TEAM FAMILY SERMON SERIES
THE PUCK STOPS HERE
PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY ZONE
MAY 3, 1998
As the Dallas Stars make their Stanley Cup run, we are going to hear a lot of talk about the marquee players, the Madanos and the Newendykes. But if you know anything about hockey, and I know just a little bit, the most important position on the team is the goalie. It is his agenda night after night to guard, to block, to protect his zone. He knows that his opponents will be slapping shot after shot his way and he has got to stand in front of a 4’ by 6’ mesh net and keep the puck out of his team’s net. Every time he hits the ice he knows he has got to keep the other team from scoring. Just go to a hockey game like Lisa and I did this past Thursday night and watch the goalie work. He will use anything and everything to stop the puck. He will use his padding, his hockey stick, his glove, his skates to protect the zone.
Today we are going to talk about protecting the zone. Not a zone in Reunion Arena, but a zone that we call the family zone. In a real way, the opposition is slapping shot after shot our way. And, parents, we have got to become the goalies. We have got to deflect and defend our 4’ by 6’ mesh net called the family team, the family unit. And it is tough. It is challenging. It is difficult.
When I watched that game this past week, I said to Lisa, “Honey, it is amazing how guys that big can skate that fast and fight that hard.” Well, in a real way, families, we have to skate that fast and fight that hard to do what God wants us to do to have a successful and winning family team.
For starters, let’s talk about the goalie. We, as parents, are going to have to put on the gear of the goalie if we are going to be about our theme, our agenda, the game plan that God wants us to live out. The New Testament writer of Ephesians records much concerning parent-child relationships and the husband-wife connection. He concludes his great work by talking about some equipment, some gear that we all must wear. Now any good goalie would not enter the ice without his gear because, if he did, he could get killed. Here is the kind of gear that we need to wear.
Ephesians 6:10ff. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
So are we tracking here parents? Do we understand the concept that we are goalies, that we need to get on the gear, the equipment of the goalie? Also, if you are a great goalie, part of a super hockey team, you are going to understand and study and know your opponent. You will study game films. You will know when and where and how they are likely to slap a shot toward the net. Any great team will do this. And it is surprising that families never take the time to study the opposition. They never take the time to scout the opposition, to know when, where and how slap shot after shot will be sent toward the family team. If you look around, the family team is losing. We are having a tough go because we are getting beaten by a formidable opponent but not an opponent that can’t be beaten.
The opponent I am talking about is the evil one himself, Satan, and he is joined by all of his forces. The evil one plays the same old game, runs the same old offense, shoots the same old shots he has done for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. He does not have any new tricks, any new plays. He just does what he has always been doing and he is having his way, for the most part, with the family. Did you hear what I said, though? He is formidable but beatable.
We have got the gear on, we understand who the opposition is, now I want to share with you several slap shots that the family team must protect itself from. And these slap shots are viscous and they come screaming at you at record pace. However, if we do what we are going to talk about now, we can win the game and have a great team.
First. We have got to block the shot toward our marriage. The marriage is the precedent setting relationship of the family. We have got to nurture it, guard it, protect it and hold it high. Satan knows that if he can mess up a marriage, it will mess up the family. Then it will mess up the neighborhood. And if he messes up the marriage, the family and the neighborhood, the community is messed up. Do I have to explain? He hates for a husband and a wife to love each other. He despises the fact when he sees two human beings, a man and a woman, really communicating, really connecting. He knows the marriage is the backbone of the team. Little teammates get all of their cues from their parents. They understand what commitment is all about, what love is all about, what trust is all about, what conflict resolution is all about. They see that in the marriage and we have got to block shot after shot toward the marriage.
Well the question is, how do we do this? How do we get involved in this process? Let me give you some suggestions. First, carve out some quality time weekly for just the two of you. It could be breakfast. It could be lunch. It could be dinner. It could be a date night. Carve out that time and watch what happens to your teammates after your marriage begins to take off.
Another suggestion. Get over grudges rapidly. Talk to professional hockey players. I have known a couple in my life and they all say the same thing. If they get upset at the guy who messed them around the game before last, they will become so focused on the grudge that they forget the game plan. There are a lot of marriages here that are so into the grudge thing, the unforgiveness thing, with icy feelings toward each other, that they are missing the bigger picture. We have got to get over grudges rapidly. The Bible says not to let the sun set on your anger. Get rid of it by that night. Don’t go to bed with frosty feelings toward each other.
Another suggestion. Establish a mutually enjoyable activity. One of the major needs of men and women is for recreational companionship. Husbands and wives, I have got to ask you. Do you have something that you do together that you mutually enjoy? Antiquating. Reading. Playing tennis. Running. Traveling. Whatever it is, find something that you both enjoy. I know it sounds trite, even a little bit flippant, but it matters. It is important. It will help you block the shot that the evil one slaps at your marriage.
Second. We are to guard our children’s relationships. So we have blocked the first slap shot. Now we have got to guard against the second slap shot. For the past nineteen summers I have been leading hundreds of junior high and high school students down to a beach for a camp and retreat type experience. I talk with them and teach them and just chill out with them. It is something that I am committed to do and I am going to keep on doing it until I go to be with the Lord. In the second week of June we are doing it again. The buses will leave this parking lot for Panama City, Florida. And I challenge you, parents, to have your young people on that bus. It can be a difference making week for them.
When I talk to these young people and especially when I am dealing with some of their problems, many refer back to a common action. They have chosen the wrong friends. It never fails. They always say, “Well, Ed, I got into this drug problem because of who I associated with.” Basically, these children are living out what their parents did or did not do. Moms and dads, your children take their relational cues from you.
Just for example, go through your relational portfolio for a second. Think about your best friends like I did this week. Your children’s friends will be a lot like the friends that you have right now. It is kind of scary, isn’t it? But, parents, if you choose friends who hold up the same transcendent values that you do, there is a great chance that your children will do the same. That is why you will hear me beg you to make your relational base the local church. When you do that, chances are that you will meet other like-believing friends, children and adult. One of the reasons, as this church grows larger and larger, that we want to grow smaller and smaller and connect you with a small group is because that is where life change takes place. That is where you will meet other families like your family.
But, parents, you cannot tell your children not to associate with ungodly friends when your best friends are ungodly. You can’t do it. Your walk and talk must be in rhythm, in sync. What kind of relationships do you have? Are you monitoring your relationships? Are you guarding your children’s relationships? Sometimes you have to step in and say that they may not invite a certain person over to the house, go out to eat or go on the trip with them. And even though your children whine and moan and cry and get upset, you have got to say, “I am sorry, we are not going to have a relationship like that. Your Dad and I don’t and you are not. What they do is not honoring God. What they do is going to drag you down. It will keep you from being the person we want you to become.”
And if you don’t believe the power of friendships, just read the life and times of Samson. I did a series on Samson about a year ago. Samson was a He-man with a she-weakness. He had it going on. God had tapped him on the shoulder to be a great leader. His parents told him not to hang out with the Philistines, an ungodly people. And Samson turned his back on his parent’s wishes and you know the story. He got together with them and because of that he ended up breaking God’s principles and God’s will for his life. And Samson’s existence was a tragedy of what might have been. What happened? His parents dropped the ball. They told him not to hang out with the Philistines. But they should have stepped in and said, “You are not going to do this. God has placed us in authority over you. You are not going to the Philistine neighborhood.” But they didn’t do it. They kind of played hands off. And too many parents are playing hands off. And sadly they call us to say, “My young person is in trouble. My young person is with the wrong crowd.” And we want to say to these parents, “Hey, you should have stepped in about five years ago. Where are you? Wake up. Smell the coffee.” Guard our children’s relationships.
Third. We need to protect our family’s media intake. One of the major shots that Satan hits our way is the media shot. Moms and dads, I want to take you on a trip down memory lane. Who was your favorite band or musician? The Beatles? Elvis? Fleetwood Mac? Van Halen? BonJovi? U2? We all would be hard pressed to come up with a song that is two or three decades old that glorified rape, robbery, assault or a perverted sexual act that depicted suffocating a woman. I tried to do it but couldn’t. It wasn’t there.
In 1981 Satan hit an incredible shot and it hit our culture right between the eyes. MTV began. Music Television has transitioned from a curiosity to a cultural and economical powerhouse. Founder Bob Pitman states, “Children don’t just watch MTV, they live it.” The average teenager from the 7th to the 12th grade will spend 10,500 hours listening to rock and roll music. One commentator said, “Watching MTV is like playing Russian Roulette. You never know when the gun is going to go off.” But friends, the guns have been going off, haven’t they? We have got to take our heads out of the sands of denial and see what we are up against here. This is serious stuff. This is overt stuff.
Trent Reasnor of the Nine Inch Nails, who incidentally was voted the most influential rocker in 1998 said recently, “Rock and roll should be about rebellion. It should ________ your parents off and it should offer some element of taboo. It should be dangerous, you know.” Marilyn Manson said, “I had my 11 year old brother on stage in one of the shows. It was like child pornography.” We are talking about some mainstream, popular bands and musicians here.
Just peruse your kid’s CD titles. Read the lyrics. They have three major themes; sex, violence and rebellion. You may say that they just hear the beat but the songs do not mess with their minds. You may say that music could not be that powerful. Well, let’s say you listen to a song called Cream by Wou Tang Clan. Let’s say you hear it about 25 or 50 times. You may think it would not influence you, affect you or change your behavioral patterns. But I beg to differ. Read chapter 11 of I Samuel. David, called the man after God’s own heart, glanced once toward Bathsheba and he lost it all. So don’t even tell me that music is not influential. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that there is a strong correlation between the core values of the music today and how those values are portrayed and lived out by young people. Am I saying that all secular tunes are demonic or bad or evil? No. There are some videos that are inspiring. A few are benign. But 99% have sex, violence and rebellion as the major theme.
Parents usually treat this topic with one or two solutions. Some parents are the “earmuff-blinder” parents. They try to keep their children from ever listening to anything secular. They think that if they do that, the problem will go away. The difficulty with this is that blocking your kids from everything like that will fire up their curiosity and they will want to explore it more and more. You don’t want to go there.
Another group of parents is the “love beads-leisure suit” parents. They are the ones who say, “Hey, man, I made it through the 60s. I made it through the 70s. It didn’t effect me too much. It didn’t mess with my mind. Surely it is not going to hurt my child.” It is a different ballgame today. Totally different.
How about television. US News & World Report recently checked out a seven day time span on prime time television on the major networks. They didn’t study cable television or the tabloid shows, just ABC, CBS and NBC. Their statistical data is startling. They found that there was a sexual act or sexual reference every four minutes in prime time. They counted fifty crimes and twelve murders per hour. They found that premarital sex was portrayed eight to one compared to sex within the marital context. With 98% of American homes having television and the average family watching TV seven hours a day, we have given the tube the roll of parents. We have let it become our babysitter, our children’s teachers and mentors and we are losing the battle.
How about movies? Movies are powerful. There are some good movies out there. But a lot of them aren’t. I am appalled by what movies parents let their children watch. I cannot believe it. Parents, you are going to have to search long and hard to find one R-rated movie that holds up the values mentioned in scripture. And these movies and videos that a lot of children are watching are messing them up. Satan is just laughing as he is scoring shot after shot. And instead of parents protecting the family zone, wearing the gear of the goalie, many are out there doing flying camels and figure eights and allowing him to score. And the red light is flashing; another goal, another goal, another goal.
Movies are powerful. A couple of months ago I was loading some stuff in my truck and my six year old, EJ, was helping with some boxes. He dropped one and said, “Dan.” I said, “EJ what did you say?” He replied, “Dan.” Well, he was trying to say damn. I asked where he had heard that word and he replied, “I watched a video called Jingle All The Way yesterday.” So don’t tell me that children don’t pick up all of that stuff. We have got to monitor and guard the music, television and movies. We can’t tell our children not to watch that movie or make that media choice when we are doing just that. A lot of Christ believers and Christ-following parents publicly express outrage at what is going on in the media. But they will also be over at AMC 30 in stadium seating, stuffing their faces with popcorn, watching movies that trash the truth and totally undermine the values that they are trying to teach their children. It is a walk and talk thing, parents. I can’t tell my children to stay away from something if I am doing it, nor can you. But the stakes are sky high. It is that important.
So what do we do about it? What do we do about this media thing? A couple of suggestions. First, teach your children how to think, how to make a read or call on a song, a movie, a television show. Teach them to think about the lyrics and what is going on. Recently our eleven year old wanted to buy a CD by Shania Twain. Lisa went with her to buy it and said that together they would sit down and listen to the words. There were two songs that she could listen to on the CD. One song was titled, “Whose Bed Has Your Boots Been Under?”. Lisa asked LeeBeth if that was what she was being taught, the values in the Bible. After realizing that she could only listen to two songs on the whole CD, she just trashed the CD.
But, parents, don’t miss what I am about to say. Teaching your children how to think is important. But you don’t allow them to make the choice or decide for themselves should they or should they not listen to certain music or watch a movie or television show. Yet, parents say that they want the children to choose. Hey, one day we are going to have to face the Lord, Himself, and He is going to ask us individually what kind of media choices did we put in front of our children’s eyes and hearts and minds. So, let’s try to teach them how to think. But then we must say, “This song is about premarital sex and we are not going to listen to it in this house.” Parents if you are not doing that, you are blowing it. Many people are not doing it because they are afraid. They believe that they are in some type of popularity contest and need to be their children’s best friend every second of every day. We have got to wake up.
Another suggestion. Make sure that your media choices square with scripture. If they want to watch a secular show or listen to a song, take the Bible out and say, “OK, after this episode of Ellen or Seinfeld, let’s see what the Bible says about that. Is that what we want in this house?” Then determine not to watch those shows again.
Also, replace the lies with truth. There is some truth out there that is great. There are some excellent songs. And throw out the lies. Throw out Nine Inch Nails. Throw out Alanis Morrsett. Throw out the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Replace them with Jars of Clay, Easy Talk, Audio Adrenaline, three great groups who have the beat and the look but are honoring God and not the devil.
Also, there are some good TV shows out there. But if you watch a lot of television, something is wrong in your family. If you are just staring blankly into the television set, tell your children to get out and get involved in a hobby. Build your relationship together. One of the reasons that children are so fat these days is because they sit in front of the television or the computer all day. Get them out there doing some stuff.
We have said this before concerning athletics and it is especially true about hockey. The best offense is a great defense. I believe that is true with the family unit. This has not been an easy message for me to preach. I don’t like standing up here and getting in your face, so to speak, but I am called to do it now and then. I have got to speak what the Bible says in an uncompromising way. You can get mad and freak out and walk out and get upset. But one day you will remember some skinny guy in a black suit who told you these things because he loves you. I have seen the other side and I don’t want it to happen for you because I know the great things that God wants for your family. So don’t miss the message here. If you do what the Lord wants you to do and you protect the family zone, you can say, “The puck stops here.”