Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.
If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. It's a joy to be with all of you this morning. We're going to be in Deuteronomy chapter 6, so if you have your Bibles, go ahead and open up to Deuteronomy chapter 6.
And as you make your way there, I just want to share a quick story with you. My wife and I, like Jonathan mentioned, we do have five children ages six and under. We have a six-year-old, a five-year-old, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old.
Four boys to begin with, and then we had our little girl last year. And to say that it is crazy at our house is an understatement. It is constantly wild from the moment they wake up. Like our two-year-old, Eldon, he's like obsessed with Spider-Man, and every morning he walks out of his room and just like shoots you with his webs. He's like psst, psst, psst.
And he even does like the whole like stance, like he gets down one hand on the ground and one hand up, like he does the superhero stance. It's great. It's awesome.
But it's crazy. And we had one of the craziest seasons of our lives or moments of our parenting last year because our third child, Calvin, he was two years old at the time, about to turn three. And we had just had our daughter Maeve, and I think she was three weeks old at the time.
And I was actually back at church for the first day working. And in the afternoon, I get a phone call from my wife Frantic going, Eldon, or excuse me, Calvin, he fell off the top bunk of the bed and he sliced his head open. And I'm like, you know, thinking the worst.
I hadn't seen pictures yet. I'm imagining like a gash, like just crazy, right? And she sends me a picture and thankfully it's like a little cut about this size on his head, but it was bleeding pretty good. And so I rushed home and I got home as quickly as I could and we ended up taking him to the urgent care and they didn't have to stitch it or staple it.
They just glued it together and everything was all fine and good. And we were like, OK, great, disaster averted. But man, what a first day back to work. Right. So five days later, it's the day before Calvin's birthday.
He's going to turn three the next day. And we decide to go Disneyland because the last day we can get him in for free. So you've got to take advantage of those moments.
Right. And so instead of going on his birthday, we do it the day before just to save a thousand dollars. And so we wake up that morning. I go into Calvin's room and I wake him up and I'm like, hey, buddy, we're going to celebrate your birthday today. And I see something's going on with his face, but it's dark in his room. So I pull him into our room where the light is on and his whole side of his face is just completely swollen. He's got like a golf ball size swollen spot on his head. His eyeball is swollen shut. What had happened was the cut got infected and we didn't know about it until that morning.
And I took a picture and I showed it to him. He goes, I look like a monster. And it's just but, you know, your heart is breaking for your child because you don't know what is going on. My wife is like, we need to go to the ER. I take him to the ER. They pump him full of antibiotics and a steroid. And we spend the first half of the day taking care of him and getting him all situated.
And by the afternoon, he seemed to be doing good. And like the idiots that we are, we were like, let's still go to Disneyland. That was not a good move. That was a bad, bad move on our part. We have a two year old about to turn three, hopped up on steroids and antibiotics. And we we park in the parking structure.
We start walking. We instead of taking the train, I don't have the trams open at the time that we walk over, we get to downtown Disney and Calvin throws the tantrum of all tantrums. I to this day have not seen a child act the way that that demon child did. There was something going on there that we know is just like what he went through. He was exhausted.
He had been through a lot that day. And I just remember feeling so defeated at that moment. I remember feeling just that complete helplessness going, I have no idea what to do. I don't know what to do next with this kid.
I mean, I remember we just packed it up and we went back to the car and on the drive or the walk back. I'm just like, I don't know if I can keep doing this. Like this is this is so hard. This is so difficult. Like there.
This is something that I am. And they don't give you a manual for this stuff. They just send the kids home with you. Just keep them alive.
It's like great. But thankfully, in God's word, we have some instruction. And here is is the beauty of all of this.
I'm sure that every parent has been through a situation where you feel like you're just completely helpless. And you're asking the question, am I doing this right? Am I?
Am I? Am I ruining my kids? Am I destroying their future by the way that I am handling my job as a parent? The beauty and the hope of all of this, though, is that in parenting, even when you aren't doing it right, we have a savior in heaven that is strengthening us to keep on going. We have a savior in heaven whose mercies are new every morning, whose grace is sufficient for today, whose power is made perfect in our weakness, and who is interceding for us and will never leave us nor forsake us.
That's what we have. That is the hope that we have even in our lowest moments as followers of Jesus. And so I want to encourage you this morning, parents, as we look at what the Bible says about parenting, can we just all for a moment take a huge sigh of relief knowing that we're not doing this alone, knowing that God is with us, knowing that He is here for us? And what's crazy is that the odd thing about parenting is that it is at the same time one of the most, if not the most difficult thing you will ever do, but also one of the greatest sources of joy that you will ever experience.
Like this is this weird dichotomy that exists in parenting, right? I'll never forget holding each one of my children right after they were born and just that moment of like, this child is mine and it is a beautiful and an amazing thing, right? I mean, my children, they make me tear up and cry on a regular basis. Like my daughter, like when I come home from work, she'll like, she's walking now and she's the only one and she's like hobbling around, but when I come home through the arms up, dada, dada, and it's just like awesome and it's amazing.
My sons do it too. It's just different when it's a little girl though, like it's a special thing, right? And but it's like, it's amazing how much joy and it's a reminder that children are a gift from the Lord, right? In Psalm 127 verses three through five, it says, Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior's hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them.
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. I love this passage because again, just by way of reminder, especially in this day and age when children more often are viewed as an inconvenience and a hindrance, this is putting it very clearly. Children are a gift. Every child is a gift.
It does not matter the circumstances by which they came into this world. They are a gift from the Lord to be cherished, to be nurtured, to be cared for, to be protected, and that is the view that we need to have with every child from the moment they enter their mother's womb to the moment they are born and then on, right? And I love how it also says that they are like an arrow, right?
That they are an arrow in the warrior's hands. And that's just a reminder that as parents, we are to use our children, if you will, to bring good into this world, to launch them into this world to do a good thing. And then in addition, it says at the end that when he goes to the gates that he will not be put to shame. I love that because with our children, we have a lot of them and I'm just picturing like this guy rolling up to the city gates with his brood right with him and like, yeah, what's up? What are you going to do? Right?
When he shows up, he's not going to be put to shame. Like I love that. It's such a beautiful picture and in a day and age when having a large family is weird, like I love being weird.
It's awesome. And I want to encourage all of you all to be weird. In fact, I think what's more weird is people who call themselves paw-rents. Have you heard that before? They have fur babies.
That should be weird. I know in Orange County that happens a lot. We see, in Riverside, I've never seen people pushing a dog around in a stroller.
I almost always see it in Orange County though, okay? No judgment, a little bit of judgment. But children are gifts from the Lord.
As we move forward, I want to address just a couple of things. First of all, I've only been a parent for six years. I do not have teenagers.
I've worked with teenagers and parents who have teenagers, but I've never experienced what it's like to have a teenager. So the authority that I am standing on is not my own. It's not my accomplishments. The jury is still out on how well my wife and I do as parents. The authority that I'm standing on this morning is God's Word.
I'm standing on what God teaches and the principles that He sets forth in His Word. Second, this message applies to everyone. Obviously, it applies to parents and those who have children, but it also applies to those who want to have kids. My encouragement to you this morning is to prepare now for the time when God will bring children into your life. This is also for those who are not ready to have kids. You're not married.
You're not even close to that. Or maybe you are and you guys aren't ready yet to have kids. I want to let you know there is a generation of young people that need voices other than their parents to tell them the truth of God's Word. We all need to be in this together. Every parent in your life that you know that has children needs help. Our kids ministry, we talked about this last week, we need help.
And in that, what you get to do is you get to be a light when you serve on Sundays and in other places here at our church in kids ministry or youth ministry, that you get to be another voice in the life of a child pointing them to Jesus. This is also a message for everyone that maybe is coming from special circumstances. God's plan for marriage and family is a husband and a wife raising children together. But we also live in a broken world where that is not everyone's reality.
Where that is not everyone's past or their current situation. So this is for broken families. This is for blended families. This is for single parent households. This is for divorce households. This is for those who have split custody situations.
This is for grandparents that are raising their grandchildren as their own children. Because what we're going to talk about this morning is not what the Bible says about every specific situation. Because the Bible is not a manual in the sense that we can go to section 2.4.3 and look at what it says on how to raise kids when they are and you fill in the blank.
It's not like that. What the Bible does instead is the Bible gives us principles and responsibilities that we are to walk in. And so our job then is to take those principles and those responsibilities and apply them to our current situation. And so that's what we're going to do this morning. We're opened up to Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 through 9. We're going to read together. It says this, listen oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Verse 7, repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road. When you are going to bed and when you are getting up, tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as a reminder.
Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. We'll stop there. We're going to break this passage down in just a moment. But the main point that I want to get to this morning and the thing that I hope we all walk away from today is that the primary, if not the main responsibility of a parent is to help their children follow Jesus. If we distill everything that the Bible says about parenting, about raising children, I'd say that the clearest way that we can think about it is that the primary job of a parent is to help their children follow Jesus. Listen, there's a lot of important things. There's a lot of things that we need to do as parents. Do we need to provide for them?
Absolutely. Yes, we do. We need to take care of them, especially when they're younger and they're 100% dependent on us.
That is vitally important. But even in that, our goal is not just to take care of them and keep them alive. Our goal is to point them to their Savior.
It's to point them to the one who can care for their souls. It's also, the primary responsibility is not to keep them happy. It's so easy to make happiness be a goal each day. It's like, okay, how can we just keep peace in the house? How can we just make everybody happy and make sure everyone is getting along?
If that's your goal, you're going to fail all the time because you can't keep kids happy. Calvin, we just celebrated his fourth birthday and we took them to Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, that place still exists. It is still as creepy as ever. We've got that animatronic mouse that just... It's weird, right?
It's creepy. But our kids love it and so we went there. We got them the wristband and an hour of unlimited play with all of the games. We got them pizza.
My wife made a cake that looked like Spiderman because he loves Spiderman. It was a great day. It was tons of fun. We get in the car on our way back and we're like, did you guys have fun? And Calvin, whose birthday that we were celebrating, goes, I didn't have fun. Calvin, why? Because I didn't get to play the basketball game.
He got to play every game, but for some reason, we don't know why, he didn't get to play the basketball game and that's what stuck with him. Even last night, a month later, we get in the car, unprovoked. He goes, hey, do you remember when we went to Chuck E. Cheese?
And we were like, yeah. And he goes, I didn't have fun. Listen, you can't keep kids happy. And if that's your goal, you're going to fail. That's not your primary responsibility. Your primary responsibility as a parent is to help them follow Jesus. You have the honor and the privilege of being an instrument in the life of your child, used by God to form their soul. That is the privilege that you have as a parent.
That is the joy that you get to experience, that you are being used by God to form them into someone that ideally would be one that follows after Jesus. This is the greatest mission of your life. And I would argue that there is nothing more important in your life than to help your children follow Jesus. Your career is not important, more important than that. Your hobbies are not more important than that. Your vacations are not more important than that.
The single most important thing that you can do for your children is to take this responsibility seriously and to go after it with all that you are. And I would say this. I think one of the biggest lies that's being sold to young women today is that you can get just as much joy and satisfaction out of a career as you can get from motherhood.
I know that's an unpopular opinion. My wife and I, we were talking about this recently. My wife, when we got married, she was a full-time hairstylist, loved her job, loved what she got to do. It was a creative outlet for her.
She's an extrovert, so she just gets like, she's like, yeah, I trap people in my chair and I just get to talk to them all day long. She loved it. And when we started having children, there came a point where we were like, okay, something has got to give. Either we need to find daycare or a solution to help take care of our children during the day, or she would need to stop working and stay home. So we opted, and through prayer and consideration and sacrifice, she was like, I need to stay home with our children. And so she did, and she ended up working just one day a week. Amen.
Praise the Lord. And I want to say this, that we talked about it recently, and she was like, I don't look back on that decision and regret it one bit. There is nothing that I would change about that decision, because she was like, there is more joy, more satisfaction that I have been able to experience being there for my children, fulfilling the role that God has placed me in in their lives than anything I could have gotten from a career. Now, am I saying that you can't do both? No, I'm not. I'm not saying that it's evil or that it's wrong, but I am saying this.
Don't believe the lie that you'll get just as much joy and satisfaction out of a career, because I believe that is a lie. I believe that motherhood, that parenthood should be embraced with all of its craziness, with all of its hardship, but also with all of its joy and all of the satisfaction that it can bring into one's life. So, our job is to help our children follow Jesus. Where does that begin?
Point number one if you're taking notes this morning. Being a godly parent starts with being an authentic follower of Jesus. Being a godly parent begins with being an authentic follower of Jesus. We must start here because if our primary responsibility is to help our children follow Jesus, then we, as parents, need to also follow Jesus. And you would be shocked at how many parents, during my years in youth ministry, would bring their kids to youth ministry and basically say, hey, can you fix them? And the question would always have to come back to, okay, let's do a little bit of math here. There's 168 hours in a week. If you bring them to church, we get them for one hour.
What's happening to the other 167? Because that's where the real work needs to be done. Yeah, is the Holy Spirit powerful and good? Is God's word able to change people's lives in an hour a week?
100%. We absolutely believe that. But I also know that a lot of work that gets done on Sunday can be undone by parents that don't walk the way that they should during the week. So, parents, I want to encourage you. If you want your children to follow Jesus, you must follow Jesus. And so I want to look back at Deuteronomy 6 at the beginning.
What does it say? It says in verse 5, it says, You must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength. Being an authentic follower of Jesus means that we love God with everything that we are, with every part of us. There's nothing that we are holding back.
There's nothing that we are leaving out. We are giving all of ourselves over to Jesus. Jesus quotes this passage, quotes Deuteronomy 6 in Matthew 22, when a lawyer comes in and says, Hey, what's the most important of all of the commandments? And Jesus says, this is the most important commandment, that you love God with everything that you are.
This is what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus, to be a disciple of Jesus. Parents, I want to say this. The most important thing that you have to pass on to your children is not an inheritance. It's not a career. It's not a job.
It's not a business. The most important thing that you have to offer your children and leave with them is your relationship with Jesus Christ. That's it. There's nothing more important than that. And that should be the most important focus of our job as a parent, is that we are connecting with him. In addition, being a follower of Jesus means that you love Jesus more than you love anyone or anything else. In Matthew chapter 10, verse 37, Jesus said, If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine. Or if you love your son or your daughter more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine. In this passage, Jesus is drawing a line.
He's saying, hey, listen, here's the deal. You need to love me more than you love anything else, more than you love anyone else, more than you love your spouse, more than you love your career, and even more than you love your children, which I got to say is really hard. Because when you have children, there is a built-in thing that happens. I remember holding Asher, our firstborn, for the first time, thinking, I love this child so much. I would give my life for this child in a heartbeat. This child can do nothing for me, but I would give my life for this child because I love him.
And it's hard because that's built in. But it's choosing to love Jesus more than we even love our own children. And what can happen is that when you love your children more than you love the Lord, they become an idol in your life, and they take a place that only God is meant to hold in your life, and then you're putting a burden on them that only God can carry. So we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and love him more than anyone else and keep our priorities straight. In addition, being a follower of Jesus means that you obey his word. In Deuteronomy 6, verse 6, he says, And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you.
He's saying, like, there is a commitment now. This isn't just about love. This isn't just about choosing to love someone. Now this is about the way that you live. This is now about how we organize our lives and set up our lives to follow him. In John, chapter 14, verse 15, Jesus put it even more clearly. He says, If you love me, obey my commandments. It doesn't get more simple than that.
If you want to follow, be an authentic follower of Jesus, these are the things that we must do, and I want you to know this. Your kids are watching how you live. They see everything. My kids, one of the things that we do, like, we've been really strict on them with, like, seat belts, right, in the car, as we should, as every parent should, right? That's a good thing. We may have scared them a little too much with some fake phone calls to my dad, but we called him Officer Eaton. We have some children that are not wearing their seat belts. I don't know if that's a good, I might be, am I doing that right?
I don't know. But now, if they don't have a seat belt on while we're driving, it's like, stop the car, stop the car, my seat belt's on. Now that's good, but now when we don't wear our seat belts, or if we take our seat belts, they're like, we're going to call the cops on you.
You're going to go to jail. So our kids watch how we live, and if our words don't match our actions, we're setting our children up for failure. Sunday-only Christianity does not work well for children.
Being told how to live one way, one day a week, but then having an example set for them the rest of the week that doesn't match anything else that they're being told does not work for children. It hurts them. That's why I think God even says in Revelation, like, hey, you're neither hot nor cold. You're lukewarm.
I'm going to spit you out of my mouth. He's saying, like, choose one side or the other. Just be clear. Don't play both sides. And in the same way, for the sake of our children, the better and best thing to do is to live for Jesus.
And so it starts with you. Again, the number one responsibility of the parent is to help their children follow Jesus. The second point this morning is that you need to teach your children about Jesus.
One of the roles that you play as a parent is a teacher and a coach. Your job is to teach them about who Jesus is. In Deuteronomy chapter six, verse seven, it says, repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road. Talk about them when you are going to bed and when you get up.
We'll stop there. Parents are called to pass on what God has given to them to their children. One of the best things that we can do is to teach our children what we have learned from God.
And how do we do that? He gives us four different areas, four different places that we should do that. He says first, when you're at home, repeat these things to your children when you are at home.
I would encourage you to this. Start with at the dinner table. I'll ask a question, is Jesus welcome in your home? Is talking about Jesus and talking about God's word and talking about the Bible, is that a normal thing in your household?
And I pray that it is, but I also know that for some it isn't. I would say here, a good place for you to start, start at the dinner table. If you don't have a good habit of eating together for a meal, start by doing a daily or at least start with a once a week meal with your family where you're sitting around together and you intentionally talk about Jesus.
Start in your home. It says also when you're at home and when you're on the road. We do a lot of driving these days, especially here in Orange County.
I feel like you have to get on the freeway to go anywhere around here, right? Those are all moments that you can use to be Jesus' conversations between you and your children. It's easy to turn music on. It's easy to turn our thing on or turn the movie on in the backseat, right? And let them watch their thing while you listen to your thing. But man, what an amazing thing if you turn your car into a holy place where you talk with your children about Jesus. When you're on the road, go about and talk, and here's what's amazing. Your kids that are in kids ministry today, they're gonna be sent home with a sheet of paper that's gonna have a list of questions.
They're kind of small and in the corner, but you can find them. It's kind of a list of questions that you'll be able to ask your children about what they learned today. Start that right now. Start that on your drive home that you can talk with your kids about what they are learning about the Lord. He also says in this, when you're going to bed, do a nightly routine with your children where you are praying with them and encouraging them and reading God's word to them or over them. Make this a nightly habit, and then it also says, and when you get up, do this at breakfast before you all go your separate ways. Have a moment where you connect with your family and you talk about the Lord.
Here's the big idea that this is getting at. When are we supposed to talk about the Lord? Always. All the time. Every moment.
Everywhere. Fathers, do you hear me? Dads in the room, do you hear me? Your job for your children is to talk with them about the things of the Lord all the time, every moment and everywhere. I'm picking on you for a moment because I think men get a bad rap that we, you know, just let the moms do this kind of stuff.
It should not be that way. Men, you must take charge and take up that mantle of responsibility to lead your families spiritually, even your children. Don't let that be something that your wife is just praying that you'll do someday.
Start doing that today. Grandfathers, do you hear me? Your children and your grandchildren need to hear about Jesus from you. I love it when my kids hear about Jesus from my dad.
I love it when my wife's parents spend time with our kids, teaching them about our history and where we come from. Those are connections that are necessary and needed in the life of every child. So again, we need to take these things seriously and talk about Jesus everywhere, all the time, wherever we go. And then we need to saturate our life with God's word.
We need to make Jesus welcome in our homes. And then in Proverbs chapter 22 verse 6, it says, direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. I want to say this about this passage really quick. This passage is a principle, not necessarily a promise. The Proverbs, our wisdom literature, it's looking at the world around us and using the wisdom from above to discern the way that we ought to live.
And basically it's saying like, hey listen, this is what we see and this is how it plays out most of the time. When you raise your children in the ways of the Lord, when they are older, they will not depart from it. What's interesting is that there was a survey that was done recently and they found that 63% of Christians today became a Christian between the ages of 4 and 14. Then the next age group, 34% became Christians between the ages of 15 and 30.
And this is the most staggering number to me. 97% of all Christians surveyed became a Christian before age 30. What that tells us is that the earlier you teach your children the things of the Lord, the more likely they are to walk in that in the later years of their life. There is a window of opportunity that you have with your children to teach them the ways of the Lord, to show them who Jesus is, to be an example to them of what it looks like to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Does that mean that it will 100% of the time result in your children always following Jesus? No, it's not a guarantee, but you have a far better likelihood the earlier you start with your children teaching them the ways of the Lord. I can't stress enough to you parents how important it is that we teach our kids about Jesus.
D.L. Moody, that great preacher, he said once, if I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God. What an amazing statement that is. But he sees that there is truth to this statement that if we teach our children the ways of the Lord that when they are older they will not depart from it. We need to teach them how to think. We need to teach them how to process the world around them. We need to give them a biblical worldview. This means that we're not making all of the decisions for them for their entire life.
This means that we are teaching them not just what the Bible teaches, but we're also teaching them how to think about what the Bible teaches. In the earlier stages of a child's life what you're doing is you are protecting them from all of the things of the world, right? Because Disney Plus is not safe. Netflix is not safe.
YouTube Kids is not safe. Every one of those places has a worldview that they are promoting, that they are pushing on our children. And what we need to do is we need to, in a lot of ways, protect them. But as they mature and get older we also need to teach them how to think instead of making all the decisions for them. So this is what it means and this is what it looks like to teach our children about Jesus. And then our third point, not only do we need to teach our children about Jesus, but we need to discipline our children towards following Jesus. I'd say this is probably one of the most difficult parts of parenting because if you get discipline wrong it can be disastrous. If you go overboard you ruin your relationship with your child. If you go too soft you end up with a spoiled child. And what's the phrase? It's if you raise your kid you get to spoil your grandchildren, but if you spoil your kids you'll have to raise your grandchildren, right?
Somebody's like, oh my gosh, that all makes sense. Honey, all right, so we need to discipline our children towards following Jesus. Ephesians chapter six verse four says, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way that you treat them.
Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. I appreciate that first part, don't provoke your children to wrath, because I know how to make my kids angry. And actually I'm pretty good at it. And I kind of enjoy it. That's just like the sinner in me that just is like, you know, it's a little bit fun. Because like my favorite thing to do to my kids is when they say, I'm hungry, I'll be like, oh, hi, hungry, nice to meet you. And I've done it so much that now the judge is like, don't call me hungry.
Like that's their reaction at this point. And it's like, but I still do it because I shouldn't and it's fun. So what we need to do is raise them up, it says, in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Why do we discipline? We discipline our children ultimately because we love them. In fact, the Bible says if you don't discipline your children, you don't love your children.
There's a really interesting correlation there, right? Letting a three-year-old run the house is not a loving thing to do. Because a three-year-old often most of the time doesn't even know what they want. They'll demand something for dinner, you'll make it for them, you put it in front of them and they'll be like, I didn't want that. It's like, you're a psycho.
Yes, that's exactly what you said you wanted. But what we need to do is discipline our children because we love them. In chapter 12, verses five through six, it says, my child, don't make light the Lord's discipline and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. Discipline from the Lord proves that we belong to him.
It's one of the ways that he shows his love to us. It is one of the ways that we must show our love to our children. We set limits, we set boundaries, we set lines that they are not to cross and if they do, we need to discipline them accordingly. And in our household, we discipline for three reasons. We discipline for dishonesty, we discipline for disobedience, and we discipline for disrespect. Those are the three Ds of discipline in our household.
Dishonesty, disrespect, and what was the last one? My brain just went, thank you, disobedience, thank you. I normally have that down. Here's the thing. When those things happen, we need to show them love by disciplining them. We use discipline to point them towards Jesus.
Because here's the deal. Kids make mistakes. Teenagers make mistakes.
They are sinners, like you and I. They have a wicked and selfish heart that wants what it shouldn't want. They have a wicked and selfish heart that rejects the things that it should want. And our job as a parent is to help guide and shape their heart and their soul. And those mistakes need to be corrected, but they don't just need behavior modification. Our goal is not just to change the behavior in discipline. In discipline, our goal is to change the heart. And if we're doing that out of anger, nobody's heart was ever changed because of anger.
Nobody's heart was ever changed by being yelled at or screamed at or by using harsh language with them. You see, discipline is not about behavior modification because your children don't have a behavior problem. Your children have a worship problem.
Why do your children act out? Because they are worshiping something that they should not be worshiping. Everybody is a worshiper. The apostle Paul talks about this in, I think it's in the book of Romans, that we've exchanged the truth of God for the lie. That we are now worshiping the creature rather than the creator. He's making the point that everybody worships all the time.
Pastor Greg mentioned this a few weeks ago. That worship is not just the style of music, it's a posture of the heart. And what children do is they end up idolizing things and worshiping things and sacrificing things or for things that they shouldn't. And so you're a three-year-old. And they get angry at you and mad at you and lash out at you because you didn't make them what they wanted for dinner. It's not because your children read a diet book and they now all of a sudden are like, Oh, I need to eat a gluten-free diet and I'm sick of chicken nuggets and frozen pizza. Anybody else? Okay, cool.
So, no, no, no. It's a control thing. They're worshiping the idol of control and they want to control their own lives. And that's why they're lashing out. Your ten-year-old, when you tell them to stop playing video games, isn't lashing out at you because they hate you. They're lashing out at you because you are now a roadblock of worshiping and serving their God of video games.
This is the way we need to begin thinking about the behavior of our children. Because, again, when your seventeen-year-old starts cussing at you or throwing a tantrum like a two-year-old at you, because you're not letting them hang out with the friends that they wanted to hang out with. That's not you that they're mad at. They're mad at what you represent and you represent the authority of God in their lives. Because God has given you authority over their lives. He has not given you independent authority. He's given you authority as an ambassador.
You are an ambassador for the authority of God. And the way that you teach your children about authority is going to affect the rest of their lives. It's going to affect the rest of how they treat any authority that comes into their life. And I say this because I want you to know, parents, it's not personal. As personal as it feels when your kids yell, I hate you, from the other room. It happened to me yesterday. My five-year-old yelled because I disciplined him because he got in trouble for doing something he shouldn't have done. He yelled, I hate you.
That hurts. But it's not personal. Because what that represents is that represents him lashing out at something that is attacking the idol that's in his life. And parents, you need to be in the business of destroying idols. You need to be on the side that God is on and pointing your children towards the one that can change and bring good into all of it. You represent God's authority to them. But here's the thing. Even in our discipline, we need to represent God well. Here's what I mean by that. How does God win people to himself?
What does Roman tell us? Is it not the kindness of God that leads men to repentance? Isn't it not the goodness of God that leads men to repentance? Man, it's easy to get angry and upset and disciplined in those heated moments and to say things that you should never say to your children. But how much better is it to, with self-control through the power of the Holy Spirit, through an understanding of what God is doing in us, or through us in the lives of our children, to say, hey, that really hurts.
But here's the consequence for that. But I want you to know that I'm always going to love you. Even though you said you hate me, I always love you.
That's never going to change. There's nothing that you can do to change my love for you. You get to represent that heart of God to your children, even in the midst of discipline. And that's going to come in the form of conversations that you're going to have to have a thousand times with your children. My son Braxton, he's like, he's built, he's stocky, he's strong, and he accidentally hurts his brothers all the time.
Accidentally. And I have to tell him, we have this conversation every day, Braxton, you know you're strong, right? Yeah. Why did God give you strength? To help people and protect people.
That's what I've been teaching him. I said, great. All right, what are you going to use your strength for?
To help people and protect people. Okay, great. Awesome. An hour later, he hurts his brother. Okay, Braxton, you're strong.
What did God give you strength for? Guys, you have to have this conversation a thousand times because what you in discipline have to do is you have to connect the behavior to the worship. You have to connect what they're doing to the fact that they're doing things that are destructive for their hearts and for their souls.
And yeah, it's hard to do that, make that connection when they're super young, but you have to start that. You have to do it now. Because it will help you think about your life and the things that you are worshiping that you should not be worshiping. This is a beautiful thing that the Lord has invited all of us to. We don't discipline and we don't get upset and we don't do things with our children. It's not a because I said so situation, it's because it's what's right and what's best for you. And as we close this morning, I want to just close with two quick points. Number one, we are in this together. Parenthood can be so lonely because honestly it can be really toxic, parenthood circles. I don't think there's any place more toxic than the comment section of a parenting post on Facebook. Especially some of the moms, some of the moms are like, whoo, you give what to your children?
It's not good. We need each other. We need to build one another up. Listen, we need the church as well. Like I want to encourage parents, get your kids plugged into church as much as possible. Get them here on Wednesday nights in Orange County and Thursday nights in Riverside for youth nights. Get them plugged in in the kids ministry. Get them, it's saturated in communities where there are believers that they can make friends with and be friends with because we need it. Be in community with other parents.
Have people that you can talk to about what you are going through as a parent. We need each other in this. And then lastly, I want you to know that you are not alone. You have a God in heaven who is there for you. I love the last part of the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28 verses 19 and 20. At the very end, Jesus says this. He says, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
That applies to every believer, but that also applies to every parent. God is with you. He knows your struggle. He knows what you're going through. He knows the battles that you are fighting. He knows the things that you are facing. I know how crazy it is to be a parent in this day and age. And God knows it too.
And he is there with you. And it's not too late. You are not too late. Maybe you're here and you're going, man, my kids are all adults and they're not following Jesus. Listen, it's not too late for you to take up that mantle of following Jesus and taking that responsibility, even with your adult children, to help them follow Jesus. It's not too late for your teenagers. It's not too late for your elementary school kids. It's not too late for anybody. If you today decide I'm going to follow Jesus and I want to take this responsibility to help my kids follow Jesus.
And I would say this. It's time for us to do that. It's time for every parent to stand up and say, I want my kids to follow Jesus. It's more important than their academic career. It's more important than their sports.
It's more important than the job that they're going to choose or the person that they're going to marry. This is the most important thing that we have the privilege of helping our children with. Amen. I want to pray for you. Let's pray together. Lord, we come before you right now and we thank you for your word, your grace and your mercy.
And Lord, I pray for every parent in this room. God, would you strengthen them? Strengthen them in the fact that even when they're not doing it right, you are with us. You're never going to turn your back on us in the same way that I'm sure every parent in this room would say, I'm never going to turn my back on my kids. You will never turn your back on us. And God, we thank you for that. We thank you that you give us guidance in your word, that you give us responsibilities that we are to fill and principles that we can live out with our children and with our families. And Lord, I pray that you would help us to walk in those. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. Amen. God bless you all.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 08:35:21 / 2022-12-04 08:54:36 / 19