Passing on the Faith to the Next Generation
|Deuteronomy 6 (NKJV™)|
|4||"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!|
|5||"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.|
|6||"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.|
|7||"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.|
|8||"You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.|
|9||"You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
What is a parent's highest calling? In this message, Sean McDowell explains the role of every believer in sharing the faith with the next generation.
Calvary Albuquerque is regularly host to special guest speakers. This series includes messages from many great Bible teachers including; Pancho Juarez, Mike Finizio, Don McClure, Bill Welch and others. These messages can be purchased as CDs from our online store, or by calling 1-800-922-1888.
"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth" (Psalm 127:4).
"This is the command—the statutes and ordinances—the Lord your God has instructed me to teach you" (Deuteronomy 6:1).
"Do this so you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statutes and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, so you may have a long life" (Deuteronomy 6:2).
"Talk about them when you __________"
"Talk about them when you __________"
"When you __________"
"When you __________"
Recommended resource: The Unshakable Truth by Josh and Sean McDowell
Skip Heitzig: You're going to be familiar with our guest speaker this weekend. Sean McDowell is the founder of Worldview Ministries and the author of several books on apologetics and developing a Christian world view. One of his newest books is called "The Unshakable Truth." Please give a warm welcome to our friend, Sean McDowell.
Sean McDowell: Well good morning. It's a treat to be back with you here in Albuquerque. Whenever Skip calls me up and asks me to fill in, I am happy to do it he said, but this time can you give him a message for me? He said "Tell him I'll be back soon. I'm only going to Vegas for the weekend." I actually flew through Vegas not too long ago. And as I landed, the stewardess said, "Now remember whatever happens in Vegas."
Participants: Stays in Vegas.
Sean McDowell: She said, "Nope. Shows up on YouTube the next day." Remember that youngsters, lots of wisdom there.
Well time is short. So I want to jump in to our message for this morning by asking you a question related to our topic of focusing on the next generation. And the question is, "What do you think about your role in terms of passing on the faith to the next generation?" If you are going to describe what your job is to help the next generation raise up and believe in God, how would you describe it?
So in other words if you're a parent and you're going to write a mission statement about parenting, what would it say? I teach at a Christian High School and I ask my students frequently, I say, "What do your parents want for you more than anything else?" You know what the number one answer I get is? "My parents just want me to be happy."
Now I want my kids to be happy. I want everybody to be happy. Is the purpose of parenting to raise kids who are happy? Not according to my understanding in the scripture. I had a student come in to me last year he goes, "Mr. McDowell, we need to talk." I said, "Sure. What's going on? Have a seat." He said, "My dad came to me. And he said he would pay for my way through college and all the way through medical school." I said, "And the problem is?" He said, "I don't want to be a doctor." He said, "I think my dad thinks that it looks good for him if he has a son who's a doctor. And he looks at me as his future nest egg."
Now that's a view of parenting, isn't it? Now when I look at the scriptures, there is a powerful point in a message we're going to look at this morning that might shake up how you view your role, parent, grandparent, adult and any capacity investing in the next generation. Let me read you these passages from Psalms 127:4. It says, "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of one's youth." Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. In other words, we are to look at the next generation, not just making them happy, not to make money for us, but to be warriors for Christ for the next generation. That should be our mission statement.
So the question is, "Well how do we do that?" Well I'm glad you asked because that's exactly what we're going to look at this morning. Now we're going to look at a passage in the book of Deuteronomy. Let me first give you a little context to remind you of what's going on here. Deuteronomy was written by Moses. He wrote the book as a final speech to the people of Israel who had been wandering the dessert for 40 years before they enter into the promise land.
So he says over and over again, he says, "Listen, listen, listen." Why? Because he wants to make sure this generation gets it and they don't screw up like their parents of generation. Now what's going to be different is they go in the promise land and realize as they have been traveling in the dessert, they have a cloud by day and fire by night. They consistently could open their eyes and see God's presence with them. But now they're moving into a different land where they're going to eat food from a crop they didn't even plant. They're going to live in homes they didn't build. So how can they remain faithful to God in a foreign land? Sounds very familiar to today doesn't it? The Word of God is timeless.
So let's takes a look if you have your bible with you, feel free to follow on. We'll have the passages up on the PowerPoint, but we're going to look in Deuteronomy chapter 6. If you can't find it, it's right after Deuteronomy chapter 5.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, Deuteronomy. Those of you who didn't get it need to go back to Sunday school. Verse 1 chapter 6, Moses says this, "This is the command the statutes and ordinances. The Lord your God has instructed me to teach you."
Now all of the Bible is the word of God. But sometimes people in particular, Moses stops to remind those who are listening to me to say, "Look this doesn't come from me, this comes directly from God." He's saying, "It's just coming through me, I'm just the channel, this comes from God Himself and we have it recorded perfectly in the scriptures." Verse 2 says, "Do this so you may fear the Lord your God. All the days of your life by keeping all the statutes and commands I am giving you, your son and your grandson or your son's son so you may have a long life."
Notice what Moses is saying. He is saying, "These aren't just prescriptions for you, but they are for the next generation and the next generation and the next generation after that." So we tend to think about our lives with blinders on, don't we? But the way God thinks about life and what he taught the Jewish people which is to be for us as well is that there are generations before who were faithful. And there will be generations after who are faithful. We are responsible for our generation. And there is power in one person being faithful in their life. It echoes for generation and generation and generation to come.
Many of you will be familiar with my father, he spoken here many times, Josh McDowell. My father grew up in about as difficult as a family background as you can imagine. Get a father who's at town drunk who never told him he loved him. My dad was sexually abused for about eight years. His older sister committed suicide. And God changed my dad's heart. I love God. My dad's son's son, my seven year old son Scottie loves God. Think about the generation that can be impacted by one person who stands the gap and says, "I'm going to be faithful with the time and opportunities God has given me." That's what Moses is saying, is your life matter for you and a matter for all the generations coming after you. That's powerful.
Now when I was studying this I came across a study from 1900 that really nailed this truth home. It was a study. I found this at the Yale University Institute for Jonathan Edwards. It was a study from the year 1900. And they took a look at the life of Jonathan Edwards, a great missionary, scholar, pastor, philosopher who followed God passionately.
Jonathan Edwards would get up in the morning and like four or five in the morning, every morning. And he would pray, but he wouldn't just pray for his kids. He wouldn't pray for his kid's kids. He would specifically pray for five generations to come. Would a study in 1900 compared to him with a Dutch criminal by the name of Max Dukes. And he said, "I wonder what happens for generations to come on one person who lived very differently from each other, criminal versus someone who is a pastor and a Christian?"
Well according to the study, what they found is there were 285 college graduates for Edwards. Zero for Dukes. Among the graduates for Edwards they had 13 presidents of colleges and seminaries, members of Congress, U.S. Senators, including the Vice President of the United States. And no it's not Jovine(ph). The Dukes were notorious law breakers while the Edwards family had no law breakers, practically none, and at least 100 lawyers and 30 judges.
The Dukes family they had found many who are sick and deceased, the Edwards family was long lived and healthy producing only 60 doctors that they could document. The Dukes family neglected all religious privilege and kind of antagonized the church. The Edwards family had clergymen and pastors and theological professors, some of the leading in the country.
Now I know that economics and education has something to do with this. But as a Christian I believed there are spiritual forces as well. And that our lives will echo for generations to come. That's what Moses is telling the Israelites and I believe that's how we should think about our own lives, how they will influence generation after generation after generation because the faithfulness in our own lives. Now the passages we're going to look at in the Old Testament, many would consider the central passage of the Old Testament. It's called the "Shammah."
An orthodox Jews during Old Testament times would say this twice a day. In fact, orthodox Jews today in Israel which is where Skip has actually been, just to clarify. They still repeat this twice a day. They repeat it twice a day. And you'll notice something. Moses begins this by saying, "Hear, O Israel." In other words he says, "Israel, listen. Put your cellphones down. Turn off the TV. Listen, because what I'm going to share matters."
And you know for those of you who are parents and grandparents and work with younger generation, there's something we can learn right off the bat from Moses. One of the most powerful things and influential adult can do at appropriate time is to stop and look in the eyes of a young person and say, "Please listen. Mommy or papa wants to share something powerful with you."
I remember my dad did this to me when I was in high school. I was playing basketball. I play varsity basketball as a sophomore. I remember the freshman team I'll sit in the stands with my dad as they were warming up. And this really thin kid came out and I made this wise crack basically making fun of this kid. My dad turns to me. He goes, "Son, look me in the eyes." Now if you've ever heard my dad speak, you know the intensity and passion is not something he lacks. He goes, "Son, you're better than that. This guy might be thin, he is made in the image of God and we do not ridicule people, period, got it?" I said, "Yes sir." He said, "Now let's talk about the game and he moved on." I thought, "I get the point." That's what Moses is doing. He's saying, "Israel, listen because these words matter."
And now we're going to take a look at these words Moses spoke 3400 years ago that still apply profoundly to our lives today. So let's take a look at Deuteronomy Chapter 6 Verse 4 and see what principles apply to us. Verse 4 says, "Hear O Israel, Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one." In other words, when Moses gets the attention of all Israel, the first thing he says is we are on the side of Yahweh. We follow Yahweh. Yahweh is our God, not somebody else. And I think this is our first principle passed on to faith to the next generation. Make God the Lord of your home. Make God the Lord of your home. Now something or someone is god of your home. It might be money. It might be work. It might be sports. It might be fame. It might be success. It might be health. Something is god of your home.
About a year ago I had a chance to participate in a public debate. My first public debate with an Atheist. It was a high school teacher who was sued by a Christian student who recorded statements he made in class and thought they violated his rights. So this teacher said things like conservatives want or Christians want women to be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen. He said creationism is religious superstitious nonsense. It's actually made his way up to the ninth circuit court right now and it might go to the Supreme Court and I was asked to debate this guy on morality. He's about 63. So about five years older than me. To debate him on the question of, "Is God the best explanation for moral values? Or is it evolution? Or is there some other explanation?" I said yes. And I prepared for a month. And I remember a few weeks before the debate I got an email from a girl. And she said, "I worked for the local newspaper. Could I come and interview you before the debate?" I said, "Absolutely."
Well about a week later, I got another email from her. As I started reading the email I thought, this is strange. Why is she sending this to me?" And half way through I realized that that was an email that was not supposed to come to me. Have you ever received an email or a message not meant for you? Have you ever sent a message to the wrong person? Oh boy, I landed on the plane not too long ago. And I was about to get off and when everyone stands up, I'm pulling my bags down, and I looked towards the front and I see one of my good friends named Bret. I didn't know we're on the same flight. So he's getting off. I said, "Hey Bret." And I thought he didn't hear me, I thought to be not wise on a plane to yell a word that starts with "B" much longer. So I thought, well just text him make sure he doesn't leave so we can just catch up for minute. So I said, "Hey punk, turn around, I'm right behind you." And I send it to my mom who is home alone reading at night.
Fortunately my mom has a good sense of humor and she texted back. She goes, "Hey son, I think you've got the wrong punk." Now this girl sent me the wrong message. And as I read it, she was pointing out her heart to this person. She had anger, she had hurt. She was struggling with meaning. I mean really deep issues. If like I ignored this and I thought, "You know I'm going to let her know. Maybe this wasn't an accident and she needs to talk to somebody." Emailed it back and I said, "Hey, I realized this probably wasn't meant for me but I read it since you send it to me and I'd be more than willing to talk with you if you need someone to talk to about this." She emailed back, "I'm so sorry. Please, blah, blah." When she comes to sees me a week later, did the interview, she's about to leave. And I said, "You know? I read that email. I know stuffs going on in your life. Tell me about it. I've got a minute."
Ends up that she grew up in a Christian home. Her dad took her to church. Her parents are Christians. But she has essentially become an atheist or at least an agnostic, does not believe in God. But she's afraid to tell her parents. In fact she still goes to church. She said, "I go to your church." I'm not the pastor but the same church that we go to. And I said, "Well, how did this changed?" She said, "You know, my parents love me, I know that. My parents love God." She said, "But I'll tell you something. Something was god of our home and it wasn't God. My dad is a workaholic. He missed my place grown up. He missed my sporting events. He missed birthday parties sometimes. He takes to church, drops us home and he go work again, because I just can't believe in a loving heavenly Father anymore."
Friends, let me tell you something. Something is god of your home. And the first thing Moses says, "If you care about the next generation, is to make God the Lord of your home." One way to find out is to sit down and take out your checkbook and take out your calendar. How you spend your time and how you spend your money will probably reveal where your commitments and what your God really is.
But you know when I think it's revealed what is really God of our lives? You know when it is? It's during moments of crisis. Isn't it? When things go bad it's like kids tune in and go, "How are mom and dad going to respond?" It's during crisis. My parents aren't perfect, they've made mistakes like every other parents. But I've been blessed with parents who love God and God really was and is the Lord of our home. I remember many times where there be some crisis, whether it was financially in our family, relationally, spiritually some kind of crisis. And over and over again my parents would do two things. First, they take a deep breath. And they would say, "Let's pray." Say, "Let's pray and ask God for wisdom and for guidance because God has a purpose to this." And that's how I knew that God was really the Lord of our home.
About eight or ten years ago, I was driving to speak at a camp up Northern California with a pastor I've never known. It was me and this pastor for like six hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. I don't' even remember the pastor's name. I don't remember anything he said. But I remember one thing that happened. We're driving. We're in the middle of nowhere. And we're just couldn't make it in time to speak into our seminars. All of the sudden there's this loud, screechy noise. Something happens with the car. Immediately, because I'm so spiritual, I'm thinking, "Oh, great! What had just happened? God, can you get us there? We're coming to speak for you on evangelism. Why is this happening? Oh, no! We're going to be late. How are we going to fix this? A tow truck or we have to sleep right here tonight." All these stuff goes to my mind.
The pastor pulls over and he says, "Well, that's unexpected." And he says this, he goes, "Let's pray." He goes, "I look at problems as an opportunity to trust God." And I just thought, "I am a spiritual peanut compared to this guy." But you know at that moment I thought, "He's for real. Wow!" You see, it's during moments of crisis that it's revealed what we really love. And that's what Moses is saying, he's saying, "Where we begin is making God the Lord of our homes."
So let's continue on. Verse 5, it says, "Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." In other words love God with what? Love God with everything.
Love God with the way you think. Love God with the way you speak. Love God with your passions. Love God with your time and your energy. Love God with everything. You know why it matters that this isn't just rules that we follow that we actually love God? Because kids tend to follow the passions of their parents and their grandparents, kids tend to follow the passions of their parents. Ask your kids what they're passionate about. I ask my son who is seven years old. I was driving him to school and I talked to him, I said, "Scottie, what do you love? What do you really love?" He said, "Well dad, in football I love the Chargers." "And so what else do you love?" He said, "Well in baseball, I love the Red Sox." He said, "And I hate the Yankees." I said, "Well, what else do you love?" He said, "In basketball, I love the Lakers." And he goes, "Oh yeah! Dad, I love Jesus too," like giving me the answer that he already knows I'm kind of looking for.
Now, it's strange that he would love sports so much because his parents hate sports. You don't believe that, do you? His mom and I, my wife, we actually both played college basketball which proves there is a God because we're both short and white. I'd have Skip to lower this thing down because he's so tall. He's the one who should be playing college hoops. I just lost my child. Oh, there we go. Now, I didn't sit my son down and say, "Now Scottie, we love the Lakers. We are rude against the Celtics or whatever. We love Austin, we hate the Yankees." I didn't tell my son these. He just picked it up because he has parents and a dad who love sports. I love to play still and I love to follow him. He just picked it up by us Moses, because his parents are passionate about it. That's how these things work.
I asked my daughter, she's four now. This past summer she was three and she has blond hair like this natural tan, I'm already worried about her, like my wife puts her in a ponytail that grow out like this. So she looks like the girl if you ever seen Monsters, Inc. That's my daughter. And this summer, I said, "Shauna, what do you love?" She looked at me, she goes, "Daddy, I love you more than pancakes." I thought, I could just die and go to heaven.
The point is that what we're passionate about will rub off on our kids and our grandkids. So let me ask you what are you passionate about? What do you get excited about? What moves you, because those things will be caught by your kids? Now, you might think, I can get excited about politics. I can get excited about sports. But I don't get as excited about God. If that's how you feel let me tell you, that's okay. It's okay if you don't feel like you love God. But you don't want to stay there the rest of your life. You want to do things to cope today a passionate heart for God.
See Matthew 6:21, Jesus said something that goes against our culture. Our culture says, follow your what?
Participants: You're heart.
Sean McDowell: Well follow your heart, understood as your emotions. Jesus says, in Matthew 6:21, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In other words, what you invest your time and your money and your energy and your heart will follow. If you don't feel like you love God, read the Bible. Choose to pray. Choose to worship. Choose to be involved in outré and choose to do the things of God and so often our passions will begin to change towards them.
You know why passion matters so much? I get to meet and hang out with a lot of atheists and agnostics. Last week I had a debate with my students, high school students with some local atheist high school students. The last minute one of the students dropped out and they brought in a college senior philosophy major. Atheists told me afterwards he said, "I think your students still won." which was pretty cool. And I have a lot of friends who were atheists. And I always ask them their stories. You know what I hear over and over again? They'll say, "Yeah, I was raised in a Southern Baptist Home." I heard people say, "I was raised in a Calvary Chapel Home." "I was raised in EV Free or Methodist or Presbyterian home." But it was rules. And it was meaningless laws. There is no passion. There is no heart. There is no relationship and I just couldn't take it anymore. That's why Verse 6 says this, "These words I'm giving you today are to be in your what?"
Participants: In your hearts.
Sean McDowell: In your hearts. They are part of our passions and our deepest innermost self.
A person where this truth hit home with is someone you all know of, which is Vincent Van Gogh. Do you know Vincent Van Gogh was a Christian? Vincent Van Gogh grew up wanting to be a pastor but they wouldn't let him in the seminary because he couldn't master Greek. So he became a missionary. By all accounts that we have he was a very successful missionary. But he was the kind of missionary, he lived in a very blue-collar town where there is mining and he would go in the coal mines and he would go, he would sleeps sometimes outside. It's something you assure you take the shirt off his back and give it to somebody. He takes the shoes off his feet. And by all accounts we have people who are coming to Christ. He came before the mission board to renew his license and they denied him. You know why? They said two things, number one, "Vincent you're not a good enough preacher." Number two, "The way you carry yourself and the way you dress is unbecoming of a minister of God."
Obviously they hadn't read the story of John the Baptist. You know what happened to Vincent? He didn't leave his faith like many do when they come across something like that. Rather, he began to use his artwork to show that God is revealed in nature but the church is dead. The church is dead. He stopped being a missionary. They are silent. Six months later, he starts talking about wanting to be an artist. He only sold one artwork in his lifetime to a family member, died thinking he was a failure. But this artwork he did called the, "Starry Night" which you'll recognize.
Notice that most people don't know what's going on in this. Look at the sky and the stars, there's a motion and it's active, it feels like it's alive. Because Vincent believed in Psalms 19:1 and 2 says, "The skies proclaim the glory of God. Day by day they spew forth knowledge, night by night they display speech." He said nature reveals God. It's alive, speaking truth about God. But what do you notice about the valley? What's in the center? A church, what do you notice about the church?
Participant: No light.
Sean McDowell: There's no light. You know what he's saying. He is saying the church is dead. The church is dead. It's hypocritical. It's empty, but the skies reveal God.
Friends, this is what Jesus fought against, isn't it? That when it becomes legalistic and it becomes cold and the passion is missing in the heart. That's why Moses said, "Make this a part of your heart." So make God Lord of your home. Love God with everything. And there's the third principle here in the scriptures.
Let's look at Verse 7. Moses says, "Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." In other words, talked about God when?
Participants: All the time.
Sean McDowell: All the time. Don't compartmentalize talk about God. Do specific times and specific places. It should be a part of the whole of your life. So here's how I put it, make God part of the rhythm of life in your home. Make God part of the rhythm of life in your home. You see our culture teaches kids to compartmentalize things, doesn't it? They have nap time. They have school time. They have play time. They have work time if kids work. Their lives are broken into compartments but they have a relationship with you or they should have a relationship with you all the time.
You see our culture wants to say religion should be compartmentalize to your private life on Sunday to help you be a better person but your religion should not affect your politics. Your religion should not affect science. Your religion should not affect the way you think about history. Your religion should be compartmentalized. And it saddens me because I think in the church we do this without even realizing it. We don't realize in the church and in our own lives how we send a subtle message that is powerful. That religion is compartmentalized to here but what really matters is over here.
So I went to the greatest university on the planet. I know you are immediately thinking, "Oh my goodness, you went to Biola." That's right. I went to Biola. And I love Biola. I got a great education. I see some young students out here. This is a not so subtle message. Think about Biola if you want good Christian education. I don't work there. I'm not selling anything for them. I had just a great experience of Biola. But even at Biola, I remember we would have chapel times and the last chapel of the year they would have all the students stand up who were going on a short term mission trip. And you know what they would do? They'd say, "Student's standard mission trip, where are you going?" "Land of America, Africa, I'm going to Europe wherever it is. I'm going to Texas."
And then they would pray for and they'd sit down when chapel's over. I always thought, well why are we only praying for those going on short term mission trips? Shouldn't we have people stand who are going to be interns in businesses for this summer? Am I missing something or isn't that a mission field? You see what we do, without realizing that we compartmentalize spiritual and everything else? What Moses is saying or God is saying to Moses is, "Let your spirituality influence everything. Make God a part of the rhythm of life."
You see it's interesting to ask the question, "How is it that kids really developed a spiritual worldview or worldview of anything? How do kids develop ideas? Now, why is it that parents too are say liberal politically tend to have kids who are liberal politically? Why is it that parents who are conservative politically tend to have kids who are conservative politically? It's not so much that all of those parents sit down their kids and say, "Well when it comes to taxes here's what we believe. When it comes to military intervention overseas here's our family policy. When it comes to abortion parents don't generally do that."
So how do kids adopt these ideas? Well they simply absorbed them by osmosis. By watching their parents talked over the dinner table, talk as they travel in the car, they listen to CNN or Fox or MSNBC or whatever it is in the background and they simply absorb the values of their parents.
And though this is a rhetorical question, do you compartmentalize when you talk about sports? If you love sports, you're family. Well we only talk about sports on Thursday nights and maybe Friday. Do you compartmentalize when you talk about politics? Well we have our political day on Wednesday. Do you talk about your hobbies in certain periods? Probably not, do you compartmentalize when you talk about God? Because if you do, you are sending a message to your kids, that God is something we talked about due on Sundays, maybe Wednesday night, but it doesn't filter down through everything else that we do. Kids develop a worldview on spiritual issues just like they developed a worldview on any other issues and research backs this up. That's why Moses says, "May God a part of the rhythm of life in your home."
Now, let's look specifically in our last just few minutes about the particulars Moses gives us. Look at this. We're still in Verse 7. He says, "Talk about them when you sit in your house." In other words, talk about God at the family meal. I came across this article it was in TIME in 2006. It's called, "The Magic of the Family Meal." You can still get it online, very interesting. Look at what it says, "The statistics are clear. Kids who dine with their folks are healthier, happier and better students." Then you open it up and it says, "There is something about a shared meal." Of course there is. Jesus said these 2000 years ago. I was chuckling when science comes down and says, "Oh my goodness! We found that this is true." And I go, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure scripture said that thousands of years ago." It said, "There is something about a shared meal that anchors a family even on nights when the food is fast, talk is cheap and everyone has some place they'd rather be. It's a kind of vaccine protecting kids from all manner of harm."
Then you flip to the back and listen to this. "Beyond promoting balance and a variety in kid's diets, meals together send a message that citizenship in a family entails certain standards beyond individual whims. This is where a family builds its identity and its culture. Legends are passed down. Jokes are rendered. Eventually the wider world examined through the lens of a family's values." Did you hear that? The wider world examined through the lens of a family's values.
You know what? My mom, wife and I about 7 years ago, first had Scottie. My life is pretty busy so I just thought we had dinner and let's have the news on the background so I can catch up. I started to read this and it's like that thing that bugs you sometimes called, "The Holy Spirit" start saying, "Sean, What are you doing? What are you doing? Be present with your family and have the sacred space in your home."
Now, I'm not going to lie. There are times Red Sox are in the finals. We're not going to be legalistic about this, right? I mean, I don't want to go too far. But virtually every night we can, we just stop and we have a family meal. And if you're thinking, "Well, this is easy for you. You're McDowell, right? I'm sure when you had dinner, the angel sing and the light comes true and your kids say, "Daddy, can I pray and read the bible?"" If that is your impression about the McDowell home you could not be more mistaken. Usually, it's Scottie. "Stop talking and eat some food. Shauna, don't throw food at your brother. It's not a weapon, right?"
Now, sometimes we just make it through dinner. Eat the food, its fine. A lot of times I just pull out the bible, I'll read a story. Not every time. We don't just talk about spiritual things, we'll talk about sports, we'll talk about school and I'll say, "Kids, I want to share something with you." So my principle is this. At least every family meal, I want to share just one thing significant about God? That's it, just one thing. And answer a prayer, a scripture that I learned. Someone I've met who shared a story in their life that was moving, just one thing to all kids. I want to share some with you briefly, something that I learned. Share with them and then move on. And it's amazing how just throughout life those kind of siege showed that God is a part of an umbrella of everything that we do. Turn the TV off. Turn the cellphones off. And be present with each other. Be present.
In our home, we have Monday night family night. Every Monday we can, we just have family night. Two of my sisters come over with their husbands and their kids. My Mom and Dad went there 10 minutes away, they come over. And Monday nights, we play a little sport outside. We make dinner together. This year has been really, really tough because we used to put the kid's down and watch 24, you know Jack stopped fighting crimes so we had to come up with something else to do. But Monday nights is our family night. And no, we're not Mormons. "Do you have sacred space?" Some of you will get that later, that's okay. "What was the Mormon plugging?" You'd figure it out, it's okay. "Do you talk about God at the family meal?"
The second one it says is, "Talk about God when you walk along the road." Now, you probably don't walk along the road a lot but that's how they traveled. So travel time is to be used to just kind of talk about God. And again, not only if this is all you do, you'll exhaust your kids, right? The bible says, "Don't exhaust your kids. We need life balance." But to me, it used to be. All right, we got 20 minutes before we get to wherever we are going. I'm putting on the DVD for the kids, check my email and get something done. Now sometimes you just bite and have to do that, that's life. But he says, "Use time when you're on the road to get to know your kids, your grandkids, listen to them, share something with them and even share this passage."
Then it says, "When you lie down." I've come to believe the most critical part of a kid's day where their hearts are most vulnerable is when they're being put down to go to sleep. Now, sometimes it's a battle in the McDowell households just to get our kid's to go to sleep. I get that, okay? But so many times it's amazing how there's just this openness. And again, I mean it's kind of embarrassing to me. I used to be like, all right give you a kiss. Pull my kids down. I need some me time. I'm tired at 8 o'clock at the end of the day. And I thought again, I thought I'm blowing it. Here's a window, 5 minutes, 20 minutes to just listen to my kids.
You know what I say to my son every night and he gets tired of that, I said, "Scottie, I want you to know something. You can tell your daddy or you can ask your daddy anything. I love your question Scottie. I don't have all the answers, but I love your question." You know what he asked me? My son when he was six, he said, "Dad, who is Jesus praying to in the garden?" In other words, if Jesus is God, was He praying to Himself? How did you explain the trendy to a six year old? I said, "What? I can't hear you. Go to bed." You know what else I hear from a lot of atheist and agnostics, they say, "I had questions and I was shut down if people didn't let me ask him." I want to encourage my son's questions and let him know that his daddy will listen to anything.
We've been going to the Narnia series at night just reading the stories and talking about it. When kids go down, there's a window to their hearts. And the last one it says, "And when you get up?" There is something about the morning. Sometimes I'm up and gone before my kids are even up. I got to go work on something. But at least once a week I try to whether it's taking my kids to breakfast. And again, we'll go to breakfast and we'll just talk about life and we'll have fun and I'll try to sometimes read the bible and just share something significant with them.
I remember growing up when my dad was probably gone 50% of the time. When he was there, he would take us out to breakfast. We get hot chocolate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. And it was this fun ritual we just did as a family. You know often just share life principles with us and have conversations. I think it would be cool if around this church, maybe Friday mornings, dads or grandparents just took their kids or grandkids out to breakfast, go to McDonalds, it's cheaper, but it's worth the investment. And just talk to them about life and have fun with them and giggle with them.
Wednesday mornings I go early to Starbucks and I study. You know what I see every Wednesday morning? Every Wednesday, I see a grandfather sit on the right by the window looking at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano with his grandson who is in high school, and the bible is open. And he just reads him the bible. And he talks to him about life. I sent a Tweet out after I saw that on Twitter. I sent one, I said, "Hey! Here's this grandpa. I wish every grandpa or every dad or every uncle would take kids out and do this." You know responses I got there in Facebook, a of bunch people said, "I wish I had a grandfather like that." If you think "Well my kids don't care what I say. My grandkids don't want to spend time with me." That is a lie from the pit of hell. "Kids will put up a fight. Kids are stubborn." Yes, they are miserable sinners like you and me, but they want and need parents, grandparents, adults from the community to mentor and to pour in their life, and tell them that they matter. That's the only way kids will make it today in the culture that they live in.
There is no guarantee in parenting or grand parenting. There is no guarantee. Like kids don't come with a guarantee for money back, right? You can do everything that's right and your kids can walk away. My guess is, some of you here have kids or grandkids who aren't following the Lord, and it hurts. I know the pain that comes with that. I will encourage you to not give up. I will encourage you to keep praying for them. I will encourage you to keep loving them and believe that God will change their hearts.
For instance if we follow this simple pattern that Moses laid out of making God the Lord of our home, of loving God with everything, and making God a part of the rhythm of life. Then number one, we have the best chance of our kids following after the Lord and being that chink of the chain within our generation. We can also stand before God and He'll say to us, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Amen.
Sean McDowell: This generation needs you. Who will you invest in for the next generation?
Hey, I brought a couple of books and they've been selling out but my dad and I wrote a book called, "The Unshakable Truth." There are a handful of copies left but what we did is we try to help people essentially parents, grandparents, pastors anybody who cares about this generation. What do we really believe as Christians? What do we die on? How do we know those things are true? Why do they matter and how do these truths affect our relationships? How do they translate down into the way that we live? And there are a handful of copies back. I will sneak out there and let me greet or meet any of you if I can.Thank you for giving me a chance to share my heart this morning. God bless.