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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
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.