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As a follower of Jesus, I know my role as a father is very well guided; however, just as many of God's directives and advice, it's hard to do what He said sometimes. I look at Collossians 3:20-21 in reverse order here: "21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." ESV). In the NASB the word choice is exasperate. This is a VERY important part of talking with adult children about salvation. If you do anything to provoke them you might as well give up. My goal has to be and always was, as they grew up, Colossians 3:30: " 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." It's universal, of course, that children rarely end up obeying their parents in EVERYTHING, and some of them wander far from obeying parents. My five children have scattered like a cylinder choke shotgun. So, I must console myself with Proverbs 22:6, one of the most misinterpreted verses of the Bible: " Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (ESV) That verse is not a measure of whether you, as the parent, trained the child successfully; it is a promise from the Lord that if you have, as a parent, trained your child in His ways, although they may wander far from them as an adult the knowledge of the Way is still within them, because you put the Holy Spirit to work in their heart. For the adult child, though, in whom you never placed or prayed the Holy Spirit, perhaps because you, yourself, only recently allowed Jesus to accept you, then you're starting from the word "go". In discussing with my adult children about anything, I have found a couple of rules: 1. Don't ever start a sentence with "well, what I think is", or "what you ought to do is" or "doesn't it bother you that...". Obviously they are then on guard because YOU are trying to force ideas on them. So, 2. Use simple open-ended questions, and limit them to one or two per conversation. Do you ever think about God? Do you think there's a Hell? What do you think about the Evangelicals in politics? Do you know any Muslims? Help me understand something... What happens when we die? How did we, as animals, learn to think? There are lots of simple questions that can lead to fairly complex discussions, but, again, NEVER force your beliefs on your adult children. Your goal is to get them to tell you what they believe and why they believe it. Once you have let them tell you without you butting in, saying "that's wrong" or saying they need to change, You can move on to simple, leading questions. Example: if they say when you die you just die, ask them "what if you don't?" If they say there's no Hell, make a casual remark about all of the classic works, like Dante's "Inferno", then ask your chld where did they get those ideas. It's a complex process. To try to go into deeper, more specific questions in this one answer is impossible, because each level expands in breadth and depth of possibilities. But, remember: Don't force anything on them Concentrate on learning THEIR feelings, right or wrong, not restating yours Ask leading, simple questions and genuinely listen to their answer to discover simple areas into which you can hook with another simple leading question. If they ask what you think, answer simply and at the end add a "but, that's what I think, What do you think about that, how does it compare with your thoughts?" or the like, always turning back to those simple leading questions and giving them the genuine deep consideration that your children deserve to have from their parents. Consider it a good day if you cover 2 or 3 questions (seriously). Don't push after that unless your child wants to go there.
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