WHO’S KIDDING WHO?
September 11-12, 2004
How are y’all doing today? Pretty good? All right. Well, I’m doing a last little installment on the family and I’ve been in a series, as you know, called “Who’s Kidding Who?” And we’re going to kind of tie everything up today.
Today’s talk is kind of a tough talk. I really didn’t look forward to doing this message. Sometimes I do messages I don’t even want to talk about. You know what I’m saying? It’s a hard message. Man it’s a whip! But, being a pastor and sharing a word from God sometimes is a tough thing. So over the next few moments, it is kind of an “in your face” message. A very convicting message. So I want to tell you that up front. And let me have word of prayer and we’ll dive into this stuff. Okay. [Ed leads in prayer.]
What would the ultimate family look like? I was thinking about that a while back. The ultimate family. What would that look like? Well, you’d have a mom and dad who have bowed the knee to Jesus Christ. You’d have a mom and dad who are madly in love with each other. You’d have a mom and dad that would go on a date night at least twice a month. You’d have a mom and dad who would give equal amounts of love and discipline to their kids. That would kind of be the ultimate family. But you might be saying, “Well, Ed, you left out the kids.” Well, yeah, the kids in this ultimate family would be pretty great as well. And they would understand the whole situation between Mom and Dad. The marriage would be the most important thing. Followed by the parent/child relationship. The mom and dad would teach and train their kids to leave, which is the goal of parenting. That’s the ultimate family.
God has given us the family, as I mentioned in my prayer a second ago, as the launching pad for those transcendent values. The family is to be the venue, the place where we teach and model and train those kids. And we train each other about God’s transcendent values and that’s a good thing. And the ultimate family, when it’s hitting on all cylinders, is doing that. The ultimate family.
Well, if this is the ultimate family then the ultimate family would need the ultimate culture, wouldn’t you say? God did not design the family to be an island, or an independent, autonomous thing. God didn’t want our family to be just our little family against the world. God has given us a bunch of stuff, and he wants us to use that stuff as leverage to highlight and support the transcendent values taught, modeled, and lived out in the family.
Well, let’s talk about this ultimate family in the ultimate culture. If they had an ultimate culture, here’s what would happen. They would send their kids to the ultimate school. This ultimate school in this ultimate culture would be the ultimate because the teachers would have that perfect balance between faith and learning. When they taught the kids about mathematics or biology or history, they would come at these subjects from truth, from Scripture. They would say “God has given us numbers, God is the author of history and of science,” and that’s what they would talk about. It would be a great school. And this school, again, would highlight and underline the transcendent values taught in the home. The parents would know, Mom and Dad, that the school is doing its job.
The parents work in this ultimate culture, and they work in this ultimate culture for an ultimate corporation. It kind of sounds like an oxymoron—the ultimate corporation. And this corporation, whoa! You talk about cool! This corporation is run by men and women who highlight and underscore the transcendent values taught and modeled in the family. It’s pretty cool. Whenever the corporation would make a decision, they would say, “How does this decision affect the family?” And the people that run the corporations in this ultimate culture would bow the knee to God and ask God for his advice, for His word. I’m telling you man, this is the ultimate.
Government? Government is the ultimate in this ultimate culture, too. The government officials would make decisions that highlight those transcendent values. They would tax everybody fairly. Whoa! The judges and legislatures and everybody would make these decisions based on Mom and Dad, based on keeping the marriage first and the parent child second, based on the family. Whoa! This is fun already, can’t you tell? You’re going, “Ed, I thought this was kind of a tough message.” Just hold on. Hold on.
Television. There are some creative people in television. In this ultimate culture the media moguls and the producers and the actors and actresses would be cranking out stuff that inspires and uplifts the human spirit. It would support everything the family is doing.
And by the way, how about church? This family would be very involved in church. And the churches, like television, would be underscoring and highlighting those transcendent values taught and modeled in the family. This family would be very, very involved in church. They would go to church regularly, first Wednesdays. They’d be involved in Home Teams, probably in the parking crew, or the usher’s ministry. They’d go on mission trips. The kids would be involved in youth activities. WOW! The ultimate culture.
Here’s the question. Is that what is happening in today’s world? Is that what it looks like? Is that what the family is dealing with? Do you have all these entities highlighting and supporting those transcendent values? Do you? Are the structures really supporting the framework of the family? Before I answer that question, let me give you a quick history lesson.
From the Roman Greco times until about the 18th Century, man looked outside of himself for truth. Man looked outside of himself for values, for those transcendent truths. Christians would look to the Old and New Testament. Jews would look to the Old Testament. Even those who didn’t follow Christ would look outside themselves for those transcendent values. All this was going on. All this was rolling, until the 18th Century. In the 18th Century you have something called The Enlightenment. And for the first time—watch this now—you have man looking not outside himself for the transcendent values, but inside himself.
There are three big dogs you need to understand who kind of came to the forefront during The Enlightenment. Immanuel Kant—Kant said it’s all about the mind. Kant said, “Don’t look outside yourself. Forget those transcendent values, if there are any. It’s in the mind. You can do it. It’s all right up here.”
The next one was Russo. Russo said, “It’s not the mind. It’s not outside yourself. It’s your heart.” And Russo said this, “Every child is born with a perfect heart.” As I was studying Russo, I thought to myself, “Man this guy needs to have some kids!” Well, he did have kids if you read about him, and he disowned all five before he died.
The third of the big dogs is Friedrich Nietzsche. “God is dead,” that’s what he said. Nietzsche said, “It’s not about the mind. It’s not about the heart. It’s about the will. You’re autonomous, you’re independent, you can do it. You can forge your own future, pave your own path, carve your own course. It’s about your will. You’ve got the will power to do it.” Adolph Hitler followed him.
All these people in The Enlightment said, “Look inside yourself. Forget the transcendent values. It’s about you. Ultimate power. You come up with your own truths source.” The seeds were planted during The Enlightment.
Push the clock forward to the 1960’s and 1970’s. Throw in a little bit of Darwinism and other schools of thought I don’t have time to chase down. The seeds began to germinate and produce fruit. You have the free sex and the drug usage in the 70’s and the 80’s and all the excesses in the 90’s and 2004; and everyone was so busy looking inside themselves that no one thought about looking outside themselves and down the road to see where looking inside ourselves would take us! But all we have to do is take a panoramic view of our culture and see where this is taking us.
The family—the place that God has designed, that God has wired to teach those transcendent values. The family.
Television. As we stroll through our culture today, how is television doing? Is television highlighting and underscoring those transcendent values? Children watch an average of 30 hours of television a week. So many of the shows that I have seen, in my opinion, do not highlight and underscore those transcendent values taught and modeled in the family.
In 1981, Bob Pittman started something called MTV, Music Television. And here’s what Pittman said, he said, I quote, “They don’t just watch it (he’s talking about his viewers), they live it. If you can get their emotions, make them forget their logic, you’ve got ‘em.”
So for the first time, not only do we hear the music, but due to Bob Pittman and others, we can see it. And pretty much, if you think about MTV or VH1 or many of the other channels that show music videos, you can all lop them into three basic themes. They are talking about sex, they’re talking about violence, and they’re talking about rebellion.
“Wait a minute, Ed, you’re saying all music and videos are about that? No, no, no. Not all of it. But the lion’s share of it is. And if you don’t believe it, do what I did several years ago. Just do what I did several years ago. Turn the television on, turn the sound down, and just take notes. Just sit down there for a couple of hours, and watch the music videos, and write down the themes. What is this about? What is this artist trying to say? Alanis Morissette, Snoop Dog, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson—what are they saying? What is the theme of their deal? And as you write it down, you’ll be able to pretty much put it into those three categories.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we walk around with ear muffs on or blinders. I’m not suggesting that. But I am suggesting that there is a direct correlation between what we watch and what we listen to and our behavior. The average student between the 7th and the 12th grade listens to 10,500 hours of music. That’s 437.5 days of listening to music!
“Well, man, I just listen to the music; I don’t listen to the lyrics. It’s not affecting me.” Oh, really? That would be like me saying, “Well, I could eat 50 Baby Ruths a day and I’m not going to gain weight.” You know, one a week, I’m okay. Fifty a day? Man, that’s going to mess me up!
So we need to think about the diet, what we’re watching—the reality-based television shows and all of this stuff. What’s it about? What’s it doing for us? And I’ve got to take television down, because generally speaking, television and the arts and entertainment is not underlined and highlighting those transcendent values taught and modeled in the home.
Government. How is Government doing? Yeah, there are some great men and women who are leading. I know that. How is government doing in highlighting and underlining those transcendent values? You’ve got judges pushing for gay marriages. You’ve got other people saying that we should take the lives of unborn children. You’ve got people removing prayer from schools. You’ve got the government totally handcuffing great teachers who can’t even make decisions about what to talk about in the classroom or how to discipline their children. I’ve got to take that down.
The NEA, the National Endowment of the Arts, several years ago financed a piece of art and where the artist submerged the crucifix in his own urine and this is called “art”! Does that highlight and underscore the transcendent values taught in the family? You be the judge. I mean, I can’t make my mind up on your behalf. You have to make your mind up on your behalf, so you just, you be the judge.
How about the corporate world? They were laying off tens of thousands of people, not even thinking about the family, just for the almighty dollar. I can talk for days about it, but I cannot say the corporate world is highlighting or underscoring the transcendent values of the family. So I have got to take that down.
How about school? What’s happening in the school? How is that doing? Well, there are some great people in the public school system. Great principles, great teachers. But because the government has been so wheels-off in this realm, they have hurt and damaged the school. And no longer can the school highlight and underscore the transcendent values that should be taught and modeled in the family.
There’s a council called The Sexual Information and Education Council, and here’s what they recommend in public schools. They recommend that ages 5-8 be taught that it feels good to touch and rub body parts. That ages 9-12 should be taught that homosexuality is just as satisfying as heterosexuality. And ages 15-18 should be taught that pornography will enhance sexual fantasies.
Do you think God wanted the family to be alone? Do you think God wanted the family to be isolated, to be on an island? No way. But that’s what it is. That’s why there’s so much pressure and so much stuff heaped upon Mom and Dad and the little ones.
It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. It’s the family. That’s the unit where God’s transcendent values are highlighted and taught. And none of these other entities, generally speaking, are doing it.
Except the local church. And I’m so thrilled, I’m so thrilled about people here at Fellowship Church who have unashamedly, like Lisa and I have done, partnered with Fellowship and said, “Hey, Fellowship Church is helping our family. We’ve partnered with Fellowship Church to help rear our kids.” Because the church is the only place that I know, that I have confidence in, that highlights and underscores the transcendent values taught and modeled within the framework of the family.
But that’s where we are. Again, this is a very hard message to preach. I don’t want to talk about it, but I’ve got to talk about it. It does not take a rocket scientist to see what’s happening in our land today.
Well, what do we do about it? Is there hope? Yes, there’s hope. Is there some good stuff? Yes, there’s some good stuff. What do we do? Well, I want you to jot down four questions that I want you to ask yourself right quick. And I’ve asked myself these questions regularly as a parent.
#1 – Do the entertainment choices of my family meet the guidelines of Philippians 4:8? Do the entertainment choices of my family fit the guidelines of Philippians 4:8? Every time, in the Young household, we buy a CD to listen to; every time we buy a DVD or go to a movie; every time we pick up a magazine; every time we do that, we try to put it through the grid of Philippians 4:8. And here’s Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
So, Mom, before your daughter buys Seventeen Magazine, which obviously does not square with Philippians 4:8; or when your daughter gets ready to buy Teen Cosmo, which obviously does not square with Philippians 4:8; or she thinks or he thinks about going to an R-rated movie, which obviously does not square with Philippians 4:8, you’ve got to say, “No.” And what’s so hilarious is the secular culture is even saying that parents have to say “No” now.
Front cover of Newsweek magazine, “The power of ‘No.’” Did you see it? Parents saying “No.” And the article says that we live in a culture where kids manipulate the economy. Do you know why? Because in many situations they’re running the show. They’re calling the shots. They’re pulling the purse strings. I mean they’ve got the bling-bling, ca-ching ca-ching from Mom and Dad. They tell Mom and Dad where to spend the money.
Think about it. Is this true? Is this noble? Is this right? Is this pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable? Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy? Think about such things.
Every time we remove something, a television show, or a habit, we have to replace it with something. Because when I remove something from my life, there is a void there. What do I replace it with?
Well, think about music for example. Most of the music we listen to is going to be about sex, rebellion, and violence. That’s the secular music. “Well, man, I like the beat, Ed. I like, you know, the rap-type beat. I like country western. I like this, that. I mean….” Do you know there are some phenomenal Christian artists who have the same beat but with good, uplifting lyrics. You know, I think about a group called POD; I think about a group like the Newsboys. I think about Switchfoot. I think about Shoreline, Derric Bonnot’s band that you just heard. I mean they have an awesome CD.
So again, don’t leave here and say, “Man, Ed told me to put ear muffs on and blinders.” I’m not saying you can never listen to secular music. Come on! You’re a big girl; you’re a big boy. So am I. But I am saying that a constant diet of it will affect you and it will affect me. And we’ve got to wake up and smell the espresso. I don’t say coffee, because I like espresso, not coffee.
Here’s another question I ask myself as a parent. You know next weekend I’m going to do a whole message on questions. I can’t wait to do it. I’m talking about leadership next weekend. But I love questions. Here’s the second question.
#2 – Am I regularly discussing with my kids—in my case, four of them—the core values that are being transmitted through my family’s entertainment choices? So I don’t just ask, “Does it meet the guidelines?” I ask, “Am I discussing it? Am I talking about it with my kids?”
“Well, Ed, what are you talking about?” Well, let’s say for example, I hear one of my kids, which I’ve done before, listen to a certain CD. I don’t say, “Whoa! That’s satanic! Take it out of the player!” I think people think I do that. “Let’s burn it right now!” No! What I would do, I would go….
Okay, for example, LeeBeth. “LeeBeth, let’s listen to this song by Shania Twain. You know, ‘Whose bed have your boots been under?’”
Now, Shania is a very talented girl. And the reason she is so popular is because she is talented. It has nothing to do with her looks [sarcastically]. You know that. But really, I said, “LeeBeth, let’s listen to this. What is the message there of the song?” And we just talk about it. “Now LeeBeth, does that highlight and underscore the values that are modeled and taught in our family. Let’s just talk about that.” And then she begins to see the decision making behind it and then she begins to learn how to make those decisions herself. You see? That’s how we do it.
Let’s say we’re watching a television show. And they’re talking about here and there, about this or that or whatever. And maybe one time we’re watching Nickelodeon. And Nickelodeon, of course, is owned by MTV. Nickelodeon sneaks in this subconscious kind of stuff that’s really whack. Like one time I saw Nickelodeon and they said, “The government should never tell you who to marry.” (i.e., you know it’s okay for homosexuals to get married. And we should treat homosexuals, as far as being married, just like we treat heterosexuals, which you know I just biblically cannot support). We love homosexuals here. Love them. We invite everybody here. But we draw lines in the sand and say, “This is right and this is wrong.” We build bridges of love, but we draw lines. And I will never ever support that [gay marriage]. I’m all for equality, but I’m not going to support sin.
And so I said, “Now, guys, see that commercial on Nickelodeon? MTV owns Nickelodeon and here’s what they’re saying. They’re saying that, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah.” That’s how I parent. And I think that’s Deuteronomy 6 and Proverbs 22:6 and Genesis 2:24.
Psalm 101:3, “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.”
Think about Nick and Jessica’s (Simpson) show “The Newlyweds.” Have you ever seen that show before? You talk about sending mixed messages! Poor thing. Man, you know who I really feel sorry for? I feel sorry for Jessica’s parents. Man, those are sad people. Sad people. And what’s so sad is that they even say they’re Christ followers. Now, I’m not going to judge them. I don’t know if they are Christ followers or not because you know, I’m not God. But Jesus says he will recognize us by our fruits. And I hope if you know Jessica or somebody, send them the DVD. Because I think Nick and Jessica would make great Christian people. But think of the values of that show. Here’s Jessica, who says she’s a Christian, dropping the F-bomb here and there and she’s drunk all the time; she’s wearing super revealing clothing. You be the judge.
But see, parents? It takes work, and we don’t want to work. We say, “Just watch the DVD. Just go to the movies. I don’t care what you do, just watch whatever channel you want to. It won’t affect you.” What?! Look at our culture.
Here’s the third question I ask myself regularly: Am I taking advantage of the assistance of the local church? Am I really taking advantage of the assistance of the local church? A lot of us talk it, but are we walking it? I make no bones about it. I’ll say it again. Fellowship Church has helped us rear our four kids. Helped us. Children’s ministry. They have helped us. We have four kids, and it thrills me for them to come and say, “Dad, we learned this. Dad, we learned that.”
The student ministry has helped. They’ve partnered with Lisa and I. They helped us raise our kids. And they talk about open and honest stuff. How to pray, how to read the Bible, this gift called sex, this thing called attraction. And its just amazing what’s happening over there.
So we have used that and put a lot of our time and a lot of our money behind Fellowship Church personally to make that happen. And I’m so glad I did. And I’m doing it now.
Here’s the fourth question. It’s getting more positive isn’t it? It’s getting more positive. Fourth question: “Ed,” I ask myself this, “am I making a difference in my corner of the world?”
We have some serious power brokers here at Fellowship Church. And I’m not talking about rich people. I’m talking about true power. We’ve got principles here; we’ve got judges here; we’ve got school teachers here. You’re talking about powerful. Fireman and firewomen. Police officers. Man! Power brokers. We have some people that own corporations. Now that’s cool.
Okay. We’ve got roughly 18,000 people who attend Fellowship Church every weekend. 18,000 people. About 40-some-odd thousand that come once a month, especially during the Cowboy season! What would happen, just think about this, what would happen if we all got serious about these questions? About these four questions? Do you realize we could just really do some serious stuff in our corner of the world? We could say, “You know what? In my realm I am going to highlight, along with the church and the family, and underscore the transcendent values of the family. That’s what I am going to do.” What could we do if we got that many people fired up to do it? Well, you know what, man? I am a positive person. And God is a positive God. And I think we can do it by his help.
One day Joshua said this. Joshua 24:15. He just put his cards on the table and he said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” It’s my prayer that every single parent family, every blended family, and every nuclear family with 2.3 kids would make that Joshua 24 decision to serve the Lord.