Steppin In It
January 17, 2009
LifePoint Church, how are you doing? I am so glad you are here today. I want to tell you; today we launched LifePoint Wesley Chapel. I just got here from there. The theatre that just the adults were in was over 60% full, first weekend. When I gave people a chance to invite Jesus into their life ‑‑ I’m just talking to the adults ‑‑ there were over 10 hands that went up of people that invited Jesus Christ into their life today. Aren’t you glad that we decided to go? Well today we kick off this new series entitled “Parental Elephants.”
Here is what we’re going to do: We’re going to talk about elephants. And we’re going to have this going over the next 6 weeks. And whenever we talk about them we’re going to do this right here. We’re going to talk about elephants. There’s an interesting thing about elephants. They’re incredible animals, incredibly brilliant, they never forget things, they can hear things amazingly and they love to roam. They are known to walk many, many miles to find food and water. They love to roam. And anything that gets in their way, they remove it. They knock down trees. They will knock down people. They will knock down homes. They will tear up anything that gets in their way. Now here is what you and I do, we invite these elephants to live in our homes. And there isn’t a lot of room in the homes yet they still want to roam. And they begin to trample and they begin to destroy. They destroy couches and they knock down walls. And they destroy things in our homes. Now your kids are not the elephants. The elephants are things; it is the obvious, damaging truth that we choose to ignore. Let’s say it together, the obvious, damaging truth that we choose to ignore. Now here are the things about elephants, we feed them. They love our home after a while because we feed them, and we feed them peanuts. Which by the way, elephants do not naturally eat peanuts. They have to be trained to eat peanuts. And we feed them. And this is really basic, but what goes in must come out. What I have here is a Tupperware of elephant crap, right here. I’m going to throw this out in the crowd ‑‑ no, I’m just joking. Now here is what happens, elephants poop in our home. They poop, and they poop a lot. And two things about poop is this, poop stinks. How many of y’all agree? Poop stinks. Another thing about poop is not only does it stink, but poop sticks to our shoes. How many of you have ever stepped in dog mess before? Don’t you just love that? It makes you just want to cuddle with them, doesn’t it? I love that.
Poop stinks and poop sticks. And we take it and we step in it and we walk and it’s all over our house. Then it gets to be so bad that it’s just too much to face and we just ignore it. Now here’s what we want to happen. Here’s what me and Stephanie want to happen in our home. We want the elephant to leave when we ignore it. That if I just ignore it the elephant will leave. The elephant will go away. It will leave. But elephants don’t leave because they like hanging out where they get fed. The longer they live there the more they think it’s their home. And poop is everywhere.
Now let’s talk about what some elephants might be. I know we have some of these in our home. Maybe you have some in your home. By the way, if you’re not a parent or you’re a grandparent or you don’t have any kids or maybe you’re single and you don’t want to ever get married and have kids. Or maybe you have kids and you don’t even want them. These principals apply to everybody because all of our life we deal with elephants. Over the next six weeks we’re going to talk about elephants. Every week we’re going to talk about stuff like ‑‑ let me give you a possible elephant: How your kids respond to you. Johnny, go pick up your room. How do they respond? You tell your kids what to do? We’re supposed to tell them? Is the Pope Catholic? Let me help you with something, you are the boss. I want you to say something. I’m the boss. Doesn’t that feel good? I’m the boss. I’m the boss. Doesn’t that feel good? It feels good. You are. You’re the boss, not them. How do they respond to you? Well they get mad and they say things to me and huff and puff. They are repulsed by me. Maybe there are some teenagers in the room and you’re thinking, you know I would love to listen to my parents but they’re just not with it. They are totally uncool. Let me tell you something, there was a day that your parents were cool then they had you and you made them uncool. Can I get an amen? There was a day that you were cool and then you had that little booger and they made you uncool. My daughter asked me the other day and she was serious as a blood clot. She said Daddy, were you a nerd even back in high school? I’m like, no. It mortified me, man. There was a day that I was cool. There was a day that I thought my dad was as cheesy as a ham and cheese sandwich, and now that’s me. How do they respond to you? Brad, they don’t respond well.
That’s an elephant. They don’t do what we tell them to do. They don’t do what we want them to do. They talk back to us. They scream and holler when we don’t give them the mac and cheese. That’s an elephant. Have you ever had something in your life that you ignored so long that you just don’t see it anymore? I remember when we moved into our home that we live in now. I think it was almost eight years ago. There was carpet in the den and it was this classic builder carpet that they put in when they build your home. It was white. So we moved in and it is wood floors now. Back then it was carpet and my kids destroyed it. There was this huge brown stain in the middle of the floor. We brought carpet cleaners and nothing got it out. It was awful. It looked like Mikael Gorbachev’s head. We would bring friends over ‑‑ we don’t do that anymore. It’s too humiliating. But we used to bring friends over and they would come in and we didn’t see it anymore. Steph and I didn’t notice it anymore. It was the thing that we didn’t deal with. People would come over and they would say dude, what happened to your carpet? Have you ever been to a restaurant ‑‑ I know you’re going to know this one.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and you are going on a date whether will it’s with your wife, husband, or you’re dating someone or you’re going out with a friend and you go to a restaurant and they bring you to the table next to the couple that has a little spawn that’s at the table and he is out of control. And they’re trying everything they can to keep this little 3‑year old boy happy. And they’re saying here’s some little fruit for you. He’s growling. What’s amazing is the couple lived like that so long that they’re carrying on a conversation. So tell me, you enjoyed reading that novel? Yes, I did. And people around them are saying, if you don’t take that kid out we’re going to take you out. Are you with me? Yes. How they respond to you. Here is maybe another elephant, how you respond to them. If I were to ask your kids, how do you respond? The words you say? The actions? There are elephants all around that. As a parent your relationship with Jesus, do you have one, number one? Number two, is it first in your life? My kids don’t really know. Yes, they do know. That’s an elephant. Your kids’ relationship with Jesus. Do you know that your kids have Jesus Christ living inside of them? Do you know that? How they respond to other people. How they respond to other adults. How they respond to people they work for. How they respond to other siblings. There are elephants all around those things. And here’s the question, why do you and I ignore them? Why do we ignore them and feed them peanuts and walk through the poop? I will tell you why, sometimes we just don’t know what to do. We were not raised as circus trainers. We were not raised in the greatest show on earth. We don’t know what to do. I mean I wish kids came with an owner’s manual but they don’t. Let me give you another reason why we ignore it. Some of us were with just raised with elephants. You grew up in a home where there were elephants. You grew up in a home where problems were ignored. Daddy would come home and he would lose his cool and he would hit mom or he would come home drunk and nobody talked about it. The next morning daddy was sober, we got up, everybody sat down and ate their Cheerio’s and nobody talked about it. We just ignored it. We saw momma flirt with other men when we were out at restaurants and we just didn’t talk about it. If you had problems in your life you just didn’t talk about them. You deal with it. You bury it. So listen, that’s not your fault. You were raised around elephants. So living with elephants is just normal. It is normal to live and walk through poop and smell it and see the elephants and deal with it. It is just normal. So life without elephants is more abnormal than life with elephants for you. Let me give you another reason why we ignore them. It is overwhelming. These creatures are huge. It is not taking a Poodle out. You are taking a massive peace of tonnage out. It is a major elephant. And they don’t like to be taken out. They like to stay there. They like peanuts. They enjoy the climate in the home. They enjoy it. It is air-conditioned when it is hot and it is warm when it is cold. They enjoy that. There is plenty of water and social interaction. They don’t want to leave. So it is overwhelming.
How do we ‑‑ we have been here so long with this elephant, how do we get this elephant out of here? How do we do it? Let me give you another one, we’re scared of the elephant. Elephants get mad and I may go over here to take this elephant out and it’s going to stomp my guts out. It doesn’t like me.
Let me give you another one, it is just too painful. See if I look at this elephant, if I face it then I have to face things that I have ignored. I have to face pain. I have to face issues. I have to face things in my life and I don’t want to face those things. Now here is the lie again that we believe, if I will just ignore it, it will go away. It doesn’t. It gets bigger. And it eats more and it poops more the longer it is in the home.
Now the good news is this, we’re not the first people to deal with this. In the Bible we find a story of a guy named Eli. You may not know about Eli. The story I’m going to tell you, most of you have probably never heard this story. It is one of those kind of hidden stories in the bible. Eli was the High Priest of Israel. Eli was the spiritual leader of the nation of Israel. He was like the pastor of the nation of Israel. And Eli had two sons in their teenage years. One was named Hophni. The other was named Phinehas. Hophni and Phinehas. And these two boys were totally out of control and had been out of control for some time. And God kept reminding Eli, Eli you better step forward, stop ignoring it and deal with it. Let’s pick up the story. You can find this on the screen or you can look inside your hot sheet. 1 Samuel chapter 2 verse 22. “Now Eli was very old” ‑‑ kids can make you old. They do. “But he was aware” ‑‑ underline that ‑‑ “he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.” He knew. He knew what his sons were doing. And he ignored it. He ignored the problem. Let’s keep reading, verse 23, “Eli said to them, ‘I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning?'” Verse 24, “‘You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?’ But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.” So not only does he ignore the problem, he confronts them without consequences. He avoids action. Because if there are consequences they get mad. So he gives them the old, boys, do you think it’s good what you’re doing? No, dad. Do you know that God is not a happy camper about what you’re doing? Yes, dad. Are you going to do it again? No, dad. He walks away and they laugh and go back to what they were doing. No consequences. He ignored the problem; he avoided action and number three, verse 29, now God has given Eli a chance.
Eli keeps ignoring the elephant. He keeps saying I’m not going to deal with it then watch what God does. “‘So why'” ‑‑ this is God talking to Eli ‑‑ “‘do you scorn my sacrifices and offering? Why do you give your sons more honor'” ‑‑ let’s read that again. “‘Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me‑ for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel.'”
Not only did Eli avoid the elephant, he ignored it, he didn’t take action, number two. Number three, he put his kids, he propped up his sons ahead of God. Eli was a kid centered parent, not a God centered parent. Now for some of you this is the first time you have ever heard this. I say this with all kindness and love to you. Kids are not to be the CEO’s of your home. Now they love the CEO chair. They love it. It fits their butt perfect. They love it. They love to give out orders. They love to determine the schedule. They love that. They love to lead and rule. Here are some examples of what kid centered parenting is. Our kids determine what we do. We would love to be more involved and we would love to be at church but our kids want to play sports that are on Sunday. We don’t want to tell them no. We don’t want them to miss out on that opportunity. Let’s talk about Tim Tebow for a minute. Does everybody know who Tim Tebow is from Florida? Listen, I’m not a Gator fan. I’m not a Gator hater but I’m not a Gator fan but I like Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is a phenomenal athlete. If you interviewed ‑‑ Bruce is friends with Tebow’s mom and dad. If you were to ask his parents, did Tim determine the schedule? No. It was not an option. God was not, coming to church, become a part of that, being involved was not an option. Because they knew their goal was not to raise a pro athlete. Their goal was to raise a kid who had a rabid passion for God. And if football came and football happened, great. If it didn’t, he still had a foundation in life that made a difference. It is the truth. And kid centered parenting is, well they just don’t want to do that. So. I’m the boss. Say I’m the boss. Say it again, I’m the boss. You sound good, do it again, time boss. Yes, you are. You’re the boss. Not them, you are. I never knew I was the boss. Yes, you are. You’re the boss. See, the greatest gift you can give your kids is not a Wii. I have a Wii; it is not the greatest gift. Listen, my kids play sports. I was at softball and baseball tryouts yesterday. My kids play they just don’t play during church. That’s a priority. That’s not an option. Now there are times you might have a noon game. He is here on oh Saturday night or the early service Sunday and then they go to the game. It is not, we just stay home and don’t go. No, it is a priority.
The greatest gift I can give my kids is a rabid passion for God, number one. Number two is a red hot marriage. Maybe that’s the elephant. Your marriage is sinking and you think your kids don’t know it but they do. They do. And your kids and my kids, they know if they’re the center. Does that mean we don’t love our kids?
I’m all for loving kids. I love my kids. I spend lots of time with my kids. I spoil my kids probably too much. I’m all for that. I’m not saying don’t love them. I’m saying love them. You love them most by putting God first.
Now let’s talk about what we’re going to do together over the next six weeks. Each week we’re going to deal with an elephant. Next weekend I’m going to speak on hosed. Anybody every been hosed? I’m going to speak on it next weekend and you’re going to have a ball.
The third week I’m going to speak on trampled. We’re going to tackle it. Every week here is what we’re going to do; we’re going to learn together how to stop ignoring the elephant. We’re going to learn how to go, there it is. That is powerful. Number two, you and I together, we’re going to learn how to take action. What is taking action? That means we’re going to learn how to walk through the mess for what’s best for our family. We’re going to learn together how to practically apply the truths that help us lead the elephant out of the building. Interesting thing that I want you to take home be you, a verse that is going to be a verse we’re going to revisit over and over again throughout this series. Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and honesty protect me for I put my hope in you.” We’re going to learn how to be people of integrity and honesty as parents. I’m not saying you’re not a good parent right now. You are. We’re going to learn how to be great parents. Now interesting, about poop, you know elephant poop is used for some amazing things. It is used to provide fuel and warmth all over the world. Did you know they make paper out of elephant poop? They do, paper that is put in school books where kids learn how to read and write. Did you know that elephant poop is used as fertilizer to help provide food all over the world? Do you know that in some parts of the world homes are built from elephant poop? The whole home is built out of elephant poop. You think your home is crappy ‑‑
Here is what I want you to take away. Only Jesus can make something beautiful out of poop. Isn’t that good? And when we say Jesus we’re going to stop ignoring it, we’re going to give this to you, he takes the mess, he takes the mistakes, and he makes something amazing out of it. And only Jesus, not Dr. Phil, only Jesus can do that. Let’s pray.