This is a (very) condensed transcript of my January 27, 2013 sermon.
To hear the sermon in its entirety, click here.
It’s true. Almost all parents (I wish I could say “every parent” but I know better) – almost all parents want to be good parents. We want our children to be loved, nurtured, and protected. We want our kids to grow to become healthy, well-adjusted, and productive adults. And as Christians, we desire to see our children grow up to love God and serve Him. How do we get our kids to that point? I wish it was as easy as following a few simple steps. I wish I could guarantee that if you do x, y, and z that your kids will turn out exactly the way you want them to be. This just isn’t the case, but the Bible makes it pretty clear that if you do the following 3 things, you will greatly help your children to not only become well adjusted adults…but adults who love and serve the Lord.
1. Make All of Life God-Saturated
The Apostle Paul tells all followers of Jesus: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As parents, if we want to raise children who glorify God in all things, then it’s imperative that they see us living this kind of life. Before I became a “senior” pastor, I served as a youth pastor – for 10 loooong years! Over those years, I interacted with hundreds of teens. Among them were a large amount of kids from homes where mom and dad were either not following Jesus at all and didn’t care or where they were claiming to follow Him (at church) but really weren’t once they got home. Among those kids, I can only count on one hand how many of these teens are now following Jesus as adults. When dad and/or mom are striving to live God-saturated lives, the percentage of kids who leave home with their faith in-tact or with at least a solid foundation laid that they eventually come back to as adults is high.
May we strive to live like this father who commented on my Facebook page recently: My goal for me and my kids is to strive to make God’s Word so much a part of me that it becomes like inhaling and exhaling. Life itself. I think this is what is being described in Deut. 32:47 and Prov 4:13. I like the use of the word “permeate.”
From 1999-2004, I produced and hosted a weekly radio program called, Parenting Teenagers. Over those 5 years, I hosted 164 radio programs where I interviewed parents, authors, and ministry leaders – asking them for advice on how to parent teens. During this time, I asked many of my guests whose kids were adults to share with me and my audience what they discovered to be the key to raising godly kids. Nine times out of 10, these parents said, “We prayed and prayed for our kids the entire time we were raising them.”
On one of the programs, I interviewed a dad who made prayer a priority in his home. Tom Bishop has written some wonderful prayer books to help other parents pray for their kids. These books are available for download for free here. Here’s a link to an audio clip where he reveals what he’s discovered about praying for our children:
God had a layaway plan long before Sears did! We can ask for things for our kids today, and God can deliver it in their lives later. We may even be up in heaven and God will still be answering our prayers! The example of that is John 17 as Jesus prayed. God is daily still answering that prayer. Get a head start before the crisis come. Then when you get into the crisis, you’ll have peace inside because you have already prayed for these things. If you haven’t been praying, you had better start! If you are prayed up, then you can watch and see what God does with all those prayers you have laid up. It doesn’t mean you don’t pray then, but you will have peace.
We went through the same crisis that everyone else goes through, but when they came there was peace because we knew that God was using them. We have two out of the teen years, and one with only a year to go. We have seen our kids choose godly friends, chose to turn to God and walk with Him, and we have seen God take our imperfections and work through them. God has pulled things together for us, and He has been faithful. Most of my best prayers weren’t my idea at all, they were the Holy Spirit prompting them. I simply prayed them, and God brought tremendous blessing to my kids and to our family.
3. Demonstrate the Importance of the Bible
I was born in Columbus, OH and am a die-hard Ohio State Buckeye fan. So, it pains me to mention this about a man who teaches at the University of Michigan, but I suppose the Lord cares even about Michigan Wolverines (not 100% sure though). In an article by William Frankena, a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, he says that when he was a boy, his father read at least one chapter from the Bible after every meal and that they finished the Bible every year for 16 years straight. Obviously, this was transformational for him. Seeing his father demonstrate the importance of the Bible by faithfully reading through it with his family for 16 years straight made a huge impact on him as a boy.
Pastor and author John Piper stresses how important the Bible must be in our homes. He says, “The Bible will be the sun in the solar system of all that we teach our children. It will not be one among many books. It will be the central book, the all-permeating book. The other books are dark planets; the Bible is the light-giving sun. All other books will be read in the light of this book. All books will be judged by this book. All books will find meaning in the worldview built by this book. Which means that this book must be known first and known better than all the other books.”
For more, click here to hear the full audio of the sermon.