February 22, 2009
Hey everybody, how are you doing? I’m so glad you’re here today. We’re closing up this series on Parental Elephants this weekend and we’re going to be talking about what really ties it all together. What is the bow around this entire series that we’re talking about? And I want to start this with a question, a probing question that I don’t want you to answer too quickly. Here it is, are you ready? How much do you love him? Don’t answer too quickly. How much do you love him? See, in this series we have talked about a lot of different elephants, these obvious, damaging truths that we choose to ignore. But as this being the last installment of this series, if you get discipline down and we do discipline well but our kids don’t have a passion for Jesus, we have failed them. If we get boundaries down but our kids don’t have a passion for Jesus, we have failed them. If we get the broken chair that I spoke on a few weeks ago, if we deal with all of the issues inside of us, if we face all of those things and say we want to parent from a healthy position but we don’t pass to our kids a passionate love for Jesus, we have failed them. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. We’ve failed them.
If we get ‑‑ a couple of weeks ago I talked about the dangers and protecting them and watching out for the red flags. If we get all of that right and we raise kids who are very successful, we raise kids who are model citizens, and we raise kids who have a great business mind, we raise kids that are great parents and we raise kids who have good marriages but they don’t have a passionate love for God, we have failed them. See the whole goal of parenting is this, when they don’t have to, they want to. When they don’t have to, they want to. You see this torch is my love for God. It is a picture of my love for God. This torch, it is just a picture of it. It is either lit or it’s not. It is either out or it’s on. And when it comes to your love and my love for God, our responsibility as parents is to pass to them in their life a lit torch. Now you can’t light it for them but you can show them what a lit torch looks like compared to a torch that is not lit and you can show them how to light the torch. You can show them the benefits of a torch that is lit. But here is what we do ‑‑ now I’m not saying it’s everybody. But here’s what we do, we want something else to light the torch. We leave the lighting of the torch to chance that we’re good parents, we provide for them, we keep them in a good and healthy environment then by chance they’re going to have a burning, lit up, rabid passion for God. I see that all the time. We approach the most insignificant things with great intention but the most important things we leave to chance. We’re more intentional about the CD’s we invest in than we are the passionate love affair with our God. Listen, I’m not shaming you. I’m with you, okay? I wouldn’t shame you for anything. It’s just truth. Not only do we leave it to chance but we love to give this and leave it in the responsibilities of church leadership. That’s Brad’s responsibility. You’re kids are in big trouble if it’s my responsibility. I have my hands full with three, much less a thousand kids. I’m going to leave it in the hands of Josh, our high school pastor. Or I’m going to leave it in the hands of Bill, our middle school pastor. Or I’m going to leave it in the hands of my Life Group leader. I’m going to leave it in the hands of this person. I’m going to leave it in the hands of Brian, our worship pastor. I’m going to leave it in the hands of other people and those people, if I just get them around those people, those people are going to light their torch for God. Does that happen? Very rarely. Because no one can show them how to light their torch, no one can show them what a life with a lit torch looks like better than you can as their parents. Not only do we leave it to chance, we leave it to church leadership, and we leave it to little bits of God.
When I was studying this and getting it ready this truth was unbelievable. Think about this, when you go get your flu shot, what does that shot consist of? It has a little bit of the strand of the flu bug. Right or wrong, what happens is you get a little strand of that flu bug in your system and your body builds up antibodies to it and your body builds up a resistance to it and your body becomes immune to the flu. The same is true with polo and measles and all of that. Your body builds up immunity. Here is what happens, parents. We give our kids a little bit of God, we give them a little bit of commitment, we give them a little bit of devotion, we give them a little bit of our passion for God and here is what happens ‑‑ and I have been in church my whole life. I have been in church my whole life. I have seen tens of thousands of people come in and go in my life. Most people, even the best of people, think if they give their kids a little bit of God that in the end little bits become a lot and it doesn’t work that way. Here is what happens. You give your kids a little bit of God; you give them just enough to become dangerous. You give them enough to become immune to the greatness of God. You give them a little bit of God, a little bit of devotion, a little bit of sacrifice, a little bit ‑‑ I give my kids just a little bit and I give them a strand of devotion and what it does is it creates a life that is immune to the greatness of God. Let me tell you something, listen. That’s the majority of the best of people that follow Jesus. I’m not talking about the majority of people that reject Jesus. I’m talking about the majority of people that claim to be followers of Jesus give their kids a little bit of God. Listen, I’ve been around it, grown up around it and I have seen it over and over and over again. Except in the 1% circumstances, the 99% if the parent’s passion for God is here the kids, at best, will be here. That’s the way it is. Now there are rarities. There are exceptions. I have seen it where the parents ‑‑ both of them had nothing to do with God, completely rejected God, completely lived life devoid of God in their life and their kids turned out to be raging, passionate people. That’s the 1%. It does happen but it’s 1%. The odds are not in your favor with that. If I’m here my kids will be here. And here’s what we’re going to talk about this weekend: How you and I get our torch lit. And we’re going to talk about not only how to get our torch lit but how to help our kids light their torch. Because if we don’t, our kids go through life in darkness. Now listen, we can say whatever we want to say but they have walked through life with their parents holding an unlit torch. They know what it’s like to be cold and there is nothing to warm them up. They know what it’s like to try to cook with ice cubes. We can say what we want to say but our kids know the truth. And they will only want what you create an appetite in them for. If you create an appetite for money, they will go after money. If you create an appetite for possessions, they will go after that. If you create an appetite for sports and sports is the deal in your life, your kids will crave that. And if you have an appetite, a passion for your God that made you, it’s not a guarantee but the odds are through the roof that your kids will follow in your footsteps.
You say, well what if my kid doesn’t have a passion for God? They can still be a good citizen, yes. But let me show you the reality of that. Judges chapter 2. Let me give you the context of this story. Moses had died; Joshua followed Moses as the leader of Israel. For many years Joshua led them. Joshua led them into the land that God had promised them. God met their needs, I mean an unbelievable story of God’s provisions. But God gave these parents in the nation of Israel specific instructions. When you go into this land you’re going to go into a land that is full of people that don’t worship me. They worship water, they worship the sun and they worship all of these different things. I’m going to lead you into this land but you’re going to face this when you go in there. Do not adopt the gods of these people. I am your God and it is vitally important that when you go into this land that you teach them my ways. Before we read this story in Judges I want us to go to Deuteronomy 6 in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:4, here is what God told them. “‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.'” Verse 10, “‘The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'” God told them that. They go into the land and everything looks good. They go into the land and they start disobeying God and adopting and embracing things that God told them not to embrace. And man they partied like rock stars. And I mean they thought well lightening is not flashing from the sky and things aren’t changing. This is pretty good. This life is okay. And what happened was they were living life as a nation with a torch that wasn’t lit. Now let’s find the repercussions of that, many, many, many years later in Judges Chapter 2:10. It is a sobering verse. “After that generation died” ‑‑ that was the generation that went into the land ‑‑ “another generation grew up” ‑‑ this is their kids ‑‑ “who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” You see the elephant in the room today is that we’re passing off, we’re expecting someone else to light the torch, someone else to show our kids how to have a lit up, passionate love for God. And if we don’t change our thinking in that there’s a 99% chance they won’t have it. That’s the elephant in the room. That’s why I said last weekend and this weekend were the two most important. I dealt with affection and attention and affirmation last weekend and then to wrap it all together, a passion for God. If they get everything else but not that look what happens.
Oh my soul, look at this, verse 11. “The Israelites did evil” ‑‑ these are their kids ‑‑ “in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods” ‑‑ that’s a key phrase right there and notice that’s a lower case “g” right there, that means it’s not the real God ‑‑ “worshipping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions.” Underline that. “He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went to the battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.” Here are the repercussions of casually dealing this with this elephant is, the blessing of the blessed life of our kids is robbed from them. We lead our kids into a life that’s empty. We lead our kids into a life that doesn’t fulfill them. We lead them into a life, into a way of living that instead of partnering with God and living in the flow of God’s plan for their life; we lead them into a life where they’re butting heads with God for their life. And when you butt heads with God, life doesn’t work. Relationships don’t work. You don’t find purpose in life, you don’t find fulfillment in life butting heads with God. You say why is that? I’m a good person, I believe that. Here is why, it’s the same for me as it is for you. You were made for God. God created you and he made you for him. He didn’t make you for you. You are made for the purpose of worshipping God, loving God, bringing happiness ‑‑ the word for that is glory ‑‑ bringing glory and happiness to God with your life. That’s why you’re made. You’re not made to just live, feed, breed and die. You’re made for God. That’s the foundation of all excitement, all happiness, all fulfillment that really lasts is life is not about you, it’s about God. As long as you think my life is about me and what I want and what I want to have and what I want to accomplish and what I want to own, as long as I see life that way I’m butting heads with God. See, when we live unlit, we’re modeling that life. You wouldn’t lead your kids into a snake pit knowingly because of danger. When we take the relationship with God casually, we’re leading our kids into a life ‑‑ I know it’s their choice but they’re following examples, we all learn from examples. We’re leading them into a life where they’re going to butt heads with God. And I believe deep down in your heart, if you could remove all of the stuff around them, all of the distractions, you really want your kids to partner with God. You want your kids ‑‑ I do ‑‑ to know what it means, to know what it’s like to live in the supernatural blessings of God upon their life. I believe that. I believe you love them. I believe you’re crazy about them. I believe you want that for their life but it doesn’t happen by chance. Here are several questions I want you to ask yourself. It is under the big question of how much do you love him? Do you have a passionate love for God? Do you have that? I don’t mean do you come to church? That’s good
That’s not what I’m talking about. Do you have a rabid, red hot, lit up passion for God? Do you have it? Number two, do you have a passionate love for his church? See, if you love God you’ll love what he loves. God loves the church because the church is people. The Bible says that he loves the church and he gave his life for the church. That’s why happens here at LifePoint Church and at other churches is not a game. That’s why I take it so seriously. Now we have fun. Anybody who has been here more than once knows we have fun. We laugh. We have a good time. We rock out. It is a great place to be but we take it serious because there is nothing happening in this city at this moment that’s more important than what’s happening in this room. There is not a ball game, there is not a deal, there is nothing more important than what’s happening in this room right here, right now. That’s it. Not because I am the pastor. Listen, there have been more years of my life when I wasn’t the pastor and I was sitting where you’re sitting then as a pastor. And I believed it there like I believe it here. It is the most important thing. God gave his life for it.
Here is the question you have to ask. Are you leasing or loving his church? See, if we’re not careful we lease it. What’s a lease? You pay for a certain time then when you get ready for a trade-in you go and trade up for something else. Here is what I’ve watched happen over the years. The larger LifePoint grows the more people lease. I’m not saying that to be ugly. I love you. I’m just being honest. Here is what leasing looks like. We’re consistently late, all of the time. I don’t mean you have a rough morning and you’re late. I’m talking about a consistent pattern in your life, you’re late. We’ll get there when we get there. Not only do we get here late but we lounge and want you to entertain me. Maybe I will get something. Maybe I’ll write a few things down. Then here is another major sign of leasing, you leave before the offering. I wish you could stand up here with me. When I say offering you watch people and they are gone. Now listen, we’re having fun. Listen, you’re leasing. You’re leasing. See here is what happens if you don’t correct that pattern in your life. LifePoint is going to wear out on you. It is going to wear out because your heart is not in it and I’m going to tick you off eventually. I don’t want to but I will. I love you. I don’t understand how somebody can’t love me but there are people that don’t. Like I have said hundreds of times, I look myself in the mirror and I think how can anyone be mad at this face? I love me. I think other people ought to love me but that’s not always true. I’m not going to make you happy all the time. I love you. My job is not to make you happy; it is to make you more like Jesus. I’m not only happy patrol; I’m on the Jesus patrol. Now listen, here’s what happens if you don’t correct that pattern in your life. It is going to wear out on you and you will get to a place and go you know, it’s just not doing it for me anymore. It is time for a trade in, a trade up for something else.
Now contrast that with loving. Here is what love is. I realize that I have been rescued with a role to play. I have been rescued with a role to play. Love it as I realize that my first love, which is God, loves it, gave to it, sacrificed for it and died for it. And because my first love loved it at that level, I want to love it at that level. Are you with me? It is saying God ‑‑ see you have to ask, do I have a passionate love for God? Do I have a passionate love for his church? Leasing or loving.
And number three, do I have friendships with people who are passionately in love with him? Not that all my friends need to be that way but do I have that? Do I hang with people who are negative about the things of God? Do I do that?
Now I want to take a couple of minutes and share with you how you light the torch. Here is how you light it. You intentionally pursue ‑‑ not casually pursue ‑‑ intentionally pursue a love affair with God. Come on baby, light up. Notice it takes time. We have already talked to the fire marshal. Everything is okay. Now here is how I pursue a passionate love for God. I pursue what God loves the most, the hearts of people. God loves the hearts of people more than trees. God loves the hearts of people more than cars. God loves the hearts of people more than the DOW and so do you. God loves the hearts of people and it starts with my heart.
Here it is, are you ready? Here is what it is as parents, 3 things. We give in. God, I’m giving in my life to you. I’m giving in. I’m caving in. I want to run to you. I want to be with you. I want you to be the leader of my life. I want you to be the light in the darkness. I want you to be the warmth in the cold. I want you to cook my food. I want you. I want you. I run to you when I’m in trouble. I run to you when I’m happy. I run to you when I’m breathing. I run to you in every facet of my life. I give in and run to you. I give in. Number two, I give up. It is a life of surrender. I give up my rights. I give up the thought that I’m here for me. I give in. I give up. Then number three, I give out. You know more than I want to see LifePoint grow numerically, and I love seeing that happen, what I want us to be known for more than anything is to be the most giving church in this city. We may not have the greatest of all things, we may not have all the bells and whistles, but listen, we can be the most giving people in this city. We can be that. You know, I get asked because a lot of you know my dad was a pastor ‑‑ he’s soon going to be one of the pastors here. They’re going to move in a few weeks. I get asked ‑‑ he is going to work on our team with me and be working with Tim. I get asked Brad, your dad was a pastor, we always hear horror stories about kids whose parents were pastors in church. What did your parents do that created a passion in you for God? I thought about that big time. Here is what I would say and my mom and dad were not perfect. They made mistakes and would be the first to tell you that.
Here’s what they did and you will see this in the character of their life when they come here. They will be mortified to know that I just said this but you will see it in the character of their life. They’re givers. My dad and mom live by the philosophy, they a find a need and meet it. And they don’t do it for recognition. They don’t do it for somebody to clap. All of my life I watched my parents give to people. I have watched them buy cars for people. I have watched them buy homes for people. Not because they were wealthy, because they weren’t. They sacrificed and did without. We didn’t have the best sound system. We didn’t have the best car. They saved money and they bought it for people. I watched them do that. I have watched them support missionaries. I have watched them help people have surgeries they couldn’t pay for. I have watched my mom and dad over and over and over and they didn’t say Brad watch us. It was the fabric of their life. And you know what? There is something addicting about that. There is something real about that. There is something that is just incredible. Give in, give up and give out. Say that with me. Give in, give up and give out. Now listen, when you and I live that way our kids see that we have a legit, real, with integrity, passion for God. And they will want it. Maybe not when they’re 14 because they don’t know what they want when they’re 14. But they’ll want it. Because they’ll find that walking through life with a torch that’s lit in a world that’s dark sure beats the snot out of walking in the darkness without any light. Let’s pray together