|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
Parents wishing to protect their children growing into adulthood must keep vigilant watch on the reading material filling the minds of their offspring. One young mother looking for a welcome home gift for her 13-year-old daughter went to a bookstore. She discovered “hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers.” The books were filled with “vampires and suicide and self-mutilation” (Gurdon). Many of the books written for young people aged 12 to 18 contain kidnapping, incest, brutal beatings and intimate relations between minor aged young men and other males (Gurdon).
The safest way to protect your children is to be proactive by reading a book before your they read it or sitting down to read books with them. This would even be a good practice regarding the textbooks our young people bring home from school. The only way to know what is going into the minds of your children is to keep track of what they are reading, watching and songs to which they listen.
The wise man told his son, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). He also said, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, But his heart is not with you” (23:7).
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Our Lord, in a discussion with the Pharisees, stated, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35).
Paul gave us the best solution. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Gurdon, Meghan Cox. "Darkness Too Visible." Wall Street Journal. <https://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357622592697038.html>
In unison, we join with the psalmist when he declared his desire to praise our majestic Creator as we acknowledge we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God made us so as to have emotions, and then, through non-verbal communication, express these through a variety of facial expressions that are created by involuntary muscle movements or muscle positions in the skin. At times, we communicate positive messages, but sometimes quite the opposite. A smile, for instance, can show approval; it also can indicate a sense of well-being and inner joy. It is easily distinguished from an angry look, a snarl or scowl. A number of emotional expressions enable us to “talk” to a foreign citizen without speaking a word.
When God commissioned Jeremiah and prepared him for his prophetic office, He anticipated the difficult challenges Jeremiah would face in discharging his responsibility to faithfully declare God’s message to a wayward people. God comforted the young man when He said, “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:8). God knew beforehand what Jeremiah would be up against sometimes while preaching: hard looks, consternation or hatred.
Just as verbal communication proceeds from the heart (Matthew 15:18-19), so does the non-verbal. Facial expressions convey so much to others. What is the nature of the messages we are sending to others within the body of Christ during the week or during times of meeting in the assembly? Do we convey that we are happy to be here and that really there is no place we would rather be? Do we express a heart of warmth and good-will toward all who have assembled together before God? May we keep our hearts and minds in check before Him.