June 20, 2012
Today I want to take some time to check out a passage of the Bible that has been the foundation of a series that we just finished at New Harvest this past Sunday: Orange. Actually, if you want to listen to the sermons from the series, you can listen here. [These values come from a book, "Think Orange" by Reggie Joiner, which I highly recommend.]
We’re going to take it back to the old school and check out Moses’ charge to the nation of Israel not too long before his death. It’s in the fourth book of the Bible: Deuteronomy. What I’d like to do is take the passage bit by bit and provide a little reminder of what this verse means for us today:
“Hear O Israel…”
The first family value comes out of the first three words! See, when Moses was speaking (and you’ll see it’s all about raising up the next generation to have authentic faith), he wasn’t just talking to parents. He wasn’t just talking to “religious leaders.” He was talking to the ENTIRE NATION. That leads us to value #1…
#1 WIDEN THE CIRCLE
Widening the circle means allowing as many people as you can to invest in the spiritual growth of your kids. Parents, that means that you can’t be the only spiritual voice in the lives of your kids. Church people, it means that you’ve got to make sure that you partner WITH parents. When it comes to imparting an authentic faith on the next generation, the more the merrier!
“…the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
The second family value flows out of this. Basically, Moses is saying that all of life boils down to this. This is the framework for your life. ”God is our God. God is the only God.” This may not seem significant on a surface level, but if life is all about God, how we raise our kids is going to be different than if we think that life is all about something else. Life is not about being “well-adjusted” or “well-rounded” or “happy” or “having all the things we couldn’t have when we were kids.” Life is about knowing Jesus and making Him known. That’s why value #2 is…
#2 IMAGINE THE END
Instead of obsessing about WHAT we want our kids to be (ie, the next Peyton Manning, the next great ballerina, the next Bill Gates)– we should be focusing on who they are. Do they understand that they are a child of God? Does that captivate their hearts? Is it the framework of every decision they make? If that’s the goal, how do we get there?
“…you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
God uses heart language to describe the relationship that He wants for His followers. Yeah, parents would probably love to have an obedient kid; but, even beyond the rules, we should care about what’s going on in the heart. Why do I say that? It’s clear that God is most concerned with the heart condition of His followers throughout the Bible. That leads us to value #3…
#3 FIGHT FOR THE HEART
If God fights for our hearts by constantly reminding us of how much He loves us and all He’s done for us, shouldn’t we do the same for our kids? We should fight for their hearts! We shouldn’t give up on them (even when they break the rules). We should demonstrate sacrificial, heart communication to our kids (even when they frustrate us to no end). Why? Because that’s how God loves us.
“And these words that I command you today shall be upon your heart.”
It’s easy to teach stuff that you don’t practice yourself. But, when you see that your leader is not the real thing, it can really poke a hole in everything that person ever said. That’s why we can’t teach our kids what we don’t own ourselves. And that’s our #4 value…
#4 MAKE IT PERSONAL
You’ve got to own your relationship with God. Most Christian parents want their kids to be “prayer warriors,” but rare is the family that actually takes the time to pray with their families (besides Thanksgiving or “grace”). We don’t want our kids to form their viewpoints of the world based on media or their friends (or their schools), but we don’t expose them to the counter-message that’s in Scripture. Oh, man, we’ve got to get this one right.
“…you shall teach [these words that I command you today] 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.”
Moses talks about universal stuff that everyone in every time and every culture can do. We all wake up, go to bed, talk at home, and travel. In these natural rhythms of life, we’re supposed to talk about who God is and what difference He makes. If life is all about Him, life’s rhythms should reflect Him throughout. Which brings us to value #5…
#5 CREATE A RHYTHM
We can’t pretend that this kind of stuff (Bible study, discussions about God, what they’re learning in church, prayer, etc.) is just going to happen “organically.” It won’t. Our culture isn’t going to just remind us to do this. We have to be intentional! I love the Parent Cue app that Orange puts out because it at least gives us pointers in the right direction if we’re totally clueless! But, whatever you do, you’ve got to wrestle with the rhythms of your family’s life and where God fits into all of it.
Moses ends by telling us why this is so important in verses 10-12. To paraphrase: “One of these days. Life is going to be a whole lot easier because God’s going to make good on His promise to give you an awesome land and an awesome life. When you’ve got all that great stuff around you (distractions and blessings), make sure you don’t forget about God!”
Ultimately, that’s the thing: our kids can grow up to be “well-adjusted,” but how well adjusted can someone be when they’ve still got a HUGE sin problem? And is it really great to be “well-rounded” at things that don’t matter? What about being “happy” and ignorant? No thanks. Oh, and what about if they did have everything we c0uldn’t have growing up but totally MISSED the most important thing (a relationship with God).
These family values matter.
Let’s focus on the right stuff.