Good morning! Welcome to Hope City Church. If you are new here, my name is Peter Gowesky, it is my privilege to serve as the pastor here. 2 weeks ago we had our grand opening and we couldn’t be more excited. We are a bible believing Christ centered church that is striving to be an anchor of Hope here in our community!
Today we find ourselves in the middle of a series called The Good Old Days, where we have been taking a look at what it means to restore, and reclaim our relationships. Last week we said that the most meaningful times in life are when we are meaningfully connected to others. If you missed that message, go back and check it out on the Hope City Podcast. Last week we said that your today matters to your tomorrow because your moments make a difference. What you do with the time that you’ve been given today makes a difference in the way that you’ll remember it tomorrow.
We all want to have amazing relationships, and friendships. Life begins with an empty frame, and the question is what are we going to fill this frame with? There isn’t a high schooler in this room who is saying, “Man I hope that I go through High School all alone.” There isn’t a college student in this room who says, “I hope that this is the most relationally disconnected time of my life.” No newly married couple says, “I hope that my wife and I fall out of love with one another in a few years.” No parent says, “It would be great if by the time my child turns 25 they stop talking to me.” Right? No one starts out saying these things.
And yet, these are the stories that I hear when I meet with people. When I sit down for a conversation over a cup of coffee and listen to what everyone else has to say about life and their relationships, it is amazing how much of a challenge our relationships become. We know what we want, and yet we make the mistake of thinking that it could never happen to me.
We all want to look back one day and be able to say, those were “the Good Old Days”. Fortunately for us God has a plan for that. God has a plan for our relationships…
This week I was thinking about all of you and I kept thinking, I want you to know the freedom and the joy of experiencing the most amazing relationships possible. Today I want to share with you specifically about what God has to say about our role in the life of children.
For those of you who don’t have kids yet, or you haven’t been able to have kids, I want you to hang in there with me today. Just because you don’t have kids, does not mean that you are insignificant, or that God doesn’t love you, or that He has forgotten you. For those of you who have gone through the incredible pain and heartache of not being able to have kids, my heart is heavy and saddened with you in that pain.
Everyone in this room, has the capability of influencing the lives of kids. The Question is will you leverage your influence to its fullest capacity?
But let’s be honest… Those little kiddos bring out the best in us, and sometimes maybe even the worst, right? I can’t even imagine the clean up on this one…
This past week I texted my mom a very simple question. I expected a very simple answer. I said, “Hey Mom, what was the hardest part of raising me as a child?” This was me as a kid… Come on. Look at this picture. Look I had hair! And then there is this one. Man I was stylish back then. I was rocking the vest and the bow tie like a boss!
What could be hard about raising this child.
I barely hit send with my question and the chat bubbles were already churning…
She said… “Your Persistence.”
Well okay then. I can accept that. So I said thank you, that’s helpful, and I was done with the conversation, but she was just getting started! I got 5 more paragraphs about what was so difficult about raising me. 🙂 Mom it’s a text, not an email!
So, apparently, I liked to get into some trouble… She reminded me that one of the things I liked to do was play with the record player. I liked to turn it on and listen to the needle scratching its way across the vinyl. Obviously I thought was a part of Run DMC with two turn tables and a microphone.
Scratching needles on records is apparently not a good thing to do. And yet, I would do it time and time again no matter what consequence I would get. I excelled at persistently being disobedient.
After a few more stories like this my mom then finished our text exchange with, “And those were just the younger years.”
I have great memories of growing up, and not just my brief career as a DJ… When I look back at my childhood, I think about “the good old days”. I remember that one of the things we loved to do was go to the park and launch our hydro rocket. Do you guys remember these? You fill it to a certain point with water, and then you start pumping air into the rocket. The pressure built up inside the rocket spews the water out pushing the rocket into the air. I loved it. And as a kid I would ask my dad to do it again. And again. And Again. I loved to see this rocket soar. We would go to the park with a 2 litter bottle of water and the rocket and enjoy sending it off on mission after mission.
Did you have something like this that defined the Good Old Days for you? Something that captured your childhood attention? Or maybe you are thinking of something that your kids currently love. Playdough, American Girl Dolls, or Legos!
Kids are incredibly funny, but also incredibly challenging. No matter what stage of the parenting game you are in right now, the Bible is clear, that children are important, and that our relationships with them matter.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 127:3-4 and says,
“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.”
Psalm 127:3-4 NIV
Some of you are like, have you met my toddler? She doesn’t seem like a reward right now. All you moms and dads of little ones, don’t give up! You’ve got this. In fact, here at Hope City we want to partner with you as you work to develop a faith that sticks with your kids. That’s why we pour so much energy and attention on our Hope City Kids program. But God calls our kids a heritage, a reward. There is something here that we need to pay attention to.
Before we start saying, You don’t know my kid… We need to look at what scripture says, God’s word says that they are like Arrows in the hands of a warrior. A warrior would be defined as the individual who is most skilled at shooting a bow and arrow. The one who knows just how to aim the bow and release the arrow in just the right way that it lands on target. The skill of the warrior is not piercing the target, that’s the job of the arrow. The skill of the warrior is setting the trajectory of the flight path. Parents, your job, your goal is to help set the trajectory of your child’s life. This is our first point here this morning. Parents You Set the Course. This doesn’t meant that there aren’t mid course corrections, or that it is too late. You set the course! Your time, your energy, your parenting skills are poured into your children’s life make a difference in the outcome of your child’s life.
The goal of parenting is to help our kids get on the right flight path and set them up to achieve their life’s mission, not accomplish the mission for them..
On July 16th, 1969 NASA had a mission, called Apollo 11, which launched right here in Florida. Their mission was to get men on the moon and safely return them to earth. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins boarded the Saturn 5 rocket and took off on their mission to make a lunar landing. People love to talk about the mission. They love to talk about the famous words of Neil Armstrong, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But what we don’t really talk about is the incredible amount of work it took to get those astronauts to their mission. Few people talk about how amazing the rocket is that they rode from our planet to their mission!
There are aeronautical engineers right now saying… AMEN! Where is my praise?
Did you know that in order to get those astronauts to their mission that the Saturn 5 rocket required three different engines? These three engines fired in stages in order to accomplish a very specific task.
The first stage engine carries ½ a million gallons of fuel to push the rocket off the face of the earth and into fight. It burns intensely for just under 3 minutes and all of the fuel is depleted, it has done it’s job.
The second stage engine kicks in at this time. And it carries with it 340,000 gallons of fuel. It burns for just over 3 minutes before all of it’s finished.
Then the third stage engine kicks in. The rocket is now approaching orbit and this engine helps ensure that the astronauts are on trajectory for their mission to be successful. The third engine is fired and they burn 86,000 gallons of fuel before being released from those engines and on their way to achieving the mission that they were sent for.
Parenting is just like this. There are different stages of parenting, all with the focus of seeing your children live out the mission that God has called them to.
We have stage 1, we’ll call this the Discipline Years, and this is when kids are 0-5 years old. You’ve got the hand drawn family portraits in the frame here… This often burns the most energy and is incredibly time consuming. But in this stage you are helping teach your little ones what is right and wrong. They are learning what it means to obey, and how to get along with others.
Well then your little one gets a bit older and they enter stage 2, or the Training Years. These years are for your kids form age 5-12. The frame holds their T-ball picture, or them standing on the podium with their gymnastics medal! Again, this is a labor intensive time of life. Your kids are still requiring so much of your energy, and time. You are helping them figure out what it means to grow in obedience, and self control. Often this is a stage where they begin to grow in their awareness of responsibility.
After 12 we see our kids starting to change, and the third stage begins. These are the coaching years. These years are for kids age 12-18. Pictures of school dances and state championships fill the frame. During this phase you begin to take your hands off of the controls and allow your kids to get a sense of what it means to take the wheel of life. But like any coach, you are there to help point out where they are missing the boat, and help protect them from potential harm.
In the same way as the Saturn 5 rocket, you are critical to the mission. Your role is not to be minimized. You are impacting the trajectory of your children’s life. That’s why the Psalmist writes, Kids are a gift from God and they are like an arrow in the hands of a skilled warrior.
During each phase your goal as a parent is different. No more or less important than any other phase. But our approach towards our kids in each of these phases directly impacts the quality of the relationship that we have with our kids. Newton’s third law applies just as much to parenting as it does to rocketry. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Everything that you do, every moment that you invest in your children impacts them and helps shape them for the mission God has for their life.
Some of you feel incredibly overwhelmed… You’re like… “Listen, Peter how can I prepare my kids for a mission that I don’t know about.” God is clear on how we can prepare our children for the mission He has for them.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6:1-9 God speaks to Moses and Moses lays out what we are to do for our kids very clearly. Click or turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6. Deuteronomy is near the very beginning of your Bible. Here in Chapter 6 Moses is talking to a group of people, a group of parents a group of people who have influence on the lives of children. He has just gotten done sharing with them the 10 commandments. And yet He has something specific to say to parents no matter what stage of the journey you are in. Look with me…
These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
God is clear! The key to the good old days are wrapped up in this text. Take a look at the very last verse here… what does he say, do all of this so that you may enjoy long life! So that you may live out the good old days and experience all of the great things there are in life.
Moses says that God is very clear that part of the mission of the parent is to teach and train their children. God directed me to teach you so that you, your children, and their children would fear God. And this isn’t a fear of the boogey man type fear. This is a deep sense of reverence and respect for God. Moses is clear on this, our children are to have the highest honor for God. But this respect is something that is to be taught.
Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Moses is clear that Parents must Walk The Talk. He says, that these commandments are to be on your hearts. I love how he says this because it’s almost as if he is saying, these things, these commandments are not just to be what you are like on the outside, they are to infect you so deeply that they impact you. Let them work their way from the outside in. The ten commandments can be seen as a list of do’s and don’ts, like a rule list. It is more a way of life than a rule list. Too many people live life religiously. Meaning it is about checking off boxes upon completion. We miss the point of religion when we strip away the relationship. God is fundamentally interested in having a relationship with you. The way that you view God and interact with Him and His church directly impacts the way that your children see God and His church. Kids do what they see their parents doing.
The other day we got some free tickets to go downtown to Selby Gardens. What an absolutely beautiful place. It is a great place for people to walk around and enjoy beautiful flowers and plants. Well, I snapped this picture of our girls with Tiffany and I couldn’t wait to show Tiffany the picture I took… “Look at how beautiful my girls are!” See it’s all about me…
And then not more than five minutes later I hear, Hey dad, take a picture of me! And I’m like that is your son! Look at your son.
Kids do what they see their parents doing. Yes, I need to come clean… I might have egged him on… Just a little bit..
Parents you must walk the talk. Your kids are watching you.. Kids will never be gracious if they haven’t experienced grace from you. Your kids will speak the way that you speak, and behave the way that you behave. They will begin to take on a view of the world based upon the way that you represent it to them. Be cautious and careful with your words!
Ever heard your kids say something and realize that they were just mimicking you? They wanted to sound just like Mom or Dad.
Moses says, these things are to be on your hearts. IMPRESS them on your children. BUT You can’t impress something that hasn’t already been formed in you. Moses says, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and your strength. This is what we are to do! Parents, how are you doing these days? How is your heart? Has God’s word gotten so deeply inside of you, has it infected your heart that it is impacting your life? Are you allowing God’s word to penetrate every aspect of your life and direct your actions?
A lawyer asks Jesus what the greatest commandment God has for us is? Jesus responds with the very same words that Moses speaks here. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. But Jesus refuses to stop with just that He says, that the second greatest commandment is like the first— it is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22)
The command to love God with everything that you have is embedded all throughout scripture. Parents this should be embedded all throughout your life. There is no part of you, no place that is off limits to God.
But Moses isn’t finished.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Parents Make The Most Of Your Time! I know that parenting is a tiring task. The days are long, but let me remind you that the years are short. No parent I’ve spoken to has said, well that just drug on forever. NO! They always say “Don’t blink it will be gone before you know it.” This is why Moses commands the people to make the most of their time. Each phase is passing by. And we have been given a limited amount of time to help set the trajectory of our kids lives.
Moses says that the appropriate time to teach your kids to love God is when you sitting at home. When you are walking on the road. When you lie down, and when you get up. Do you know what he’s saying? There is not time like the present, so make the most of it!
When my kids were little, Tiffany and I made a commitment that we weren’t going to stop parenting till the kids went to bed. I’ve had to be reminded of that commitment sometimes. You know the moments when you are exhausted from work, you come home and all you want to do is put your feet up, and binge on Netflix and nachos. This is the moment that you get to come home, slip into some pants with an elastic waist band and chow on some tostitos loaded with cheese. It’s all about you and your favorite show.
But then you’re greeted at the door with a big old, “DADDY’S HOME!” What do you do?
Parents, don’t turn it off. Your kids need you. In fact, the only thing you probably should turn off in those moments is your cell phone. Stay connected with your kids. Life brings some incredible opportunities to care for the hearts of your kids in the seemingly dull moments, or the seemingly inconsequential moments. Facebook does not have anything important to say that can’t wait till after their in bed.
- When you’re sitting at home, ask your kids what’s on their minds. Talk to them about how that relates to the way that God made them.
- When you’re driving to baseball practice, talk to them about how God loves them no matter how they perform on the baseball diamond.
- When you are saying goodnight and they are lying down, remind them that they can always rest in God’s love and care for them.
- When you are waking up and watching the sun dry the dew off the ground, talk to them about how God provides for us like He provides for all the plants and animals.
There is no thing that God didn’t create, and there is no place where God is not present. All of life is an opportunity to raise God fearing, and God honoring children. Make the most of your time!
We have an incredible opportunity to help guide and shape the trajectory of the next generation. The mission is clear. The objective has been stated, Jesus said it, “Love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is your task parents… To do this. And to help your kids do the same..
There is a fourth phase of parenting.. And it’s the friendship phase.. This is the phase where you have poured everything you have into these kids.. You’ve taught them, you’ve loved them, you’ve disciplined them, you have trained them, and now you’ve set them free into the world. And you get to live out the mission of God with them. You each are living on mission together. There is no greater joy than this.
What will go in this frame? What stories and experiences will you have that will fill the borders of this frame?
Here at Hope City, there are men and women who are living on mission for Jesus. We call them our Dream Team. They are serving on the Hospitality team, and serving in in the back right now. One particular team, is what we call our Roadies team. You may see some people wearing their black Roadies shirt. This is a group of people who set up everything you see. They transform an elementary school into a church so that you and your family can show up here and enjoy a distraction free environment. Well, on this team there are several parents who bring their kids along to serve alongside of them. Last week I was watching as we were packing all of this equipment away onto the trailer, one little boy was trailing alongside of his dad pushing the road cases onto the trailer. I got thinking about the incredible legacy that little guy is getting from his dad. From a young age this little man is learning about serving and giving. He is learning that God uses little people, doing little actions and that added up those little people, doing little amount to big things! He’s catching a glimpse of the mission! He’s seeing that it’s about loving God and loving others. Maybe you and your son or daughter need to join the dream team and live out this mission together.
Maybe for you today, your kids are out of the house, and they are living on mission for God… YOU’RE NOT DONE! God isn’t through with your influence. We need you! You can join our dream team and serve in our Pre-K and Kindergarten environment. Those kids would love to learn from you, and love to know you care about them. Or maybe you would like to pour into the life of a fifth grader and walk alongside of them as they think through what God is up to in the world and why did he make spiders, and why are sisters annoying, and every other kind of question that goes through a fifth-grade guy’s head.
Maybe some of you need to sign up to serve with Hope City Kids today. If that’s you, you can head out to our Next steps booth after service and sign up there. We’ve got a spot for you!
Parents, your kids are in your care for 18 years… But the good old days aren’t always years gone by. They are here today. They are now. What would it look like for you this week to make more of your moments? What could you do with your kids this week to help them Grow in their love for God and their love for His people? What would it look like for you to live out the good old days with your kids this week? The best days are not the ones that are behind us. The best days are the ones that we pour ourselves into. These are the Good Old Days.