God’s Guidelines for Growing Your Kids

February 11, 2018
Dr. Danny Akin

Sermon Notes

This morning our passage of Scripture is found in the book of Ephesians, the 6th chapter. If you would join me there, Ephesians chapter 6, beginning with verse 1 and going through verse 4. -God’s guidelines for growing your kids, or how to love your children and let them know it. Ephesians chapter 6 beginning with verse 1 and going through verse 4. Hear the Word of the Lord:

Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 

She died on April 26, 1989, so some years ago, but during her life, I don’t think anyone would debate that Lucille Ball was clearly the queen of comedy. Lucy, just a few months before she died, was interviewed on television by a man named Merv Griffin, and he asked Lucy a series of very interesting questions. In that interview, here’s what he asked: “Lucille, you’ve lived a long time on this earth, and you are a wise person. What’s happened to our country? What’s wrong with our children? Why are our families falling apart? What’s missing?”

And to that series of questions, Lucille Ball quickly responded and said this: “Papa is missing. Things are falling apart because Papa is gone. If Papa were here, he would fix it.”

Lucy was right. In 1960, only 18% of children in America lived in a home where their biological father was not present. Today, almost 40% of all the children in America live in a home where their daddy is not there. Yes, in way too many homes today, Papa is missing, and yet, you know what? There’s another tragedy that accompanies that one. Sometimes this tragedy can even afflict Christian homes, because you see, sometimes in the home, though dad is there physically, he’s not there. He’s tuned out; he’s checked out, and dad really isn’t in touch with what is going on in the lives of his children.

I think the heartache and disappointment experienced by far too many children was expressed pretty well a couple of years ago when a young teenage girl wrote a letter to 17 Magazine describing her relationship with her father. Listen to what she wrote:

Have you ever heard of a father who won’t talk to his daughter? My father doesn’t seem to know I’m alive. In my whole life, he has never said he loves me or given me a good-night kiss unless I asked him to. I think the reason he ignores me is because I’m so boring. I look at my friends and think, ‘If I were funny like Geo or a super-brain like Sandy, or even outrageous and punk like Tasha, he would put down his paper and be fascinated with me. I play the recorder, and for the past three years, I’ve been a soloist in the fall concert at school. Mom always comes to the concerts. Dad, he never does. This year I’m a senior and so it’s his last chance. I’d give anything to look out into the audience and see him there, but who am I kidding? It will never happen.

Now parents, I don’t want to overstate things this morning, but I will tell you something. I believe this with all of my heart. I believe that knowing that your mom and dad care and knowing that your mom and dad will be there when you need them, sometimes can even be the difference between life and death for a child.

Several years ago, Focus on the Family carried an amazing story in their monthly magazine. It had actually run earlier in Reader’s Digest. It is a true story. It is one of the most remarkable testimonies I have ever read in my life that tells us the difference that the love of a daddy made in the life of one of his children. So, before we go to God’s Word, just listen very quickly to this remarkable story.

One day, a father took his 2 elementary school-age children for a ride in a pontoon boat. They were traveling down the river when suddenly, the motor stopped. When the father looked behind him, he noticed something familiar about the red sweater tangled up in the propeller. His young son began to yell, “Sherry fell in!” In horror, the father saw his little girl intertwined in the propeller of the boat. She was submerged just beneath the surface of the water looking straight into the eyes of her daddy and holding her breath. The father jumped into the water and tried to pull the motor up, but the heavy engine would not budge and time was now running out. Desperately, the father filled his own lungs with air and dipped below the surface, blowing air into his daughter’s lungs. After giving her air three separate times, the father took a knife from his son’s hand. He quickly cut the red sweater from the propeller and lifted his daughter back into the boat.

Although she had survived her deep cuts and bruises, she needed medical attention. So, they rushed her to the emergency room at the hospital, but when the crisis was over, the doctors and nurses came into the little girl’s room and they asked her a very simple question: “How come you didn’t panic?”

“Well,” she said, “I’ve gone up on the river, and my dad always taught us, if you panic, you could die. And besides, I knew my daddy, he would come and get me.”

Now parents, do your kids know that? Do they know today that if they did something that broke your heart, that disappointed you beyond measure, if their back was against the wall, do they know, “My dad, my mom, they would be there. They would come and get me.”

You see, I have a basic premise that underlines what I’m going to say this morning. It is simply this: I believe almost all parents do love their children, but that is not the issue. The issue is, by the things we say and the things we do, do our children feel loved? So, what I want you do this morning is first of all, lay a very simple, biblical and theological foundation from Ephesians 6: 1-4, and then I’ll take the remainder of my time to just be very, very practical about how it is day in and day out, we can live out a love for our children that they could absolutely not miss.

I. We grow our children by educating them

a. It is proper

So here we go. Number 1: The Bible says that we love our children by educating them. We love our children by educating them. In Ephesians chapter 6 in verse 1, Paul tells us this is the proper thing for us to do. Look at it with me. Chapter 6 verse 1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”

Now, that word obey is an imperative. It’s a word of command. God does not ask or suggest to children. God commands children, “You obey Mom and Dad.” That word obey is also in the present tense, which means it speaks of a continuous or a constant action. In other words, children are commanded by God to continually and consistently obey Mom and Dad.

Parents, I believe from the time our children are small, we should be imparting to them the expectation of their obedience. Now, I know they’re going to disobey. After all, they’re little sinners, just like you and I are big sinners, okay? So, we all understand that, but we should impart to them that disobedience will be the exception, not the rule. -the exception, not the norm, and that God’s command to them is that they would consistently obey Mom and Dad.

Now, Paul qualifies the statement in two ways there in verse 1. Look at it. He says number 1, it’s in the Lord and secondly, he says this is right. I believe that phrase “in the Lord” means unto the Lord. In other words, parents, teach your children that when they obey you, they are obeying Jesus.

God blessed my wife and me with 4 sons, and all their lives as they were growing up, we tried to help our 4 sons understand that ultimately, their obedience and disobedience are not against me. They are not against their mother. It’s before the Lord, and when they obey us, they are obeying Jesus. So, the Bible says it is in the Lord, and the Bible says secondly, this is the way God planned it. This is the way God ordained and established the life of the family.

b. There is a promise

1. A better life  

2. A longer life  

But you know what, parents? I believe good parents don’t tell their kids simply what to do. I think good parents also help their kids understand why, why they should live in this way and not in another way. So, Paul, being the biblical scholar that he is, goes back to the 10 Commandments. They’re found both in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5. Here’s what Paul said in verse 2 and verse 3: There is a promise. There is a promise that God makes to children who obey Mom and Dad and who now honor Mom and Dad. Look at it with me there in verse 2.

“Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise. That word honor is an imperative word of command. It is in the present tense, which means continuous action. So again, children are commanded by God to continually obey Mom and Dad. They are commanded by God to continually honor Mom and Dad, and Paul says there is a promise that God makes to children who obey and honor. It’s two-fold. Number 1: The Bible says God will give you a better life, that it may go well with you. Secondly, the Bible says God will give you a longer life, that you may live long in the land.

So, as a general covenant of life, the Bible says, “You obey Mom and Dad, you honor Mom and Dad, and God will bless you both with a better life and a longer life. Now, some of you hear me say that this morning, and you want to say, “Wait a minute, Danny. Hold on. Time out. That’s fine if you grew up in a good home, but if you knew the hell-on-earth I grew up in, if you knew the dysfunctional family life that was in my experience, you would know that these verses are not for me. These are verses for children who grew up in a good home, not a bad home, and in fact, you probably don’t understand because you grew up in a good home.”

Well, you’d be partially correct. I did grow up in a good home. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and my dad and my mom, they loved me. They cared for me. I have absolutely no complaints about the way I was raised by Lowell and Emma Lou Akin, no complaints at all. But God gave me a wife who had exactly the opposite experience of me. My wife Charlotte, she was born into the home of alcoholic parents. When she was seven years old, they got a divorce, and after bouncing around from one home to another and then another, at the age of nine, Charlotte, her sister and her brother were all three placed in the Georgia Baptist Childrens Home just up the road in Palmetto, Georgia. She would live there until she was 18.

During those years, she never saw her mother. In fact, we had been married for a number of years before she ever told me this. We were driving up; I remember it very clearly. We were driving from Louisville, Kentucky down toward Nashville. We were talking about, you know, growing up in the children’s home, and I said, “Honey, what was it like the last time you saw your mother before you went to the children’s home?” Tears began to run down her face, and she said, “Well, I was sitting out on the porch on the bench. Mama came out of the front door and looked at me and slapped me in the face and knocked me out into the front yard. She said, “All of this is your blankety-blank fault, you little blank.” She turned around, walked back into the house. She would not see her mother again until she was 17 years old. In fact, when we first started dating, she did not even know if her mother was still alive.

Her daddy came to see her a couple of times in the first month that she was there, and then she would not see her daddy again until after we were married.

In fact, again we’d been married for quite a while, and one day we were talking, and I said, “Honey, would you ever ask your daddy to come see you?” And she said, “Well yeah. I would call Daddy, and I would say that they were having Parents Weekend, and the parents can come see the children at the children’s home, and would you come see me this weekend?” And she said her daddy always said the same thing every time. “Yea Babe, I’ll come and see you.”

And so, as a little girl, my wife would get up on Saturday morning and get all dressed up, go out and sit on the front porch of her cottage, and she would wait two, three and sometimes four hours for a daddy who never showed up. When we got married, she called her daddy, and I was standing right beside her in my mom and dad’s home. I’ll never forget the conversation. “Daddy, I’m getting married, and I want you give me away.” Tears begin to run down her face, and she says, “Well Daddy, I know you’re shy. So, if you don’t want to give me away, that’s okay. I just want you to come to my wedding.” And even though he only lived about 10-12 miles away, he said, “Well, I won’t be able to make it. I hope you have a great day.” And he didn’t come.

Now folks, listen to me very carefully. Unless something happened at the end of his life that we don’t know, Charlotte’s daddy died lost. He died prematurely because of the ravaging effects of alcohol. God in his amazing grace saved her mother one week before she died on her deathbed at Grady Memorial Hospital up in Atlanta, Georgia, because she had a daughter who never stopped loving her, who never stopped praying for her. Folks, I’ve been married to her now for almost 40 years. In all the years I’ve known my wife, I’ve never heard her even one time to say anything ugly or unkind either about her dad or her mom. She always loved them. She always sought to honor them. And I’ll tell you what. God kept his word. I love to say this. I am married to one of my heroes. I am married one of my heroes. She’s a great wife. She raised 4 godly sons. She’s a great grandmother to her 12 grandkids. All the ladies at the seminary just adore her and love her, and even though she was born into a hell-on-earth kind of situation, she obeyed God’s Word, and God kept his Word.

II. We grow our children by encouraging them

a. We should avoid making them angry 

So, the Bible says we love well our children by educating them, but then secondly, the Bible also says we love well our children by encouraging them. Look at verse 4. Let’s remember, Gentlemen, that we are called to that leadership assignment in the home. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord. Paul begins in verse 4 with a negative word, and then he followed it with a positive word.  

The negative word: We should avoid making them angry. “Do not provoke your children to anger.” The idea is, don’t provide an unsettling kind of situation where they never know what you’re going to do. If you look at the parallel account in Colossians chapter 3, it says don’t provoke them, lest they become discouraged. So, you don’t want to discourage your children. You don’t want to provoke them to where they have an angry kind of disposition because of an unsettled kind of situation.

b. We should be active in giving them advice

What you want to do secondly is, be active in giving them advice. It says in the Bible “bring them up”. It could be translated “nourish them up” in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord. Now, you may be here this morning as a parent or grandparent, and you would say, “Well, you know what, Danny? Kids don’t listen to Mom and Dad. Kids don’t pay attention to Mom and Dad. Haven’t you read the experts? They tell us that our children are far more influenced by peer pressure than they are parental instruction.”

Folks, I don’t want to be unkind to the experts this morning, but they’re flat wrong. They don’t know what they’re talking about, because I’m going to tell you something. Your children do care what you think, and your children do listen to what you say, and your children pay a whole lot of attention to what you do. The largest survey ever taken of teenagers in the history of the world took place as we were moving from the 20th into the 21st century, now almost 20 years ago. But they interviewed a massive number of teenagers, and they found out a lot of interesting things about them, but Newsweek Magazine evidently thought this was significant enough to lead a story with, and I simply quote, “In a recent national survey, teenagers named their parents as their number 1 heroes.”

Did you hear that? “Hey guys, who’s your hero? A movie star? No. A rock star? No. An athlete? No. A politician? Are you kidding me?” Now, I’m just playing. I believe we need to be involved in the political process in electing good, godly Christians to office, but no, “My hero is not a rock star, not a movie star, not even an athlete, not a politician. My hero is my dad and my mom.”

They asked them another question: “If you were stranded on a desert island, and you can have only one thing, what one thing would you want?” Here are their answers. 10% said a television (now, what you would do with the television on a stranded desert island, I don’t know, but I’m just going to leave that alone and not delve into it). 15% said they would want some books. 21% said they would want a computer. 24% said they would want music, but the number 1 answer, “I’m stranded on a desert island, and I can have only 1 thing: I want my dad, and I want my mom.” They do care what you think. They do listen to what you say, and yes, they pay a lot of attention to what you do.

So very quickly, what is it that you and I can do day in and day out that will love well our children? There are 12 things that I’m going to walk through very quickly. Let me just simply say there’s nothing profound in this list, but I can tell you this: They’re true, and they’re biblically grounded, and if you begin to live these things out day in and day out with your children, you will see a wonderful, wonderful impact on them.

So here we go. Number 1: You love your children well by getting down on their level and entering into their world. I like to call this “incarnational parenting”. You say, “Why?” -because how do we know this morning that God, that heavenly Father loves us as his children? I’ll tell you exactly how we know. He got down on our level, and he entered into our world in the person of his son, Jesus Christ. So, you want love well your kids? You step back and you ask, “How does my five-year-old, how does my 15-year-old, how does my 18-year-old, how do they look at life given their sex, given their age, given their interest, given their personality, given their friends?” You love them well by getting down on their level and entering into their world.

Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that saying that is a lot easier than doing it. I heard about a little boy, five years old. His turtle died. It broke his heart. He cried all day. Dad came home, and Mom said, “Honey, he’s in the backyard crying. He’s there with his turtle. The turtle’s dead. He won’t come in the house. You’ve got to go do something.” So, Dad goes to the back. The child’s crying that the turtle’s not moving. Dad comes back and begins to rack his brain, and he says, “Son, look. I’m sorry your turtle died, but I tell you what. We could have a turtle funeral and celebrate your turtle going to Turtle Heaven. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll get a shoebox, and will put him in here. I will dig a hole right here in our backyard, and we will bury him back here in our backyard. He will always be here. And since we’re going to have a little funeral service, I’ll preach a sermon. You can invite all your friends over, and they can be a part of that funeral for your turtle. And I tell you what. Since we’re celebrating that he’s going to Turtle Heaven, we’ll have a party. I’ll get your mama to make a cake. I’ll make some homemade ice cream, and after that, we’ll go to the park.  We’ll ride the rides, and we’ll maybe take our bat and ball and play a little baseball. So what do you think if we do all that to celebrate your Turtle’s funeral?”

Well, he’s still crying, but he says, “We can have a party?” “You can. Your mom will make the cake. I’ll make ice cream. What do you think?” The tears stop, and a little smile came across his face. He says, “Daddy, that will be okay.” And boy, Dad felt great! He had saved the day. He took his son by the hand. They begin to walk back to the house, and can you believe it? At exactly that moment, suddenly out of that shell comes that turtle’s head! He begins to look around and check everything out, and the dad said, “Look son, Look! That’s turtle’s not dead after all! The little boy begins to scream and cry again. “Kill him, Daddy! Kill him! I want to have my party!”

Now, that may not make sense to an adult, but that makes all that sense in the world to a five-year-old little boy. Now, it may not be easy, but if you love them, you’re going to get down on their level and get into their world.

Number 2: You love your children well by simply loving your mate. In fact, I love to say it this way. Great partners almost always make great parents. Why? because the number 1 need in the life of a child related to love is security, and nothing bring security in the life of a child like knowing, my dad loves my mom. My mom loves my dad, and they’re always going to be here for me. So, if you’ll just love well your mate, you will give your children about 95% of all that they need.

Number 3: You love your kids well by giving them discipline. After all, they come into the world screaming, “Where are the boundaries? What’s right? What’s wrong?” Now, let me say, I don’t claim to an expert here. We did the best we could with 4 sons over the time that they were growing up, but we did find some things in the Bible that were very helpful to us, and some basic principles that I would just share with you for you to think about are these. See if they work well for you.

First of all, I believe this: I think you should give your kids a big playing field and not a little box. -a big playing field and not a little box. You say, “Why?” 2 reasons. Number 1: If you say to your children, “You must live in the little box all the time,” they won’t. They can’t. You say, “Why not?” -because God did not design children, or at least God did not design little boys, to live in a little box. That much I absolutely do know. Secondly (and this is so crucial), you won’t be consistent with where you draw the lines, and here’s the deal. Wherever you draw the line, you must be rigorously, rigorously, rigorously consistent in your discipline.

When our twins were small (about the age of 4), we had a rule: You do not go into Mom and Dad’s bathroom. If you do, you will get a spanking. You say, “Well, why did you have that rule? Well, because one day Nathan (one of the twins) went in there and got a bottle of Campho Phenique, and he decided it would be nice to drink it. So, he drank a bottle of Campho Phenique. You say, “Well, what did y’all do?” Well, we took him to the emergency room at Doctors Hospital. They said, “No, you need to take him into the real emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital there in Dallas where they took John Kennedy when he got shot.

So, we go over to the real emergency room at Parkland Hospital. We get there at about 8 o’clock. About midnight (and we had insurance by the way; we actually had money, okay), but at midnight, finally we see a doctor. He says, “What did he do?” We said, “He drank Campho Phenique.” He said, “When did he do it? We said, “Well, it was at 6 o’clock this evening.” He said, “Well, 6 o’clock… It’s midnight. If nothing’s happened to him by now, you can go home.” And they charged us for that! We had to pay for that! I’m still kind of dealing with that. I’m in therapy over it.

But anyway, so we decided it was not good for our children to be going into our bathroom. So, one day a few months later, Jonathan, the other twin, went up into our bedroom and walked right over to the edge of the carpet and the tile, and looked up at me like a little four-year-old boy could do with the biggest grin and the biggest smile, and I said, “Jonathan, sweetheart, you know the rule. If you step into that bathroom, you’re going to get a spanking.” And he looked up at me with a big ol’ grin and put his foot over and brought it right back.

You think, “That’s so cute! What did you do?” I tore his little tail up. That’s exactly what I did, because I told him, “If you go into the bathroom, you will get a spanking. So, wherever you determine that you’re going to draw the lines, be very, very consistent, and let me give a word of encouragement to the teenagers who are here. I believe this: If you’ve got teenagers who are faithful and trustworthy and dependable, let the playing field get bigger and bigger and bigger. Honor their responsibility. Honor their trustworthiness. Honor their maturity.

On the other hand, if you’ve got kids who don’t behave, and they don’t keep their word, and they are misfits, as I told my boys, the playing field will get smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. And if I have to, I will chain your tail to your bed ‘til the day you die, in Jesus’ name. And someday they’ll find your skeleton there, because I love you too much to let you make a fool of yourself. So, honor their trustworthiness, but give them very clear parameters, alright?

Secondly, and then I’ll move on. I believe we discipline our children all the days they are under our watch care, and I believe we adjust the way we discipline as they grow older. You say, “Why would you say that?” Well, listen to what the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 29, verse 15. “The rod and the rebuke give wisdom.” Let me add a Danny Akin commentary. The rod when they’re young, the rebuke as they grow older, gives wisdom. “But a child left to himself will bring shame to his mother.”

You say, “Danny, in this day of sophistication in the western world, you still think it’s alright to spank children when they’re small?” I not only think it’s alright; I think sometimes is absolutely essential. I just think that it is. In fact, here’s what I believe: When they’re little, their brain is in their buns. Their brain is in their buns, and if you get back there, and it’s amazing how intelligent a little boy or a little girl can suddenly become. So, always under control and in moderation. Yes, I think it’s alright to spank them when they’re young. But, let me remind you of this. In the world of the Bible, a boy and a girl became an adult at about the age of 12.

So, I have a follow-up question. Do you think that Dad was taking the rod to his children when they were 12,15 ,17,18 years old? I seriously, seriously, seriously doubt it. You say, “Your sons, you continue to discipline them as long as they lived in your home?” I did. When you stop spanking them, they have no memory of a spanking after 10 or 11. I still disciplined them with the rebuke and with a restriction, but I treated my teenage sons as grown men because that’s really what they were. So, bottom line is this: If you love your kids well, you will give them discipline.

Number 4: You love your kids well by the way you look at them. Proverbs 20:12 says, “The hearing ear, the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” And outside of your mouth, few things are more effective in communicating with your children than the way you look at them.

Number 5: You love your kids well by touching them. Ecclesiastes 3:5 says, “There is a time to embrace”, which means that it is good for us to hold our children. It is good for us to hug our children. It is good for us to kiss our children. Let me be very gender-specific. Dads, if God blessed you with precious daughters, in a good, healthy way, you hold them. You hug them. You kiss them. -because God made a little girl with a need for male affirmation, and God designed that she gets it first and foremost from her daddy.

May I give a word of encouragement to you mothers who have sons? I learned a few years ago that a teenage boy will let you, let his mother, kiss him in the morning when she takes him to school if she will just do it on the floorboard of the car. That’s right. As long as it takes place where nobody can see you, he’ll let you do it, because just as he needs that rough-house affection from dad, he needs that more tender affection from his mama.

Number six: You love your kids well by spending time with them. We need to spend here just a moment. Focus on the Family took a survey several years ago. I saw a secular survey about five years ago. Not much has changed. On average, a five-year-old spends 25 to 35 minutes a week in quality time with their dad, but they spent 20 to 25 hours a week with a television (or what we now call technological babysitters). 25 to 35 minutes a week with dad, 20 to 25 hours a week with the TV or technological babysitter.

That may explain this. Readers Digest took a survey of four and five-year-old and asked them this question: If you had to vote to give away either your daddy or your TV, which would you vote to give away? 33%, one in three, said, “I’d rather give away my daddy than I would my TV.”

One man in reflecting upon what it was like to grow up in his home, sat down and wrote this to his parents. I actually came across it in a newspaper. This is what he wrote: “You didn’t take care of me; you sent me to daycare. You didn’t feed me; you sent me to McDonald’s. You didn’t study with me; you bought me a computer. You didn’t talk to me; you bought me a stereo unit. You didn’t look at me; you bought me a TV. You didn’t play with me; you bought me toys. Now that I’m grown and you’re old, why should I come and see you? I don’t even know who you are.” Yes, love is a beautiful four-letter word, but I think sometimes we better spell it this way: T-I-M-E.

Number seven: You love your kids well by listening to them. James tells us to be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to hear, which means parents, put away the smart phone, put away the iPad, don’t turn on the TV. Eye-to-eye, Ear-to-ear, heart-to-heart, and by locking in that kind of a way, you’re saying to your children, “I think what you think is important. I am not here to talk; I am here just to listen.

Number eight: You love your kids well by blessing them rather than cursing them. You say, “Danny, what are you talking about?” I’m talking about your words. Your words. Have you ever stopped to think about what it’s like to be a child and to hear some of the things they hear coming out of the mouth of mom and dad? I’ve been building a list over the years, and I must say to my shame, some of the things on this list came out of my mouth in the direction of my children, but just see if you recognize any of these:

“Put that down… Stop that right now… Shut up… I don’t care what you’re doing… Come here right now… Listen to me… Give me that… Don’t touch that… Go away… Leave me alone… Can’t you see I’m busy? …Not like that, Stupid… Boy, that was a really dumb thing to do…. Can’t you do anything right?… Why, you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on… Hurry up; we don’t have all day… What’s the matter with you?… Can’t you hear anything?… I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

Parents, those words don’t build up; they tear down. They don’t bless; they curse. And let me tell you something. Don’t you ever, ever, ever underestimate the power of your words to shape and mold your children’s self-awareness of who they are.

I was speaking one time a church in Mississippi, and afterward, a 65-year-old man came up to me and said, “Brother Danny, can I share my testimony with you?” I said, “Sure you can.” He said, “Well, I got saved five years ago at the age of 60. It’s been the five most wonderful years of my life.” He said, “Danny, I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’m a recovering drug addict too.” And he said, “I also went through a number of failed marriages, and I will tell you, they were all my fault. I hurt some pretty nice ladies.” He said, “I will stop right there, but you kind of get the picture that until five years ago, my life was pretty much a disaster, and it certainly was.” And he said, “You know, I want to be clear. I don’t blame anybody. I made the bad choices. I made the dumb decisions,” but then tears begin to run down his face. He said this to me (I’ll never forget it as long as I live). He said, “You know what, Brother Danny? When I was a little boy, all I can remember my daddy saying to me were things like this: Boy, you can’t do anything right. Boy, you’re just downright dumb. Boy, you’ll never grow up to amount to anything.”

He said, “Isn’t it strange? I grew up to be exactly what my daddy said I would be. But then he said this: “When I met Jesus five years ago, I got a new daddy, and my new daddy loves me. My new daddy believes in me.” I’ve never really heard anybody say it like this, but he said, “My new daddy thinks I can do things. In fact, you know what, Brother Danny? It really doesn’t matter what you think your daddy thinks about you.”

Number nine: You love your kids well by having fun with them. If you’d asked me this morning to boil down my parental philosophy in its most basic form, it’s simply this: Teach your children to love Jesus, and have fun with them. Teach your children to love Jesus, and have fun with them. What I’ve learned is this: When they grow up, they’ll come back and see you and bring the grandkids, which is a pretty good deal.

Number 10: You love your kids well by letting them go and develop their own wings as you nudge them out of the nest. This is the one I actually do have figured out. You get them for about 20 years. You pour your life into them so that when you’re not around anymore and it’s just them and the Lord, they will be okay. That’s the goal of parenting, and you will not get there unless you nudge them out of the nest and let them develop their own wings.

Number 11: You love your kids by admitting when you are wrong and asking for forgiveness. You know, there are some relationships here this morning that are broken, that could go in the right direction and go a long way in the right direction, if you would simply humble yourself and say seven magical words either to your parents or to your children or to a spouse. You say, “Danny, what are those seven magical words?”  They are: I was wrong. Will you forgive me? You notice the word, but is not in there. I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me? Let me tell you something, Parent. Your children will not think less of you when you admit you make a mistake. They will always think more if you.

Number 12. We love our kids well by introducing them to a perfect parent. You say, “I know, Danny. I can’t be a perfect parent.” I know that. I can’t be a perfect parent either. I don’t have us in mind. What I do have in mind is this. Listen to me. God made all of us with what I call a “hole in the soul”. The patristic theologians called it a God-shaped vacuum, and it can only be filled by a relationship (I believe) with a perfect parent, a perfect heavenly Father.

And so, let me close by just quickly telling you the rest of the story. I mentioned earlier about what a wonderful lady I’m married to. Well, here’s the billion-dollar question: How did that happen? I mean, here’s a little girl that’s been abandoned by her dad and her mom. Her world has been turned upside down and shattered. What in the world allowed her to grow up to be the wonderful, godly lady that she is?

Well I’ll tell you exactly what happened. It was a Sunday morning. She was about 10 years old. She was up the road at the First Baptist Church of Fairburn, Georgia that Sunday morning, and I love to say it this way: My wife gave her tender little 10-year-old heart to Jesus, and Jesus gave his heart to her, and on that morning, God in Heaven became her perfect heavenly Father. You can ask her. If you were to say, “Charlotte, what was the most wonderful thing about getting saved, knowing that all your sins are forgiven?” And she would say, “That is wonderful, but it wasn’t the most wonderful for me.” So, you might say, “Was it knowing that when you die, you go to Heaven then? She would say, that’s wonderful too, but that wasn’t the most wonderful for me.

So, you’d say, “Well, Charlotte, what was the most wonderful thing about getting saved?” And with a big ol’ smile on her face, she would say, “When I got saved, I got a new daddy, and my new daddy loves me, and my new daddy made a promise to me that he has kept all of my life to this very day. You know the promises found in Hebrews chapter 13 where the father says, “I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you.” And folks, the good news of the gospel is this: What God did for Charlotte as a 10-year-old girl, he’ll do for any one of you. All you have to do is ask.

Next Steps

• Today I surrendered my soul to King Jesus for the first time.

– I haven’t giving the time to my family that they deserve lately. 

+ I will lead my family to be more passionate about Jesus in the future.

How to Love Your Children and Let Them Know It

“Most of us love our children, but that is not the issue.  The issue is:  do your children feel loved?”  – Charles Lowery  

We love our children by: 

  1. “Getting down” on their level (note the example of Christ – Phil. 2:5-11)
  2. Loving our mate (Eph. 5:25-33; Titus 2:4)
  3. Disciplining them (Prov. 13:24; 17:10; 29:15)
  4. Looking at them (Prov. 20:12)
  5. Touching them (Eccl. 3:5)
  6. Spending time with them (Deut. 6:7-9)
  7. Listening to them (James 1:19)
  8. Blessing them rather than cursing them (Matt. 7:12)
  9. Having fun with them (Prov. 15:13; 17:22; Eccl. 3:4)
  10. Nudging them out of the nest (Eccl. 3:6)
  11. Admitting when you are wrong (James 5:16)
  12. Introducing them to the perfect parent (John 1:12)

The post God’s Guidelines for Growing Your Kids appeared first on Calvary Baptist Church.

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