How are we? Doing all right? Great. It’s good to see you. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. We’re going to be in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. While you’re turning there, let me talk to our first through fifth graders. If you’re one of our first through fifth graders, here’s what I would love for you to do. Will you stand up so I can see you? In fact, because of the lights, if you’re on the floor, stand up in your chair. I don’t know if Mom and Dad usually go for that.
I just want to give you permission for a moment before I turn you back over to their authority. If you’re bummed out that you sat in the bleachers and you want to stand on the chair and your parents will brace you and we will not be liable for you falling, then you can stand in your chair also. I just don’t want your first early memory of church being a broken clavicle. So I am thinking of you. Hey guys, welcome to big church. We love that you are here. All right, go ahead and have a seat.
Mom and Dad, let’s chat for a second. I know they are in here. What I mean by that is I am well aware that this will be a more wiggly service than normal. I am sure we will hear things we don’t hear every weekend. I want you to parent lights out, but I also don’t want you to feel any pressure that your kids’ behavior over the next 35 minutes is somehow an indictment on your character. So breathe, and let’s enjoy the Word of God together as family.
Kids, you bring something to us, both as moms and dads, as well as the church, that we desperately need. You’re not going to understand this quote, but your parents will. It’s one of my favorite quotes ever. It’s from a man named G.K. Chesterton. Here’s what he wrote in his book Orthodoxy. “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ’Do it again’; and the grownup person does it again until he is nearly dead.
For grownup people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ’Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ’Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Isn’t that a great quote? It frames God in a way we don’t tend to frame God. It frames God as being joyful and exuberant and happy-hearted. If we’re honest, most of us adults… I think children can kind of see God that way, but most of us as adults think he’s disappointed and a bit grumpy and somewhat frustrated with us, but he’s really hopeful that one day we’ll be different. Yet Chesterton writes, “No, no, no. What if wonderment belongs to the Lord, and the wonderment of our children is there to remind us that God is a God of wonderment himself?” So I love that quote.
We’ve been talking about family discipleship. In fact, last week, out of Deuteronomy 6, we did what’s called the exegetical work of those verses, where we went line by line through it and explained it. Then I said what we were going to do moving forward was we were going to frame family discipleship like this: we’re going to talk about time, moments, and milestones. That was going to be the grid by which we talked about making disciples within the family unit.
We said a quick word to singles, that you’re a part of the household of faith. We need you at The Village Church. We need you to engage and interact with the family unit, with our kids. I know personally I love the single men and single women who are woven into the fabric of the Chandler family. They love our kids, speak life to our kids, point our kids to Jesus. Our kids are convinced that they are cooler than we are. We know they are not, but our kids, for whatever reason, think they are. So praise God for that. Let them also point our children to Jesus.
We are going to spend our time today talking about family discipleship and time. Let me define time. When we talk about family discipleship time, we’re talking about creating intentional time built into the rhythm of the family’s life for the purpose of thinking about, talking about, and living out the gospel. We’re talking about intentionality around the rhythms that already exist.
Last week, we read what’s called the Shema. It was how the Jews, or God’s people in the Old Testament, understood how God educated. Here’s what it says. If you have your Bible, Deuteronomy 6, starting in verse 4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”
Parents, you should be cultivating a heart that loves Jesus Christ. That is what we are to give ourselves over to: to cultivate a heart that loves Jesus Christ. As imperfect as we are, and there isn’t a parent in here this week who hasn’t blown it this week, even after last week’s sermon… We just have. That’s why the grace of God is such a beautiful thing for us as moms and dads.
This is our primary place of operating. The next sentence doesn’t matter if we can’t get there. So as imperfect as we are, wherever we are, we’re cultivating a heart that loves Jesus Christ. Then look at verse 7. I love when the Word of God meets us in the world in which we live. That’s what I love about God. He’s not ethereal. He meets us where we actually are.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
What the Bible has just done is not asked you to really add anything to your life but rather to reorient your life around the things of God. It’s not like, “Do what you do, and then on top of that add these things.” Rather, let these things be woven into what you’re already doing. Mom and Dad, my goal is that when you leave here today you will not be paralyzed by the task but be empowered and encouraged that you can do this, regardless of how you’ve come in. You can do this.
You can disciple your children. You can do it. You’re going to crush it. I’m just so excited for you. With that said, when we’re talking about time, we’re talking about four things. I’ve gone deep into my Baptist roots, and I’ve made all four of these things start with the letter C. When we’re talking about intentional time, where we dive into the spaces that we already are and talk about spiritual things, we’re talking about four things.
First, consistency. Don’t immediately deflate. Let’s talk about consistency. No human being ever, regardless of age, needs to be told something one time and then never again. It doesn’t work that way for you. It certainly doesn’t work that way for your children. If you just take this out of the spiritual world and put it into the one you’re living in, there’s no kid ever who just needed to be told, “Hey, will you not leave this here?” once.
That’s not how this works. It’s, “Hey, pick up your shoes. Hey, will you come pick up your shoes? Hey, this is not where your shoes go. Hey, let me show you where your shoes go. Okay, here’s where your shoes go. Hey, what are these?” And you get to where you talk like a crazy person. “What is this? Your shoes. Okay, I know they don’t go here.” It’s consistency. This is how it works. We teach over and over and over again.
So spiritual conversations are not one-offs. They’re consistent. We’re consistently having these conversations. Let’s talk, parents. You already are good at this. You are already consistently talking with your kids about things. Let me just guess a couple. I’m guessing that you’re pretty consistently talking about grades or sports or the state of a bedroom. These are consistent conversations. They’re not bad conversations. There will be no drive-by guilting in this series.
It’s not a bad thing for you to be talking about the best way to tackle or the best way to keep your eye on the ball, or whatever, with your kids. That’s a good conversation if it’s where their joys are. I’m just saying that you’re already consistently having conversations with your children in the car, at the house, when you sit around at dinner, when you have your bedtime routine, even if your bedtime routine is just screaming, “No, you can’t have water. Get in bed!”
You’re consistently having conversations. Most consistently, those conversations need to be about the things of God. Now here’s what I don’t want you to do. One of the things that might be most helpful for you is when I’m talking about consistency I don’t think what that means is you go, “Every Monday night at 7:00. That’s a locked-down night. Nobody is doing anything but concentrating on the Lord Monday night at 7:00.”
Here’s what I think you’ll find. If you’re able to do that, praise God for you. You are at a whole other level than most humans I know. I think what you’ll find is the second you make Monday night sacred, the entire universe will set its face against your Monday night. Practices will be moved there, and travel will be moved there, and all sorts of crazy things will happen on Monday nights.
What you can do consistently is say, “At some point this week, we need to find 10 to 12 minutes to, as a family, read the Bible and have a conversation.” You can do that. Here’s where I want to wager. By the end here, I want to show you that you can crush this with 10 minutes of intentional thinking. You need 10 minutes a week of intentional thinking, and you’re on a roll making disciples of babies. That’s awesome. Consistency. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
The second C is clarity. What I have learned with adults, and even more so with our children, is that what is being said isn’t necessarily what is being heard. Has any other parent had this experience? I have it with adults all the time, where I’ll get an email like, “I can’t believe you said that in your sermon.” I’ll just send them the link to the sermon. I’m like, “I didn’t say that.” “You did say that. It was a different sermon.” It’s just funny that what I’m saying oftentimes is heard differently. That’s monumentally more true with my children. All of life is a fight for clarity.
Here are some best practices with your kids. When you get into a spiritual conversation with your kids, which you’re doing consistently… When that conversation is kind of tapering off, what we’ve learned to do is just go, “Hey, say back to me what we just said.” Parents, this is great, because it’ll start to give you a little bit of insight into the soul of your child. Each soul is unique. I have three individual souls. You have to come at them each a different way. You have to deal with them each a different way.
There’s no “one size fits all” in raising children. It’s a complex, competitive sport. In this space, what I’ve found is that one of mine will almost always tend toward the negative side. “Can’t do this. Can’t do this. Can’t do this.” I have two who trend toward the positive side. “This is great. This is awesome. This is great.” I have learned by just saying, “Say back to me what I just said to you,” that I need to navigate this heart a bit differently than I need to navigate these two hearts.
Another best practice is to ask open-ended questions of your children. If you ask yes/no, you’re going to get yes or no…if that. You might just get a grunt. If you ask open-ended questions, you at least have a shot. If you ask, “How did that make you feel?” that’s an awesome question for a mom or dad to ask their children.
Don’t think I don’t know half the wives in here said, “Look, I don’t think my husband could answer that question.” You know, “How does that make you feel?” “What?” Like, panic in his eyes. So what you do next is you go to basically a scale for them. “Did that make you angry? Did that make you sad? Was it kind of an angry sad? Were you happy about that? Did that make your heart happy?” Here’s another great little statement to say: “Tell me more about that.”
These are great ways to have conversations with your children that get at their hearts and not just their behavior. Behavior is a good thing that needs to be addressed, but what we want is their hearts. We learn that from our heavenly Father. We want the heart, not just behavioral modification. I want some behavioral modification, but what I ultimately want is their hearts.
As you fight for clarity, make sure you’re becoming a safe place for their doubts. If you’re a Christian, how many of you have had these seasons or these situations in your life where you’ve had to really wrestle with how to make sense of God being good, holy, just, and beautiful in the scenario in which you live that created some doubts you had to wrestle through? I think that’s going to be a universal experience for even Christians.
We know what’s right. We lean into what’s right. We preach the gospel to ourselves, but if the apostle Paul can say he was perplexed but not crushed, I think that gives us permission to at times be perplexed. Be a safe place for the doubts of your children. Be a safe place for them to say things like, “I just don’t…” I have one. One of my kids, who will remain nameless, he… Dang it! He’s built like his daddy, which means he’s just a natural skeptic.
So my son is going to say, “It’s hard for me to believe that God created the whole world. I know he created the lions and tigers, but it’s just hard for me to believe he created everything.” Every time he says something like that, I just take the little nugget he gave me… “How amazing is God, then, that the apex predators you just named, the strongest, most aggressive hunters on earth, he just told to be? How awesome is that?”
Those moments can become watermark moments, where he’s more and more likely to discuss spiritual things with me because I don’t freak out when he airs his doubts to me. Be a safe landing spot for them. Be a place for them to wrestle with, “How is this true? What do I do with that?” So we want to fight for clarity.
Mom and Dad, as you go and you’re doing the things you’re doing, be creative in your approach to how you’re tying things back to the Creator of the universe. When I talk about being creative (that’s our third C), let me give you some examples I’ve picked up from other parents. I had a buddy who did not have this conversation with his wife before he did this. Brothers, have this conversation with your wife.
He built an epic fort in their living room. I mean, he moved the dining room table into the living room. He moved chairs. He used a nice lamp to hold up a blanket that created the canvas ceiling, and then they all crawled into this fort with a flashlight, because flashlights are always cool if you’re under the age of 41.
With the flashlight, he clicked and read this out of the Bible: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Then under this blanket, in the middle of the living room… This brother has a big ol’ family. I’m just saying he’s a kid away from a TLC show. With them all jammed in there, flashlight lit, they began to pass the flashlight around and talk about God being a fortress and what that meant.
You can do that. Dad, you can build a fort in the living room. Just loop in Mama. I know a good friend who goes camping. The Chandlers are not campers. There are certain aspects of the Chandler family that are not interested in camping, so we don’t camp. It’s just laid down. No camping for the Chandler family. If that’s you, will you enjoy that for me? Because we don’t camp.
I have a buddy who goes camping, and they do the whole deal. I mean, he has the super tent. Have you seen this? It looks like something out of Star Wars, like rooms in the tent. They’ll go out camping, and they’ll do s’mores. They’ll start the fire and roast out the s’mores, and after the s’mores, as they’re getting close to bedtime, you’ll be able to look up, and there are these things you can’t see that are called stars. They’ll look up at the stars.
Think about how fast this is. As they’re camping… The purpose of camping is not to do a family devotional. They just like to camp. They like to hike. They like to fish. They like to get out in nature. Now that they’re out there, he’s just going to look at the stars and, in a matter of five minutes, read, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
You can do that. Dad and Mom, you can make s’mores. You certainly can read two sentences and talk about it. You may be like, “Well, I’m just not smart.” You don’t have to be smart to make s’mores and look up at the sky and go, “Isn’t God amazing?” This isn’t complex. This is as you go, as you do what you do. Go for a walk. Sing worship songs together. If you have a kid who loves a specific worship song, print it out and let them read the words and tell you about the song. This is as you go. This is low-hanging fruit.
One of the things my youngest has owned for our family is every time we have dinner, we do highs and lows. “The high of your day, the low of your day. Go.” I’ll sometimes forget. We introduced it years ago, but sometimes a brother just wants to eat his dinner. But Norah now has owned that, and she’ll go, “Highs and lows, oldest to youngest. Dad, go.” So we’ll say, “Hey, this was my favorite part of the day, and this was my least favorite part of the day.”
A couple of things. First, there is no yes/no quick answer to that. Sometimes there’s, “I’m not sure,” but there’s always a low. It’s a relative scale. There’s always what’s your least favorite part of the day. Sometimes that’s, “I had to get up this morning” or “You made me take a shower.” But now we’re getting insight into what they see as a high and what they see as a low, and it’s just a fun game to play at dinner.
Nobody has to think about that. I don’t have to prep anything. It’s just, “Okay, we’re eating. Highs and lows.” You can play that in the car as you’re chucking nuggets back to them. Again, you can do this. I think anytime you eat dinner out, you have a golden opportunity to talk about how good God has been to you. You eat dinner out, you can talk about the graciousness of God in providing for Mom and Dad the kind of money that enables you to go out and enjoy this.
Not everybody gets to do that. Because of where we live, we probably think everybody gets to do that, but it’s simply not true. So God has been kind that we’re able to eat out. I think anytime you can surprise your kid with any little thing, that’s an epic way. Think of how often our God surprises us with out-of-nowhere encouragement, out-of-nowhere confrontation for our good, out-of-nowhere building up.
Think of how often the Holy Spirit invades with a moment of unforeseen joy that explodes out of nothing. Think of that day that you wake up three minutes before the alarm and it surprises you. Think about when you have abounding energy that you’re not quite sure where it came from. Anytime we can surprise our kids, we can tie that back to our Father who loves to give good gifts and surprise his children.
I have another one. We have never tried this. I don’t know that we ever will. When they get together for dinner, they do the ABC’s of praise, but it has to be tied to something God has given their family. So they’ll go, “A…what is something God has blessed our family with that begins with the letter A? B…what is something God…?” Here’s what he’s doing. He’s training his family to think about how God has blessed them.
He’s creating a culture in which they’re not constantly talking about what’s not right or what’s wrong or what they wish was better but, instead, cultivating hearts of gratitude around the dinner table. I think that would start a fight in my house. One of my kids would be like, “I always get G!” Yet he’s cultivating. He’s giving it a shot.
Finally, you have counsel. Mom and Dad, we want you to crush this. We want you to be the Michael Jordan of family discipleship. If you’re a little bit younger and you don’t know who that is, shame on you. You’d better not say a word to me about LeBron James or something like that. That’s like church discipline stuff.
But ultimately, we want you to just dominate family discipleship. So here’s what we’ve done. We have tried to just loft it to you to crush. So if you’re not quite sure what to do, here are some examples. If you have a first through fifth grader and you’re in here, let’s just talk about your normal routine. I don’t know what your normal routine looks like other than you’re at church here.
Maybe you have a billion practices you have to go to this afternoon. Maybe your world is chaos, but you’re here now. So here’s what we do for you. Every week, if you have a first through fifth grader, when you go pick up your first through fifth grader, we have a sheet waiting for you. Bam! It is divided up into time, moments, and milestones. This is last week’s sheet.
So you go pick up your kid. Boom! You have the sheet. You’re in the car on the way home. Here’s what we have. Here’s what they learned today. We have the answers for you. We have the text they studied. So first question. “Today you learned that Jesus is the healer. What example of his healing did you learn about?”
Now we’re at 40 to 60 percent that you’re going to get the, “I don’t know” answer. Right? “I don’t remember. I don’t know.” That’s just a given. We’ve got you, fam. We put the answer on the page so that you could go, “Was it this?” “Oh yeah!” We’re not hanging you out to dry. We’re going to make you look like geniuses.
Question two: “What is the difference between power and compassion?” What are you going to get on that one? “I don’t know.” Got you. On it. “Is it this?” “Oh yeah!” What are you doing? You’re spending intentional time on the drive home. I’ve added nothing to your world except picking up a sheet and reading.
Then guess what? We have your family devotional. We have the text for you, and we have the questions that go with it. There are nine questions here. If you get through four of them, you won. When we’re talking about family discipleship, specifically when we’re talking about a devotional time, you need to remove every bit of romanticism out of your head for that moment. Nothing like Pentecost is going to happen in your family time around devotional.
Here’s what you can expect. A kid will be threatened. One will probably be sent to bed early. One might get spanked, and I can guarantee you there will be some time out. When we do ours, we have four rules we make each one of our kids read out loud before we start. So not one reading for all. Every one of them reads the four rules.
Number one: “I will not ask questions that have nothing to do with what we’re talking about.” Rule number two: “I will not get up and go to the bathroom.” Rule number three: “I will not lay my head down on the table.” Rule number four: “I will not doodle in my journal.” Four rules. Audrey reads them. Reid reads them. Norah reads them. We start. If you get through four questions, you crushed it. You can do that, Mom and Dad. We’re here for you.
Maybe you’re like, “Well, I have a 4-week-old. How do I do that?” I love it when you ask questions that line up with my notes. If you have to go to Little Village to pick up your infant, we’ve got you. Again, you can grab this. I purposely grabbed the 0 to 6 months one, because that’s an area where you’re like, “What do you do for that?” Great question.
What we did is we broke down on the front page how they’re developing right now, what’s going on in their minds, what’s going on in their motor skills, and how they see relationships and kind of the emotional development. Then on the back… This is how easy this is for you. Playtime. We’re not asking you to play with your kid. We’re assuming that you’re playing with your 4-month-old. So while you do it…Boom! Some thoughts.
Do you feed them? This isn’t heavy stuff. “Man, I have to feed my kid now? When am I going to do that?” You’re already doing it. We’re just trying to come alongside of you and go, “While you’re feeding, here’s some great conversation to have.” Drive time. You know you’re an unpaid Uber driver. When you’re driving them, have that chat. When you’re bathing them. What about when you’re putting them to bed? See, Mom and Dad, you’re already doing this. This is just intentionality. It’s there every week. You need only pick it up.
What if you’re an overachiever? I know you’re here. You’re just like, “Okay, but what if I want more than that?” Boom! Got you, type-A-ers. These are just more resources. What we’ve tried to do is distill it all down to make it as easy as possible, but maybe you’re like, “I don’t want your ease. What if I land in a different spot?” Again, we’ve got you.
You want resources on parenting teens? Boom! Several books. Discipleship and devotional? Several books. If you’ve been in a divorce, you’re a single mom or dad, some books to think about. You have a kid with special needs? Books for you. You have a kid in some awkward adolescent stages? We have some books. Bible study books, dating, sex, and marriage books, DVD series. All you have to do is pick it up and take what you want.
I’m telling you, when I’m talking about counsel, we’re here for you. We have worked our tails off just to lob this thing for you so you can crush it. We’re here for you. That’s the C…counsel. We want to serve you. We’re not experts in everything, but we can read, distill, and provide, and that’s what we’re doing over and over and over again.
So pick these things up. If you haven’t grabbed one of these guides… I don’t think we’ve ever created anything better than this. As we’re talking about time this week, if you went to the section on time that comes right after modeling, you see that we basically gave you… This is easy stuff. Here’s what it might look like.
There are a bunch of questions on family discipleship time that you can think through how it best fits your family. We’re all individual families. We operate differently. Then from that, we have an example, and then…Boom! What would yours look like for this week? We’re not asking you to build out a three-year plan, because your kids are going to shift every six months. It’s just here for you. This is our counsel.
Now let me land our time together with this. Here’s my conclusion. I think there are four great enemies to us seeing this become really fruitful in our homes. Let me walk through those quickly. The first very real enemy is what I’ll just call misplaced loves. Mom and Dad, if we’re not cultivating a heart that loves Jesus Christ… No guilt, no shame. I’m not asking if you’re perfect. I know the answer to that. But have you given yourself to cultivating a heart that loves Jesus Christ?
As we’ve said so often, are you filling your life with things that stir your affections for Jesus? If that’s not there, your kids will pick up on what you love most. You will talk most about what you love most. So if all you ever talk to your kids about and the most consistent things you talk to your kids about are sports, grades, and looks, you are modeling to your children that this is where your worth is found, and nobody really wants to do that.
Nobody wants to convince their kids their worth is how they perform on a football field or soccer field or water polo pool or whatever they’re doing. If you’re like, “Are you going to wear that?” and all we ever do is address their external prettiness, then we’re sowing into them, “Your value is actually tied to this.” We make disciples whether we think we’re making disciples or not.
I’m not saying these aren’t important conversations. I have oftentimes said, “You’re not wearing that. Go change.” And not because it was inappropriate, but just because they shouldn’t have been wearing it. “Space cowgirl isn’t happening today. Go and change.” It’s not that we don’t address these things. It’s just not the most consistent thing we address. Are you tracking? You can do this.
The second thing is weak marriages. I want to be really careful here, but I want to be really pointed. If your marriage is marked by consistent coldness, that’s a hurdle. I’m not talking about you have a season where you’ve grown a little cold or you have a week or two that you’ve grown a little cold or a day or two that things have gotten cold. I’m not talking about that. That’s just marriage.
But if you have an extended roommate kind of thing going on, then address that. I think one of the best gifts you can give your children is cultivating the relationship you have with your spouse. I think one of the best gifts you can give your kids is to gross them out a little bit by how you flirt with your spouse. They might be like, “Oh gosh! Gross!” but really they feel safe. So cultivate that.
The other thing you have to watch in your marriage is if things are always 170 degrees. If there’s constant violence, constant screaming, constant fighting, the temperature of your home is always really elevated, with stress, and they don’t know when you’re going to explode, Dad, or when you’re going to freak out, Mom, those things need to be addressed.
I’m not talking about a one-time moment, because everyone in this room has had moments in their home that if anyone else could peer in and watch that moment, they would think we were insane. I’m not talking about these one-time moments. Those give us opportunities to model the gospel by owning our sin, seeking the forgiveness of our children, and trusting the grace of God.
I’m saying if this is a consistent deal, get help. Men, just to help you, if your wife thinks this is a consistent deal, listen to her. Women, by and large, are more discerning than men. It’s why beautiful women look in the mirror and go, “Oh my gosh, I’m gross,” and a dude who has gotten completely out of shape looks at himself and is like, “You’re welcome, baby.” That happens, because women have a tendency to be a bit more discerning than men do.
So listen. If your wife is saying, “The temperature of our home is hotter than it should be,” don’t give her a list of reasons, as you scream at her, of why that’s not true. Just listen and fold into help. The third enemy is non-present presence. You and I are a part of a sociological experiment that everybody is starting to realize is a mistake, and no one knows what to do about it.
First of all, let’s talk about this experience. How many of you went to your phone to check an email and an hour later found out you were looking at cat videos on a website and don’t know how you got there? The pull and allure of constant information is so profound. There were some studies that came out recently that said everyone texts while they’re driving, and if they say they don’t they’re lying.
The reason is every time your phone goes ding, or whatever noise it makes, the part of your brain that’s hungry to accomplish fills with dopamine. The phone has trained us that we’re successful every time it makes a noise, so the pull is too powerful for us. What it has created is a culture in which we’re present but we’re not there. I hear parents all the time talking about their kids and their devices. Well, a couple of things.
First of all, I’m guessing they can’t afford a $600 phone. Somebody could. It wasn’t them. I haven’t met the sixth grader yet who’s like, “What shall I do with this grand?” The second thing I would say is I’m wondering if you are as critical of what you’re modeling to them as you are of their usage, if there might be some balance found. Non-present presence is a serious issue in our day and age. We’re missing out on much. The last couple of concerts I’ve been to, when the band plays their biggest song, literally every screen in the joint goes up to record a video.
You’re actually not watching what you came for to record a video that more than likely you’ll post somewhere and just get really frustrated about and delete three months later when you try to record something else and find out you have no space on your phone. So you delete it real quick to put another video on that you’ll post and forget. This is what we’ve done to ourselves. You will have to create some space where the bullying effect of your phone does not rob you from the opportunity to be present.
I think the last great enemy of what we’re talking about today is a lack of intentionality. Mom and Dad, listen. I said I wanted to end with this, so let me end with this. I think you can do everything we just talked about with 10 minutes of thought. Here’s what I mean. Already you’re crushing it. You’re at church. You have your kid at church. You have a sheet you can just take with you. So what if you sat down on Sunday night with your spouse…?
Men, husbands, I have never met a wife who would not love for her husband to say, “Baby,” (or Boo or Sweetheart…whatever you call her) “Bring your computer. Let’s sit down and look at the week.” You open up your calendars and you go, “When are we going to gather the family for 10 to 12 minutes to consider the things of God together?
Okay, it looks like we have a window Tuesday from 3:00 to 3:45. Let’s plan on that. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. I’ll let the kids know, and we’re going to sit down as a family, and we’re going to walk through what the church gave us. We’re going to have a good time. Is there any way to be creative about that? I think they have a little line here that says, ’Here’s how you can be creative about that.’ So put the Google away. We’re on it.”
Then as you go, as you’re driving them to practice, you’re opening up conversation. You’re going after their hearts. You’re talking about the things of God. You can do this. Now let me just say this. I’m going to say this at the end of every sermon in this series. I think when we have these conversations there are a couple of things that can start happening. First, we can start feeling like we’ve failed. Maybe our kids are a little bit older. I’m starting to see…
I have a 13-year-old and a 6-year-old now, so I can see the gap that’s in those things. There are some ways I can interact with sweet Norah that I interact very differently with my 13-year-old. My 13-year-old doesn’t play dress-up anymore and come in and spin around and want me to make a big deal out of it. Instead, she gets dressed in the clothes she’s going to wear today and wants me to make a big deal out of it. Changing clothes 37 times is my youngest and my wife. It is not my 13-year-old right now.
We interact differently. So I can feel a sense of loss with my 13-year-old, because I can see how my 6-year-old interacts with me. But Mom and Dad, nothing is too late in Christ. “Well, my son is 40.” Okay, praise God for your 40-year-old son. Let’s chat about that, since you brought it up. I think you’re right in that I don’t think you’re going to call your 40-year-old and say, “Hey, family discipleship time is at my house this week at 3:00.” That day is probably over.
What you can do is pick up the phone and say, “Hey, this is a random call. I love you. I’m so proud of you in these areas. You know, at my church we were talking about family discipleship, and as the pastor was speaking, I just thought, ’Man, I wish God had done a pronounced work in my life earlier in my life so I could have done these things.’ I did the best I could, son. I love you. I wish I had known more. I wish I could have done more.”
At that moment, we own our sin before God and before others, and we trust the grace of God. If they’re 40, their decisions are theirs. Their life is theirs. You are not responsible. So I want to lay before you that it is never too late to do the most distinctively Christian thing there is, which is to own sin before God and others, trust his forgiveness and grace, and move on, happy-hearted in the peace that Christ brings.
So if you feel conviction, if you feel paralyzed, if you feel like you don’t know what to do, hear me. It’s a new day today to get up and start again. I say to you all the time God doesn’t have any regrets concerning you. He doesn’t look at you and go, “Man! I totally regret this death and resurrection thing now that I look at this brother.” That’s not happening. Remember the G.K. Chesterton quote. Could it be that he goes, “Again! Again!” even with you? Surely it could be true. Mom and Dad, you’re going to crush it this week. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you for our time together. Thank you for our first through fifth graders who have done so well in here today. I preached way longer than expected, so thank you for that grace. I pray for Mom and Dad so that their hearts would be encouraged, that their belief that they can do these things would grow. In those areas where we need to own our sin and seek forgiveness, I pray that we would do that.
Father, where our marriages need to be addressed, I pray that we would step into that and begin to seek counsel and help in that. Where we have some things we’re just not quite sure what to do, I pray that we would seek out others, that we would grab resources, and that we would try to grow and learn and understand as we live our lives. We thank you for football and basketball and baseball and golf and water polo and softball and a billion other activities.
We thank you that those are common-grace pleasures you’ve given to us to enjoy. I thank you for our school systems and our educational systems, which are so good, but I pray that our conversations would most be about you, most be about your beauty, most be about your glory, that moms and dads would cultivate a heart that loves you, and that ultimately our homes might sing with the melody of your grace. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.