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Parenthood - Jesus, Parents and Children

Matthew 19: 13-15

 

Luke 2:52 says “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”.

Jesus grew:
• in wisdom,
• he grew in stature,
• he grew in favor with God,
• and he grew in favor with men.

There are four dimensions every parent desires their child to grow in. We want to see our children grow:

1. Intellectually, or in knowledge schooling, in education, reading, writing, math, all of those things. That is growing in wisdom or intellect.

2. In stature. By getting good food, good rest, good hygiene, we want to see them growing to full adulthood.

3. In favor with God; we want to see them grow spiritually.

4. In favor with men, we want to see them grow socially.

We want our kids to grow up to be godly men and women. We want them to be a blessing to others socially. We want them to understand how they can love one another and serve each other. We want them to be a real blessing and contributor to life, family, and community church. We want to see them all grow to maturity in all those dynamics.

But how do you get from the very beginning of praying for a child at a baby dedication or a baby blessing, to that finished product? The Bible has something to say about that.

We first look at the parents who are bringing the children to Jesus. Matthew 19:13-15 “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.”

Parents in the crowded environment around Jesus were bringing children to Jesus. There were thousands of people pressing upon Jesus. Through this experience of a parents desire for the blessing of God to be upon their son or daughter they pushed their way through the crowd and said “Jesus, please hold my child” or “ pray for my child” or “bless my child”.

It is interesting sometimes when people with no religious background or interests, no moral inclination whatsoever, have a child. All of a sudden they are thunderstruck with the gravity of how much they don't know.

Think about it, if you go down to Best Buy and buy an iPod at least you get an instruction manual. This baby shows up and you have no instruction manual (except for God's word who created and designed this whole plan).

You come home from the hospital with that first baby and your first thought is “what in the world are we going to do now? We have got to train this child, we have got to raise this child, we have got to correct this child, we have to instruct his child, and we have got to put some moral values in this child. This child needs some ethics. We don't have any of that ourselves, what in the world are we going to do? What in the world are we going to do with this kid?” And so all of the sudden there is this awareness that now: “we need church. We have got to go to church, we have got to get right with God we need help because now we have this baby.”

Nobody was as funny as Tammy and I in this process. Even though we had come to Christ and we had a heart for God. But you should have seen us when we had our firstborn, Caleb. Caleb is 22 years old now, he was born December 5, 1988. So we brought him home from the hospital… and we had no instructions.

Tammy is an only child so she had no brothers and sisters to practice with. I was the youngest of four so I was the one they all practiced on. So we had no clue what we were doing. If we were in that situation today, somebody could videotape us and put is on reality TV. Too bad they didn’t have it then, we would've made a million bucks because it was so comical.

When it was time to give him his first bath we got one of those little kitchen sink bathtub things you have for kids and we put water in it, we both looked at each other and asked “how hot do you make the water”. I said “I don't know let’s make it is hot as I like it” we about scalded the little guy. As we lowered him down he screamed like a gut shot panther. Then we knew the water was a little too hot.

To complicate things even more, I am such a tightwad I wouldn't let Tammy turn up the heat. It was so cold in the house we put so many blankets on him in his crib at night we could have broke his ankles. We didn't know anything we were just absolutely clueless.

This is the bummer about being a parent, now 22 years later, by the time you actually have enough experience that somebody should entrust a child with you; you are out of a job. You know what I mean? Now you know how to do it and now there are no kids around. They grow up and they get married and move away.

So here, these parents are bringing their children to Jesus. Now the disciples are wanting to rebuke them because they think this is too petty for Jesus. But it is not too petty for Him. He says “for such is the kingdom of heaven”. Meaning they possessed that childlike faith that would trust and believe in Jesus. That is how people come to Christ. Even for our kids.

And no matter how much we tortured Caleb he survived, he is amazing. If you have a firstborn who turns out relatively well, you hit a home run because they are totally an experiment; you have no clue how to be a parent when you went into this process.

But we started reading the Bible with him when he was just a little kid, two or three years of age. We had a little picture Bible. One night at bedtime, when he was three years old, Tammy was reading the picture Bible to him. She was about to pray when she asked him if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus into his heart. At the age of three he prayed and asked Jesus into his heart. Caleb doesn't ever remember not knowing Jesus, because his relationship with Jesus goes back to three years of age.

Jessica came to the Lord a little later in life. One day when she was about nine years old she walked into my study on a Saturday. She had grown up in a house of the Lord. She had grown up with Bible studies, reading and prayer her whole life. But one Saturday when I was on my computer, studying my Bible program, she said “Dad, I want to talk to you”. I did one of those dad-things where I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should. I said something like “uh huh, yeah, yeah” and I was not paying attention to her. So Jessica said again “Dad I really want to talk to you”. So I turned around and Jesse, with tears in her eyes said “Hey Dad, I realize I need Jesus in my heart I have been here at church and I know all about it.” We prayed together and she received the Lord.

Our kids have different stories for different temperaments. If you have four kids they could be as different as North, South, East and West, every child is unique. But in this story it reveals the heart of parents who want to get their kids to Jesus and they want Jesus’ blessing in their children's life. Now the disciples were making a mistake by pushing them away because Jesus was very interested in this. And I want you to know that he is very interested in you, your children and grandchildren today.

Paul the apostle, in the book of Ephesians, gives us four short verses that explain parents and children's roles in the home. In Ephesians chapter 6: 1-4 says: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6: 1-4 is the manual on how to get from A to Z as a parent. If you have a child you are blessed, the Bible says “blessed is the man who has a quiver full of children”. That illustration is of an archer with a lot of arrows. And some people's quivers are bigger some are smaller, we had two children, some people in our church have four; five, six or seven children. They have a large quiver. You may wonder how you know when your quiver is full? Somebody has humorously said you know the quiver is full when you fully quiver. That is when you finally know: that is enough. Because that is all you can handle.

But if you don't rely on the Scriptures to help you raise your children, if you don’t rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you and apply these things in your life, your family is not going to be all that God is designed it to be.

So let’s take a look at what these verses have to say to children. There are three things these verses have to say to children. In verses one through three we read “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”.

So the first one is, children are to obey. Now that seems pretty straightforward the word “obey” in the Greek means to” listen under”, which means that you hear and then you respond in submission. Have you ever heard parents say to their child “are you listening to me? Did you hear me?” There can be a lot of energy spent by parents, at varying volume decibels, to communicate with their kids. This is because of children's selective hearing.

And so the number one job of children is to obey their parents, in the Lord, for this is right.

If you are on the street, in church, in the mall, Walmart, wherever you are, when you see a parent give instruction to a child, in your heart-of-hearts you know it is right for that child to obey in a respectful way.

Now when that child acts like a brat, argues, kicks, screams, fights, throws a tantrum, in your heart you know that is not right. It does not fit, is out of place. You know that God has designed parents to give instruction to children and have them obey. So it is pretty straightforward. But this only has to do with the child’s actions.

If you say “pick up those shoes taken to the bedroom” if you say “go to your bedroom and make your bed” if you say “go get the dirty clothes out of your hamper take them to the laundry room” a child should obey. They should immediately begin to move towards obedience by action.

Now children do three things though, because we have a fallen sinful nature and your children have a fallen sinful nature and they prove it to you every day of your life, don’t they? So children want to do three things when you asked them to go make their bed, they want to challenge you; “Mom, I don't want to do that right now what about Johnny? Johnny's bed is made”. You know what that is what it is like. They are challenging what you are asking rather than saying “yeah mom, I will go do it”. They should just go do it.

Or, the second thing they do is make excuses. “Oh I can’t make my bed it is too hard for me”. This is when you need to say “Joe, you are 17 years old it is not too hard for you”. They make excuses.

Number three, they delay. You say “go make your bed” and they sigh, and then they try to walk as slowly as they possibly can down the hallway.

Those three things are the three reasons that discipline should come to a child.

Are you challenging my instruction? Are you making excuses why you can't do my instruction? Are you delaying from my instruction?

And that gives you criteria for when you should bring correction to a child.

So the first is point is action, “obey your parents in the Lord for this is right”. By the way, “in the Lord” means if your parents ask you to do good things then you should obey. If your parents ask you to do things like drugs or alcohol or sexual things or pornography or lie or cheat or steal or any of that, then the Bible would encourage you to be obedient to the Lord rather than your parents. But this stuff we are talking about, and the stuff kids usually complain about are not sinful. It is making their bed, taking a bath, brushing her teeth, those kind of things.

It is not enough for a child to only be obedient in action. But number two is a child must also be respectful in attitude. Verse 2 says "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise." So you are to honor your father and mother, to put this in financial terms, the word of your mother and father is like gold, but the way a lot of children respond in attitude towards their parents is like there word is trash, garbage, it is like pond scum. They don't respond well.

So two things have to come together, it is a parents responsibility to make sure that, when needed, their child is corrected. Because you are the parent you correct bad behavior. If your children don't follow through with the action of obedience, or if they do it with a stinky attitude it needs to be corrected. Such as if I were to say “hey, go make your bed”. Well they are going to go make their bed but they get up sigh, sigh, puff, and they go stomping down the hall they slam the door, and say “yeah I'll make my bed”. And they go do it and so the parent is sitting there confused. The child did the action, they are making the bed but you are thinking “should I discipline them for their attitude?” Most certainly, because if they don't respect you, if they don't respond to what you have asked them to do with a good attitude then correction needs to happen.

Take your five-year-old or your 11-year-old and I now want to project their attitude and see what life looks like when they are 20. This is what parents don't keep in mind. Your children have grown in wisdom they have grown in stature they have grown spiritually and they have grown socially. You are raising kids so that when they are 18 or 19 years old they are stepping out as an independent, well-rounded, responsible, individual as they go to college, or work, or as they enter into marriage. You should be preparing them for that. When your kids are little and you think “it is not like they are getting a job at Walmart, they are five years old”, but don't you realize you are training your children to do two things? To obey in action and to obey with a good attitude of respect.

Because if they don't have it from mom and dad they won't have it at the daycare they go to, they won't have it in kindergarten, they won't have it with their third grade teacher, they won't have it in high school, they won't have it with their first summer job, they won't have it when they go to college, they won't have it.

Why? Because they have never been trained. People sometimes spend a lot of time training a new puppy or a new horse but don't bring their own kids in the things of the Lord.

So the attitude of respect is so vital. Sometimes I watch parents giggle about these things. For example the parent of a 16-year-old says “I want you to go help your little sister put on her shoes” and the 16-year-old says “No, I am not going to do that, I am not going to help my little sister” and the parent says “he's such a little snot, isn't he cute?” And I am thinking about the future, I now see a 16-year-old that is bigger and stronger than his mother, he is more forceful, he is filled with testosterone so he has greater strength, he could probably take her physically, and now he is a menace to the household. All because he doesn't know how to obey and he doesn't know how to respect. And it is a terrifying thing in the home.

How did they get that way? All of a sudden people bring their 15-year-old or their 16-year-old to our church, even though they have never had anything to do with the Lord and they say something like this; “We heard you fix kids around this place could you fix mine?” As you begin to ask questions and you find out they are 15 or 16 and they are in trouble at home, they are already in trouble with the law.

Listen Moms and Dads, all the work, all the important work is done early. All of the important work is done early.

You want to train your children so that when they get to be 15 or 16 years old there are three things deeply ingrained in them. They are obeying their parents, such as saying “yes, mom” or “yes, dad”. But not only will they be obedient but they will also be respectful because they have learned by this time that when they are disobedient or disrespectful there are consequences and discipline.

They have learned throughout their entire life that there is a painful experience when disobedience and disrespect happened. When they are little they learn that disobedience and disrespect brings them a pain in the rear end. One day, when they are about five years old, finally the pain reaches their brain and they think “oh, when I am bad or disrespectful it hurts here”. “Ah I get it now, I want to be obedient because my parents have been applying the Board of Education to the seat of my understanding for so long”.

So it is a parents responsibility, it is not anybody else's responsibility, to discipline your children for disobedience or a bad attitude or disrespectful attitude. But let me just say this if you don't do it someone will.

And what I mean by that children are not trained in obedience and respect will be kicked out of the daycare, they will be expelled from school, they will be fired from their job, they will be kicked off the ball team, they will be arrested by a police officer, that will bring consequences and they might end up behind bars and they finally end up in prison. And I want you to know the prisons of America are bulging to the rafters with men and women who haven't experienced these three things in this passage; love truth and discipline.

What is required at school is obedience and respect. What is required in a work environment is obedience and respect. If you are disobedient, if you’re disrespectful you get kicked out of school, you get fired, or you get arrested. Parents if you don't do your jobs, somebody is going to do it for you. So then it is better for us to do the job at home, through these years, rather than end up blaming the problem on somebody else. It is our responsibility.

Now, not only are there two instructions for children but there are also two rewards. If children obey their parents respectfully, because parents are enforcing that, look what happens. It says at the end of verse two “which is the first commandment with promise” and in verse 3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." So the promise. Every parent wants their children to do amazingly well. Don't you? You see moms get out there pictures of their kids, especially if you are a grandmother, they are showing off this long roll of pictures and they are saying “these are my grandkids, look at him, he is an honor roll student” and they swell with real family pride about how well a son or a daughter or a grandchild is doing. All of us want them to do well, but we they won't do well if they don't learn to obey and respect.

So this is the first commandment in the 10 Commandments that have to do with people, it is the first with a promise, honor your father and mother. So it will go well with you.

I have discovered, as I have watched it in my son's life, and I have watched it in my daughter's life, that it goes well with them. It just goes well with them. Because they learn at an early age once again to be obedient, be respectful, be hard workers and all the dimensions that go with those things.

You know both of my kids went to work early in life they started working at the church, Jessica was 11 and Caleb was 13. They have worked here at the church all through these years but when they went out and got other jobs they did really well. Because they understood these things. Their bosses would always say just what a blessing they were.

But it wasn't some kind of genetic thing, it is these principles. I want you to know these principles are transferable to any mom and dad and children. These are available for all of us so not only will it go well with your child, but they will live long on the Earth. Because as soon as they learn that there are consequences for actions there is a lot of stuff they don't want to do. They don't want to drink and drive because that is stupid they might get into trouble, they don't want to smoke, because that cuts 10 years off your life and they want to be an alcoholic, you get cirrhosis of liver. Through a lot of things, if you live a godly life, you learn obedience. Because, parents, you are not only preparing kids for this world but you are preparing them for a relationship with God.

What does God want from us? Jesus said if you love me you will be obedient to me. So He wants our obedience and He also wants our honor our respect, we are to highly esteem Him.

So you are preparing your children in your homes, you are preparing them for school, you are preparing them for life, and their marriage, and their career, and to raise other godly kids this way. And you are preparing them for eternity to have a spiritual relationship with God. It is vital, it is dynamically vital.

So what is the parent’s responsibility? Verse 4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”. There are four thoughts in this Greek sentence.

The first is that for fathers, or moms and dads, not to provoke the children to wrath. How does that work? When we are overbearing as a parent and our children can never do anything right they get discouraged and exasperated and they are provoked to wrath.

Sometimes you meet a kid who is just cooking on the inside, this seething bitterness is going on inside them because they can't ever please mom and dad. Or the parents are constantly showing favoritism or comparing them to their brother or sister and they can never match up to their brother and sister so they have resentment.

Sometimes parents are talking to a four-year-old like they are a 40-year-old, you have to be age-appropriate in all that you do with your kids. So if they are four years of age, you have to treat them like a four-year-old.

On the same token sometimes a parent will be talking to their 17-year-old, as he is going out with his friends, like he is a seven-year-old. That 17-year-old is really irked by that because they are being treated like a little kid. And so when we treat our children in a way that is too demanding we are creating tension. We know there are certain seasons in life when you are raising kids where there is a lot of tension. We call those the teenage years. Tension comes with teenage years right?

It is kind of like a bow and arrow, the Bible says that children are the arrow in the hand of an archer. If you can grasp that illustration, before the compound bows there were recurve bows. When you pull an arrow back, just before the release, that is the place of greatest tension. When you are going to release it. When that child of 17 or 18 or 19 years old, right before they are released, that is where the greatest tension is with your kids. Because they know that they are in this the adult body and they want to launch out on their own and so there can be a lot of tension there. But in those times of tension maybe it is in junior high maybe it is in high school you know what will happen? Is that when there are times of tension it seems like all of your interaction with your kids is negative. “You didn't do this” and “how come you did not…” and “what if…” you know, it is all negative. Parents and sometimes you are going to have a hard time finding something encouraging to say but you have to find something encouraging. Encouraging to build them up and to encourage them in their walk with God.

Sometimes a mom or a dad is just so strict it is suffocating. Do something that Tammy and I learned in our marriage, and that is that opposites attract. If I was to meet you as a husband and wife it is more than likely that one of you is outgoing and one of you is reserved. One of you likes to spend money in one of you likes to save. One of you is a disciplinarian and one of you is not the disciplinarian. Opposites attract. Why? Because when the two of you come together you make a good unit. But on your own you are too strict or you are too lenient. Tammy and I have discovered, at different seasons in our life, the balance. Sometimes I would be a little too strong or strict and behind closed doors, Tammy and I would talk about it. We never did this in front of our kids or they would find a way to divide and conquer us, we would just talk among ourselves. Tammy would say “no, I think you're being too strong there” or sometimes I would say “hey, I think you need to relax a little bit on that”. And we found the balance between the two of us. And that is what a husband and wife does. You find that balance between the two of you.

But sometimes one parent is so strong in their opinion they don't know how to experience give and take and see the other side of things. So don't provoke your children to wrath. Everything in your relationship with your kids is relational and you have to understand this, rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

Rules without relationship leads to rebellion. You had better figure it out. Because you have got to build a relationship with your kids because relationship is harder to sin against then rules. It is harder to sin against relationship, is harder to sin against love than it is to sin against cold hard rules.

So the stronger you build that the better. This is what happens with parents; their teenager gets in trouble. The trouble has been coming for a long time but because they have no relationship they didn't see it coming and then all of a sudden when the teenager is in trouble they try to really scramble to build a relationship. It needed to be going on all along. Not that you can't start then, but a lot of damage is done. Because you just can't jump in and make it a good relationship happen like that. It takes time to build that relationship and so it takes time through talking and spending time together..

You can’t spend an hour of quality time per whole week and not spend any other time together. You have to spend a lot of time together. Those things build a relationship.

So number one is parents don't provoke your children to wrath. If you have a bitter, angry child you can usually talk to them and say “hey what is going on?” If they feel safe to open up they will talk to you but if they don't feel safe they may not.

But in the next three things we see it says to “bring them up” and this means to nourish them but it is much broader than that. It is what Jesus does he nourishes the church. For your kids, it takes three things to raise well-adjusted kids; love truth and discipline. Do your children know they are loved beyond all measure? Do you know do your children know that they are loved supremely by mom and dad? Or do they question that love?

Because this is the foundation through which you can do everything else you need to do. You should tell them verbally, you should show them with physical touch and embrace and hugging and whatever it might be, you should do it with close proximity or time spent with them so it shows them that they are valuable, they are high on your priority list.

So if you ask your kids “hey do you know I love you?” There is nothing on this planet we love more than our children, except for Jesus. I don't love the ministry more than my son or daughter, I don't love other people more than my son and daughter, I don't love money or material things more than my son and daughter. There is nothing on this planet that I love more than my kids. That is the environment that people's hearts are won. That is the environment where people can grow and fail and not feel like it is the end of the world. That there is grace and there is forgiveness and there is mercy.

Through the years we communicated with our kids. When my daughter Jess was real small, at bedtime I would tell her “I love you this much”. And because I have a wing span of about 6'5" I am like “I love you this… “ And she would have you know those little pudgy arms that are so cute at three or four, and she would stick them out and they would come to about 2 feet, and she would say “that I love you this much”. And so it so cute. And so even now if I write a note and I say I love you this much she knows exactly what I mean. And I used to tell her when she was little there is no way you are never going to grow bigger than me and my love is always going to be greater than your love. And there is nothing you can do to ever end that love.

During those years, with both my son and daughter, I think there are times, especially in those teenage years of insecurity, that they see a lot going on with their own teenage friends. Their teenage friends are getting into drinking and sex and drugs and one day, my daughter asked me, I think she must've been about 14 maybe 15, she said “dad, what if I got pregnant? And, you know, you are the pastor and I got pregnant”. My first question was “you're not right?” And she said “no I'm not pregnant, but you know a lot of my friends are already having sex they are 14, 15 years old and what would you do?” And I thought about it for a minute and I thought “what if I was in her shoes, you are 14 or 15”, my children have always lived in a very high visible place because of me being a pastor, People, other kids, have harassed my kids in school saying things like “you are the preachers kid you can’t be bad because your dad is the pastor”. Kids would say “Come on, I dare you to cuss, go ahead and cuss”. They always feel this pressure, it feels like a mark of perfection that nobody carry, I mean I can't carry that load. My kids couldn't carry that load.

Because often times church environment can be a little bit judgmental and harsh, I told her “you know what, I think I would resign from the church. Not because I would feel like I have failed I have done my best to train you in the ways of the Lord but I think it would be really hard for you to go through the whole thing with everybody watching and everybody snickering and talking and all of the stuff”. I said “I think I would just resign from church and we would move somewhere I would get a job, I have got different ways that I can pay the bills”. And we talked all the way through it. I said “you know, obviously, plan A was for you to be sexually pure and get married one day and give yourself away to a husband. But we would do plan B because sometimes sin happens. And we would focus on you and the child”. My daughter has only known me as a pastor, she asked “what would you do?” I said “honey there is always a church to pastor do you realize that? There are always congregations who need a pastor. But you only have one dad. Nobody else can be your dad, only I can be your dad. And I am your dad before I am a pastor”.

I think the bottom line, in all of our hearts, is if we don’t feel loved we feel insecure.

But the Bible says perfect love casts out fear. If we don't feel like God loves us, we feel insecure, if we feel like our parents don't love us, we feel insecure, if we don't feel like our husband or wife loves us, we feel insecure.

But perfect love casts out fear, and that is what I have wanted to communicate to my children throughout their lives. Nothing on this planet that they could do would separate them from my love, nothing. There is no sin, no failure that could separate them from my love.

My son, was a couple of years ahead of Jesse and obviously growing. One day he said “Dad, what if I was to turn my back on God and started hanging out with wild, crazy people, got arrested and got a life sentence in prison?” Why do my kids ask me things like that? I said “well, obviously mom and I would be heartbroken and disappointed if you didn't want to walk with the Lord and you got in trouble and went to prison but I guess we would write and visit a lot. And if you got right with God while you were in prison you would have a prison ministry”.

But what is the question? What is the real question?

The real question from my kids was “what do I have to do?” or “how bad would I fail before you would not love me anymore?” Well, you know as a parent, there is no line your children could cross for you to stop loving them. As a parent to my son and my daughter there is nothing that could make me stop loving them. I mean obviously those things they mentioned are disappointing, they are discouraging, you would live in a broken world as a parent because your child had made those decisions. But what I want to share with you is what your kids are looking for more than anything in life. What your wife is looking for more than anything in life; is a place of love as a foundation and the security for their life.

So if we love our children we train them. Because I love them now it gives me the permission to discipline them. What I am going to discuss next is not abuse, I am not talking about spanking your children in anger. I am not talking about cuffing them in the back of the head like I see some people do, the things that are abusive. I mean if you go to scratch your head and your child is ducking something is wrong.

So what we are talking about is discipline and I want to share this with you and obviously it is age-appropriate but in Proverbs these are the passages that defines what this type of discipline means. In Proverbs 29:15 it says this, “the rod and rebuke give wisdom. But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”.

Notice that, he says the rod and rebuke give wisdom, but that a child left to himself bring shame to his mother. You let a child do whatever he wants he is going to shame you, he is going to bring you to shame.

Then in Proverbs 22:15 it says this “foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him”. Your child, that little package you have as a child, he is filled with foolishness Solomon said. And the only way to get the foolishness out of the child from this time until they are 18 or ready to leave the house is through consistent love, truth and discipline. Because discipline produces two things obedience and respect. If you don't discipline your children you don't have very much obedience in your house and you don't have very much respect. Some kids are so obedient they do whatever, they are compliant they say “yes sir” “no ma’am” they do everything right. Now if you only had one of those children you would write a book because you would think you were amazing. But then you have three other children and you say oh Jesus help us out, Jesus come back soon, help me now, deliver me now.

But it says the rod of correction will drive it far from them, it is the rod that gets rid of the foolishness in our children's hearts. By the way, the Bible uses the symbolism of a rod because the picture of your hand is not used for discipline, but for love. Your hands are used for affection but this rod, whether it is a newspaper or a magazine, or a wooden spoon, or a paddle, or my dad used the belt on me when I was a kid.

When Jessica was three years old we were in a packed Pizza Hut and she stood up in her chair and she started doing a dance on her chair. Everybody was looking at us because we were in the center of the room. I leaned forward, trying not to draw too much attention, and whispered “Jessica, sit down”. She looked at me and she said “no”. She was partying, she was just having so much fun and the people behind her are saying “she is so cute” But she was really disrupting things and so I real quietly said “Jessica sit down”. She said “no!” Just as defiant as could be. So I got up and as soon as I got up her countenance fell because she knows the practice of discipline in our life. So I went to pick her up, we are right smack dab in the middle of a packed Pizza Hut, and my three-year-old yells at the top of her lungs “not the rod daddy, not the rod”. So we went to the bathroom and had a little understanding and she came back the compliant sweet little girl that she is.

Proverbs 23:13 and 14 says this, “do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod he will not die”. Now they sound like they are dying don't they? You say “go to your room young man you're going to get a spanking” and before you have even touched them they are crying and screaming.

So it says they will not die in verse 14 “you shall beat with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell”. This brings up an important point once again love, truth and discipline, that is how God raises his kids we are preparing them spiritually for heaven and if you don't discipline your kids what is Solomon insinuating? He says you are preparing them for hell. You are preparing them for hell.

Then, lastly I have parents tell me “I love my kids”, they are saturated in the modern psychology of “never discipline and never correct” it came out with Dr. Spock’s book in the 60s and this is the generation who has been raised up with it. But in Proverbs 13:24 it says this “he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines promptly”.

I have parents tell me “I love my children too much to discipline them” and I will say “no, I have to share with you the Bible says that is not true. That you actually hate your children if you don't discipline them”. Did you know that? Obviously discipline comes in age-appropriate packages and this is the way it works; you start when they are little maybe get a little newspaper, or magazine, a little wooden spoon, a little paddle and by the time the kid reaches about 11 or 12 years old the spanking is done and now you switch that to being grounded for a Friday or Saturday night, or after church on Sunday.

For our kids that is how we did it because all of the friendship things happen every Friday night, Saturday night or every Sunday after church. So if they messed up early in the week, such as on a Monday, I say okay you can’t do anything Friday. Friday is their best friend's birthday party. This really brings home the consequences.

It was the strangest thing both of my kids went through, when they first went to grounding from being spanked there was some event they were going to miss and they said “please just spank me, please, please, spank me”. Now if I could've had video to see my children asking me to spank them, it is the weirdest thing. Why? Because the beauty about spanking is they got in trouble, we spanked them, we hugged, they repented, we forgave, it was over. It is all over in like 10 minutes.

Grounding, now they are grounded on Monday they can't go on Friday and now they realize that my consequences have further reaching actions then just today. And this is crucial so you find out these things about your kids now when they are 11 or 12, maybe it is their cell phone you take that away from them they can't get on the computer, they can't get on Facebook, and when they are older you take the car keys away from them or they can’t do anything on Friday night or Saturday night or Sunday. You begin to find the buttons, every child has a button you need to find that they feel the consequences and if you can't find that button you are not looking hard enough. You have got to find a button.

Grounding was so effective that by the end, when our children we were still in the age of spanking they got very few in the last years and then as they were grounded they got fewer disciplinary actions as they headed towards maturity.

Lastly, it says you are to bring them up in the admonition of the Lord and that means you are to be able to talk about truth. You are able to warn them.I would tell the kids when they would ask something such as “what if I got into drugs?” and I would say “okay, let's take that to the end of the road; you start messing around with some pot and then you get hooked on some meth and then three years from now you are hooked on meth and you are robbing your neighbors and robbing us blind and your teeth are starting to fall out and you're having all of these problems”. Always taking the truth of any subject and always bringing it to its logical conclusion as far as the word of God is concerned.

Your children might look at you and say “I don't want your Jesus, I don't want your Bible, I don't want your Christianity” and you can say “well, that is fine but we are still going to have love truth and discipline in this house. And as long as you live with us you are going to come on Sundays because you're still underage and this is what we do. We are not going to force you to believe, but you are going to be exposed to the things of Christianity”. But I tell you this, you might say to your young man when he is leaving as he is saying “well I am just moving out then” you can say “fine, you know I looked a long time for something better than Jesus in this world I looked for it in drugs, I look for it in sexual immorality, I looked for it in violence, I looked for it in alcohol, I looked for it everywhere, and you owe this to me, you find something better than Jesus you had better come home and tell your old man about it. Because I looked a long time and I never found anything better than Jesus”.

And so the reality is you can talk about anything when it comes to truth. You are going to warn your kids, if they go on this course what it is going to look like, what is going to happen. If they say “hey mom and dad, everybody is having sex, what is the big deal?” You know, they will say, “What’s the big deal, can't we just have sex?” Say to your children “well, let's see what that looks like, you are 16 years old, do you want a baby now and I want to raise a kid?” They say “Well no, I don't want that, but there is safe sex”. “Is there really? I mean are you going to do the whole condom thing? And I mean do you want to get herpes do you want to get AIDS do you want to get syphilis, do you want to get gonorrhea, should we keep talking about the list of diseases you want to have? Do you want to give a little bit of your life and your sexuality away your whole life? Do you want to be like that on your wedding day, you walk up the aisle and you have got a little rose stem and it should be a rose filled with petals but because as a young lady or a young man you basically have given the petals away. You have had sex with this guy for three months, you have sex with that guy for two months, sex with this guy for a week. Basically you get to your wedding day and you have got a stick left for your husband or for your bride”.

Brothers and sisters, if you don't train your kids who are you expecting to do the job? The school is not going to do it. The Sunday school might have them an hour a week maybe. It is nobody else's job, but yours and mine.

How you get your child, from the time you pray and dedicate your child on a platform at church, to the place that they have grown in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, is this passage of Scripture that takes us all the way to that point.

Depending on how you apply God's word to your life and your family and your marriage and your children, don't you realize you are investing in them a legacy that they are going to go off and have their own family they are going to pour that into your grandchildren you are going to be the recipients of that. When those grandkids come to see you what are they going to be? They are going to be obedient respectful children, and because they are, they won't have to discover that grandma and grandpa have a rod too.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Matthew 19:13-15 Then little children were brought to Him, that He should put His hands on them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Allow the little children to come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. And He laid His hands on them, and departed from there."

My hope, my desire, my prayer is that you will find in God's Word the strength and guidelines for raising remarkable children, children that eventually become remarkable parents.