would tell them that I had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and that they had a brand new daddy now, one that would be better to them and their mother, because of Jesus Christ. Each member of the family must make a contribution to the stability of the family and going to church every Sunday is a part of that contribution. This seems to work much of the time. Present it in a positive way and not as a question.

Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

The anger of the youth today is cause not so much from the bad deal they have received, but from the lack of love and spiritual training they should have received.