February 8, 2009
How are we doing? I’m so glad that you guys are here tonight. We’re talking about Parental Elephants. Basically if you haven’t been here, here is what we’re talking about. The elephant in the room. Now you’re saying, what’s the problem with the elephant in the room? They’re not supposed to be in the room. If they’re in the room and they’re ignored, they eventually destroy the room. Now what we want to happen is we want to ignore it. And we’re hoping that if we ignore it long enough that eventually their ears will start flopping because they’re irritated and they’ll leave. But they don’t. They stay. And where they stay, they destroy. They knock down walls, they knock down relationships. They destroy. And several weeks ago we began to tackle each week a major elephant that most parents ignore, that most of us, maybe not all at the same time, but throughout our parenting life we ignore it. Tonight we’re going to talk about the elephant of red flags. When you see a red flag out at the beach does that tell you it’s a good day to go swimming at the beach? No. It means that there is a pretty strong rip current. It means you’re putting your life at risk in that. See here is the elephant we’re going to talk about tonight. The red flag is waving in our homes as parents. And even though it’s waving and saying your child is in danger. Your child is floundering. Your child is going down a path that is going to destroy their life. What we do is because it is so painful to dig into that we ignore it and we hope that it will go away. I want you to write this statement down. If you don’t get anything else tonight I want you to get this. What I approach casually will lead to casualty. Write that down. What I approach casually will lead to casualty in the life of my child. See here is a truth that’s hard for us to face is that the enemy, Satan, wants the life of your child. He wants their hopes. He wants their future. He wants their purity. He wants their relationships. He wants their innocence. He wants the life of your child more than you and I are willing to face reality because of pride, because of fear, we don’t want to face it. I don’t want to make you fearful. That’s not my heart. But we’re going to talk about awareness. You say, well my kids are only three. You need to hear it. My kid is an infant. You need to hear it. My kids are grown. You need to hear it. Because there are red flags waving, big time. It would take two days to go through all of them, but let me give you some. Suddenly grades change. Suddenly where your kids were ‑‑ I’m not talking about them going from D’s to A’s. I’m not talking about that. That would be a good thing. I’m talking about, they go South. Now that could be for a number of reasons, but whatever reason it is, it’s not good. Let me give you another one. You begin to notice that they pull back from you.
When you are trying to connect with them and reach out to them you can’t reach them. You try to contact them on their cell phone and they don’t answer you. When they come home they go to their room and shut their door. They don’t want to be around you. And listen, I realize that all of us as parents become lepers at a stage in the life of our kid. I know that. Our kids, we are the absolute most stupid creatures that ever walked on the Earth at certain stages. I know that. My parents were absolute idiots from when I was 12 to when I was about 19. They were idiots. And they were even idiots at some levels until I became a parent. Then I realized how brilliant they actually were. Parents out there, you know what I’m talking about, right? All of the sudden there is a coldness. I’m not saying 15 year old boys just want to be sitting up in the recliner on their daddy’s lap all the time watching television. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m talking about there is a distance that wasn’t there and is now there and it is drastic. Let me give you another one, relationships with the opposite sex that spring up out of nowhere. They are in a hot and heavy relationship with someone of the opposite sex or they’re in a hot and heavy relationship with someone of the same sex. Are you saying ‑‑ yes, big time. Do you see that? That’s a red flag. Does that mean they’re a bad kid? No, that doesn’t mean they’re a bad kid. It is a red flag. If you have daughters, her dress suddenly becomes more provocative. It’s a red flag. If you hear them talking and dropping the names of adults and you don’t know who those adults are that they’re dropping the names of, that’s a red flag. They begin to lose interest in things that once were very important to them. They loved soccer. They played soccer then all of the sudden they lose interest in that. I’m not talking about they move from soccer to wanting to do dance. I’m talking about all of the sudden they don’t want to do it and they want to be with these other people and they feel like they need to be with these other people and if they’re not with these people then something is not right. That’s a red flag. Does that mean that their whole life is ruined? No. It just means it’s a red flag. When someone else has a greater seed of influence in their life than you do as a parent, that’s a red flag.
Even with our kids when they’re younger, here’s the question that you and I have to ask: How are you and I responding to the red flag? Are you responding clueless? I’m going to ignore that. Or are you responding with humility and brokenness and saying I want to do ‑‑ I want to step to the plate as a mom, as a dad, as a grandparent, I want to step to the plate and face this elephant? I want to respond to the red flag and learn how to lead the elephant out of the room. Look at what the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8. I’m only going to give you one verse tonight. Look at this verse. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy.” Notice it doesn’t say watch out for your average enemy. It doesn’t say watch out for your small enemy. It says “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking” ‑‑ he’s pursuing, he’s prowling ‑‑ “for someone” ‑‑ put your kid’s name there. My son’s name is Landon. Looking for Landon. I have a daughter named Katherine. Looking for Katherine. I have a daughter named Caroline. Looking for Caroline. Put your kid’s name there. Looking for someone to devour. His goal is not to sidetrack. His goal is to shipwreck. His goal is to tell them lies, to speak lies into their life, and for you to approach that casually; for you to approach Jesus casually; for you to approach your faith casually; for you to approach these issues casually. Because if you approach them casually, what will happen is what happens and it’s happened since the beginning of time. Where parents approach casually it always leads to casualty. See I’m clueless as a parent, many times. We’re clueless to our wisdom and insight.
Let me give you some things. I’m not a bad news guy. I’m a good news guy but these are just realities. We are clueless to the availability of sex to our kids. You say, well my kid is only ten. Available to ten year olds at school. You are living in a fog if you think sex isn’t happening in middle schools. Do you realize that locally here ‑‑ I’m not talking about on the west coast. I’m talking about right here. Fifty percent of every student who will graduate from Horton High School has had sex. Fifty percent of every student that will graduate from Wiregrass High School has had sex. Fifty percent of the high school students at Life Point Church, fifty percent of the ones that are represented in this room, fifty percent have had sex. Twenty five percent use illegal drugs. One out of five have contemplated suicide, one out of five. Forty percent have inflicted self injury upon themselves. Forty percent of local kids. We’re clueless. I’m not saying that everybody is but there are parents in this room, you approach this casually. You don’t want to know those things.
You don’t want to hear those things. It is not fun to hear it. I realize that. I don’t like to hear those things either. But the fact is, it’s true. We’re clueless. We’re clueless to how hard the enemy fights for the life of our kids. You see, he knows more about my kids’ strengths and weaknesses than I do. He pursues my kids when I’m not pursuing them. He’s pursuing them when I’m pursuing them and when I’m not pursuing them. He is working on his relationship with him when I’m asleep at the wheel with my relationship with them. He is never casual. He takes it very serious. That’s why he prowls. He doesn’t prowl because it’s a casual thing; it is because he’s on the hunt. He needs that life. He needs that blood. He needs it. And from the beginning of time the enemy has wanted to destroy the seed because the seed is potential. The seed is the future. Let’s go back to Moses, the story of Moses. Pharaoh said I want every Jewish boy murdered. And Moses’ mama hid him in a basket in the bulrushes and spared his life. Why? Because the enemy wanted to destroy the seed. Baby Jesus. Herrod hears that the King of the Jews has been born. He said I want every boy, every Jewish boy two years of age and younger wiped out, murdered. Why? Because the enemy always wants to destroy the seed. He wants the life of your child. Nine out of ten older elementary, 4th, 5th grade, through high school, have viewed porn online. Nine out of ten. In their teenage years they will have viewed 14 thousand sexual references on television. Fourteen thousand.
Number 3, I’m clueless not only to my own wisdom and insight, I’m clueless to how hard the enemy fights for the life of my child. Number 3, I’m clueless to how much I need my church. Do you realize that in America right now ‑‑ let me give you a sobering fact. In America right now, 35% of adults ‑‑ that’s adults 18 years of age and older. 35% of adults in this country claim to be Christians. That is probably not totally that high. But they claim to have made a decision to invite Jesus into their life. They claim to be Christ followers, 35%. At the present rate that churches are reaching those ages 12‑17 ‑‑ at the present rate that churches in this country are reaching kids ages 12‑17, in five years that percentage ‑‑ because by the way, that age group of 12‑17 is the largest it has ever been in American history right now. That age bracket has never been as large as it is today. In the next five years the adult population in America will surge astronomically beyond what it has ever surged. At the present rate that churches are reaching kids in that age bracket, that percentage of people who have made the decision to follow Christ is going to go from 35% to 4%. Do you know why that is true unless we correct it? Because we take it casually. We take it like we do walking the dog. We take it like we do our golf game. We take it like we do coffee with our friends. We take those things casually and the red flag is waving.
Let me give you another one. I’m clueless to my potential as a parent. Some of you think that because you have messed up as a parent that you’re doomed to fail as a parent and that’s not true. The enemy wants you to think there is no way you could sit in the seat of influence in the life of your child and that’s not true. You have unbelievable potential as a parent. Your kids, even if they make you think they cannot stand being in the same room as you, every one of you, your children crave your approval. They crave your love. They crave your acceptance. You sit in an unbelievable position. Do you know that if the mom and dad both are passionate about God and attend church faithfully, 75% of those kids will follow in their parents’ footsteps. If only the mom does, it goes down to 15%. If only the dad does, it down to 55%. Hey dads, don’t underestimate your power as a father. That’s the reality. And the thing is, and I see this all the time, that the women are the spiritual leaders in the home. Not because they demand to be but because you won’t step up to the plate and be that. And your wife is dragging you to church and she’s dragging you to get involved. She is dragging you because she craves for you to be the man that God has called you to be and man up and be the spiritual leader in your home. God made your wife ‑‑ listen to me, I say this with all love. And I’m a man’s man. I’m going to shoot straight with you. God made your wife to crave your leadership. He did. It doesn’t mean that she’s weak; it means that’s the way God made her. And the spiritual temperature in the life of your child is in direct connection with the spiritual passion of the father. Does that mean when it’s only a single mom that that’s going to happen? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means it’s much more difficult that way. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen. God made you, dad, to be the ambassador of God Himself in the life of your child. What they learn about God first they learn from you. What we need right here in our community, what we need in our country is we need dads to man up and say I surrender my life to God and to be the man that God has called me to be in my home and in the lives of my kids. Can I get an amen out there? That’s the truth. I’m not saying that to be ugly to you or to shame you. Ladies, you need to support that. If your husband is trying and attempting to lead your home, support him. Undergird him. Encourage him. But mom and dad, you paint the picture of God in your home. Dad’s you’re a picture of God the Father. Mom, you’re a picture of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the comforter, the nurturer, and the glue in the home. If one parent is passionate and the other is not, there’s a missing dynamic in the home. It is critical. The flags will wave. Stay alert. Watch out. Our great enemy prowls like a roaring lion seeking, put your kids name there, to devour.
So Brad, how do we face this elephant? I’m going to give you three things quickly and then I’m through. The decision tonight for you and I is that I will be alert. I will respond. I will be alert. Okay, I see the red flag. What do I do? I will be alert in conversation. I’m going to give you three, conversation, investigation and education. What do you mean by being alert? You say you know what, I am going to pursue my children verbally. I’m going to pursue them.
I realize they can be a pain. I realize that sometimes if we’re nervous and we’re fearful and even prideful, if you go back two verses from the verse I read to you it says “In humility, humble yourselves to the power of God.” This issue of not wanting to face it deep down is a pride issue, many times. Because if I ask these questions and I really begin to find things that disturb me, then that makes me feel like I’m a failure as a parent and I don’t want to feel like I’m a failure as a parent. I’m with you on that. That’s only human. But our role is to pursue our kids. In other words, don’t just look at them in the face; look at their eyes when you talk to them. I mean, pursue them. Ask questions like how are you really inside? I mean, you’re proactive in getting alone with them and spending time with them and talking with them and asking them questions. I want to empower you, as parents you have every right to pursue them. You don’t need to be afraid of that. Well, they need their space. Listen, I realize there is an issue about space but if they’re under your roof and you’re paying the bills, you have every right to pursue them. When it comes to conversation, we ought to pursue them with passion even when they’re grown and on their own and married with kids. It’s our role as parents to pursue them. God pursues us. The father pursues the children. That’s God’s model to us. That’s what we do, we pursue them. Pursue them in conversation. Here’s another part of the conversation, when you pursue them and they begin to share truth with you ‑‑ by the way, let me back up here. What we want to cultivate in our homes is a freedom of openness in our home. If I’m not open about my flaws as a parent then I am communicating to my kids, you don’t communicate when you make mistakes. We’re going to make mistakes. I’m going to make mistakes as a dad. Stephanie is going to make mistakes as a mom. And my kids are going to make mistakes. I realize that. They’re going to make them and they do make them, all of the time. I want to communicate to them, I’m not excusing what you’ve done but I don’t want you to think you have to hide what you’ve done. Because there is nothing you can do that can change how much I love you. There is nothing you can do that can change the fact that you’re my kid. You can deny me as your parent. You can change your name. But if they take a DNA test of you and of me, my DNA runs in your veins and nothing can ever change that. You will always be my child. By the way, that’s how we know we can’t lose our salvation. If that’s true biologically, how much more true is that spiritually? When we give our lives to Jesus Christ we are more connected to him than your child is to you biologically. That’s why he said, I will never leave you or forsake you. That’s why he said, when you give your life to me your name is engraved upon the palms of my hand and nothing can erase your name from that. John 10, I give them eternal life and they shall never perish and nothing, no one can pluck them out of my hand. Forever they’re my kids. And when we have a culture of openness ‑‑ this is key now, listen ‑‑ when they share something with me, I lost my virginity.
If nothing changes, 50% of the parents in this room, you will face that in the life of your child. I lost my virginity. Now how we respond to that as parents is critical. I cannot believe that you ‑‑ please don’t do that. How I respond so communicates to them what their self worth is. It doesn’t mean you condone it but they need to know that you love them, accept them, and you want to do everything you can to help them. You love them. If you communicate shock and explosiveness at bad news, guess what you won’t be receiving anymore. It doesn’t mean it won’t be going on. You’re going to be in the dark and that’s not what you want. Is everybody with me out there? Now conversation is huge. I will be alert in that. I’m going to be proactive in that. And it starts now. Those of you who have small children, it starts now. Communicate, talk. Listen, we’re going to interact asking questions. Listen, I have kids, I’m with you. Sometimes we don’t want to do that because what they’re interested in, we’re not interested in. They’re interested in Pokémon and we’re not interested in Pokémon. They’re interested in baby dolls and we’re not into baby dolls. They’re interested in all kinds of stuff as they get older and we’re not interested in those things. It is our responsibility to get down on the level where they are. If your little boy is playing with army men on the floor, it is not your little boy’s job to talk about the economy. It is your job to take up interest in little army men. If your little girl is playing with baby dolls, if she wants you to come in there like my little girl does, they want you to play restaurant, they want to escort me to the table and serve me like a waitress and do all of that. They have this going on. It is not their responsibility to say dad, let’s talk about the vision of Life Point Church. What are the challenges you’re facing? It is my job to go in and sit at their little table and they bring up their little kitchen set of plates and I get down on their level, where they are. See, that’s what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t say hey, a little bit better. Make it up here to heaven. What did Jesus do? They’re hopeless without me. He came to where we were, where we are, which is good news for you and I. Some of you think, but Brad I can never get to where God is. And you’re right. But the good news is he is here tonight meeting you where you are. And as parents, you get to where they are.
Number two, investigation. We need to know who are the influencers in the lives of our kids and we need to make it a point to influence the influencers. We need to know who the friends of our kids are. It is important that we investigate. You say well Brad, my kid won’t like it. So. That’s not part of the deal. You’re in rescuing mode. You’re in rescuing mode. If they’re out there and they’re drowning in the rip current and you saw well they’ll be embarrassed if ‑‑ you don’t care about that. You’re going out there to spare their life. Investigation, knowing who their friends are, knowing who the influencers in their life are, knowing those things, investigating, and discovering. Find out what. They’re interested in. Ask questions.
Number three, and I’m through, education. We have hundreds of kids that come here. We average here close to a thousand kids a weekend that come here, from birth to 12th grade. That’s a lot of kids. Most parents in the Life Point family, most of them, not all of them, have no clue what happens in Life Point Kids, Revolution 58, which is our middle school environment, and Apex, our high school environment. I’m not saying that they’re against it; they’re just not engaged in it. The most important, vital influence in the life of their child, and you know how they approach it? You drop them off. You approach Apex, you approach Revolution, and you approach LPK like you approach Movie Co. You drop them off and you pick them up. You drop them off and you pick them up. And I’m glad you drop them off. I don’t want you to not do that. And by the way, this is a little side note. When your kid gets in trouble, whatever you do, please do not punish them from church. I mean, I’ve seen this. They’re not going to be able to go to Apex tonight because of their grades. Please don’t do that. Apex is not Movie Co. Apex is not the mall. We are your colabor. We are your teammate. We’re in the foxhole with you fighting for the life of your child. Please do not punish them from that. That’s crazy. What I’m saying is, you know what, and I’m going to find out. Josh and Bill, they want you to call them. They want you to ask questions. Those leaders, they want you to be involved. They know they can only connect so far. They’re only with them a couple of hours a week. You’re with them hundreds of hours a week. We’re not trying to take your place. We’re shouldering up with you, putting arms around you. We want to lift you up as parents. We want to undergird you and strengthen you and encourage you and help you. Conversation, investigation and education. Take advantage of opportunities. Get connected. Say you know what; I want to be interwoven in the fabric of my kid’s life.
I have to land the plane here. The takeaway for tonight is this, not to approach it casually. My prayer, our heart here at Life Point, my heart for you as your pastor is to help you. I know some of you, you’re a nervous wreck about your kids. My heart breaks for you. And I want to help you. That’s why there is more square footage in this building for kids than there is for adults. That’s why we put hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars every year into programming and staffing, for your kids to have a life change. So that when they no longer have to, they want to. Because there is an insatiable passion for God in their life. As parents, you have potential. Dads, listen, let’s man up. Let’s be the leaders that God wants us to be. Ladies, let’s be the moms that God wants you to be. Let’s be that. Let’s pray together.