Today on Summit Life, a question that needs an answer. Parents, you got to ask.
Listen, this is a sober question. Why did God give me these kids? He did not give them to you for you. They are not yours. And I would strongly caution you about ever taking possession of something that belongs to God. They were given to you to prepare for the mission.
To prepare them and to launch them out and to accomplish that, you got to take your hands off of them. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, there are so many different parenting theories out there, and it seems like every year they come out with some new study that totally flips everything you thought you knew about raising kids. And it can all be a little overwhelming. So today, Pastor J.D.
is helping rein in our focus and reminding us of our most important task as parents, a responsibility that far outweighs everything else. It's part of our teaching series called God and the Rest of the Week. And Pastor J.D.
titled today's message, Ready to Launch. So grab your Bible and let's join him right now. Psalm 127, here's how the Psalm reads. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. All right, look first at the first phrase of verse one. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. In order for a house to endure, any house to endure, God has to be the one who builds it. So that leads me to our first principle.
Here we go. Number one, love is not enough. Love is not enough. Many parents have what I would call the Beatles philosophy of parenting. All you need is love.
Remember that song? All you need is love. The general idea is if you love people, if you love your kids, hey, everything's gonna turn out just fine. That's definitely the accepted wisdom today, but the problem is I know parents who love their kids off the charts, but they are terrible parents and their kids end up reflecting that. So I got just one question for you based off this insight.
Have you honestly taken this seriously? Have you set about to learn God's ways in rearing a child or the next generation? Number two, our primary responsibility is to teach the next generation the gospel. Children, Solomon says, are a heritage. Some of your translations might say inheritance. A heritage or an inheritance from the Lord. Inheritance is a big word in Hebrew.
It was one of their favorite words because it pointed to the eternal kingdom that God was giving to them, the nation, the people of God. The children of this church, listen, are the first ones that we are going to win that will make up the eternal inheritance that God is giving to us because that's what the inheritance is. Parents, the most important task you have is to teach your kids the gospel. Number three, children are to be raised in the larger community of faith. To whom is Psalm 127 written?
Obviously the parents. In fact, Jewish practice was to read this after the birth of any child. They would have a little ceremony and read this Psalm. But did you see at the beginning where I pointed out a Psalm of Solomon, a song of a sense?
You know what that means? It means that the song was sung by pilgrims as they approached Jerusalem. Jerusalem was on top of a hill. And so as pilgrims would come yearly for their pilgrimage, when they would get to the bottom of the hill, it's a pretty long one, they would begin to sing together the Psalms of a sin.
There's like five or six of them. And as they were going up the hill, they would sing through these and it was, listen to this, the entire community that sang these songs, it wasn't just like, you know, that at that point they all stopped singing the Psalms and like, okay, everybody drop out, just the parents a cappella on this verse and you go into Psalm 127. No, they all sung Psalm 127.
Why? Because the next generation was the responsibility of all of them. The parenting passages in the Bible are written to communities, not just to parents. Deuteronomy 6, at no point did Moses say, okay, you know, got the law, now a little breakout seminar for the parents, parents listen up.
No, it's for the whole community. You see, God has two gardens in which he grows a child. Two gardens, they're essential, both of them. The home and the church. It takes more than just the unconditional love of a family, it takes a tribe to give identity. Number four, we must therefore prioritize relationships in the church. Proverbs 13 20, listen to this, he that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.
I've heard it explained this way, listen, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. Your parents, listen, your kids, listen, will be a visitor somewhere and they'll find their community somewhere. I would prioritize the community of the people of God and that is a matter of calendar. Is success as a parent, getting them into college, going on a basketball scholarship or a football scholarship, or is it becoming men and women who love Jesus and serve the mission?
Not that those things are at odds, but you're going to place value on one of them and you're going to place priority on that thing. You see, when they quit following God in college, that doesn't happen when they're a freshman, it happens when they're in sixth grade by the priorities you set for them, the community you choose for them. So don't complain when they're a freshman and they're walking away from God if you prioritized everything but the kingdom of God during their middle school and high school years. Number five, God gives us our kids so that we can prepare them for his mission. Like arrows, he says, in the hand of a warrior or the children of one's youth, blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. What's the purpose of an arrow?
Jim Elliott, who left a very promising career in the United States to serve as a missionary in South America, ended up being martyred on the beaches of Ecuador, said to his parents, when he made the decision to drop out of business school and go into missionary work, said this, listen, I do not wonder, Mom and Dad, that you were saddened at the word of my going to South America. But do you remember how the psalmist described children? He said they were as a heritage from the Lord and that every man should be happy you had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows? And what are arrows for but to shoot?
So with the strong arms of prayer, Mom and Dad, draw the bowstring back and let the arrows fly, all of them, straight at the enemy's hosts. Parents, you've got to ask, listen, this is a sober question, why did God give me these kids? He did not give them to you for you. They are not yours. And I would strongly caution you about ever taking possession of something that belongs to God. They were given to you to prepare for the mission. To prepare them and to launch them out and to accomplish that, you've got to take your hands off of them because an arrow will never fly until you release it.
You cannot hang on to an arrow and it still continue to function as an arrow. You see, if you want to capture their hearts, if they were designed to be arrows and you treat them like a piece of furniture that they're supposed to be in your house because they belong to you, not only are you discouraging their development, you are actually shutting down the heart that God created to be his because he created it for the adventure of faith. When there is nothing challenging or adventurous about your style of faith, you begin to drift toward other things that seem more interesting and meaningful, which is why, listen, I get so passionate. And usually I'm yelling at you about you, you know, treating the church like you're a consumer. But you understand that behind that me yelling at you is actually a greater concern parents for your kids. Because if you're the kind that shows up late to church, leaves early, this is all you do, it's worse than if you didn't come at all for them. Because you're teaching them that it's essentially, this is what Christianity is, and it's not.
Is it an adventure where you pour out, you live for something greater than yourself? That's why I'm saying if you're going to be a part of it, get fully involved. Listen, there's a lot of things we don't do right at our church. But one of the things we try to do is give you opportunities all on the way to get your family involved in mission.
Serve RDU projects that we do. We're always like, hey, get your family involved. Go on the family mission trip. Let your kids see this stuff firsthand. Our families adopted a compassion child through the Summit Church, which is somebody overseas that we are engaged with and we're pouring out resources to and my kids are writing them letters. We think about it with our babysitters. Our babysitter list reads like a who's who list of people in our church that have sacrificed for the mission field. In fact, if you're a crazy college girl who almost dies on the mission field, I can guarantee you, I will be calling you up saying, would you come babysit my kids?
Why? Because I want them to see that kind of life. I plan to have my kids lead in the student ministry, Lord willing, when they're in middle school so they can be working with younger kids, when they're in high school, ministering to middle school kids.
It's the adventure of it. The principle of preparing arrows and sending them out. This applies beyond international missions, but I do want to make sure I bring this point back to that because that's the ultimate vision of this passage and it's the dream of our church. Are you willing and eager to send out your kids wherever God calls them?
Because in order to let the arrow fly, you got to let it go. Y'all, I know so many college students at our church who come from somewhere else, but God calls them to go to the mission field and their parents forbid it. And every time I hear one of these stories, I'll say, God, may that never be true of a kid who grows up here.
May their parents say, yes, I don't want you to go. I will confess that, but you are an arrow that God gave to me and I will take my hands off of you. Because Summit, God gave us our kids for the great commission. Like arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior. That's how your kids are to you. And you got to let them go. That's why he gave them to us.
That's why he gave them to us. You're listening to a message titled Ready to Launch here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit jdgreer.com. We'll rejoin our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to tell you about a daily email devotional from Pastor J.D. that you can sign up for today. I know the busyness of life can quickly choke out any joy that we feel in our walk with God, so why not cut those weeds away each morning with a word from the Lord? The devotionals even follow along with our current teaching here on the program so you can stay plugged into these messages regardless of your schedule.
Sign up for this free resource at jdgreer.com slash resources. While you're there, you can also browse past programs, view transcripts, and join our mailing list. All great ways to stay connected with Summit Life. Now let's return for the final moments in our teaching today. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Last comment on this before I go to our final point. Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. Hear this very clearly.
Pay very close attention. Do not misinterpret what I'm going to say. There is no right number for size of family that pleases God. There is different circumstances each of us are in. We've got to depend on the leadership of the Holy Spirit in this area, so I would never set myself up as your judge. We don't look and smile upon families that are larger or smaller.
There's no right number that we feel like I'm not your judge, and you should not let anybody else ever judge you on this either. But I do want to say, humbly but accurately, that we have a culture that increasingly sees children as a burden and as an encumbrance to the American dream. Financially, they are a burden.
They're a burden on your travel desires. You can't go to movies at night if you've got kids. So the wisdom of the day is, don't have many kids.
If you have any, don't have many, because they're going to mess up your life. And I know of a lot of couples who wait years before having kids because they don't want the child to get in the way of their yuppie lifestyle. And I've heard them say, well, I just want to enjoy my wife or my husband for a while for a few dozen years before we have kids.
First, let me deal with that nonsense really quickly, okay? First, I know so much more of my wife now after we've had kids than I did before, because it was just parts of her that just came alive when we had kids that weren't there when it was just the two of us. Second, the primary purpose of kids is not to accessorize your life. God gives your kids to you for a mission purpose. If you're a disciple of Jesus, your whole life is not about you.
It's about Jesus' mission. And that certainly applies to your family. And you've got to learn to think that way. Look, when my wife and I, this may be a little too personal, but you know what? I'm going to tell you anyway. When my wife and I, we had three kids, and we were deciding if we should have any more. And my quiver felt full.
I'm going to go ahead and tell you. At no point in the week was I like, I need more kids. I need another mouth to feed.
I need another way to stay up at night. At no point did I ever think that. I was like, my quiver's full.
I'm satisfied. But my wife and I also know that having and raising godly children is one of the greatest ministries you can have. So we're like, well, maybe we should have one more for Jesus. So we set a day to pray and fast, April 27th, 2009. We prayed and fasted the whole day between three options. Stop at three.
That was my vote. Have another kid or pursue international adoption. At the end of the day of prayer and fasting, we talked right about midnight. And we're like, I don't know, what do you feel like?
Both of us felt like we might be leaning toward international adoption. Went to bed. Woke up the next morning.
We were like, I don't know. I'm going to go to bed. I'm going to go to bed. I'm going to go to bed. Went to bed. Woke up the next morning. My wife felt sick. She goes to the bathroom, does that thing, and goes back and says, I'm pregnant.
Now, we were doing all the things you were supposed to do to not get pregnant. And I was like, I've never had a prayer answered that definitively that quickly. And then, so, December 25th of 2009, Adam, our son, was born, miraculously, right? Born on December 25th. He's a pastor's kid, and he shares a birthday with Jesus. All right?
So, that's the story. But what I'm trying to, the reason I'm sharing that with you is there's a mentality shift that you've got to have to say, it's not how many kids do I want, it's how many kids. How do I leverage my family for the kingdom of God? You say, well, I can't have them. I can't have kids.
I'm single, or maybe we're married and we can't have them. You could consider adoption, fostering. Do you know how many foster the kids there are in Riley Durham? How awesome would it be for the Summit Church, for that to be our gift to our city, that we take care of every foster kid in the county?
What kind of difference would that make in the future? This is our last point, and then I got a really good conclusion, so get ready. God knows you need His help. God knows you need His help. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved. What's the word, church?
Everybody say it, come on. What's the word? Sleep. What is the sign in this verse that you are walking with and beloved by God?
What is it? Sleep. I can tell some of you are beloved and walking with God right at this very moment. You say, wait a minute. Here's the question. If you're sleeping, who's watching over the city? If you're sleeping, who's growing the crops? The answer is, God is. The principle that is being taught, watch this, is you do your job. You're faithful with your job. At the end of the day, you put your head on your pillow knowing that God is the one who watches the city, God is the one who grows the crops, and He never put that burden on you.
That principle applies to a lot of different spheres of our life, but I love the fact that He brought it up in the concept of parenting. Why? Because we can always tell a new parent by the sleeplessness. Can we not? We can tell who you are. You've got bags under your eyes, you want makeup on, your teeth feel like they've got sweaters on them, you're wearing sweatpants for like three months.
We get that, okay? Sleeplessness is the sign of the new parent. But see, there's two kinds of sleeplessness. There's the kind of sleeplessness that comes from a late night feeding, right?
You can't avoid that. But then there's the sleeplessness that comes from carrying the strain of the family. You see, the principle that is being taught, watch this, is that God ultimately is the one who is responsible for the family.
And God says, I never counted on you to get everything right. I just want you to do your job and trust that I care more about your kids turning out the way that they're supposed to be than you do. What an awesome thought. Because see, I feel overwhelmed sometime with my inabilities as a parent. Probably you do too.
I know moms who feel completely overwhelmed with this. You feel like you're doing such a bad job. God knows you're a sinner.
That's not a surprise to Him. He says, do your job to your best. And you trust, at the end of the day, you put your head on your pillow and know that I'm the one who watches the city. I'm the one who grows the crops.
I'm the one. I'm the daddy. See, that means to a mom sitting here right now, a mom who's like, I don't have a husband here, and all that stuff you said about good dads, my kids don't have a dad. God can be a better father than that man could ever be. And God is the father to the fatherless.
And God says, I'm building the city. And faith is the greatest thing that you can exercise in parenting and when you trust them to that heavenly parent who gives more grace than your parenting techniques. Elise Fitzpatrick, one of my favorite parenting authors, wrote a book called Give Them Grace. And in the book, she said, how many Christian parenting books have you read? Listen, how many Christian parenting books have you read that basically say, if you do these three things right, your kids are guaranteed to turn out fine?
She said, here's the problem with that. God was a perfect father. And a third of the angels rebelled against him.
And the only two humans that he created also rebelled against him. So you really feel like you're going to out technique God? You feel like if God would have gotten that part right, then everything would have been fine?
No. It is not good parenting techniques that guarantee the success and the future of the child. She said, the real tragedy with that mentality is that it keeps you from the one thing you desperately need as a parent. And that is the mercy of God, where you come to the end of the day and you say, I am unable, but you are able. And you say, God, what they need is you. What they need is you're working in their lives and their hearts. And so I'm going to pray for them. And I got a prayer list for my kids that I go through and I'm like, God, I need this.
I can't do this. God is building my city. God is growing my family.
Right? I plow for the crops in the morning. I'm a watchman. But at the end of the day, I say, who's watching the city when the watchman is asleep?
Who's growing the crops when the farmer is not there? And the answer is, God is. God is. Now, last thing I want to say, and this is me landing the plane. I want to talk one last time to you parents, especially you fathers, because maybe you're here this year against your will. Your wife's new year's resolution was to get you back in church and you're here one time. Okay.
This is it. Listen, there is nothing that will make you think about your relationship with God more than when you begin to think about your children. Right? Because you're responsible for their souls. And God made us men to be protectors and guardians. That's how he made us. And that's a gift he gave to us, which means sometimes we think about the safety of others more than we think about our own safety. Men, you are leading your kids into eternity.
Can I ask you, this is going to sound harsh, but I'm just trying to make it as real as I possibly can. Are your kids going to go to hell because of you? Are your kids going to go to hell because of you? Are you leading them to destruction?
What are they going to say on Judgment Day? Daddy, I followed you. Daddy, your priorities became mine. Daddy, I followed you into your idolatry. I followed you into your apathy. God never became important to me because he wasn't that important to you.
I never read my Bible because I never really saw you reading yours. And now, Daddy, I follow you into hell. There's a lot of reasons to obey God, but I'm telling you, as a dad, I know that one of the things that gets me up in the morning and gets me going on this is I got four little souls that I'm responsible for.
And I'm trying to protect them and guard them, and there is no safety as important as eternal safety, safety that is found in the blood of Jesus. And God help me, that's where I want to lead our kids. That's where I want you to lead your kids. That's where I want this church to lead its next generation. See, we've got one shot at this.
This is it. This is our inheritance. You want to be a better parent? You want to be a better parent? Once you get to know the love of God and the gospel, because see, here's the secret. The deeper you go with the gospel, the more fruitful you become as a parent.
The more this relationship vertically is set, this relationship horizontally takes care of itself. God doesn't love and accept you because you're a perfect parent. He loves and accepts you as a gift. He gives you steadfast love in the gospel. When you come to understand that and you come in to understand that, and you just receive that, and you're not trying to earn it anymore, that makes you more steadfast with your kids. The grace of the gospel produces the love for your kids that we're talking about. So I don't want you to get overwhelmed that you're not a perfect parent.
God knows that. I want you to cast yourself on the mercy of God and receive his gift righteousness. I want you to be filled with his power because that'll make you 10 times a better parent than learning all the techniques in the world ever could. See, the gospel is the beginning and the end of everything.
So come home to him. Are God's purposes first in your life and your kids' lives? Another encouraging message from Pastor JD Greer on Summit Life from our study titled God and the Rest of the Week.
If you have a friend who might enjoy this study, you can share it with them free of charge when you visit jdgreer.com. Pastor JD, we're always looking for ways here at Summit Life to help people truly live out their faith each day. What is the one thing that you might suggest to help us thrive outside of just going to church in our day-to-day lives? Our current teaching series is called God and the Rest of the Week, and what we're seeing is how the gospel affects the areas of our lives where we spend the other six days, the 99% of our time that is outside of the church walls. Because, see, if you truly understand the gospel, you'll see that it changes you not just in that hour or two you're in the church on Sunday, but it changes everything. So one of the things we want to give you that will help with that is a pack of scripture memory cards, 52 of them, for you to be able to put the Word of God in your heart so that it comes to mind when you're in the midst of an attack, you're at a time of discouragement or doubt, when you need to counsel a friend, when you need to pray and just believe a promise of God.
The Bible is a book of promises, but you can't claim them if you don't know them. And it's not just hearing them that counts. It's being able to access them in the moment that you need them. And these scripture memory cards will go a long way in helping you do that.
So I want you to take a look at them and I want you to reserve your set at jdgrier.com. We'd love to send you this exclusive new set of memory cards today. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, our new Summit Life resource makes it easier to memory scripture.
They're perfect to use once per week throughout the year or as a daily encouragement. These scripture cards will remind you of God's steadfastness and unchanging promises while also helping you commit them to your mind and your heart. Ask for the scripture memory cards when you give today by calling 866-335-5220.
That's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich inviting you to join us tomorrow when we're diving into the topic of work. We're learning how to honor God in our careers Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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