The Saddest Verse in the Bible

Do you have something you grew up doing as a child that you still do today?  What are the odds that one of your hobbies is the result of a parent or grandparent passing it down to you?  Maybe you grew up in a family that hunted.  Are you looking forward to the day you take your kid(s) on their first hunt?  Maybe it’s fishing or baking, or music, or reading, or woodworking or sports.  Chances are there is something you love, something you value, that you can’t wait to pass down to your kids.

In Deuteronomy 6 Moses addresses the nation of Israel.  And he said (my paraphrase): “Hey Church!  Listen up, this is huge.  Our God is one; he is the all-powerful creator of everything.  He’s the God who freed us from slavery.  Love him, worship him, and serve him with every fiber of your being.  Take these words to heart…pass them down to your kid(s).  Talk about it around the breakfast table, when you’re working in the fields, when you’re walking around, and when it’s time to lay them down to sleep at night.  These words need to permeate every aspect of your lives and homes.”

After this impressive charge to the nation, a few short years later we read the saddest verse in the bible.  “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” Judges 2.10b

God had freed them from slavery.  He provided for them in the desert.  Moses has died.  Joshua becomes the leader.  Joshua dies.  And in the opening chapters of the book of Judges they’ve already forgotten what God has done for them.  They did not know him.  They did not remember what he had done.  How do you forget about the parting of the Red Sea?  Or the scene as they looked up the mountain when Moses received the 10 Commandments?  How do you forget that feeling of deliverance as their toes hit the fertile soil of the Promised Land?

Maybe they got busy.

Or bored.

Either way they forgot their responsibility as a parent to disciple their kid(s).  And then the saddest verse in the bible was written.

May I offer two thoughts about discipling kids?

1.  You can’t lead someone somewhere you’ve never been

My kids are almost 5 and almost 2.  I am learning a valuable lesson: they see and hear and repeat EVERYTHING.  One day we were driving in the north Dallas area on a highway in a construction zone in traffic which is a recipe for disaster.  Add to it that my son was in the car with us.  My wife was driving when a semi-truck exited the construction zone without regard for the traffic and merged into our lane.  The truck almost hit us and forced us into the adjacent lane.  We narrowly missed hitting another car.  In a moment when depravity came screaming from deep within I proceeded to inform the truck driver that he was number one, if you know what I mean.  My son saw that and asked, “Daddy, why you pointing at dat truck?”  And every time…every time…for the next 3 months that we passed a semi-truck he exclaimed, “Look Daddy! A truck!  Let’s point!”  Parenting fail.

On the flip side, in remarkable age appropriate clarity, my son can also tell you what the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is about.  In fact, it’s one of his favorite stories in his Jesus Storybook Bible. Likewise, my almost 2 year old daughter repeats the motions and a word from a song they sing at church, “Pat the Bible.”  Each night I sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her as I lay her down for bed.  As she hears the words she will clap her hands in a patting motion and say joyfully, “Bible, bible.”

They pick up on much more than we realize.

Which is why if I want to disciple my kids, I need to have a flourishing relationship with Jesus.

I need to study my bible, pray, listen to God, serve, tithe, worship.

2. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

My favorite football team is the 3 time National Champions Florida State Seminoles.  My wife’s favorite football team is the Texas Longhorns.  Almost since birth I have indoctrinated my son with all things Florida State, including the war chant and tomahawk chop.  But then the day came when I asked my son to do the tomahawk chop.  Instead he threw up his hand in the Longhorn symbol and shouted “Hook ‘em!”  My heart died a little that day.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

In some ways I think the same is true for our kids and their spiritual formation.  I can create the perfect environments for the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts and lives of my kids, and they may not respond.  I can take my kids to a church driven by the gospel and that doesn’t babysit them.  We can do advent calendars until we are blue in the face.  We can listen to radio stations that are “Safe for the whole family.”  We can do all these things and much more in the name of Jesus, but until Jesus calls them to himself it is ineffective in saving them.   Sure, they’re all good things.  It even lays a foundation that “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  But it does not make them Christ Followers.

I can’t make my children love God, but I can show them a God who loves them.  And that’s my job.  Reintroducing my kids each morning to a God who loves them, who has a perfect plan for their lives, and who wants a personal relationship with them.  Some days I get a gold star, some days I fail miserably.

It all boils down to this: we pass down what we value most.

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How To Give Your Kids A Biblical Worldview In Two Easy Steps

The Barna Group defines a biblical worldview according to the beliefs that:
-Absolute moral truth exists;
-The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches;
-Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic;
-A person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works;
-Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
-And God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe       today.

How to give your kids a biblical worldview in 2 easy steps:

  1.  Run everything through the filter of scripture.

    If we value our relationship with God and scripture, then we will pass our faith down to our kids. It will become your family’s greatest heirloom, passed from generation to generation. We do this by taking advantage of informal and formal teaching moments. See another post I wrote for more on this.

    What does the bible say about:
    -Cheating
    -Friends
    -Choices
    -Marriage
    -Sex
    -Finances
    -Politics
    -Other religions

  1. Send them to the hard places to do hard things.

    I think Jesus was serious when he said that he sent us into the world (John 17.14-19) and when he told us to go and make disciples (Mattthew 28.18-20). We must remember that Jesus sends us (and our kids) into the culture, not into isolation. He sends us (and our kids) into the culture, for the culture, to redeem the culture.

    We have to send our kids to hard places and to do hard things.

    Something happens when you listen to God and go. Whether he sends us to Mexico, Egypt, Russia, across the world, across the street, or across the room. We have to go. We have to send our students to do hard things and to hard places and I believe that can be the best thing ever.

    So, maybe, our prayer for our kids should not be for their safety but for their obedience to God.

When we develop a biblical worldview in our kids and students they are better equipped to handle what life throws at them.

They begin to exchange things like:
-Lust for intimacy
-Wealth for generosity
-Job for a calling
-Fear for faith

They begin to see things beyond right here, right now. They begin to understand that they don’t take Jesus with them places, because he is already there. They begin to have a heart for the nations.

795 Weeks and Counting (Down): Leveraging Your Influence as a Parent

795 WEEKS AND COUNTING (Down): LEVERAGING YOUR INFLUENCE AS A PARENT

Do you have kids?  Are they as crazy as mine is?  My three year old little boy is….well…ALL BOY!  If it’s sports equipment or if can he manipulate it into a makeshift gun or rocket launcher he’s all about it.  Just the other day we had to take him to the doctor to get his eyebrow glued back together after splitting it open at school—he was running after a basketball and tripped over a giant rocking chair/glider.

I have just 795 weeks until he graduates from high school.  That’s it.  795.

How many weeks until your kid graduates from high school?

Time is our most valuable resource.  We are constantly giving it away, without the option of getting more back in return.  It is the definition of a non-renewable resource.  As each Sunday rolls around I lose another week. 795…794…793…792, never to get them back again.  Maybe this seems too nebulous.

Here are some alternative angles:

  • Each year as a parent—if you work full time, get eight hours of sleep per night, and do not homeschool your kids—you get 3000 hours per year with your child.  At best the church gets about 40 hours per year with your child.
  • Or, using the same math, parents get over 57 hours per week with their child, compared to the church’s 1 hour per week.

I wasn’t a math major…not even close.  In fact, I hate math with a holy passion.  Which I find ironic and humorous considering I wanted to go into financial planning.  I didn’t and you’re welcome.  And yes, I was that kid, you know the one who slept through high school geometry every single day.  Even though math never suited me, I can do this math: 3000>40 and 57>1.

This tells me that I have the greatest influence on the faith development of my child. Period.  This also tells me, that I must learn to leverage my influence for the thing that matters most.

Not far from the place where God will let Moses see the Promised Land, from atop Mount Nebo, and near the end of his life, Moses does something that sends waves throughout history.  He casts a vision for the nation of Israel—for the People of God.  In Deuteronomy 6.4-9 Moses begins by speaking to the hearts of the Israelites.  He warns them that what he is about to say will be huge…history changing, life altering, eternity impacting.  Moses also leaves no room for loopholes: Hear O Israel…not listen up moms and dads.  He addresses the whole nation of Israel.  If Moses made this speech today, I believe he would begin saying: Listen up church, this is going to be huge!

His next statement is revolutionary given the spiritual climate of the region.  He tells them that their God is true, strong, and one.  The Canaanites, the people who occupy the Promised Land, worship several wicked gods.  Least of which is Molech, whose altar was a furnace with the torso and outstretched arms of a man and the head of a bull.  Drums and flutes would play to drown out the screams of the child sacrifices made to Molech.  Canaanites had a god for amost everything.  Moses says: Our God is one.  Our God is true.  Our God is strong.  Our God is the Creator, not created.

The next statement Moses made would become one of the most recognized phrases in the entire bible: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Jesus would echo this phrase in the gospels.  Here, Moses makes a movement from the inside out with his instructions to love God with our total self.  Moses also knew, as we should recognize today that this is a big deal.  If we don’t love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, then we leave room for mixing in false gods into our worship of the true God.

Moses continues to address the church in general, and parents in particular, telling us the things he has said must to be woven into the tapestry of our lives.  The point he is making is that we should leave a lasting mark of our faith on our kids.  But here’s the kicker: what you learn in your own time with God, repeat that again and again and again to your kids.

Moses not only tells us what, but he tells us how, too.  He urges us to find the rhythm of our family, of our day.  Then to use that rhythm to strategically leverage our influence as parents as we weave faith into our every day lives.  Reggie Joiner and the guys at the Think Orange Group suggest the following rhythm:

Orange Rhythms SLIDE-2

The rhythm for my family will look different than the rhythm for your family and your rhythm will change as your kids get older.  What is the rhythm for your family?

Talk with your kids about who God is, what He does, and the difference He makes in your everyday lives as you…

  • Drive to practice
  • Watch TV
  • Do chores and yard-work
  • Eat at the table
  • Pick up your kids after school

Moses knew that for faith to be vibrant and life giving it has to infiltrate every part of our daily lives.

As a parent you have the greatest influence over the faith development of your child.  Period.  Now, we must learn to leverage that influence for the thing that matters most.

Check out these resources for faith conversations and passing down your faith to your kids:

Three Conversations Every Parent Must Have With Their Teenager

When you hear the phrase: “Family Meeting” do you get chills, do you roll your eyes, or do you hide?  Family meetings don’t always get the reaction they should.  They don’t have to be ominous and fear-laden.

I bring up family meetings because when I was growing up that was the cue for a serious conversation.  I think that there are three vital conversations that parents need to start having with their teenagers; and the younger the better.

THE SEX TALK

Dun, dun, duuuunnnn.  Sweaty palms. Cotton mouth.  Avoiding eye contact.  Stumbling over your words.  Fear. The parent feels awkward; the student feels grossed out. (I even feel a little awkward writing this.) This is how the typical sex talk begins…but it doesn’t have to be this way. Sex is a gift from God that we treat as taboo.  Let me say that again, God created sex; and what God creates is good.

Any conversation you have with your teenager about sex should begin there: Yes, God created sex, but God created sex to be shared in the context of marriage between husband and wife.  But if you wait until your child is a teenager to talk about sex you may have waited too long.  Did you know that the average age of first time exposure to pornography is 11 years old?  11. Not 18.  11.  That’s the average sixth grader.  With the onset of mobile technology what was once restricted to behind the counter at a convenience store is now in their pocket!  I would not be surprised at all if the number of younger children with smartphones increases that the average age for first time exposure to pornography becomes younger and younger.

Here’s the million dollar question: How do I talk with my teenager about sex? I think it’s vital to remember that this is more than just a conversation about sex; it’s a conversation about biblical love, making wise choices, and open communication between parents and students.  It is also not just one conversation, but the opening conversation in an ongoing dialogue between parents and teenagers.

  • Be honest.
  • Be real.
  • Listen.

Before you have the sex talk with your teenager it is wise for the parents to get together to make sure they are on the same page. You may disagree, but I believe that it is best for the same gender parent to initiate this conversation (if possible); I also think there is an appropriate time to have the opposite gender parent join the conversation as well.

Harvest USA and XXXChurch have some resources that could be very helpful.

The sex talk seems obvious, right? In theory, parents have been having this conversation with their little raging ball of hormones (teenager) for generations.  However, the next two conversations may not be as obvious, but they are nonetheless important.

THE TECH TALK
When was the last time you asked your teenager spell “kick?” Do you know what #tbt or #mcm or #wcw mean? What is an IGFollower?  What does #s4s mean?  If you’re asking any of these questions, you may have some homework to do…

If the sex talk is characterized with sweaty palms and cotton mouth, then the tech talk is marked by overwhelming confusion.  There are several social network and social media apps available for smart phones.  Here are a few off the top of my head:

I doubt many teenagers are on the last three networks.

As many as 25% of teenagers get their primary internet access via mobile device.  That means having the family computer in the living room isn’t enough. This conversation is greatly needed.  One of our obligations to teenagers is to help them navigate the digital terrain.  In a lot of ways we are like Lewis and Clark blazing a trail for others to follow on the digital landscape.

Here are someone suggestions for the tech talk:

  • Establish the desire for open communication between parents and teenagers
  • Once it goes online, it’s there forever
  • Go over the laws for your state for sexting
  •  Have a family charging station for mobile devices and tablets each night
  • Get all usernames and passwords
  • Establish criteria for the “friends” or “followers” on social networks

Do they know them?
How do they know them?
Are they friends in real life?

X3Watch

Covenant Eyes

I would have this conversation before they get their first smartphone.

The last conversation in my list is in that position intentionally.  Ideally the previous conversations would happen early on in the teen years.  But this next conversation is a sort of manufactured 21st century rite of passage.

 THE DRIVING TALK

I would guess that this is the conversation parents are most comfortable having with their teenagers.  But that doesn’t mean that it is any less significant.  There are huge ramifications for how your student drives–their lives and the lives of others are at stake.  This conversation should happen sometime between the 15th and 16th birthdays.

Here are some tips for the driving talk:

  • Driving is a privilege
  • Safe driving is an expectation
  • Don’t text and drive
  • Limit phone calls while driving
  • Text blocking apps while driving
  • Who pays for the ticket
  • Who pays for insurance increases after tickets or accidents
  • Who pays for accidents
  • Who pays for the car
  • Who pays for gas
  • How many strikes are allowed
  • How do grades impact driving privileges

Do you have older teenagers?  Have you not had these conversations yet?  It’s not too late! Carve out time this week to talk with your teenager about sex, tech, and driving.

Even though these conversations cover some serious content that can affect teens for the rest of their lives, try not to be too serious. Share some of your mistakes and funny story or two.

  • What was your first ticket for and how much did it cost you? In case you’re wondering mine was $395 for going 75 in a 60 construction zone from state trooper Billy Brown (his real name) in 2003.
  • How awkward was your first date?
  • What was the most embarrassing picture of you from high school?  Show them!

The key thing to remember in these three conversations is that you, as the parent, are trying to open–and keep open– the lines of communication with your teenager. Don’t worry about having the perfect script; just talk.  Ask questions. Listen.

Be real.

Be honest.

Listen.