Good morning! Welcome to Hope City. My name is Peter, and today we’re in the midst of a series called, “Survey Says”. We are tackling some of your toughest questions and wrestling through them to find what God has to say about Faith, Family, Finances, and any number of other topics that you have submitted questions about. We’re going to be spending the next several weeks answering these questions.
Questions are a normal part of life, in fact, questions are what help us grow. Without asking questions, without being curious, we won’t learn new things, and without learning anything new we won’t possibly reach our fullest potential. SO, celebrate all the WHY’S! In fact, we’ve got one more of those in our house. Dad, why are we going there? What’s for dinner? Why are we having that? How many of you have a kid asking why?
Kids want to grow into their fullest potential, and so should we! And we do that one question at a time.
Which is why I have been loving this series where we are answering some of your questions. And we’ve gotten some great questions. But I thought we could start off the day with an easy one… “What did you look like with hair?”[Picture of Peter with hair]
This picture right here haunts me, and is why I have a monthly subscription to the Dollar Shave Club. I’ll be shaving my head till I go bald. Alright, enough said about that.
Let’s answer another question…
“Is it okay/normal for Christians to question and doubt God’s promises.”
This is completely normal. Doubt, wonder, and curiosity are alright. It’s what you do with those things that make the difference. Too often when we wonder, we allow ourselves to wander. And we can easily wander in our faith to places that we never had any intention of going in the first place.
In the midst of doubt and wonder, don’t wander in any direction other than Jesus. Ask yourself these questions in the midst of doubt:
What does Jesus say about this?
What did Jesus do when in your situation?
What are you focused on? Are you focused on your discomfort or God’s goodness? Are you focused on your fear or God’s abilities?
Doubt is okay. But don’t allow doubt to distract you and deceive you.
Alright, now that we’re all warmed up, let’s jump into the deep end. Let’s take a look at another question that we got: “What does the Bible say about disciplining Children?”
Parenting is something that many of you have mentioned in your questions and comments. And it makes sense. We’ve got a lot of parents in the room. In fact, this weekend, my wife Tiffany was supposed to be here on stage with me answering some of your questions, but because Hope City is exploding with kids, she was unable to leave her role as interim kids director today. Last weekend we had 77 kids in programming. Isn’t that incredible? Some of you need to invest in a TV! Come on somebody?
Parenting is crazy though… I think it’s because Parenting is one of those things that no one has any first-hand experience with. I don’t care that you nannied while in college…. I don’t care that you were an all-star babysitter, or that you were a big brother, big sister in college. There is nothing like being a parent. Parenting is one of those jobs that are incredibly hard to describe. Like how do you post that job description?
Help Wanted: Male/Female to work double to triple shifts. No weekends or holidays off. Long-term commitment, 18 years minimum. Must have unlimited physical, and emotional stamina. Low pay to start, but high potential for satisfaction.
I saw this sign the other day that said, “RAISING KIDS IS LIKE BEING PECKED TO DEATH BY A CHICKEN”. HAHAHA. So true. And then we went and added more to the coop.
Parenting is one of the craziest and yet most satisfyingly rewarding experiences ever. Which is why I’m not surprised that there are several questions that came in like this one: “What does the Bible say about disciplining Children?”
Tiffany and I are not professional parents. We are normal ordinary parents. Before you think we are the perfect example of what it means to be a parent, let me show you what I packed Leah for lunch this week. That’s right… left over Chinese crackers and a small side order of pickles from Chik-Fil-A. I tossed in a clementine so I’d feel good about myself.
I’m not saying I’m perfect. In fact, we’ve been trying to figure out this parenting thing for a long time now. Let me tell you we’ve been chasing our tails since Noah came home from the hospital. One morning when my son was about 4 years old, I woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door. I looked out the window and couldn’t see anyone. So, I laid back down in bed. I heard some more knocking, and went back to the door, still sleepy, and caught some motion out of the corner of my eye, it was our little 4-year-old stuck outside. He had just taken a trip to the mailbox, so he could mail a letter that he wrote his Grammy. And the door locked behind him. WINNING!
These are what you might call parenting fails. But today we want to help you understand that although you may have had some parenting fails along the way you have not failed as a parent. In fact, I would say that so long as there’s breath in your lungs you can redeem any parenting situation. No parent, no matter how young or old is beyond hope or help.
How do we parent for the win?
We first have to define the win. In order to hit the target we need to know what and where the target is. That may be a game changer for you right now. What are you aiming your kids at? What are you hoping your parenting produces?
Typically we want smart, responsible, level headed kids. You know, kids that don’t drink, smoke, or go with girls who do. We want kids that go off to college and don’t come back home to live in our spare bedroom.
As I’ve said from the beginning, Hope City is a Bible believing Christian Church, and so, here at Hope City, we are defining the win through the lense of scripture.
The win= Kids who love God and others.
These are the two greatest things that we can do while here on earth, according to Jesus. But those things are not going to happen automatically or by accident.
There is a fascinating story in the nation of Israel after Moses told pharaoh that God said let my people go. Look with me at Judges 2:7-10. That’s page 164 in the Bibles around you. Moses leads the people through the wilderness for 40 years and dies. The leadership has been passed to a man named Joshua. Joshua was hand-picked by Moses to lead the nation of Israel and He witnessed first-hand all that God had done. They went from being in slavery, to being free and a nation in the land that God had promised them. So, all these great things had happened. But there was a problem that occurred.
7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. 9 And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. Judges 2:7-10
Do you see what happened here? There is a whole generation that didn’t know God, or what God had done for them! It’s possible for your kids to grow up around church, around God, and not experience God for their own. Joshua’s generation had first-hand experience of how God provided in the wilderness and ultimately provided the promised land, and yet their children knew nothing about it!
It’s easy to sit back and say, well… they should have paid attention. Or we can point the finger at all those bratty little kids should have known. Do you know what Joshua’s generation could have said? “UGH… Kid’s these days. They’re not like when we were kids.” Do you know who’s fault that is? The GENERATION BEFORE THEM. See we all want our kids to have a certain outcome, a certain set of behaviors… that’s why we so many people asked, what does the bible say about disciplining children. Notice that adults always want to ask that question? But what if I were to let your kids ask the questions… they would be more like, “What does the bible say about parents having patience with children?”
I’m afraid that we all want the win, but we’re not willing to do the work. We all want kids that are emotionally, socially, & spiritually responsible and who love God and love others. But that’s going to take work, and honestly, it’s going to start with you.
This leads us to our first point today, if you’re taking notes, Parenting Starts with You. What went wrong with Joshua’s generation? They neglected to do anything about the next generation. They didn’t teach them, talk with them, or tell about all that God did. And a generation grew up that didn’t know God, or what He had done for them. It starts with parents.
Before you focus on your kid’s behavior, you need to focus on your own. Look at what Proverbs 22:6 says,
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child. That starts with you. There is the child, and there is the trainer. Have you ever been to a gym and seen someone using a piece of equipment and you’re like… I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to be done…. Like this guy.
THAT”S AMAZING! But what that guy needed was a trainer who wasn’t Spiderman. Train up a child in the way they should go. It starts with you.
Listen to me. Look up here. Training requires patience and endurance. I’m gonna say it again. Training requires patience and endurance. Training also assumes that learning is a PROCESS not a MOMENT. You go through over and over again, and teach, and show, and correct, and do it all over again.
When I was a youth pastor I had a dad come up to me on a Sunday morning and say, “I really need you to meet with my son. He is impossible, he’s not listening to me, he’s getting horrible grades.” This wasn’t really all that bad. I was used to those conversations as a Youth Pastor. But what he said next I’ve never forgotten. He said, “I’m done. I’m done trying with him. And this kid was an 8th grader. He doesn’t want to learn, I’m done even trying. I’m out.” This dad gave up on the training. I left that conversation convinced that I would NEVER GIVE UP ON TRAINING MY KIDS!
Let me tell you something. You don’t get to give up on the training. You keep pushing through. Push through the pain, through the heart ache, and the headaches to see life change.
When you don’t see the results that you want in them, start looking at yourself.
Parenting starts with you! Nothing will reveal your sinfulness and selfishness quite like being a parent. You spent all of college and your 20’s staying up till all hours of the night and now you’ve got a baby and you’re complaining about not sleeping! Huh? You could play video games into the middle of the night on Xbox live, but changing a diaper in the middle of the night has you all twisted up the next morning! We can be the most selfish people ever!
Parenting also reveals just how deep our sin nature is too. Before I throw all of my stones at that dad I mentioned, I have to take a good long look at myself. Just because our children can run us ragged, doesn’t mean we can let ourselves say and do, whatever we want. I just love when I’m getting ready for a message that God leans in and presses on me and says, what about you? Well, this week wouldn’t you know it, as I’m getting ready to preach on parenting everything I’ve ever learned about parenting has been put to the test. And everything inside of me wanted to throw a tantrum myself. I wanted to scream and stomp my feet, because it felt like 1,000 chickens slowly pecking me to death.
My first reaction was going to be to raise my voice, and exert my strength. But it would have been wrong, and manipulative. Sometimes you need to be the first one to go to time out. Take a breath before entering into the parenting arena. Put on Patience. The same way that you put pants on in the morning…. Put on patience. In Hope City Kids, your elementary kids are learning about patience all month. If they can learn about Patience you can learn about patience. What scripture are you memorizing, what are you keeping on the dash of your car to remind you to be patient in training? Listen, in the morning, don’t leave your room until you’ve told yourself to be patient. Parenting is about training not about perfecting.
Too often we feel unqualified as parents. Like, it just doesn’t feel like I’m the right person for this kid. Or maybe you feel isolated and alone in your parenting. I want to affirm right now that you are the right parent for your child. I don’t care if you are raising biological children, adopted children, foster children, you are the right person for this moment in time. God makes NO MISTAKES. This child is in your life for this moment. You may feel like you don’t have all the answers, you may not know how it’s all going to play out, but let me tell you… we serve a God who does. And God will never leave you or forsake you.
You may feel that no one else has ever gone through this before. This is what I love about being in a connect group with others. Because I get to say, have you guys ever had this happen? What did you do when your kid acted like this. In Connect Groups you’ll find that you aren’t alone.
Parenting Starts with You, so that faith will grow in them. As parents we want our kids to listen the first time and go and do the right thing from then on. But that is not how humanity works.
Look back at Judges 2…
And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10
This generation neglected to pass on what they knew and experienced to the next generation. A whole generation grew up and did not know God, nor what God has done for them! This should give us cause to stop and reflect, what are we targeting? As parents, what is the goal for our kids? If we are parenting for the Win, define your win, and aim for that. What if we switched our focus, and aimed at something other than just their behavior. In fact, I want to encourage you to(point 2) Parent for heart change not behavior change. It is so easy to get caught in the trap that all you want is really good kids. Kids that are safe and don’t act out. Yes, of course… I’m not giving kids license to act out, but if you’ve corrected behavior but crushed their heart you have lost. There was a day when Tiffany and I had to flip a switch in our heads… I’ll never forget this day. We were visiting family, and one of my kids was mis-behaving, and it was unacceptable behavior. But I was so focused on correcting behavior because of the optics of the situation and what it looked like that I neglected to shape their heart. Parenting is a lifelong journey of shaping a child’s heart and encouraging them to grow into the person that God has intended them to be. Parent for heart change… not behavior change.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Train a child. Training speaks to the conditioning of their heart. Proverbs speaks about the value of finding wisdom and seeking after wisdom. Dedicate yourself to shepherding your kids hearts in wisdom. Behavior modification may produce momentary results, and satisfactory decisions… But heart change produces lifelong patterns that are deeply embedded in them. Even when they are old, they will not depart from it.
When you parent for heart change, you choose your words, and you choose the way you say those words. Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities. And the opposite is also true. What you say is as important as how you say it.
It’s easy to say, STOP DOING THAT! KNOCK IT OFF! But, it’s not enough to just stop the action without correcting the intention. We all need to grow in the fruit of the Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self Control. Parent for heart change not behavior change. In my house, we used to say things like, “YOU GUYS ARE ALWAYS ARGUING. STOP ARGUING! YOU ARE FRUSTRATING ONE ANOTHER!!! STOP IT!” And now we’ve started saying, “How can you be a peacemaker? How can you have patience with your sister or brother?”
Scripture tells us in Proverbs 27:19,
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
Maybe you could say, “As a mirror shows what you look like, your life shows what your heart is like.” It seems to me that shaping, and shepherding our children’s heart is the most important task that we as parents can have to impact their life!
But here’s what I know. Parenting is hard… Anyone agree with that? There may be no more daunting task than raising kids. And that is true even if both parents are in the picture. Let alone all of you single parents out there, or grandparents raising grandchildren. You guys are the unsung heroes in my book. Tiffany goes away for a day, scratch that, if she goes out for the night, it’s all I can do to get dinner on the table. You are incredible!
Let me take the pressure off right now. None of you will ever parent perfectly, or be the perfect parent. And yet I want to encourage you to (3.)Parent beyond your capacity. This sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? You may be tempted to say, parenting pushes me to my capacity. But I want to encourage you to parent beyond your capacity! No one has more potential to influence your kids than you. But you shouldn’t be the only influence in the lives of your kids. That is why here at Hope City we are #ForTheNextGeneration (pic). We know that reaching your kids heart, is mission critical. But we also know that you shouldn’t have to do this alone. This is why our church is so committed to kids and student ministry!
Judges 2 crushes me.
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord. Judges 2:10
We are working right now to launch a vibrant student ministry, that your kids will be clamoring to be a part of. We are in late stage conversations with a Youth Pastor Candidate right now. We believe that God has our church poised to reach hundreds of teenagers here in Sarasota. Why? Because we want to change three words. Look with me.
And there arose another generation after them who did not know KNEW the Lord. Judges 2:10
But we’re not going to do this on our own. We want to partner with you as you parent your children. We can’t parent them for you. That’s not our role. There is no one else in this world that can do your God given job as their parent. Someone else can be your spouses husband or wife. But no one can be your kids mom or dad but you. We want to come alongside of you and help you Parent beyond your capacity.
You can’t do this on your own. Get others involved in your life, in your story. Let me introduce you to Bob & Alice Miller. Or as my kids call them, Mr. Bob & Miss Alice. This couple right here got involved in our lives back in 2008 and has not let go of us yet! They are family. They adopted us as a couple, and cared for us, cried with us, laughed with us, cheered us on and have been some of the greatest supporters of our adult lives. But what I love more than their support of me and my wife, I love their influence in the lives of my children. My kids are blessed to have grandparents on both sides of the family that love them… but they have a third couple who cares for them and loves them.
Parent Beyond Your Capacity! Bring people into your tribe to help you, to encourage you, to inspire you.
Find those people, invite them in. I’m telling you, your kids are worth it. You can’t do this on your own. God didn’t intend for that either. This is why He has placed us in community with one another. The church is not someplace where you go… the church is a living, active, group of people that you are a part of. It is a large extension of your family.
And everyone plays a role!
What are you doing today to be #ForTheNextGeneration? How are you investing your time, and your resources in the next generation? What needs to change so that your kids won’t grow up just hearing about God, but rather they grow up knowing God, and experiencing Him in a real tangible way?
At Hope City, our commitment is to walk alongside of you. To help you as you parent your kids. There are 168 hours in a week, and we get to be with them for about 1 hour a week. That’s not enough. We are planning for an incredible summer and fall here at Church to ensure that we are doing everything we can to point kids and teenagers to Jesus.
Parents, let me ask you? What do you need to do differently today? What would need to change in you to switch from parenting for behavior change to heart change?
Maybe you are sitting here today, and you’re saying I don’t have kids, or, I’m not married, or my kids are all grown adults now. Well let me ask you? What could you do here at Hope City to help the Next Generation know Jesus?
Would you serve once a month in Hope City Kids? Would you be willing to get out of your seat once a month and get on the floor with a kid so that they can know God’s love for them? If you’re willing, would you take your phone out right now and text the word HCKIDS to 970-00.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got kids or not. We need you. You need one another. Would you be able to serve once a month? You don’t even have to like kids to serve in kids ministry. We’ve got a spot for you too! You can serve in the tech area of kids. We need one another. You can only Parent Beyond Your capacity when there are others speaking into your kids lives. Would you be one of those people?
LISTEN TO ME: HERE AT HOPE CITY CHURCH, WE WILL DO EVERYTHING WE CAN SO THAT,
And there arose another generation after them who did not know KNEW the Lord. Judges 2:10