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Here's What to Talk About With Your Kids

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Every parent's main priority should be to raise Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus.

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I can’t wait till my kids are old enough to embarrass with a good dad joke. They’re so good!
Dads, I hope you’re getting a day off from the chores and yard work, I hope you’re getting a steak for dinner, and I hope you’re getting the remote all day!
You are an important part in God’s plan for your family! Paul says in Ephesians that husbands are the leaders of the home. The mantle of spiritual leadership for our families is placed on us! But when it comes to parenting, praise God He didn’t leave us without help! We have moms on our side too! And even grandparents! So I don’t want to talk just to dads this morning, I want to talk to everyone.
Even those of you who aren’t parents yet. Parenting is a dangerous thing to wait to learn until you are doing it, kind of like waiting to learn how to use a parachute until you’ve jumped from a plane.
Even if you don’t ever plan on having kids, you can still hear God’s goodness and faithfulness in what we’re talking about this morning!
So I want to help you know what to talk about with your kids this morning! You hear parents say, especially with teens, that they aren’t sure what to talk to their kids about, especially on movies and tv shows. The dad is sitting there with his daughter, “So, any cute boys at school?” She just looks at him disgusted and puts her earbuds in.
The Bible tells us what to talk about with our kids and that’s what we’re going to look at this morning.
Every parent's main priority should be to raise Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus.

The Foundation for Parenting

Parenting (and all of life) is based on who God is.
We all have truths that are foundational in our lives. What I mean is they inform the other areas of our lives, even if they don’t seem to be related on the surface.
Last month Parker and I went to Martin to watch the Dyersburg baseball team in playoffs. On the way back we stopped at Dairy Queen for dinner and I got Parker a cheeseburger. I forgot to tell them what to put on it and it came with ketchup, mustard, and pickle. I know this isn’t how Parker prefers his burgers, but I also know he’s eaten them like this before no problem. So I tell him I messed up and I’m sorry, but his burger has mustard on it. It was like I told him Mickey Mouse had died! Just wailing. “Get me another burger! I won’t eat it!” I apologized, but told him we weren’t stopping again. He cranked it up. I told him he’d be just fine eating this because he’d eaten mustard before. It didn’t matter, he screamed more. I told him he had to take one bite and if he didn’t like it then we’d see if we passed somewhere to get him another burger. He took a bite and didn’t complain. I waited a minute and called him out on it. He started crying again. I tried bribing him with fries and got a couple more bites down. But he starts up again. We are like 15 or 20 minutes in at this point. I’ve explained that this is not the way we respond if we get something we don’t like. Surprisingly, reason had no effect on him. Finally, I asked him why he didn’t like mustard. He yelled back, “you know I don’t like mustard!” I said, “I know Parker, but why?” “Because it’s LSU colors!!!” Through tears of pride, I explained that we can have mustard even though it’s LSU colors and he finally ate his burger.
The foundational truth that in our house we wear crimson informed the color of the food that Parker was willing to consume!
Our foundational truths inform everything else. And we have to start with verse 4.
We have one God, there are no other gods.
Parker and I have been working on the ten commandments, that’s the first one.
There is one God and He is Master and Creator of all. He is infinitely loving, kind, merciful, gracious, powerful. The only one worthy of our praise.
When we understand and fully believe this, the natural response is verses 5 and 6.
We love Him with every part of who we are. We worship Him alone.
Moses repeats that word “all”. You love him with all of you...
If I have a box of CFA chicken nuggets and I eat them all, how many are left? How many can Kristen have?
We give God all our love. The second command says that we shall not worship idols. Anything we love before or worship in addition to the one true God is idolatry.
So how do we love our families, our friends, our churches, anything else if we’re commanded to give all our love to God?
Our love for these other things is an extension of our love and worship for God. We love these people and things in a way that honors God.
Colossians 3:23 ESV
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
I’d like to explain exactly what that looks like, but I’m still trying to figure it out. But we love God with all we are.
And because we love Him, we love his Word. We love it enough to know it. We love it enough to live by it. We love it enough to keep it on our hearts.
If our faith is in God, then we must believe Him when He tells us through Paul that his Word give us all we need to live for Him.
This all stands on the truth that there is one God who is worthy of our hearts.
So how does this foundational truth inform our parenting?
We must be aware of hidden idolatry in our lives.
While studying I came across someone who said the the passage in about laying up treasures in Heaven was one of the most important passages to inform parenting. I didn’t understand at first, but as he explained it it made sense.
Our children are watching us. They will see where our hearts are, what or who we are worshipping.
If it’s the most important thing for us to know, then it must be the most important thing for our children to know.
Matthew 6:21 ESV
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our children will see what is truly most important to us, sometimes with frightening clarity! They’ll know if you’re worshiping comfort, toys, sports, work. You may even be putting your children above God and teaching them that they are the most important thing in this world.
So honestly look at your lives. Where are you teaching your children to store up treasures? Is it in Heaven?
Or is it in athletics?
Or in education?
Or in a good job?
Or making a lot of money?
Or being well liked?
Or having a good husband or wife?
These are all good things, but they should be no more than means to the end of glorifying God and expanding his Kingdom. I pray that’s what we will teach our children!
Next, do our children see that we treasure God’s Word? Do you talk about it? Are you living it out? Do they see you reading it?
Kristen has told me before that when she used to be getting ready for school her mom would be in their living room reading her Bible and what an impact that had on her.
Your kids need to see that God’s words are on your heart!
Last, if it’s the most important thing for us to know, then it must be the most important thing for our children to know. That’s what Moses tells us next.

The Practice of Parenting

Parents are God’s plan for discipling children. It’s an all the time job.
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When I was in seminary I had to take Greek and Hebrew. It was a lot! Learning Spanish you have to learn some grammar and a new vocabulary. Same thing with French that I took in high school and college, and all the other Romance languages that most people study. With Greek and Hebrew, you have to learn a whole new grammar structure, a whole new vocabulary, and before you can learn the new vocabulary you have to learn the new alphabet. The first Greek class I took I had this huge stack of index cards with vocab words, verb conjugations, moods, forms, all this kind of stuff that had me thinking how much easier it is to just put words in a certain order in the sentence. That stack of cards was not usually far from me. It went to work with me a few times. When I took Hebrew and my second Greek class, I got high tech, I found this web site where people uploaded vocab lists and I put an app on my phone that made flash cards for me. I would pull that thing out all the time to look over my vocab words and everything. I had to always be looking over it to really learn it. This is the picture Moses is giving us here.
We should always be thinking about, talking about, and teaching our children about God. Discipling them is a non-stop job!
Look at how thorough Moses is in what he says...
He’s saying it’s never off. It’s an all the time thing. Whenever, where ever, what ever we’re doing, we should be discipling our kids. Seeking to make them Kingdom-minded disciples of Jesus.
This is your most important job as parents. This is the success blueprint for parents.
Forget what the world is telling you is successful parents; making them a great athlete with great grades who goes to a great school to get a great job making great money. If you do all that but drop the ball on discipling your kids, it’s a great failure.
And I hope not, but some of you may be thinking ‘that’s what the church is for. That’s why there’s a children’s pastor and youth pastor trained for that stuff’.
We are here to come along side you, not take the job God has given to you! If God’s plan was for pastors to be the main disciplers of children, I don’t think his Word would say otherwise. But it does.
If you feel overwhelmed or under-prepared, that’s ok. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t need a degree. This is God’s plan for you. Lean into Him and seek him. His grace will grow you and you will be fine! So don’t outsource this great joy!
So we as parents are called to always be leading our children to God. But how? I think is helpful.
Ephesians 6:4 ESV
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Don’t provoke your children to anger, some translations say don’t exasperate them.
Our teaching and training should be led by grace, just like God’s to us is. If we are making our children resentful, being more harsh than loving, acting out of anger rather than love, we are not pointing them toward their loving and gracious Father in Heaven.
Paul David Tripp has a great book on parenting and he talks about parents being called to be ambassadors of God to their children. An ambassador is a representative of the King...
It’s not always easy to act from love instead of anger… but the more we are able to do this, the more we are able to do the next two parts.
We have to bring our children up in the discipline of the Lord.
Discipline is good and needed. And godly. talks about how God disciplines his children because He loves them.
The purpose of discipline is not for revenge, but for redirection and teaching.
The goal of our discipline should not be for our children to submit to the way we want them to do things, but to understand and love the way God has commanded us to do things.
And we have to instruct our children in the way God has commanded us.
We should spend time talking about God, reading his word, praying with our children regularly.
Teach them how to study the Bible. How to think biblically and apply biblical values to every part of life.
The best way to do that is as you’re going about every part of life, kind of what Moses was getting at!
Teach our kids to serve. Teach them to love others. To forgive, to show grace, to be generous.
Teach them to be a part of Christ’s body, the local church.
If there is an area that I would be bold enough to say the American church is failing at, this would be it.
I’ve just finished reading a book called Within Reach and it presents the findings of a Lifeway study on why 66% of people who are active in the church in high school leave the church between the ages of 18-22.
While parents were not found to be the most influential thing in predicting if students would stay in church, they were significant.
Students whose parents served in the church, who regularly discussed spiritual things, and regularly prayed with them were found to be more likely to stay in church. About 10% higher in each category.
Less than a third of all the young people they questioned said their parents served in the church.
A number that was more shocking to me, 49% of students said their parents genuinely liked going to church.
They are paying attention to our attitudes toward church and picking up on them! And they matter!
The most significant factor they found as it relates to parents was if the father attended church.
The overall most significant predictor of a student staying in church they found was how many adults invested in the life of a teen between the ages of 15-18. So your involvement in church is not important only for your family, but also for those families sitting around you this morning.
Are you spending more Sunday mornings gathering with the body of believers you belong to or at the field, or the lake, or catching up on sleep?
I’m not equating church attendance and involvement with your relationship with Jesus, but to say that church involvement is not an important part of your relationship to the Lord is a terrible mistake. We must instruct our children in this.
We are told to bring our children up in the instruction of the Lord, and the most important thing we can instruct them about is to surrender themselves to the God who made them and loves them.
The more we tell them about Him, the more likely they will be drawn to Him.
As we move down to verse 20 in , Moses tells us to tell our children the stories of God’s faithful love and pursuit of his people.

The Story for Parenting

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Our children need to hear us tell these stories and the big story!
Stories bring ideas to life. It’s why people love stories. Think about if you’re trying to tell a child something. If you connect a story with it, it becomes so much more real. Show them a place and they aren’t very interested, but tell them a story about something that happened there and a week later they’ll be asking to go see the place where that thing happened again. Tell them to stay away from a wasp nest and they’ll hear you, but most won’t hear you for long. But if you tell them about a little girl who got stung by a wasp and her lips swelled up like sweet potatoes and they won’t go near the wasp nest!
Stories can bring ideas to life. They make things personal.
We need to explain to our children that they are sinners and this brings God’s wrath, and that...
But when we tell them the stories of the way God pursued his people and loved his people from the Bible, these truths start to come home. They gain understanding.
And when we tell our children our personal stories of how God has been at work in our own lives, they really begin to see how real and how special He is.
Psalm 40:5 ESV
You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
And when we tell our children our personal stories of how God has been at work in our own lives, they really begin to see how real and how special He is.
Tell the story of how God saved you and a child sees the sweetness of God’s rescue.
Tell the story of how you were going through a difficult and painful time and you took it to God and He led you through and a child sees they need Him to lead them through their difficult times as well.
When we tell these stories, these testimonies, to our children, the Gospel becomes more understandable and relatable and real to them.
It is our job as parents to teach our children about God’s Word and to tell them the stories of God’s faithfulness and love from Scripture and from our own lives to bring it to life for them. This is all based on who God is; the only true God, alone worthy of our praise.
But if you don’t have this understanding, if you don’t have a personal story of Jesus saving you from your sins, then you can’t share it with your children, or with anyone else for that matter.
If you haven’t placed your faith in Jesus for forgiveness of your sins and righteousness to stand before God, it’s what’s missing from your life, if you’re a parent it’s missing from your parenting. I’d love to talk with you about it today.
If you need to make a move for your family and begin the process to join our church today, we’d love that. You can come talk to me about that.
If you need to repent for mistakes you’ve made as a parent, do that in this time. You can do it where you are or you’re welcome to come to the altar. But parents, let’s resolve today to be faithful to the job God has given us!
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