Did You Forget to Salt the Oats?

You have probably heard it said, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

But as Gary Smalley says, you can if you put enough salt in the oats.

Jesus is the living water. Many of us lead people to Him and then throw up our hands in frustration when they refuse to drink. But did we ever salt the oats?

Each person has the responsibility to choose to drink of Jesus, the living water. But we as believers have the responsibility to do everything in our power to make them thirsty. So the question remains…did we salt the oats?

Jesus calls His disciples the salt of the earth. Our lives are supposed to be so inexplicable, so undeniably different from the world, that those around us long for what we have.

As Ian Thomas said, “The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it.”

If we as believers are living the same kind of life as those around us, why would they want what we have? If our lives are no different from theirs, what do we have to offer them?

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (ESV)

If our lives as believers are not inexplicable to the world, if they don’t cause people to stop and wonder what we have, if they don’t make people long for the living water that is Jesus, what good are they? They are of no good.

Throughout the ages there have been men and women who have lived this kind of inexplicable life. Among them were the Ten Boom family, George and Mary Muller, Rachel Saint, Brother Andrew, and many more.

The lives of these men and women make people stop and wonder.

The Ten Boom family rescued Jews from the Nazis during World War II. They risked their lives to shelter men and women they did not know, and they forgave the Nazis who caused them great pain.

George and Mary Muller cared for 10,000 orphans throughout their lifetime without ever asking anyone for money. They trusted their needs to God and He supernaturally provided.

Rachel Saint went to live among the Auca Indians just two years after they violently killed her brother. She spent her life loving and serving and sharing Jesus with them.

Brother Andrew smuggled hundreds of Bibles into closed countries. He saw God work miracle after miracle as he went into dangerous places and met with persecuted believers.

The lives of these men and women can only be explained in terms of Jesus. What they did was impossible in human terms. Their lives force people to stop and ask, “what do they have?”

Is your life inexplicable to those around you? Maybe you aren’t smuggling Bibles or hiding Jews, but are you forgiving and loving those who hurt you? Do you rejoice in the midst of your suffering and praise God through your pain? Do you serve others at the expense of your own pleasure and desires? Does your life cause others to thirst for the living water—Jesus or have you forgotten to salt the oats?

Unplanned—A Pro-Life Movie, Rated-R

Abby Johnson stared at the black and white ultrasound image. The tiny baby on the monitor was so perfect and beautiful. Suddenly, something else appeared on the screen. It looked foreign and out of place. Abby didn’t want to look but she could not pull her eyes away from the image. As the abortion doctor turned on the suction, the baby, once so perfect and beautiful, disappeared as he was pulled from the haven of his mother’s womb.

After seeing an ultrasound-guided abortion, Abby Johnson left her position as the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas to become a pro-life advocate.

Desiring to help and empower women, Abby had worked at Planned Parenthood for years. She had never liked abortion; her hope was to make it rare. But she believed that abortion was a woman’s right and as such needed to be made available.

As she stood there, in the operating room, however, she finally saw the truth about abortion for the first time…she was working in an industry that was killing thousands of babies every day. As the director of an abortion clinic, she was responsible for the deaths of thousands.

Appalled, Abby left the clinic she had loved and diligently worked at for the last eight years. In the process, she lost friends, her reputation was damaged and she was taken to court by Planned Parenthood. Her life was turned upside-down, but she knew she was now on the right side, able at last to find healing and freedom.

Too often, we look at people who work in the abortion industry and think they are cruel and heartless. Abby was neither. Her desire was simply to help women in distress. She was not evil; she was deceived.

Abby’s testimony reminds me that I should not look at people in the abortion industry as the enemy but rather as lost souls who need light, hope, and help.

Abby’s story was first shared in her book, Unplanned. It is an incredibly personal look into her life, in which she is vulnerable and openly shares her struggles and pain. Unplanned is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone.

A movie based on this book is scheduled to hit theatres on March 29, 2019. The movie shares Abby’s journey and tells the truth about abortion.

The producers of this pro-life movie were surprised to receive an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They had hoped for a PG13-rating.

The MPAA explained that the R-rating was given because of *“some disturbing/bloody images.”

Cary Solomon, one of the film’s co-writers and co-directors, stated, *“We have three scenes in the film which directly address abortion, and the MPAA objected to all three. They specifically made mention of objection to grainy, black-and-white sonogram images that were part of one of the scenes. It was clear that any meaningful treatment of the issue was going to be objectionable.”

The MPAA’s greatest objection was to the scene depicting an ultrasound-guided abortion. The movie shows the ultrasound screen on which the unborn child is clearly visible. The baby is moving and his heart is beating. Then, as the doctor turns on the suction machine he suddenly disappears—pulled from his mother’s womb.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, who played the doctor in the scene, performed around 1,200 abortions before becoming pro-life. He stated, *“The portrayal of a live, moving fetus disappearing is very accurate. You’re watching an abortion. It’s an accurate view of what’s happening. It’s disturbing if you recognize it’s a human life.”

This scene itself is not graphic. You see a grainy black and white ultrasound image of a child and then that child disappears. It’s only disturbing because we know the reality of what is taking place.

If Americans find the simulation of abortion to be so disturbing that we give a movie an R-rating solely for that reason, shouldn’t we be more disturbed by the fact that the real thing is happening more than 2,900 times a day in the United States alone?

Other Scenes to be Aware of:

Early in the movie, Abby has a chemical abortion using RU-486. As commonly takes place, she experiences extreme cramping, bleeding, and pain. The movie shows her in the bathroom with blood dripping down her legs.

After an abortion is performed, clinic workers piece together the unborn child to make sure they successfully removed all the body parts from the mother’s womb. This is a regular part of abortion procedures because the woman may become extremely ill if her uterus is not fully cleaned out. In one scene, Abby bends over a table and looks at an aborted child, whose body is briefly shown.

There are a couple of scenes in which a protester standing outside the clinic is holding an image of an aborted child but the camera never fully focuses on it.

There are also about seven scenes where a four-letter, curse word is used.

Directors Reaction to the R-rating

Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman who co-wrote and co-directed Unplanned, wrote, *“We consider the MPAA’s current standards to be deeply flawed, insofar as they allowed scenes of remarkably graphic sex, violence, degradation, murder and mayhem to have a PG-13 rating, whereas our film, highlighting the grave dangers of abortion in a straightforward manner, is considered dangerous for the American people to view.”

Although it is possible to appeal a rating, PureFlix has chosen not to because they don’t want to delay the release of the movie. Unplanned will be the first movie distributed by PureFlix that has an R-rating.

I deeply hope that the rating of this film will not discourage christians from viewing it. Abby’s story is something that the church in America needs to hear. It demonstrates the power of prayer, the goodness of God, and the hope and forgiveness that are found in Christ.

The issue of abortion is something many of us would like to avoid, we don’t want to think about it, but God is calling us to care. We need to pray, not only for mothers who are considering abortion and for their unborn children, but also for the clinic workers, many of whom are deceived and do not understand what they are doing.

May we be willing to pray, to love, and to speak. Perhaps the first step for us is to become a little bit more educated, to take a look at the issue from a different perspective, and to see those working in the abortion industry as human beings who have lost their way. The movie Unplanned would be a great place to start gaining that perspective. For this reason, I would encourage you to disregard the R-rating and see it when it comes out in March.

*Source for quotes: The Motion Picture Association of America’s R-Rating for Anti-Abortion Film Disputed by Distributor Pure Flix, (February 22, 2019), Article on The Hollywood Reporter.

God Showed Me His Love on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day was hard for me this year. Rather than feeling loved, I felt incredibly lonely as I walked through the airport. I was flying home for my grandmother’s funeral.

I thought back to a few years before when my Great Grandfather’s funeral had been on Valentine’s day. Will this day ever bring me anything other than pain? I wondered.

As I sat down at my gate to wait for my plane to board, I felt numb. I pulled a book out of my backpack and tried to read.

“How’s your book?” the lady beside me asked.
“Oh, it’s good,” I answered.
“What’s it about?” She asked.
I groaned mentally. She’s probably not religious and will think that I am crazy for reading this book. How on earth am I going to explain this?

Normally I would have been all too eager to use my book as a lead-in to talk about my faith. But that morning I was struggling emotionally. I could not be rude, however, so I answered as best I could.

“Well, it’s about five young missionaries who were speared to death in Equador in the 1950s while trying to share their faith with an isolated people group.”
“I’ve heard of that.” She said.
“I am really fascinated by this story,” I ventured “because just two years after the spearing Elizabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint the wife and sister of two of the men who were killed that day went to live among that very same tribe. They chose to not only forgive the men who brutally killed their loved ones but also love and serve them. I want that kind of love.”
“That’s what this world needs more of.” She said. “We cannot forgive like that without the love of God working in us.”

Our conversation continued like that. We talked about how we had both come to know the Lord, His working in our lives, favorite Scripture passages, our jobs and how we can use them to share our faith and glorify God.

I was amazed. My God met me at the airport through a total stranger. He encouraged my heart and filled me with hope.

He reminded me that I am never alone.

When we love and serve the Lord Jesus, even the most lonely days can be beautiful. He promises never to leave us. He promises to give us Himself.

Often it is the lonely days, the hard days that we see God’s hand most clearly. If we look He will meet us and show us His love every day of the year not just on Valentine’s day.

Pursuing Christ in Spite of the Cost

Christianity is not an easy road. Jesus called it a narrow way. It is a difficult, unpopular and often dangerous path to walk.

When we choose this life we are choosing scorn, mockery, and difficulty. People will not understand us. The decisions we make in obedience to our precious, Lord Jesus will not make sense to this world.

As humans, this is hard for us. We naturally desire affirmation, acceptance, and approval.

When we become Christians, if we truly live in obedience to Christ, we will receive scorn and mockery.

This is a painful reality. It is hard to let the desire for the approval of others go. It is easy to grow discouraged when we are hated and persecuted for our faith.

In Hebrews 12 we are told to consider Jesus lest we grow weary and discouraged.

When we consider Him we discover that He dealt with everything we deal with. He was scorned. He was ridiculed. Even his own family did not understand the decisions that He made.

He gave up everything to come to this earth and die on humanity’s behalf. He was rejected by the very people He came to save. He gave up everything for us and we spit in His face.

Most of us recognize that He suffered excruciating physical pain. He was torn by thorns. He was flogged. He was crucified.

We often forget however, that He also experienced incredible emotional pain. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they did not recognize or receive Him. He was misunderstood by most. His own family thought He was insane.

The very people who should have crowned Him as their rightful King spit upon Him instead.

Just before His death, Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted and that the world would not receive them or their message.

John 15:18-20 says, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

Just as He promised them, Jesus’ disciples were persecuted. They were flogged and thrown into jail. They were hunted down and killed. How did they respond to this hardship?

Over and over again throughout the book of Acts, we see the disciples rejoicing in the midst of their pain because they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. They considered it an honor to experience persecution on behalf of their Savior.

Throughout Scripture, we are promised that if we serve Christ we too will suffer. We may not experience the physical pain that so many Christians throughout the ages have endured but we will most certainly experience the pain of being misunderstood. How will we respond when the promised suffering comes our way?

May we like the early disciples fix our eyes on Jesus. He experienced everything we experience. Our pain is but a taste of His. May we rejoice in the knowledge that we share His suffering. May we pursue Christ in spite of the cost.

Draw Near to God

Do not come any closer.

These were the words of God to Moses at the burning bush. Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly warned his people not to come close. He commanded Moses to put a barrier around the mountain of the Lord lest the people climb it and be destroyed by their holy God. The children of Israel were commanded to keep their distance from the Ark of the Covenant, which was symbolic of the presence of the Lord. Even the priests were not to enter the Most Holy place because the presence of the Lord was there. This distance between God and His people is dealt with all throughout the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, however, we see a startling contrast. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

In the Greek, the word “come” has the idea of drawing near. This passage invites us to draw near the throne of grace. Unlike in the Old Testament where God’s people were told to keep their distance, now we are invited into the very near presence of God. Why? What has changed?

Throughout the Old Testament, God commanded His people to keep their distance not because He did not love them but because He wanted to protect them. God is holy holy holy. We are unrighteous, completely defiled by sin. Unrighteousness cannot stand in the presence of the Holy God. He is a consuming fire. He commanded His people to keep their distance lest He consume them.

So what about now? Why can we draw near? Are we better than the people of the Old Testament? Has God changed?

We are as unrighteous as ever. God is unchanging. He is righteous and holy. In our unholy state, we have no access to God.

The invitation to come into the very near presence of God is not based upon our holiness. It is based upon the holiness of another. Because Jesus Christ lived a perfectly righteous life, died and rose again, we can stand before God.

We can draw near not on our own merits but rather on the merit of Christ. As believers, we are clothed in His righteousness. It is only through the holiness and perfection of Christ that we can draw near.

What an incredible reality! No longer do we have to keep our distance from God. No longer is there a chasm between our Lord and us. Christ has bridged that chasm for us and we can draw near to God.

Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Because of the work of Christ on our behalf, we can draw near with full assurance of faith. We do not have to fear being rejected by God. If we are in Christ, He invites us into His presence. He desires that we would draw near and discover the joy of intimacy and sweet fellowship with Him.

Jumbled Efforts and our Amazing God

I rested my chin on my hand and tapped my pen against my desk. A blank card sat in front of me. What should I write?

Because I was in one of the advanced classes at Bible College, I had arrived a few days ago. The students who were attending the basic class would arrive tomorrow. I was excited. For the moment my room was empty, just me and my stuff. Tomorrow I would have three new roommates. The card in front of me was to one of them. I wanted to do everything I could to make them feel welcome. After agonizing over the cards for a while, I finally finished them, wrote names on the outside of each envelope and laid them out on the desk. Going over to the door, I looked again at the names. Suddenly I realized that the door tag was different. The name Morgan had been removed. What happened? I wondered sadly. Walking over to the desk, I removed the card that I had written to Morgan and put it at the back of a stack of blank cards.

When the students arrived I was excited to get to know them all. While we were waiting for dinner one evening, a girl struck up a conversation with me. I learned that her name was Morgan. Immediately, I thought of the card in my room. Did I write anything that would make it exclusive to my roommate Morgan? I didn’t think so. Later I went back and re-read the card. It was very generic. After all, I hadn’t really known the girl I was writing to. I had basically said that I was excited to get to know her and glad she was here. I had also included my favorite Scripture verse at the bottom. Ok, I thought I’ll give this to the other Morgan. At least that way it won’t be wasted and maybe it will bless her. Setting it on my desk with the intention of delivering it later, I began working on a homework assignment.

The card sat on my desk all week. Every time I saw it I thought, oh I need to take that to Morgan. Finally one afternoon I thought, if I don’t do it now I’ll probably never do it. Picking up the card, I walked downstairs to Morgan’s room and slid the card under her door.

Later that day, I received a letter from Morgan. In it, she shared with me that she had stepped out in obedience to what she felt the Holy Spirit was calling her to do that afternoon. As soon as she did so, the enemy attacked her. Her mind was filled with doubt and she began to struggle. It was then that she noticed my card. The Holy Spirit used my card and especially the verse at the end to confirm that she had done the right thing and that He was pleased.

When I finished reading her card, I sat back in amazement. The card I had given to her was intended for someone else. Even after I decided to give it to her I had meant to deliver it days beforehand. I saw so clearly the goodness of God at that moment. He knew all along who would receive that card and when. He knew what she would need to hear and He gave me the words to write.

What an amazing God we serve! He can use even our jumbled efforts at service to bless others beyond our wildest imaginations.

Becoming a Mature Believer

What does it look like to grow as a Christian?

Many young believers see their need for God so clearly. They realize that they have sinned and messed up their lives. They are desperate to live differently and know that apart from God it is impossible so they cling to Him. They are dependent upon Him. They seek His will in the smallest moments of everyday life.

As the years go by, often, these believers grow up and become more “mature” in their faith. They become accustomed to the Christian life. They lose their conscious need for God’s help. They stop depending on Him and seeking His help and guidance in every area of their lives.

This is normal but is it right? Should we grow up in our faith to be independent of God or should we grow more dependent every day?

John 15:4-8 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

As believers, we should constantly be growing and becoming more fruitful for the kingdom. According to Jesus the only means by which a believer can bear fruit is by abiding in Him. If we abide in Jesus we will bear much fruit. Without Jesus, we can accomplish nothing.

A branch’s job is not to bear fruit. Instead, it is to abide in the vine. If it abides in the vine, it will produce fruit. In the same way, our job as believers is to abide in Jesus. If we do so our lives will overflow with fruit.

Although it is normal for us to grow in independence, we should instead grow in dependence. This is the key to maturity and fruitfulness. The Christian life can be summed up in one word—Jesus. He is our aim, our goal, our life.

A mature believer is one whose whole life is wrapped up in Jesus, one who has truly learned to abide in and depend upon Him.

Is that your reality as a believer? Is your life summed up in Jesus? Are you growing more dependent upon Him every day?

May we mature in our faith by growing in dependence.  May we cling ever tighter to Jesus.

His Story or Yours?

What is your view of history? Do you see it as a chain of random events brought about by the desires of men or do you see the hand of God guiding and orchestrating?

In Acts chapter 13 Paul preaches a stirring message to the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch. In his sermon, Paul reminds these Jewish worshipers of their history placing God at the center of everything. God, not man, is the major player in history.

According to Paul, God chose the Jews, exalted them in the land of Egypt, brought them out of Egypt, destroyed seven nations in Canaan, distributed Canaan to the children of Israel, gave them judges, gave them Saul and David as kings and raised up a Savior for Israel.

Far too often when I look at history I see the works of men and miss the hand of God. God is not distant. He is involved in history. Throughout all of history to this very day and hour, God is working.

As Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional Convention on July 28, 1787, “God governs in the affairs of men.”

If asked, most Christians would certainly agree but how often do we actually think this way? When we look at the history of the world, do we see the hand of God? What about when we look at the history of our own lives? Do we see God at work throughout our lives or do we give coincidence credit for much of what happens to us?

Throughout his epistles, Paul constantly exhorts believers to give thanks. According to Paul, we ought to be giving thanks always, in everything and for everything. Paul’s prayers throughout scripture overflow with thanksgiving to God. Could it be that Paul was so quick to thank God because he had learned to see God’s hand in history?

When we see our lives as the accumulation of random coincidences, we have little for which to thank God. When instead we recognize the hand of God guiding and providing for us throughout our lives, our hearts will overflow with thanksgiving.

When we view history as a chain of random events brought about by human beings, we have little for which to thank God. When, however, we recognize the hand of God throughout history, we can praise Him for all that He has done in the past.

When we fail to see God’s hand at work in the past we will most likely struggle to trust Him with the future. If God has not been involved in history up until now, why would He suddenly get involved in our lives? If God’s hand is absent from the past we have little hope for the future.

If, however, God has been at work throughout all of human history, we can trust Him with today and tomorrow. We can rest upon the fact that the God who has walked with his people all throughout history and to the present hour will continue to do so in the future.

What about you? Do you see the hand of God working throughout history and your own life? Consider how the Lord had been faithful to you over the years and rest upon the fact that the same God who guided and directed your past holds your future.

Walking With a Limp

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A liar, deceiver, and manipulator, Jacob was self-sufficient, independent and able to get his way. But all of that changed in Genesis 32. Jacob came face to face with God and wrestled with Him through the night. He came away from that encounter with a new name and a limp.

Up until this point, Jacob had gotten everything he wanted in his own strength. He was strong and independent. In this wrestling match, God dislocated Jacob’s hip, giving him a limp and showing him how weak he really was.

Jacob desperately needed to learn to depend upon God. His greatest spiritual weakness was His own strength and intellect.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all weak and broken. We all need to learn to depend upon God. We all have a limp but it isn’t until we come face to face with God that we recognize it.

When we truly see God we finally see ourselves as we really are. We will never fully understand our own helplessness and vileness until we come face to face with Him—His power and His holiness. It is impossible for us to truly understand who we are until we know who He is.

A true encounter with God will always leave us with a limp. Suddenly in light of God, we see our weakness and we realize how desperately we need to depend upon Him.

As much as we may dislike seeing our own destitution and desperate need, it is actually a wonderful thing. As long as we are striving in our own strength we can never accomplish anything. It is only when we recognize our need and depend upon the Lord that we can be truly effective and productive.

John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. We, like Jacob, need to come face to face with the living God and see ourselves in light of Him. We are weak. We are helpless. We are broken. Apart from our gracious God, we are utterly destitute. We need Him so desperately. We must learn to abide in and depend upon Him.

Are you like Jacob, striving to find happiness and fulfillment? Or have you come face to face with your own brokenness and destitution? Have you learned to depend upon God and embrace your limp?

What Will it Profit?

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Recently I worked as a nanny, caring for three children ages seven, five and three. It was a challenging job and I learned a lot.

I learned that you shouldn’t hand a three-year-old a bottle of food coloring, that making dinner with a five-year-old’s help can be quite a challenge and that I tire out far quicker than a seven-year-old. I also learned that no one can replace mom in a child’s life.

In our culture, independence, success, and achievement have been idolized while family has been sacrificed. Parents work long hours and children everywhere feel their absence acutely.

God instituted family. It is valuable to Him. In many ways, family reveals the nature of our God. Marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. Parenthood shows us a glimpse of God’s Father heart.

Godly families functioning as they ought to function bring glory to God and demonstrate His nature to this world. Is it any wonder then that the enemy would attack family?

The attack on family is covert. The enemy does not often tempt Christian parents to abuse their children. Instead, he tempts them toward distraction and busyness.

If Christian parents are chasing careers and success they will become too busy to love their families well. When parents are too distracted to invest in their children we no longer see a picture of God’s love and care for us.

Our world does not need more men passionate about their careers. We don’t need more women devoted to their professions. We need more fathers and mothers who are devoted to God first and their families second. We need more Fathers who, though they are exhausted when they get home from work, choose to wrestle and play with their children. We need more mothers who have time to listen to their children’s greatest fears, and dreams and longings.

Success and achievement in this world will not matter in light of eternity. Wealth will fade away. But the souls of our children are eternal.

Matthew 16:26 says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

I would add to this question. What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses the souls of his children?

3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.“

Truly this is a great joy and one that every Christian parent ought to be seeking wholeheartedly.