MUSCLE CAR MARRIAGE
How to Raise the Kids without Ruining the Upholstery
September 5-6, 2009
This holiday weekend to include worship, and if you’re here and you’re like an uptight, I don’t know Episcopal person or something, Presbyterian, I apologize for everything you just saw. Just kidding, just kidding. Hey, actually, I think that’s a great truth. Little throwback tonight. Will Smith back, in the day before he was even the Fresh Prince. Sometimes parents just don’t understand. I’m a parent. I desperately want to understand. But sometimes it is hard. In fact, I think it’s a great weekend to talk about kids and parents. Because parents, one of the hardest things, one of the most laborious things you do, parenting. Amen? To do it right is hard work. It’s a loving task, but it’s a difficult task.
So welcome to Church by the Glades. We’re in the midst of a relationship study called Muscle Car Marriage. The topic tonight or the title is “How to Raise the Kids Without Spoiling the Upholstery”. And I’m so glad you’re here. So take your Bible and turn to 1 Samuel. Turn to 1 Samuel. Say it with me. The book of 1 Samuel. That’s in the Old Testament. I’ll help you navigate, a little trick. All the first and second books in the Old Testament are side by side by side. 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles. So you find 1 Samuel, and I’m going to tell you the story about Samuel in just a moment and kind of the unique family he grew up in. But before I do that, I need to ask your help. We have a wonderful set of challenges at Church by the Glades. Last weekend, between the seven worship experiences, we had near record attendance, the second-highest attendance on a non-holiday. We had 5,369 people visit the campus. (Applause) Yeah. Go, God. No, no, you, you, for inviting people. Wow, what a great job you’ve done inviting people. And last week in five of the services we had to scoot people. In two of the services we had to bring in additional chairs. And for all practical purposes, we’re pretty much done. It’s pretty much packed. I don’t see us growing to 6 and 7,000 with the current configuration. So a couple of options here. One is we can just stop inviting people. Let’s just stop asking people to come to church. No. Yeah, I agree. Because I believe the Bible.
The Bible says there’s a place called hell. And you don’t want anyone you love to go to hell. You don’t want anyone you don’t love to go to hell. And Jesus defeated hell, and I want people to come to our Christ and come to our king. So I say hell, no to hell and hell, no to that plan. So let’s keep inviting people. So what do we do? Well, if you’re newer, you may not know the longer-term next step is a new building. About this time last year, we spent about six weeks praying together, casting vision together. We’re believing God for greater things in the life of this church. We think our best days are before us. And part of that next step is a new building. It’s on that grassy area just past the muscle cars and coffee area. We have a team right now planning out a 2,000-seat auditorium, an additional kid’s space over twice our square footage in this new facility. I spent a good chunk of Friday with Pastor Rod, some smart engineers, this talented architectural team out of Palm Beach, our GC and his staff, these acousticians. Didn’t know what an acoustician was, but acousticians out of Dallas helping us plan out the video of the whole place. And they’re hammering out the drawings. The working drawings are about 80 percent done. So this thing is happening. Now we’re pricing this thing out right now at about 13 million dollars. Anybody have an extra 13 million hanging around? Anybody? Never know who might be here this week. If you do, we need to talk after church. But probably it’s going to be the rest of us normal people just sacrificing and dedicating and doing without and making this thing happen, and God bless you for being generous and giving towards greater things and seeing this dream become reality. So it’s going to be a huge help when the building is done. But best case scenario is probably about two years.
So what do we do for the next 24 months? Well, some time ago, the pastors began praying about this idea. Maybe a second campus. Somewhere far enough to reach some new people, but close enough to offload some of our folks here, maybe a new campus. And so we entered negotiations with a landlord in an area nearby. We had this place laid out, seemed like it would fit our needs. We needed a variance from the city, and this week the city shot us down. So we’re trying to plan a video campus. Live worship, live staff, child care, all the stuff you normally have, Starbucks, the whole deal, just the teaching would be done via high-def video, which except for you guys in the front, most of y’all watch the screens, anyways. So that’s what we’re going to do. It’s been very successful. We’re not pioneering this. Other churches have done this. But again, the city shot us down, so that is a dead deal. I won’t tell you what city did it, Margate, but anyways, one of the cities shot us down. And so God’s closed that door. So talking to some of my colleagues that are doing this successfully in other parts of the country, one of my brothers said why not just tell your people? Tell your people what you’re planning on, and invite them to pray. 5,000 people praying, bombarding heaven about God, we want to go somewhere, we want to see this thing continue to prosper and grow, we want to see one more precious person come to Christ. So Father, help us. And then kind of throw out this idea. If you own commercial property, if you have commercial something, 10,000 square feet or more with a bunch of parking, if you’re responsible for commercial property with a bunch — 10,000 square feet but only six parking spaces, we can’t do church there. But maybe you know something or whatever. If you do, we’re interested. Now, we’re not interested if you want to make a whole bunch of money. But if you want to give the church a sweetheart of a deal as far as a lease or a purchase, we want to talk to you. So if you know of something like that, we would just put the word out. Contact pastor Tom. Pastor Tom is not just a great teaching pastor. He’s our executive pastor. He runs this church day to day. And you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. But praying and just keep your antenna. I love by early next year that we have a second campus and we can grow in two or three places as well as continue to build the new building. Amen? Amen.
All right. Let’s talk to parents and kids tonight. Parents and kids. Thank you. Someone got excited about it. Yeah. New building, growing, increasing. That’s all fun. All right. As I begin this teaching, this is a teaching tonight for kids and for parents, but I’ve got to give this little disclaimer. It’s only for imperfect parents. So raise your hand if you’re a parent. Keep your hand up if you’re an imperfect parent. Put your hand up. I know you’re one. Imperfect parents. See, if you’re a perfect parent — you can put your hands down — I’ve got nothing to say to you. You need to find some quiet moment in the next little bit and just sneak out, because I’ve got no word for you. In fact, if you’re looking for examples of perfect parents in the Bible, there’s one. God. In fact, you’re hard pressed in the Bible to find good parents. I mean, there’s very few good parents in the Bible. Now, if you’re looking for jacked-up families, dysfunctional families, fractured families, dumb parents, there’s plenty of those. In fact, some of the holiest heroes that were very successful on the battlefield, in the temple, were disasters in the home. I’m talking people with names like Abraham, David, Gideon, Solomon. But you’ll see God still shaping and growing up amazing young men and young women in messy families.
So we love to advertise here at Church by the Glades that this is a place for imperfect people. I’ve got my shirt on tonight. By the way, since you guys chose Saturday and not Sunday morning, where we’re slammed, if you want one of these shirts, I told the team $5 tonight, man. Bargain shirt if you want to buy your shirt and advertise your imperfection, all right? There you go. Not sure what colors they have. Whatever stock we have, you can have that if you want one of those shirts and advertise, be a big walking billboard for the church. But tonight is for the imperfect parents. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and adjust mine. It’s now imperfect parents allowed tonight. Because it’s hard. It is difficult to be a good parent, especially in this generation.
I want to study tonight a remarkable man, Samuel. In fact, Samuel was a colossus of the Old Testament, spanning the period of the judges to the warrior kings. A pivotal personality, an amazing man of God. In fact, there are stories when Samuel the prophet came to a village, everyone would freak out with excitement or awe or even fear because he represented the power and the presence of God. An amazing man. In fact, when you rate two Old Testament books named for you, I mean, you’re a serious person. And Samuel, there are two books named for him. But you’re going to see he was the product of a messy, weird family circumstance. Samuel’s mom was named Hannah. Say it with me. Hannah. That’s where that name came from. Popular name still. His father was Elkanah. Elkanah. Say that. Elkanah. Now, Hannah, chapter 1, you see her weeping a lot, you see her depressed maybe because there’s family turmoil. In verse 15, she describes herself as a woman broken in spirit. Why? Well, her husband had two wives. Not one, then the other. Two at the same time. And that was sadly common in this period in history. Now, that is a clear violation of God’s marital relationship plan in Genesis 1 where it’s one man, one woman in a covenant relationship for life. So when you do this, you violate God’s plan, you pay a relational price. And in this family, as you can imagine, there’s jealousy and rivalry and taunting and drama and heartache. To make things worse, Hannah is unable to bear children, and that can mean a heartbreaking thing in any circumstance in any time. In the culture back in this day, she was stigmatized for that. And she promised God, God, if I ever have a child, I would literally give this child to you. I would so dedicate this child that I would take this child to the temple and allow this child to live in the temple and be raised by the priest completely dedicated to your service.
That’s one of the places that we get the idea of child dedication from. We do child dedication, family dedications twice a year. Now, we don’t let you leave your kids with us. But symbolically you’re saying I dedicate this child to God. It kind of comes from this story and others. So then Samuel, his biological parents give him up, and he’s raised by a godly, kind priest named Eli. And Eli was not a very good parent. In fact, his own two biological sons are disasters, absolute moral failures. In fact, they’re in ministry, but they weren’t called to ministry. They’re just kind of in the family business. And the Bible says they’re stealing from the offering, they’re sleeping with every woman on staff at the tabernacle, the temporary temple of the day. They’re a mess. And one of the reasons they’re so messy was daddy Eli did not discipline them and love them correctly and brought all kinds of pain to Israel and pain to Eli’s family. But you know, sometimes in life God gives you a relational mulligan, you know, a second chance. And so here Eli as an old man has a chance with this young boy that his parents drop off at the temple. Samuel. And Samuel becomes, though his family situation is fractured and weird and dysfunctional, becomes an amazing man of God.
I think as you read the first chapters of 1 Samuel, all kinds of lessons for parents and for kids. And I want to speak to the parents especially first, because parents, we want to give our kids all the right and best things in life. Amen? In fact, we’re giving our kids stuff all the time, aren’t we? You find yourself just giving stuff to your kids? In fact, I made a list of the things we give to our kids. Just a short list. And we give our kids life as parents. You moms give birth, you give your body for nine months. We give them love, give them care, give them hugs, give them food, give them clothes, shelter. We nurture them, provide education, protection, correction. We give them spankings, we give them hope and help, we give them encouragement. We give them baths and haircuts and treats and toys. We give them instruction, we give them advice. You moms, when your kid is done chewing his gum, will give your hand. Have you seen moms do that? Like the kid’s like I don’t want to chew this anymore. Instead of finding the trash, mom will go here, I’ll take it. Men don’t do that, but moms do that. Men think that’s gross. But we give our kids stuff all the time. But I want to make sure as I’m providing for my kids I am giving my kids the most important thing. So I spent a little time the past few weeks trying to generate a list. I think as a Christian parent, the best things I want to pass off or provide or nurture in my children. Maybe you’ll jot these down, three or four things quickly if time allows.
First thing, I want to give my kids, that I want to see God wealth my kids is something I call a divine dream. A divine dream. I really can’t give them a divine dream. Only God can do that. But I can nurture the dream that God has in mind for my child. And God has a unique, customized plan and purpose, a divine destiny for my child and your child, in fact, for everyone in the room, because we’re all so extraordinarily unique. In fact, let me prove the point. Let me survey you guys. Couple random questions here. Raise your hand if this applies to you. Food. Not if you like to eat, but I mean this. If you’re someone when you have your food arranged on your plate, you don’t like your food groups to ever touch each other, you don’t want any sauce or — raise your hand if that’s you. You don’t want your food groups to touch. Howard, you don’t like your gravy to — hands up. Be proud, you non food touching people. All right. On the other hand, if you kind of love when your stuff all kind of slops together and runs together, raise your hand if you like it. You’re probably from the deep South if that’s you, right? Like that stuff kind of fusing together. I like it all together. How about this? How about this? College football launched this weekend. Yeah. All right. Yeah, yeah. If you’re excited about that, raise your hand or make your college team noise or sound. Give me a U or a gator or a chop. There you go. Whenever you are. Hook’em horns, whatever you are. Now, that’s a lot of people. Now, if you could give a rip, in fact, you’re actually discouraged that football started again because you’re going to lose your husband or boyfriend, raise your hand. You could care less. Look. A lot of people don’t even care. Don’t even care. Y’all need to get saved, actually. You guys need to fall in love with Jesus and care about college football.
How about this? I’m wearing jeans tonight. I’m wearing blue jeans tonight. If you’re somebody, you pretty much wash your jeans every single time after you wear them, raise your hands. Clean people here. Now, if you’re here tonight only discovering for the first time, wait, you’re supposed to wash blue jeans? Raise your hands. Look a bunch of hands going up. I’m supposed to wash these things? I just take them off and stand them up in the corner, right? I’ve got to wash them? You’re unique. So why do you think God would have a dream one size fits all? I believe his dream is unique for you. I believe his dream is big and powerful and pervasive and unique for my children.
Samuel, as you’re going to read through the story, he gets dropped off at the temple, and Eli begins to care for him. When you get to chapter 3, it’s this wild story. He’s sleeping. He’s a little boy. We’re not sure how old he is, seven, eight, nine. He’s sleeping by the ark of the covenant. In the quietness of the night, he hears a voice go, Samuel. Little boy, part of his job is to attend to the needs of Eli. Eli is mentoring him. He runs into Eli’s room, like a lot of our kids run into our room late at night. He shows up in Eli’s room and says sir, did you call me? Can I do something for you? And Eli wakes up and goes no, son. I didn’t call you, buddy. Go back to bed. Go back to your room. And he does. A second time, the voice of the Lord comes to Samuel and says, Samuel. He wakes up and runs into Eli’s room and says, sir, you called me again. He said, no, bud, I didn’t call you. And then when you drop down to about verse 8, it says “the Lord called to Samuel a third time, Samuel got up and went to Eli sand said, here I am. You called me”. Then Eli realized it was not me, that was the Lord calling the boy. See, God had a dream for Samuel, had a specific, unique dream for this young man to make him a prophet and a leader and a king maker and to be an incredible influence in his generation and the generations to follow. Two books named for him. But the seeds of that divine dream are sown in his youth. And I found that’s kind of God’s habit. No matter when you come to Christ, it’s the right time for you, but if you will give your heart to God when you’re young, God begins working very early in the life cycle to begin to form and shape his divine dream for people. Sometimes even pre-birth.
When Lisa was expecting, gosh, all of our kids, I loved to pray Psalm 139. I love this couple of verses here. Look what it says here. The Psalmist says, verse 13, verse 14, if you look at my home Bible. I’ve got all kinds of notes and dates and penned prayers as I prayed this over my preborn kids. “For you created my innermost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” So here God’s getting involved in human life in the womb. Here God is shaping that child. I would take notes in my home study Bible. Father, right now we’re expecting a baby. I pray this baby is going to be whole and healthy. I pray right now today you’re involved as his little life is coming together. But Bible scholars, here’s a really tough, tricky question. Right before Psalm 139 in your Bible you will find Psalm 138. You guys are good. Psalm 138. In fact, in the way my study Bible is laid out, the pages at home, Psalm 139’s here, and right over here next to it is Psalm 138. And I noticed as my Bible laid open that one day, and of course, originally it was a scroll you’d unroll. They’d be side by side. In Psalm 138 verse 8 it says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” And I noticed these two psalms side by side, and I began to pray, God, don’t just form my baby, and I’m praying, God, what all parents pray, you know, that he be smart and be cute and 10 fingers and 10 toes and be nice, God, but I pray even here in the womb you begin to shape your divine purpose for my child. I dedicate this baby to your purpose, to your dream. See, I cannot give my child a divine dream. God does that. But I can nurture what God does. I want to see them embrace God’s dream. See, I don’t want to give them my dream. Some of us parents make that mistake. We try to live out our own personal unfulfilled dreams through our kids academically, athletically, as far as personal fame. If that’s you, just stop that. That’s twisted.
Also in America, we lie to our kids. Now, someone’s going to e-mail me. I’m going to make you mad right now. We tell our kids this lie. Sweetheart, you can do anything you put your mind to. You try enough, you believe in yourself, doggone it, you can do anything. That’s a lie. It’s a self-centered lie. Because they can’t. They can’t. Right? I mean, God shapes them a certain way physically, academically, their aptitudes. I know you think that’s not nice. No, no, no. They can do anything God has shaped them to do. And by the way, God’s dream is a huge upgrade over your dream, anyways. And so I want to speak that into their heart. Sweetheart, God is such a big — and very early.
Look at Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 1, verse 4 and 5, “The word of the Lord came to me saying before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” So here again, preborn. One of the reasons I don’t believe abortion is an appropriate moral choice, because evidently by the scripture, God gets involved in human life very early. And so Jeremiah’s called as a prophet, and Samuel’s set aside as a very young man, and you’ll see time and time again the psalmist in the womb. These dreams come early. Joseph in the Old Testament as a young man is the recipient of a divine dream. Remember that story? How two times God comes to Joseph and by way of a dream says I will exalt you, I will promote you, and you will protect your family. And if you read the next chapters, his whole life falls apart. He is betrayed, he’s sold as a slave, he is thrown into prison. And what does the dream do? It becomes catalytic. And that dream of his youth, that God-given dream, drives him past the hardship and the disappointment, pushes him past the haters and doubters and detractors. See, one of the reasons, one of the most important reasons I want my kids and I want the young people in our church begin to discover God’s big dream, that powerful dream, that dream becomes so compelling, so attractive, you’ll refuse to sacrifice God’s fantastic future on the altar of short-term, stupid decisions.
Now, here’s the way it’ll break down. I’m praying it breaks down this way for my kids. I’m praying Victoria will say to some boy someday, you’re not putting your hands on my body unless you put a ring on my finger, because God has a dream for me. God has a fantastic future for me. I will not disqualify myself. I will not take a chance on rendering that dream, listen, coming to full fruition by making this bad choice in the back seat of a car right now. I’m praying it breaks down this way for Charlie, that when he’s tempted, no, I’m not going to put drugs in my body. I’m not going to diminish God’s dream by damaging my mind or my body. I want to see what God’s going to do in my life. There’s power in that. Man, a dream will move you. Dr. King had a dream for our nation, did he not? It was catalytic. It was powerful. It moved us through the turmoil of the ’60s. And man, a dream, a dream. God has a dream for you. God has a dream for your child. Nurture that dream of God in that person. I don’t think Hannah had any idea when she dropped off her little boy that day with worship and weeping that God had big plans for Samuel. I want my kids to embrace the dream.
Second thing I want to give to my kids, I want to help my kids learn to listen to the word of God, to learn to listen to the word of God. Notice you develop an ear for things you’re attentive to? Things that you focus on? Some of you guys, when you drive, are on the cell phone. Some of you are thinking about your next meeting. Some of you are rehearsing a conversation you’re going to have at work or on the campus. A lot of us are just going to zone out and listen to the radio. In fact, who is a channel surfer in your car? Man, you’re just surfing, you’ve got all those presets. And I do that all the time. I’m not really paying attention to the music. But it’s amazing how that stuff kind of bleeds in, how you can recognize stuff even you casually listen to. In fact, let me put this to a test as well. I’m going to play a series of songs. If you recognize this song, as soon as you recognize the song, the moment you recognize the song on that note, shoot your hand in the air. I won’t embarrass you or call you out individually, but as soon as you hear the song. Ready? Let me give you an example. One, two, three. Music bunch of hands. What is it? What is it? Bon Jovi. Some of y’all in the back with your lighters already, like yes, Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi. This is good. Kind of a little old school here. All right. Speaking old school, change the genre. Ready? How about this one? Put your hands in the air the moment you recognize it. What is it? What is it? Vanilla Ice. Ice, ice — whatever happened to old Vanilla Ice? Reality shows, right? All right. How about something a little more current? A little more current. Let me fade that out. And the moment you — wait, wait, wait, wait. Turn that off, turn that off. It’s like barely a note came out, and you guys were like — put it back on again. It is yeah, Black Eyed Peas. Black Eyed Peas. Popular, current. Look how quickly you recognize that, you have an ear for that as soon as you heard that. Guys can fade it out. Thank you, guys.
Now, I want my kids to be that way with the word of God. I want God when he speaks when he whispers like in this story, that word is — and by the way, the same way the dream is unique and customized and scripted, so is his word. How amazing the God of the cosmos has a unique, personalized word for you if you have ears to hear it. In fact, one of the great things I see this old man do as a leader, drop down again to verse 8 and verse 9 in the narrative. Verse 8, verse 9. It says, “The Lord called Samuel a third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli and said here I am. You called me. Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy, so Eli told Samuel, go lie down. If he calls you, say” — here’s what you do — “speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Let me teach you how to listen to God, because God’s word is precious. In fact, it’s rare. There was no scripture back in that day. So when God speaks to you, just say God, man, I’m all ears. God, what is your word for me? What is your plan? Before you even tell me what it is, I’m telling you yes. You assume that posture of obedience before God, watch him unpack his beautiful plan, have a word for you. So I want to teach my kids to listen to God. I want to put them in environments where they’ll hear God’s word. So how does that break down? Easy. I’ll bring them to church, number one. If you brought your kids to church, you are so intelligent how you are blessing your kids. Now, some of y’all like me grew up with a drug problem. Ever tell y’all I had a drug problem as a young man? Anytime the church doors were open, my parents drug me to church. That was bad. That was a bad joke. Don’t laugh. That’s bad. But it’s true. It’s true.
My parents were deeply involved in church. Not dropped me off at church, they drug me to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday, Tuesday night visitation, covered dish dinners, all that stuff. At the time, I resisted. At the time, I didn’t fully understand. If they left the choice up to me, I probably would have chosen to stay home and watch cartoons or something. But they did not leave that choice to me. And I am so grateful today of the spiritual foundation they planted in my heart. My church taught the word of God consistently. We teach the word of God here in every teaching environment. But I’ll say this, my church growing up was a Bible-based, was a good church. Little dull from time to time, especially for a kid. Little dull, little boring. But the kids ministry here is very un-dull. Oh, my stars, the KidStuf ministry that happens in that building. If you’ve got your kids in this room, it’s the wrong place. For elementary age, put them over there. It rocks over there. It’s Nickelodeon on steroids over there, man. They find these compelling ways to teach the word of God, to serve up Biblical truth. And how smart is that? It’s hard. Labor Day, it’s hard to be a parent. So anyone that will partner with me in the process of parenting. They don’t baby sit. They will have your back, they will echo values and truth that you’re trying to teach your kids. So man, bring your kid to the church. They took Samuel, and they left him at the temple. They dropped him off at the tabernacle. Now, don’t do that. Take your kids home with you. But he immersed himself in the body life of the congregation, family of God. Church is important. Church is not an option in scripture.
We’re commanded, Hebrews chapter 10, verse 24 and 25, though churches are imperfect, messed up, we should immerse ourself in the body life of the church. The faith fusion, the spiritual synergy of the church we can find in no other place on earth. I believe in the church. So church is good. My parents took me to church. He was taken to the tabernacle, the temporary temple. But don’t just make it a church thing. And by the way, it’s a great thing here. And if you volunteer with our kids ministries here, you are awesome. I love our kid’s ministry volunteers. In fact, I think if Jesus was physically here tonight, he would not be teaching, he’d be over in the kids ministry, because Jesus loved to bless children and teach children. Amen? In fact, some of you guys are so talented and so warm and so friendly, you should spend one hour in this room and another hour over there just taking care and loving our kids. Or maybe here on Wednesday night. We’ve got the kids a little older, the middle school age, high school. Man, it rocks here. This place is electric. This room goes crazy. Thank you, young people. Giving you a little shout out there.
An amazing ministry takes place here. Maybe that’s the place you find to step up and serve and volunteer. So the church is one component. But there’s a second one. Parent, it’s you. See, we live in a day and age when parents are very tempted to subcontract out the kids, farm out the kids to experts, to instructors and tutors and coaches and kind of have all these subcontractors take care of our kids. Spiritually speaking, you don’t dare do that. We are here to back you up, but the spiritual training, this teaching the word of God we do together, parent and church, shoulder to shoulder, in tandem. You’ve got to do it with us, got to step up with us. And by the way, I said it’s a great idea to take your kid to the house of God, to take your kid to the temple. But you guys know where the temple is in the New Testament? The temple is you. The temple is you. I mean, you are the temple of God. It says in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” So as you walk around, you should be communicating God truth to your kids, be speaking the word of God, sharing what God is showing you. In fact, it blows me away that some parents that resist that idea, I don’t want to do all that, go through all that drama, talk about things of God, if your basketball coach comes to you and says Junior has potential, would you work with him on his left-handed dribble so he can drive, you’ll spend hours out in the street, sweating in the sun working on the left-handed dribble. He ain’t going to make it to the NBA anyways. But why not spend some time backing us, partnering with us.
As simple as this. If your kid’s in KidStuf tonight, on the way home say hey, what did you guys talk about? What was the funniest thing that happened? What did you learn? What was the value? What was the truth? Get involved with your teens on Wednesday and talk about it. Pray with them. I’m always dog tired when it comes to bedtime. I’m worn out, you know. But maybe the most precious part of my day is crawling next to my kids, man, getting in their bed with them and praying with them as we conclude our day together with our God. To train them. I love that verse, Proverbs 22 verse 6, “Train up a child.” Got to be in this thing together. So important we do that for each other.
In fact, you look at some of these holy heroes that were great men of God on the battlefield, great leaders in the temple, how they dropped the ball. David. David, one of the holiest heroes, but his kids were terrible. I found a verse in my own devotional life, just blew me out of the water. I’d never found this verse before. In 1 Chronicles 27:32, here’s what went wrong with David’s family. It says in this verse “Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of insight and a scribe.” Then says look at this little detail. “Jehiel, son of Hachmoni, took care of the king’s” — now I just look at that. Wait, wait. Why was David farming out his kids? Why was David busy running around writing psalms and leading in worship and leading in battle and being busy at the palace, why was he doing all that stuff and giving the responsibility of raising his children to someone else? That’s most likely the problem. It is my job as their dad to raise them in the things of God, to help them understand that God wants to speak to them.
In fact, as you read 1 Samuel, you see in chapter 3 this little statement. I love this. It says, “The Lord was with Samuel,” verse 19, “as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.” I love that statement. Samuel as he journeyed in life, as he matured would not let God’s words fall to the ground, would cling to the word of God. As parents, we must cling to and cherish the word of God, Psalm 119. We must live out the word of God, James chapter 2. So whatever else you have to drop, don’t drop the spiritual things.
See, I find a lot of modern day Christians, man, we cling to our careers, and we hold tight to our money, and we cling to our selfish agendas, and we fumble the word of God, and our families pay the price. I want to teach my kids to listen to God. I want them to know that God has a divine dream for them. I’ve got other stuff on my list, and I’m kind of out of time. I was going to tell you parents things like your kids need discipline. I mean, loving discipline, but consistent discipline will bless your kids. Taught many places in the Bible as a good parent I need to provide my kids with consistent discipline. One of the hardest things there is, because if you’re not a single parent, if you’re parenting in partnership with someone, probably one of you guys is more the disciplinarian, the other one’s kind of the softy. And you’ve got to be on the same page, and kids crave consistency, and some of us are Etch a Sketch parents. Y’all remember the Etch a Sketch? Where you draw a line, then what do you do? Erase it. You shake it and erase it. And we draw that line. Don’t you ever do that again. If you do that again, I will warn you a second time, right? We just draw the line, then we erase the line. And the kids crave consistency. As a good parent, we need to draw that line with love, not with loudness. And if they step across the line, there is some privilege or blessing they forfeit until they teach me they’re responsible enough to earn that right. And so I think as a good parent, we do that, we draw that line in tandem. We back each other up as parents, because kids need that consistency. They crave that. They won’t tell you that, but they do.
Now, I know it gets tougher as your kids get older. My oldest is nine. You parents with teenagers aren’t listening to a word I’m saying tonight, because you’re saying David, you don’t know. When you have — oh, I’s a whole — that’s okay. I’ve been talking to other people. I’ve been talking to great parents with teens. You’re looking for practical ideas. If I had time, I’d tell you all these practical ideas, things like I talked to one guy, man, I know this guy, they have awesome kids. They have four teenagers. He is a pastor. All four of his kids are respectful, they are honoring, they serve, they work hard in school, they are all God hearted. We’ve been with their kids, we’ve traveled with them. Man, these kids are awesome. So I’m talking to him, man, give me some ideas. What am I going to tell these parents of teenagers? He said oh, here’s a good one. Tell your parents with teens if they can afford it to buy all their teenagers cell phones, and as early as possible. Thought you guys would amen that at least. Come on, young people. Yes. Yes. Buy them nice ones, he said. Buy them really nice cell phones early. Said David, your kids are probably too young, but buy them all cell phones as early as possible. So that way, when they misbehave, you can take the cell phone back. Buy a cell phone that you really want for yourself, because you’re going to have that cell phone a whole lot. We know him. He’s taking the cell phones from his kids all the time. Because look, you messed up here, so you forfeited this blessing. That’s practical right there. In fact, I recommend this, parents, when it comes to your kids, collect that technology at some point in the day. 9:00, 9:30, man, just collect them all till tomorrow. In fact, I think you ought to check the log on the cell phone. Need to check the favorites on the cell phone. I think you need to check their room. I think you need to check their My Space and their Facebook account. Uh-oh, I’m getting some dirty looks right now. I think you should do all that. Should do all that.
Listen, because we love them. I know it’s a little messy, but I want to get involved. I want to know who they’re communicating, who’s speaking into their life. I want to know all that stuff. Now, they’re thinking what about privacy? Pastor David, don’t you believe in our privacy, our room and my — don’t you believe? Yes. I believe in your privacy. I respect their privacy. So you young people, when you grow up and have your own house and your own computer and your own phone, you buy all that stuff for yourself, I’m going to so respect, I’m going to so respect your privacy at that point. But until that, you know, that room is in my house. You’re a temporary resident in a room in my house. That’s my room. That’s not your room. That’s not your computer. I let you log onto my computer. That’s not your cell phone. I’m paying the — that’s my cell phone. Right? So because I love you, I want to encourage you and champion and cheer you when you do well. But I will hold you accountable, and I will understand as much about you and who’s speaking to your life and your relationships. I just think as a good parent I owe all that stuff to you. And so I would tell you things like that if I had time to tell you things like that, because that’s important, important stuff right there because our kids — don’t y’all be mad at me. I love y’all. I love you so much. I want to see your parents get involved in your life and to encourage you, because it’s so easy to make these dumb decisions. And I want you to so embrace the dream of God and his personal word for you that you power through those stupid decisions, you will not sacrifice God’s blessing and future on the altar of short-term pleasure and selfishness and the acceptance of your peers. It’s hard. It is so hard to be a parent.
Now, kids, I can’t let you off the hook. I’ve got to talk to the kids for a moment, because I’ve got a word or two for the kids because kids, I’ve got to cover it. It’s a passage in Ephesians. We’ve been studying Ephesians for three weeks. 1 Samuel tonight, but Ephesians is the primary relationship passage of study. We talked about husbands and wives, and now it’s parenting, now it’s kids. And kind of the way Ephesians, the relational passage, unfolds is chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6 kind of goes like this. As you read through those three chapters, it says number one, God is God. Next it says marriage is marriage. Then it says the parents are the parents. Then finally, the children are the children. Did I go too fast for anybody? All right? Y’all with me? God is God, the marriage is the marriage, the parents are the parents, and the children are the children. Because man, they’re so smart and they’re so cute, it’s so easy to build your whole family around them. And they’re so smart, they’ll creep into that corner office and end up being the family CEOs and run everything, and because they’re so cute, you want to let them do that. But as parents, it’s God and the marriage and then parenting and then the kids. They are beautiful, temporary residents in your home. And when it comes to the kids, finally in chapter 6, here’s what it says to the kids. And I want to just ask our young people to read this, because they might not read it. I’ll ask everyone to read this. Ready? Chapter 6, verse 1, verse 2 and we’re done. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.”
Now, in case you go, but wait a minute. My parents are so out of touch. My parents just don’t get it these days. My parents are just clueless. “Children obey your parents,” this next little statement’s for all that thinking. “For this is right.” There’s actually some great kids over here whose parents don’t come to church, whose parents aren’t even Christians, and you guys say but my parents aren’t Christ followers, they make bad decisions, to be honest. Do I obey them? Yeah, you obey them, too. And that’s God’s kind of relationship rule. And God can leverage authority even everyone flawed, imperfect authority, and God refines us and grows us as we submit to authority. So that is the word to obey time and time again. God calls us all to obey. But obey your parents. That is the word. In fact, the Bible celebrates actually quick obedience. Not drag your feet, roll your eyes, cop a huge attitude and do it, but quick obedience is blessed in the Bible. I’ve told y’all before with my kids, we have a little statement in my house. If they’re dragging their feet, we say this. Slow obey is no obey. Slow obey is no obey. Now, listen, my kids can ask why. Kids like to ask why, don’t they? Why? Why? It’s okay. I don’t think God the father’s offended when I ask why if I don’t understand why something’s happening. I don’t think he cares. If you read, Bible scholars, the first recorded words of Jesus when he was an adolescent, first word is why. Did you know? Luke chapter 2. So it’s okay to ask. My kids, when I tell them to do something, are allowed to ask me why, but the timing is very important. They can ask me why only in the course of obeying me or after the act of obedience is complete. Then they may ask me why. Now, sometimes my best answer is because I’m your dad and I said so. But if at all possible, I’ll try to give them more rationale than that, I’ll try to explain. But it must be not before they obey, why, no, no. That’ll get them trouble. In fact, sometimes that’s dangerous to delay the obey.
Example, my little guys, couple of years ago, we were having pool time with dad, and Charlie and Victoria were on the edge of the pool. And I said to them, I got very serious. Kids jump in the pool right now. Jump in the pool. Obey me. Jump in the pool right now. In unison, they both went why? What they didn’t know was there was a wasp buzzing both of them, man, a wasp. And why? They almost got stung. In fact, truth be told, I wish it had stung one of them kids in the butt just as a lesson for the future. See, life can bite you and sting you if you delay the obey. Man, I didn’t have time to unpack all the reasons why. They needed to listen to me and be safe, and then I say here’s why, guys. In fact, that verse, let me put that verse on the screen again. Doesn’t just say obey. It gets tougher. It says, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.” And look at this part. Honor. We live in a world that’s kind of low on honor all the way around, and people of God are called to honor, are called to give honor to each other, to submit to each other, to serve each other. But children, the command is not just to obey. It’s not just the action. It’s the attitude. And the attitude called for is to honor your mom and dad. And you’re called to honor them even if they’re not being honorable. Because we do have a lot of great kids that show up here on Wednesday night, and their parents have nothing to do with church or spiritual things. In fact, they discourage them. Some of their parents are making bad choices. Nonetheless, honor your parents, and God will leverage your honoring and your obedience for his purposes in his time. I’ve got to bring this thing in for a landing, need to wrap it with just a couple of thoughts.
A couple of years ago at a pastors’ round table, I met this young pastor who just planted a church. This guy’s so dynamic, an amazing communicator. He’s not even 30 years old, and his church is running like 6, 7,000 people. I mean, just knocking it dead. Three or four campuses. Great, compelling communicator. Gave his heart to Christ when he turned 16. Went to church some before and just played the game, but at 16, he gave his heart to Christ, and he was the real deal. And very shortly therefore, God called him to preach. So he’s like a Christian like a few weeks, he’s up preaching the word of God. And this kid can throw down. He’s a good talker. And he began to travel around little churches in South Carolina and speaking in these tiny churches. His dad was not a Christ follower. In fact, his dad was an alcoholic from a long line of alcoholics. And his dad was not even a very good dad. His dad would come home smashed and not be physically abusive, but very verbally abusive and a big bully. And one time, after Stephen had been preaching about a year and a half, his dad came to this little, tiny church, and Steve gave an old school, come forward altar call, you know, if you want to give your heart to Jesus, come forward. And after the service, we’ll have some pastors here. And some of you guys, you need to make that choice tonight. The God of the Bible’s highly relational, and he invites you tonight into a saving relationship with Christ. Maybe you need to rededicate your life to Christ and get things right with him. And so tonight you need to come and do that when the service is done. But they kind of did it where everybody sang a hymn. And from the back, his dad, his alcoholic dad, his difficult dad came forward to give his heart to Christ. And Stephen, of course, was thrilled. And talking to his dad later, he said dad, I’m just so thrilled that God used my preaching. What an honor for me that God used my preaching to bring you to himself. And his dad said well, the sermon was good and everything, Stephen, but really, it wasn’t the sermon. The seed of my salvation was planted some time ago. You’d first become a Christian, and I came home one night, and I had too much to drink, and I got loud and I got up in your face, and I was probably way out of line, but I was just all over you, and you fired back at me. We didn’t come to blows, but it was intense. You stormed out of the room. But a few minutes later, you came back to me, and you said dad, I don’t agree with what you said back a little bit before, but I need to ask your forgiveness and apologize to you because I’m a Christian now, and the Bible says I’m called to obey you and I’m even called to honor you. And dad, I have not been honoring you, and I’m sorry. And that will change from this point on. He said it broke me when you said that. Then over the next months as you began to honor me and I saw this change in you, I could not deny the reality of your God. And Stephen, the seeds of my salvation were sown by your honoring me when I did not deserve your honor.
Isn’t God a relational genius? And I have totally ducked the question tonight. So how do you raise kids without spoiling the upholstery? Truth is, you can’t. You just can’t. Kids are messy. See, back in the day, I was a single guy. Back in the ’90s, I had a muscle car. I drove a Dodge Stealth. At least a wanna-be muscle car. I thought it was very cool. I was single. I thought this will be a cool car. Might meet some sharp, professional, godly women might be attracted to me or maybe my car. Didn’t work. Didn’t reach those sharp, educated women. Now, my car, my Dodge Stealth tended to impress like the assistant night manager at Burger King at the drive-through at 2:00 in the morning. Like, oh, baby, I love your car, right? Not the kind I was looking for. But anyways, that car, because I was single, it was immaculate. It was so clean. I detailed that car. I waxed it. That car was spotless. But now I’ve got kids. And my kids tend to hang out in the back seats of my car. And them back seats, honey, they’re disgusting, aren’t they? Those kids, man, dirty and muddy and messy and petrified McDonald’s french fries, man. Kids are a mess. I don’t know how you raise kids without making a mess. Anyone you love, it’s going to be messy.
So two neighbors at the start of football season, one neighbor came out to his buddy and said why do you do that? Your lawn is beautiful most of the year, and then when football season begins, man, your boys will be out there and start playing football in your front yard with their cleats, and they rough house and they tear up your grass, and, man, they chew up your yard, and your yard looks terrible these months during the football. Why? Why don’t you care about your yard? To which the neighbor said no, you’re dead right. You’re so right. My kids do that. They mess up that yard. But you see, I’m not raising grass. I’m raising boys. And if you love someone, it’s going to be messy. You’re going to be imperfect, they’re going to be imperfect. You’re going to have to forgive each other a whole bunch, love each other, be redemptive.
But God wants to infuse our relationships with his greatness and his grace so that we’ll say yes to him. None of these principles are easy, and none can be applied on your own. It takes the Holy Spirit working through you, but you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, Christian person. If not tonight, you’re going to be smart and come give your heart to my Jesus, not by way of religion, but by way of relationship. A brilliant move. I challenge you tonight. Let’s love those messy people in our life. Messy people, messy kids, messy parents, messy in-laws, tough-to-love people, in Jesus’ name. Amen?
Father, we thank you, we celebrate you. You are a good God. And anytime I want to be impatient or frustrated or stressed out with anyone, may I be reminded of the cross where you shouldered my sin and my selfishness. And oh, what cosmic frustration, what a liability I am to you relationally. But Jesus, the perfect one, died for me. May that add muscle to our relationships. God, it’s hard to be a parent. Oh, my goodness. We’re using car metaphors to get a driver’s license. You’ve got to study for a written exam, got to take a road test, pass a vision test, then and then only perhaps they give you a license. But I remember the day when I walked out of the hospital with Charlie, and I thought, oh, my gosh. I didn’t have to take a test. I’m a dad. He is mine. And a year and a half later, I walked out thinking, oh, my goodness, she is mine. And all the men in the room understand the difference there. She is mine. All the pressure of raising a beautiful daughter in this generation. Six months ago, I’m walking out going, we’re in this thing again with a new baby. But by your grace Father, this imperfect dad desires to love and lead my children and my home in the ways of God. Lord, we love you, we listen, we celebrate you. And all God’s people said.