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About this series
This Christmas, how do you give your children what money can't buy? We all desire to give gifts of significant value, but what does that really look like? What “Priceless” gifts can we give? In this series, Chip unpacks 5 key areas that tend to make or break our children and gives solid biblical insight and practical steps for managing those 5 important life skills. As a parent, or grandparent, you want to give your child every advantage in life. A “Priceless” Christmas gives you the tools to help your child develop godly character and important life-skills. Your life, their lives, and the lives of generations to come will never be the same.More from this series
Have you made any decisions that you’re reaping the consequences now that you wish, if there was any way to turn back the hands of time…? It was maybe a relationship or a job you took, or you did something with some money that if you could just turn it around you would. But you can’t. There are a lot of gifts that we can give, but we are going to talk about one of the most priceless ones.
Life in its essence is about choices that are followed by consequences. Someone has said, “We make our choices; then our choices make us.” The good choices have resulted in happy marriages, a great job, and deep, personal satisfaction. Some of our poor choices have resulted in destroyed marriages, losing a job, or suffering shame and reproach.
Few things will determine the quality and the fulfillment of your children’s lives like the choices they make, for better or for worse. So, here’s priceless gift number three. Teach them to make wise decisions. There are about three decisions that their entire life’s trajectory will be determined by.
And they’ll have all the foundations built when they’re young, teens, early adults, up into their late twenties, early thirties. And they’ll determine who is their Master. I mean, who is going to call the shots in their life? Will it be them or God?
They’ll make a decision somewhere along about their mission. Is their mission going to be what they can get and what makes them happy or successful? Or to figure out what God wants them to do?
And then they’re going to make a decision in all likelihood about a person. Who are they going to do life with? And is it going to be a mate that aligns with following Christ? Or is it going to be a mate that was really attractive and it seemed like the right thing at the right time? And how they make those decisions, people, will bring them either great joy or great heartache, and you great joy or great heartache, right?
So how do you help them? How do you help them make great decisions? I’m going to suggest that the answer is they need wisdom. And if you would, open your Bibles to Proverbs chapter 1. I’m just going to have you read one verse. Proverbs chapter 1. It’s very simple.
And I want you to skim down, we’ll get past the introduction to the book and the purpose of the book from the wisest man in the world. It’s about wisdom and how to get wisdom and how to have wise behavior, make great decisions, and discernment and all the rest.
We’re going to skip all that and get down to verse 7. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Later in the book he’ll say, “The fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom.”
Now notice the line under it. “Fools despise wisdom.” Now in the Bible, a fool is not someone who is foolish. The Bible is, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Foolishness is living a life apart from God or His plan.
So, the fear of the Lord, seeing God for who He is, a reverential awe and an actual fear of who God really is, is the beginning of living a wise life. And wisdom is simply this: Discovering how God designed all of life to work and cooperating with it.
So, He has a design for relationships, He has a design for decisions, He has a design for money, has a design for handling conflict. Wisdom is simply saying, “God, since You created all that there is and You love me and You’re good and You are holy, I want to do life Your way.”
He would later say in this book there is a way that seems right to men, but the way ends in death. And so, what you want to do is you want your children to gain wisdom. The way they gain wisdom is to discover the fear of God.
Now here’s the question: How do they discover the fear of God? Holiness. That’s almost a weird word in our day, isn’t it? With a lot of baggage, like, holiness. If someone is holy, we get something like, “He’s a goody two-shoes,” or holy sometimes means self-righteous people who wear long robes and light candles. Or holy people are people that aren’t cool.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The word “holy” literally means “to be separate, to be set apart, to be different.” Literally it’s to be “other.” It means that all of life is over here and there’s another, if something is holy, it’s in a different category.
I’m going to try to do something that probably is a little more than you can handle
in one session, but I want to walk through and give you a theology of holiness. So instead of thinking of holiness with the baggage that we have, I want to give you a clear, biblical presentation, sort of a Reader’s Digest, quick summary.
And then I put all the passages next to it, because let me tell you: you could yourself and your children, or people in your Bible study, or people that you want to help a great gift of looking up those passages and beginning to go through – you’ll notice there are eight specific things that build this theology of holiness. And I want to walk through them with you. Some of the passages I’ll allude to; I can’t develop them, but I put them there for you.
A theology of holiness begins with this. It begins with God is high, holy, and totally other. Notice He is high. The Bible says He is high, He’s above. He is holy. He is totally other. The passage that I gave you is a snapshot into heaven. It’s Revelation chapter 4. And in Revelation chapter 4, we have this snapshot and we have these amazing creatures that we don’t understand that has eyes all over them. And they’re surrounding this throne and this throne and there’s this glorious power coming out of it.
And there’s God the Father and there’s the Son and the Lamb and the presence of the Spirit. And these angelic beings are flying around and falling down before this throne crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, heaven and earth are full of His glory, because He was, and is, and is to be. And He has created all things. And He redeemed all mankind, men of every tribe and language.”
And he goes into chapter 4 and chapter 5 and you get this breathtaking, overwhelming sense of the presence and the power and the holiness of God. He’s high. He’s different.
Tozer writes in his little book, Knowledge of the Holy, on the attributes of God, he says, “We may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom; but His holiness we cannot even imagine.”
It’s a different category, it’s not like taking the purest person that you can think of or the greatest moral excellence and multiplying it infinitely. That would be too low.
And then he goes on to say is that God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Get that down.
Wherever and whatever is holy, is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death.
Sometimes we talk about evil as though it’s some remote concept. Evil is tangible, clear, wicked, it brings death. I was thinking about this today, have you ever just pondered how subtle… I haven’t done this yet. But I’m tempted to just go through every popular television program and try and ask myself how many of them are centered around the topic of death.
Most of the action films it’s about people getting killed. Most of the video games are...
The goal of the video game is to do what? It’s to kill! Why, why is there such a fascination with death, death, death, death, death? Abortion is death. Divorce is the death of a relationship. Death, death. Evil brings death. Holiness is the moral condition for the health of the universe.
So, let me give you a different word so that when you think of “holy,” instead of weird or black robes or candles or self-righteous people. Tozer writes, “The formation of our language itself suggests the true meaning of holiness. The English word ‘holy’ is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘halig’ or ‘hal’ that means ‘well’ or ‘whole.’”
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Doing life God’s way, with great benefit and result. The fear of the Lord begins with the high, holy because God’s holiness dictates that when we do things the way this high and holy and separate and other and pure and morally perfect being, who has created all that there is, it’s to bring, here’s the word, write down, “wholeness, health, benefit, life.”
God’s holiness and His desire for you to be holy, your children to be holy, for those in your Bible study to be holy, is not some rigid, external list of dos and don’ts that are prohibitive of anything fun. It’s to bring health and life.
But there’s a genuine sense of reverential awe but beyond that, fear! Some of you that are a little older remembered what it was like to do something wrong in school or do something wrong at home and you were afraid, remember some of us who, “What’s going to happen when my dad gets home?”
I mean, my dad was a Marine. I knew what was going to happen when my dad got home. And can I just tell you this amazing thing? There were times, I had a lot of opportunity to do some things wrong, and the thought of what would happen when I got home kept me from doing wrong.
I know that’s not politically correct in our day. And my dad wasn’t a Christian at the time, but it was biblical. It says, “Where there is no fear of God, evil and sin reigns.”
Now let me give you a picture so you get the balance of, because sometimes what happens, we pit God’s attributes. It’s not like He is, like, holy on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays but He is loving and kind on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
His attributes are simple. And what it means by that is there is no division of them. So He is infinitely holy and loving and simple and kind and compassionate and just. It is who He is.
I’ll give you a picture. You’re a climber. And you have been to Half Dome. And there are places there that they rope off and they don’t let people go, which you totally neglect. And when no one is looking, you go under those ropes, right?
And there’s these flat pieces of rock with waterfalls and at the very edge, you drop hundreds of feet and you die – and people have. And what do you instinctively do when you get close to the edge? Because it’s so beautiful and it’s so majestic and you want to take it. People don’t walk out there and go, “Oh! Wow! This is really cool.” Do they?
How do they do it? You have to do it! The closer you get, you start doing this, right? Right? And then if you’re really smart, you say to a buddy, “Will you hold my leg?” Right? Or I’ve seen guys tie a couple ropes down here, and there’s just something, it’s like, “Oh my gosh.” And it’s a rush!
And it’s a rush because it’s so beautiful and it’s so scary at the same time. God’s plan for every, single one of your children is to have a view of Him that is so high and so holy that it’s so attractive and they are so drawn and scared to death at the same time.
Scared to death to do anything or say anything that would violate that absolutely unapproachable light, perfect, holy God.
The second thing you need to learn about His holiness is God is absolute truth. God is absolute Truth. In other words, the question of what’s right and what’s wrong has been settled. It’s not relative.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” So, He is high and He’s holy and He defines reality. It’s not what you think. It’s not what anybody else thinks. It’s not what’s politically correct. It’s not what this philosophy is. He is holy and He is absolute truth.
Third is, His truth is in His Word. His Word defines absolute truth. It doesn’t say exhaustively what truth is, but Jesus would pray, “Father,” the very last night on the earth, “Father, sanctify them, make them holy,” is what that word means, “set them apart,” same root word. How? “By Your Word, Your word is truth.”
Fourth, God’s commands or morals are for our protection. One of the things that happens when we begin to talk about holiness is groups quickly go to a lot of external things: Can’t do this, can’t do this, can’t do this, can’t do this, can’t do this, can’t do this. And often, in an effort, probably, with well-meaning intentions at least probably in my case, I grew up in a Christianity where all you heard was all the things you couldn’t do and how mad God was.
And, you know, I had this picture of God like He had a blue suit with a badge, you know, like a policeman except the badge said, “No fun allowed here.” And I, literally, I grew up with a perception of God that He had this club and that anything that remotely would be fun was to find me doing it and whack me over the…
Anybody grow up like that? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Your heavenly Father wants your kids to get the best. He wants them to get the best relationships, He wants them to get the best future. He wants them to get the best in terms of preparation and education. He wants them to get the very best for what He’s designed them to accomplish.
And so, He gives us laws and decrees and commands and some of them we don’t like. I didn’t grow up as a Christian so I never read this book. But, I mean, the Ten Commandments… You live in America, you kind of pick up on those.
And I thought, I wasn’t a Christian, but I thought I was because I lived in America and I believed in God, I mean, intellectually. I mean, there’s a God, right? And I was born in America.
So I thought if you kept, like, seven out of ten commands that’s, like, at least a C. I mean, eight out of ten is a B, nine out of ten is an A, right? Well, I realized that’s not exactly at all how God looks at it.
But, see, I thought all those commands were prohibitions against anything fun. And, of course, when you’re a young male growing up or a young female growing up, sex is probably about as fun as it gets.
I mean, sometimes we tell our kids all these crazy things like, “Don’t do that and this and this and this.” And then they experiment and it’s like, “Wow, this is really great!” Well, it’s really great because it’s supposed to be really great!
But when you have sex outside of marriage it’s like taking the fire out of the fireplace where it’s really great and that’s a choice. And now there’s all these consequences. And the reason that God says, for example, no sex before marriage is because He doesn’t want His children having second-rate sex.
I mean, I was in that sixties and seventies revolution and later on I remember doing college ministry. And I can just tell you, in college ministry, I was teaching school and coaching and doing college ministry. Until young men and young women wrestle down a commitment to be sexually pure, they never grow spiritually.
They just, I mean, you know, if you’re, you can go to Bible study and read your Bible a little bit and you’re hooked on porn and you’re sleeping with someone, their spiritual life just goes like this and they’re guilty and struggle and guilty and struggle. And so, that was always an issue.
But for a lot of them, they feel like, you know, they’ve got all these drives and, “God, why won’t you let me do? And we love each other,” and on and on and on. God says, “Because I got something better.”
But for a lot of us we don’t see it that way. And a lot of us, we’re not teaching our kids that. We give them these rules and this is, you’ve got to tell the why.
Later on, after working with those college kids, I end up writing a book called Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. And what I wanted to do was just help people see, “You know something? This is for your good.”
So, thirty years after the revolution we have all this research that people who refrain from sexual immorality before marriage, duh, wow, this is really interesting, their sex life in marriage is more fulfilling than those who were sexually promiscuous. Their divorce rate is way lower than all those people who were sexually promiscuous.
The chances of adultery go way down.
And then the psychological damage. That’s all secular research! But it’s true in every area. All the commands of God, this theology of holiness, is helping your kids see, “That mix of beauty and power, and absolutely just scared to death to mess up because it’s an okay thing to make right decisions just because you’re afraid you’re going to get in trouble.” And getting in trouble isn’t that just what consequences are?
How many of us, aren’t there stuff where we could wind back the clock we would say, “Oh man, I’m thirty-five years old now. Boy, what I did when I was sixteen; that was so stupid.” Or, “I’m fifty-five years old now,” or, “seventy years old now and I hit my mid-forties and I got bored and the kids were getting out of the house and my wife, the affection was gone in our marriage and I had an affair. And, boy, that blew out. And now I’ve got two families and I’m paying money over here and… I mean, how many of you? Just, if you could turn back the clock?
The reason there are commands, you have a heavenly Father who loves you and your kids so much that He wants those boundaries to be seen as guardrails and protection to give you the very, very best.
See, that’s biblical holiness. It starts with a high view of God, it starts with: He is Truth, it means His word defines truth, the commands are for our benefit. And then God’s ultimate aim is to make us holy. That’s His aim.
Parents, write underneath that, “Not happy.” Okay? I mean, because that’s, I mean, the world is just crushing us and saying that you’re a bad parent if your kids aren’t happy all the time.
I want my kids to be happy. But short-term happiness with long-term pain is not a good plan. God says He wants to conform us to the image of His Son.
The Old Testament roots, you have Exodus 3 and Isaiah 6. Let me encourage you to probe those passages and read them and kick them around with your kids. And you have Moses at the burning bush and the bush isn’t consumed and God speaks out of it and Moses realizes wherever God is is holy ground. And Isaiah, it’s in a national crisis and things are going down the tube and he goes into the temple and he begins to pray.
And that window that we got in Revelation, we get the same picture. And there’s this – inside this temple there are these angelic beings and they’re crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
And Isaiah is overwhelmed. And he says, “Woe is me. And I’m a sinful man, who live among a sinful people.” And one of those angelic beings goes over to an alter and picks up a coal and touches his lips and he experiences forgiveness and cleansing. And then he hears the Godhead speaking, “Who will go for Us? Who will care?” And he says, “Here am I. Send me.”
See, holiness and a right view of God always starts with an upward view, high, and holy that leads to an inward view of where we lack desperately and the need for forgiveness. And then it leads to an outward view of caring about other people.
And when those three views happen in your child’s heart, I will tell you, there will be joy instead of just happiness. There will be purpose instead of just fulfilled passion. God will do great things in their life.
The picture we have in the Old Testament is Moses. The picture in the New Testament is Mary. You don’t have to be old and give the Ten Commandments to be holy.
Here’s a little girl, fifteen, sixteen years old! But she is blameless. When the angel speaks to her, she quotes ten, twelve, fourteen different Old Testament parts of passages. Someone in Mary’s life growing up taught her about the holiness of God, and God’s Word somehow got deeply entrenched in that fifteen or sixteen-year-old girl’s life, that she just responded, “Be it unto me according to Your Word.” And she began to quote passage after passage after passage about God’s purposes. And she embraced them.
The New Testament command is very clear and very simple, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” why? “because it is written, ‘I am holy, therefore you shall be holy.’” Could you circle the little phrase, “In all your behavior?”
What God is calling us, all your behavior, is He wants your kids to be as holy and walking with Him at church as when they go to a party. On the playing field as doing their school work. As work as when they’re out doing a hobby. When they’re on the traveling team and no one is around as when they are at a friend’s house and a sleepover and a movie comes on. He wants them because of your training and their conscience and their desire to please, in all their behavior.
The Bible says without holiness, no one will see the Lord. The Scripture says from Jesus’ lips, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Answers to prayer are directly proportional to a holy life.
Isaiah 66:18 says, “If you regard iniquity in your heart,” in other words, you know what you’re doing is wrong and you know you’re off the page, it says God closes His ears.
See, there are a lot of people that aren’t experiencing His love and His power and His presence and getting answers to prayer because there’s some idea that I can, in this compartment, I believe in God and He loves me and I’m forgiven. But in my work life, in my hobby life, in my viewing life, in my money life, in my relationship life I do it my way.
It produces death. So, you want to help your kids make wise decisions. Are you ready to get practical? How? How do we do this? Let me just, I mean, get up on Monday morning and it’s late Wednesday night and you’re in the car, going to this practice or that practice or you’re sitting and having a coke with one of your kids.
The priceless gift is them learning how to make wise decisions. Now this is not exhaustive but this will get you going. Let me give you four specific ways to help them learn to make wise decisions.
Number one, teach them to saturate their minds with the truth. Saturate their minds with the truth. The Bible, great books, CDs, videos. Romans 8:5 to 8 says, “The mind set on the flesh is death; the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, for the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God; and it’s impossible for them to please God.” Your kids are going to be the product of what goes into their mind.
Jesus would say it a little bit differently. He was saying to a group of Jews who just believed in John chapter 8, “If you abide in My Word,” and “abide” doesn’t mean you listen to it, it doesn’t mean you go to church, it doesn’t mean your read the Bible now and then.
“Abide” means you take in the truth, you see what it means to you, and you practice it. And what’s the promise? “If you abide in My words, you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Don’t you want your kids free of people pleasing? Don’t you want them free of addictions? Don’t you want them free to be who they are? Don’t you want them to be free of peer pressure? Don’t you want them to be free of bullying? Don’t you want them to be free to discover who God made them to be? Don’t you want them to be free of not living with expectations that are visible? If they’ve got to look like this and act like that?
Saturate their minds with the truth. That’s when they’re little you read them Bible stories. When they get to be four, five, six, and seven you start Scripture memory. My wife read every night to our kids. I told them stories. I did the Scripture memory part.
I mean, I can say this now because they’re all grown, it wouldn’t embarrass them, all the way up through junior high they were reading out loud together. It was C.S. Lewis and that whole series and later they wanted to read Tolkien and then it was this book over here and when they got to be in the teenage years, unapologetically, I knew they needed, they needed to read Mere Christianity, they needed to read about apologetics.
And, “Here’s the book. I’ll pay you ten,” back then, ten bucks meant a lot. “So I’ll pay you ten bucks for this book, fifteen bucks for that book,” and he’d write me a report. And then we’d go out and talk about it.
Now, I just thought, you know, I’m glad for the educational system but whether it’s Christian or secular, I’m the one that stands before God whether my kids get educated. And so, I had a game plan. Saturate their minds with the truth. It makes all the difference in the world.
We had, every couple weeks, we have some of our grandkids stay overnight.
And I have a cute, little grandson named Ryder, who is five. And his parents are doing what we are talking about and he’s telling me there’s a big Christmas program at school here. And I said, “Well, are you excited about it?” “Yeah.” I said, “Well, what are you?” He goes, “I’m a shepherd.” But he said, “I know everybody’s part.” I said, “Oh, come on, Ryder.” “I do! I know everybody…” he’s five years old. He’s a spunky little kid. And so, he’s laying down and I have told him his story. And the lights are low and I’m just ready to tuck him in. I said, “Well, tell me then, what did the king say?” And you’ve just got to, he’s laying down, and then he goes – he pops right up and sits up like this. And then he goes, “Wait, Paw-Paw.”
And then, literally, he goes like this: “I see a star in the sky!” And he starts with it and he makes this, and then right after he goes, “We three kings of Oreos…” And he sings that one. And then he stops. And then he goes, “Lo and behold!” And for the next nine minutes, he, from memory, took me through Herod, the star, the kings. He had all of Luke chapter 2. His view of God in the sponge of a little boy’s mind and heart, is being transformed and it will serve him for years ahead. Saturate your children at every age.
Many of our adult kids – I mean, they usually know, every Christmas, they are going to get stuff. But they are going to probably get the best book we have read in the last year with a note that says, “This really meant a lot to us, and…” and they all became readers. So, very important.
Second is encourage them to build relationships with wise, godly people. This is a great verse to have them memorize in their pre-teen years, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of a fool will suffer harm.” That’s Proverbs 13:20.
You show me your kids’ friends, I will, with prophetic accuracy, show you your kids’ future. You know, haven’t some of you, pre-teen years, or even some of the younger ones, they start hanging out with four or five year olds and there’s one little kid at the place where they hang out that cusses and hits everybody and your kid, you know, where do you learn these words? And he’s coming home, what’s he doing? He’s cussing and hitting people.
Or it’s pre-teens and all of a sudden, have you noticed, like, some of your kids, all of a sudden, like, out of the blue they have this…this attitude. And you’re thinking, “Who invaded my daughter’s body?”
And here’s what I’ll tell you. You find out who she’s hanging out with at school and I will tell you who invaded your daughter’s body. You’ve got to be on top of their associations. Live, school, sports…
You need to know their password, your kids need to know early on, you don’t have private worlds. You wouldn’t let them say certain things or share certain things in your living room with you sitting there. You need to let them know, part of accountability and health, and it’s not prying.
Why would any of your kids share certain things they wouldn’t be comfortable with you seeing? And if they are, they’re already going down a trail of, are you ready, unholiness, but what it is: unhealthiness. And what I’ve found with a lot of parents is, “Oh, if I confront her, she goes, and she slams the door. ‘I don’t love you anymore!’ And…that’s okay! I still love you! Your phone plan is gone for the next two weeks!”
You want your kids to love you a lot ten years from now, not today, not tonight, not tomorrow. And that’s, so you’ve got to guard who they hang with.
And, by the way, please get, this is hard. Isn’t it? I mean, this is really hard because you’re the terrible person and you have been raised in the last twenty-five or thirty years, especially young parents, we stopped using Bible verses and truth. Now you’ve been raised where most all the Bible has been transformed into psychological lingo.
So instead of your kids, instead of, “I need to help my kids become holy,” you need to help them be self-actualized and have a good self-esteem and not be damaged intellectually or emotionally.
And so we have bought into a whole lot of things that, all I want to do is say, “Okay, so how is the youth of our nation doing with their super, little self-esteems with everyone who gets a trophy and consequences don’t matter and we ought to make them happy every day at every time at every way. And we never want them to go through any pain. But we want to make everything right and wonderful and give them all that they need so they go to these great schools and get good tests and have no sense of responsibility or the fear of God.”
And why is it so many of our kids in their sophomore or junior year really, when they come back, don’t want to go to church, they have no interest in spiritual things, but, wow, they were on the traveling team and they got great SAT scores and they don’t have a good connection with you and you spent your life helping them be happy and successful.
Now, please do not hear that it’s wrong to do some of those things. But please hear that if it was at the neglect of them being holy, you hit the target you aim for. But happy kids that are narcissistic, in their own little world, live their life their way, the Bible calls them a fool. “The fool has said in their heart, ‘There is no God.’”
When your kids live as though what God says doesn’t matter, they’re a fool. And there are choices fools make that produce devastating consequences. So, this is serious stuff.
We had a little boy named David – little boy. Wrong phrase. A very big boy. His dad was the head football coach, which is like three notches above the superintendent of the schools in Texas.
And this kid was just bad news. He was the most negative influence on my kids. And he was – does anybody here remember who Eddie Haskell was on Leave it to Beaver? You still remember? This guy is Eddie Haskell on steroids. And he outweighed my kids by a hundred pounds. Big, strong kid. And a big football player. And so, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen – those are the years he is hanging out with my kids. And so, he would walk in, “Hello, Mrs. Ingram. My, you look lovely in that dress.” I’m not kidding you. And then he goes into the garage with my boys and, “You son of a blankety-blank-blank-blank. Hey, guys, I know where we can get some stuff.”
And I’d catch him and, “David, okay, you can’t come to our house for a week.” My kids knew they could not go to their house. My kids know they couldn’t go two houses because of what was available there.
And I’ll never forget, this was about the third time I did it. So, doorbell rings. And his dad is a big guy. And I’m thinking, This may not go well. And he’s really big. And just honestly, every man has a moment. I’m intimidated and I’m not going to admit it. And he said, “I would like to know why my son can’t play with your kids.” “Well, this, this, this, and this.” “I understand.” He said, “Well, I want you to know that your kids have been the most positive influence on my boy and I want you to know I will address those things with him as soon as I get home.”
And, David, it was, I just wondered, you’ve got to be kidding. This kid was just…so, we would let him over and then he would…we’d let him over. So, we’d discipline him all the time, and loved him. He did all kinds of stuff. We played all kinds of sports. We took him places. But I just thought, If there’s five thousand, five hundred, and fifty-five people that will ever walk with God, he was fifty-six.
And this was, I don’t know, three or four years ago, I get a phone call out of the blue. “Hello, Mr. Ingram!” How are you doing? I heard you on the radio here in Texas! I just want to thank you and Mrs. Ingram for helping me so much. And I’m really walking with the Lord, I’ve been married now, I’m running the Rangers program for the small boys and I’m in the Bible every day. You should check out my Facebooks, I post…” And I saved it! “Theresa, this is like Saul to Paul. This is a miracle!”
And now, about every six months or so, he’ll send me an email or… But, parents, you’ve got to be on top of your associations. And you know why I share that story? I share that story because when you say to your kids, “You can’t play with them,” and you feel like you’re being judgmental, you are. Be judgmental about who your kids associate with.
And if you get a little flak, you get a little flak. It’s the best thing for you kids, but you know what? It’s the best thing for their kids. Every neighborhood needs these really fun, exciting Christians that have really clear boundaries, that people think are a little square, but when the kids go over there, it’s the most fun place to be.
And people aren’t hiding behind electronics. And you roll on the floor with them, and you play games with them, and you take them places. But they know around here, we are not doing that. We are not playing WWWMW-something level seven. Where everyone blows off each other’s heads. We don’t do that at our house. In fact, we don’t have that at our house.
“Well, I think you’re…” You can think whatever you want. You make your choices and we will see where you land; we’ll make our choices and we’ll see where we land.
“Be ye holy, because I am holy.”
The third thing, after you teach them to saturate their mind with truth and build great relationships, model for them how to seek God for discernment and wisdom. Model – your kids gain wisdom by watching you go after it.
I was convicted many, many, many years ago. I write a lot of my prayers. There are letters behind my name, but when I say “letters behind my name,” I think I would, if I grew up in today’s world they would have called me OCD, ADD. I got kicked out of kindergarten, I got kicked out of the Boy Scouts, my memories of first grade are, in the old days, they had a really big trash can and the lady would put me in the trash can up to here because I would whistle, I’d stop, I couldn’t pay attention.
Then they had an easel, a little easel, and they had those little baby chairs and she put me under that and put a blanket over it in the dark. Now you’re thinking, “This is terrible.” I deserved it all! But, I mean, some of you who think you can’t concentrate when you pray, where do you think I’m at?
I write in a journal not because I’m holy, it’s just, like, at least my pen is moving, my mind is staying on the same thing. And so, once I just realized I started looking in my prayers for my kids and how many of them, “Well, God, help them in this. Help them with this test. Help them with this.” And I realized so many of my prayers were about their success and their happiness.
And, by the way, don’t, that’s fine. But I put a prayer in here that you might want to start praying for your kids: Philippians 1:9 to 11. The apostle Paul, when he thinks about his spiritual kids, here’s what he prays, “I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and real insight, in order that you might be able to discern between that which is good and that which is evil, so that you will walk in a way that is blameless; having already been filled with the fruit of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.”
Start praying that for your kids, “God, make them wise. God, give them a heart for You. God, give them discernment when they’re with their friends. God, help them to have a reverential awe and at times be just afraid of messing up. God, give them a knowledge in their heart and mind.”
God answers prayers! These are the kind of prayers you know are God’s will because they’re in Scripture. And then bring them into your world, okay? When you have a big decision, I mean, it’s age appropriate, but as early as possible and when appropriate, you know, like, if you have a big decision about a job or what school to go to or should you relocate – bring them in together.
And then open up the Bible and say, “Here’s what God promises.” So, you teach them, “Your life is based on promises, not circumstance.” And the promise is, “If any man lack wisdom, any woman lack wisdom,” in other words, if you don’t know what to do, “ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach.”
And so, you say, “God promised He would give it, so we need to seek Him.” And so, times when my kids were small it was, “We don’t have a car that works. We’re going to ask God for wisdom about what to do.”
And another time it was, “Well, should we move or not? So, mom and I are, we’re not going to eat anything all today and all tomorrow.”
“You mean…?” They didn’t know what fasting was. “But, you know, there will be some food on the table, now, you can join us if you want, but for the next two days, we’re going to talk with God and we’re going to seek His face because He promised that He answers prayer when you seek Him.”
Well guess what my kids learned? They learned, “That’s what you do when you don’t know what to do!” Right? Because at the end of the day, they don’t do what we say anyway. They do what we do. So, model for them what it looks like to seek God.
And then finally, this is a no-brainer and maybe the most difficult. Teach them to monitor their exposure to the media. We’re back into Romans 12, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be,” what? You guys ought to know this one by now, “transformed,” how? “by the renewing of their mind, so that,” so what? “they could prove, they could test,” you know what this word means? So, your kids or the people in your Bible study, could experience what God’s will is.
And did you notice it’s not hard, difficult, unfruitful, no fun, lousy life? What’s it say? Circle those three words. “So they might experience the good, well-pleasing or acceptable will of God.”
See, they make wise decisions, they end up with the right mate. They make wise decisions, they end up with the right mission. They make wise decisions, they end up with the right Master. And He is for them and He has unlimited power!
Our job, as parents, is to help them make wise decisions. Where are they getting the most information about unwise decisions? It’s from the media. I mean, just imagine, sit a kid for five or ten years in front of, you know, five or ten years of reality shows; five or ten years of, unless you’re an Idol, you’re a nobody. Unless you’re a star, you’re a nobody. Unless you’re…
And then ask ourselves, and then put something in front of them where they kill people for hours, why are we surprised when those values come out in their life?
Now here’s what I want you to get, did you notice it doesn’t say, “Teach your kids what they can and cannot watch.” What’s it say? “Teach your kids to monitor their exposure.”
You want your kids when they hit the fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen and then say, “We want to go to this new movie, all of our friends are going to this movie, want to buy this…
You ask, “Well, why? What’s it rated? What do you think God wants you to do? What’s the basis of it? What’s it about? Have you read the review?” I want, I told my kids, “Okay, you know, it was one, it was a little shaky.” “I want you to pray about it for twenty-four hours; you ask God whether He wants you to go there or not.” See, you don’t always have to have these power struggles.
And, by the way, sometimes it’s not all bad. When they want to do something and you know it’s not the best thing but it’s not going to kill them, let them do it. And then don’t bail them out.
How do you learn to make wise decisions? How did you learn? You made dumb decisions. But you make dumb decisions that have bad consequences.
And so, a wise parent is what you want to do is you want to get them to where they are saying, “That’s not good for me. That’s not good for me. I’m not going to watch that. These are my convictions.” Because nothing magical is going to happen if you set all the boundaries and you keep it really tight.
- A) they’ll sneak around, they can see anything with their friends on the internet. And B) when they go away to school, so what, you think a little magic light is going on, “Oh, everything I’ve ever heard from my parents I think I’ll start obeying now, when I can do anything I want with anybody I want.”
See, wisdom is teaching them where they monitor their exposure, they come up with, ask them, “How much time do you think you should have? How many texts do you think would be wise Ask them, let them set some goals.
You’d be really interested, they’ll ask for the moon, but, you know, as you set some boundaries, some of your kids are desperate for a mom or a dad who says, “No, you can’t do that,” so they can turn and blame you with their peers and go, “Oh, you know my parents. They are just so, you know, I can’t do it.” But in their heart of hearts they’re going, “Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad because I didn’t have to stand up to that. You gave me the out.”
Be the bad parent. Take that in context, will you? But be the, be the person that your kids can lean on to say, “Well, you know how my parents are. They…” And their friends will go, “Oh, yeah.” “I can’t go to that because…”
If there is ever a day where kids need courageous, godly, holy moms and dads, who set loving, winsome boundaries, it’s today. So, teach them to saturate their minds with the truth, help them build godly relationships with good mentors, and then demonstrate how to discover God’s wisdom on your journey, and then teach them to monitor their input of media.
Because at the end of the day, they’re going to walk out of your house sooner or later. Here’s the life message you want them to get: Righteous choices bring life and peace; wrong choices bring sin and death.
You want your kids, when they’re going to get in that car; you want your kids when that young man says, “I’ve got a condom;” you want your kids when they’re making a decision about money; you want your kids in those windows of time to know, “Righteous choices bring life and peace; wrong choices bring sin and death.”
And you want their heart filled with a sense of God’s love and holiness so they choose life.