July 16, 2023
It Starts at Home – Part 4
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ephesians 6: 4

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

More From This Series


Well, let’s grab our Bibles. If you’re visiting with us, we’re in the book of Ephesians. We love to just work through sections of God’s Word, and we’re coming to our fourth and final look at Ephesians 6:4, Ephesians 6:4, where Paul is concentrating on the role and responsibility of fathers, and we have been just mining this passage of God’s Word. “You, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” This is a message we entitled It All Starts At Home.
I don’t know if you would agree with me, I think you would, that the pan, preaching and passion of John Piper, has been an enormous help to so many, including myself. His Desiring God website, which is the fruit of his pulpit ministry at Bethlehem Baptist is a go-to place for churches, pastors, disciples, seeking solid, soul-satisfying theology. John Piper was born on the 11th of January, 1946 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Bill and Ruth Piper. His father was a traveling evangelist, who preached the gospel all across our country for over 50 years. Now, John Piper remembers his father, Bill, in two kind of ways.
He says he was the most intense person he has ever seen in a pulpit, and perhaps one of the happiest persons he has ever seen at a family dinner table. He can imagine and can remember his father passionately, blood-earnestly preaching the gospel. That made an impact on him as a boy, but when his father was at home, he loved his family and found no greater joy than sitting with his family around the table. His father was a dedicated disciple and an intense follower of Jesus Christ. And if you know anything about John Piper, you know that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
He’s a very passionate preacher himself. I’ve heard him several times in person at the Shepherds Conference, and he preaches as he advocates with a blood-earnestness. I remember him speaking a chapel on the issue of, not only expository preaching, but exaltry preaching, that as you preach the text, you must glorify the God of the text. The Bible leads us to God. It’s not bibliolatry we’re trying to produce, but a love for the God who has revealed Himself in the text, and so he reminded us in your expository exposition, there must be an exaltry spirit.
And then he pointed an accusing finger, and with great passion, he told is, “If you don’t sing in your sermon, get out of the ministry.” That was a great sermon. I’ve never forgot. “If you don’t sing in your sermon, get out of the ministry.” But as he reflects on his father and the indelible mark that his dad left in him, here’s what Piper said in an article that I read, “My dad was not an intellect, but he loved God, and sowed the seed of being thrilled with the glory of God.”
That last statement captured me, and I think it ties so neatly into the text we’re coming back to, “My father loved God, and he sowed the seed of being thrilled with the glory of God.” That, my friend, is the call and compulsion of every good father, to sow into the life of their children a thrill at the glory of God. So let’s come back and finish up our look at Ephesians 6:4. We looked at the father’s danger. Don’t provoke your children, don’t discourage them. We looked at a father’s devotion, bring them up in the things of God.
We looked at a father’s discipline, train them, correct them, admonish them through physical correction, and then we’re coming to look at a father’s discipleship, admonish them in the Lord or of the Lord. Let’s look at a father’s discipleship. The word, admonish here in verse 4 means to bring before the mind, to set before your children’s mind the truth of God and the glory of the gospel. This is a word that carries the idea of verbal instruction. If the word train means physical correction, the word admonish means verbal instruction.
It’s a word you’ll find in Acts 20:31, in Colossians 1:28 of exhorting and admonishing. It’s a word that speaks of a heartfelt investment in children through instructing them in the gospel. That is the father’s calling, to sow into the life of his child a thrill for the glory of God found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, what does that look like? Paul just tells us to do it, “Admonish them.”
“Bring before their mind the truths of the gospel. Do it with a solemnity and an urgency.” What does that look like? Well, we’re going to get a few thoughts from this text and the surrounding tax, but we’re going to take a journey across the Bible, and I sat down this week and come up with several ways in which you and I can disciple our children. Whether they’re young or a teenager, whether you don’t have children and you’re discipling other people’s children through church ministry, whatever the case might be, here’s some things for you to think about.
Number one, disciple with intention. Write that down, disciple with intention. Our text here insists that you teach your children the gospel. That’s on you. God will hold you accountable for that. He has given you a child through birth, and He challenges you to work with Him, in making them His child through new birth.
That’s what you’re meant to do. “Fathers, admonish. Bring to mind the gospel to your children.” That always should be your intent, your number one priority, your passion. Although, speaking of a mother, because probably, Timothy’s father was not a believer, Paul says this about young Timothy concerning his mother and his grandmother who taught him the gospel.
He said this. This is beautiful, in 2 Timothy 3:15, that, “From a child, from your childhood, you have known the Scriptures, which have been able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus.” That’s our calling as parents, that from our children’s childhood, they know the gospel. We teach them the Christian faith with their ABCs. We’re not to be neutral in the shaping of our child’s worldview.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed a trend. It’s in the culture, and it’s creeping into the church. Child psychologists and others argue that, “You know what? The best path to parenting is to be non-directive,” parent with a light touch. Let your child find their own way.
Don’t impose your views. Don’t impose your worldview. That is not the biblical way. There’s a fallacy and a naivety to this idea of non-directive parenting. Paul doesn’t believe it.
He says, “Hey, here’s your job, school your children in Christ from childhood. Teach them the Word of God. Shape them. Impress upon them. Indoctrinate them in the Word of God.” Listen to old J. C. Ryle, the Bishop of Liverpool.
“Beware of that miserable delusion into which some have fallen, that parents can do nothing for their children, that they must leave them alone, wait for grace, and sit still.” I love that phrase. That’s a miserable delusion. It may be popular in the culture, it may be the argument of a child psychologist, but it’s not the teaching of the Bible. If you’re a Christian man here, if you’re a mother here in Christ, it’s your job to directly influence your kid.
Let me tell you why, because the world is not neutral. If you don’t do it, someone else will shape their worldview. When the Bible uses the word, world, it doesn’t just talk about the population, it’s talking about a philosophy in the world that raises up against God in His kingdom and His Word. That’s why we’re told not to love the world. That’s why Jesus tells us in John 17, “You’re in it, but don’t be off it.”
Don’t imbibe their thinking, their philosophy of life, their philosophy of parenting, their philosophy of gender, their philosophy of marriage. No. Go to the Word of the living God. Go to the Maker’s manual. The world’s not neutral. Don’t be naive.
So help your child understand the world into which they were born and the worldliness that resides in their own heart that needs to be repented of and redeemed. Number two, your child’s not innocent. Your child’s not innocent. As we said last week, they’re not a clean canvas. They’re like one of those carts down at Walmart, that no matter how much you push it down the aisle, it goes right or it goes left.
It’s got one of those wheels that’s stuck. It’s got a bias to go where you don’t want it to go, and your child is like that. Your child is born with a heart that’s estranged from God. Foolishness is bind up in the heart of a child. Moral foolishness.
They have a proclivity to sin. They’re not sinners because they sin, they sin because they’re sinners. It’s who they are, so you need to counteract that. The world in which they live is not neutral. Their own hearts are bias against God.
So you can’t sit on the sidelines, you can’t let them be them, because if you let them be them, they’ll be sinners. God is real. We need our children to know that. The gospel is true. Heaven and hell exists, and time is short and eternity is long.
Don’t buy into this nonsense of non-directive parenting. You need to lovingly impress, force on your child a biblical worldview. And I use that word force with the qualification. It must come with force. I’m talking about the passion that you bring to them, to plead with them the need to know their Creator and love His son.
There’s a story that illustrates this, and we’ll move on. A man once argued with the English poet Samuel Coleridge about the place of religious instruction in parenting. So this isn’t you. And here’s what this man argued, “I don’t think parents should indoctrinate their children with religion.” And you hear that a lot, you know?
I don’t know if you followed that girl in the Harvard University, who argued that it’s a dangerous thing to let kids be homeschooled in America. In fact, she believes it should be banned so that the government can school them, or the irony of that. “You don’t have the right to school them, but we do.” No one’s neutral in this, and that’s the advocating. I don’t think that parents should indoctrinate their children with religion, instead, they should give their children the freedom to make their own choices.
Huh. So here’s what Coleridge did. He said, “Okay, that’s interesting. Let me show you my garden.” And he takes them at his back door, into his garden. The man looks at it, and he said, “That’s not a garden.”
“It’s a patch of weeds,” to which Coleridge replies. “Well, it used to be a garden, but I decided to give it freedom, that become whatever it chose to be without my interference.” It’s a great illustration. My friend, nature runs towards the wilderness. Leave a piece of ground until it’s uncultivated.
Flowers won’t grow. Weeds will grow. Barrenness will be born. His point is right. Children are like olive plants, according to Psalm 128, and they need to be cultivated, and watered, and shaped. John Flavel, the old Protestant Puritan said this, “If you neglect to instruct children in the way of holiness, will the devil fail to instruct them in the way of wickedness?”
Of course not. If you don’t want to be busy discipling in Christ, He’ll be busy baptizing them into the world, and all of its fascinations and sins and temptations. In fact, he goes on, “If you will not teach them to pray, the devil will to curse, swear, and lie. If the ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.” Okay, disciple them with intention. Number two, disciple them with intercession.
“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” So I’m encouraging you to set out from the earliest days to school your children in the gospel, to teach them the Christian faith with their ABCs, but my friend, we cannot do it without God’s help. Without Him, we can do nothing, right? John 15:5, or as I just noted, “Except the Lord build the house, we’re going to labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1-2, and if that is the case, we need to invite God into our family life, into our marriage, into the schooling of our children through prayer.
We need to pray that God would open their eyes to see, unstop their ears to hear, and turn their hearts from stone into flesh. We need to pray that God would deliver them from evil. We pray that God would see of them, and keep them, and use them. We need to plead to God to do His work in our children. Regeneration is God’s work.
Providential watching over our children when we are not with them is God’s work, and prayer connects us to that God, who’s the source of life and love. I love that old Puritan statement, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the mighty arm of God.” Prayer seems such a small thing, but we’re mistaken. It’s such a big thing. Yes, you speak to them, you love them, you correct them, you spend time with them, but make sure you pray, because prayer is asking God to help us do what He has commanded us to do, and prayer is trusting God to do what only He can do.
“Lord, help me to love my child creatively, firmly, gently, lovingly, rightly. Lord, give me the grace to do that. I’ll be faithful to Your Word, but only You can save. And Lord, I’m asking You to save.” Back to J. C. Ryle, I love the balance of this quote, “I know that you cannot convert your child.”
“I know well that they, who are born again, are born not of the will of man but of God, but I know also that God says expressly, ‘Train up a child in the way it should go,’ and He will never lay a command on a man, which He would not give man grace to perform. And I know too, that our duty is not to stand still in dispute, but to go forward and obey. It is just in going forward that God will meet us. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives the blessing.” I love this here.
“We have only to do as the servants were commanded at the marriage feast in Canaan. We are to fill the water-pots with water, and we can safely leave it to the Lord to turn it into wine.” That’s the balance. So let’s fill our children with the Word of God, the water of the Word, and let Him, through prayer, turn it into wine. That’s the balance.
Pray for them. I hope you’ve got a time, a place perhaps where you get alone with God and pray for your little ones. Pray for your teenagers. Pray that the Word would blossom in their lives. Pray with them at the dinner table, at a time where you get together as a family dad, to read and pray, maybe at the end of the day by the bedside, and teach them to pray.
Abraham Lincoln, one of our great presidents, he said this, “I remember my mother’s prayers, and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all of my life.” A beautiful image. This great man so historically used, he remembers his mother’s prayers, and they clinged to him, the scent of those prayers. Here’s another thought, marked by instruction.
Let’s keep moving, marked by instruction. What does discipleship look like? Paul just tells us, “Bare bones here. Admonish your children. Instruct them in the Word. Bring to their mind the gospel.”
Here’s another way to do it, by instruction. It’s a parent’s calling to indoctrinate their children in the knowledge of God, through Christ by means of Scripture. God has appointed the father especially to be the spiritual headmaster in the home. Go to the book of Proverbs. We’ve talked about this, and you get that little phrase, “My son.”
The father is addressing his son. The book of Proverbs is a kind of parental manual. This is the kind of stuff he’s teaching his son to fear God and keep his commandments, and he talks to him about the moral mind fields that are all around him, from materialism to the seduction of sex and all of that. In Proverbs 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, you’ll get this little phrase, “My son, hear the instruction of your father.” See, dads instruct.
Nothing in the Bible about non-directive parenting. And now, we’re out to influence, to mold, to shape, because this world isn’t neutral. Our children aren’t born innocent. God’s real. The gospel’s true, in heaven and hell, it’s at the end of life.
Here’s the thing too, a little qualification. We’re trying to disciple our children. That’s the goal. What does that mean? To make them lovers of Jesus, followers of Him. The goal of Christian parenting is not a well-behaved child.
That’s not enough. Your child can be mannerly and relatively moral, and still be going to hell, still lost, still without a living relationship with Jesus Christ, and that should frighten you. Listen to Matt Chandler in his book on parenting. It’s called Family Discipleship. “A well-behaved child is not the same as a discipled child.”
“While the Bible has a lot to say about godly behavior, and obedience is an important aspect of discipleship, behavioral modification is not our main goal. It is far too easy to raise a Pharisee, a child who knows and follows the rules of God, but whose heart is far from Him.” So we’re to mark our children’s lives through instruction. I wrote down a few things. This is no way exhaustive, just suggestive.
Teach them creationism. You’re going to bring the truths of God’s Word to their mind, begin the beginning. In the beginning, God. Help them to have a theistic view of life, an understanding that they are not the product of random selection within nature, that their lives have value and meaning, that they reflect the image of God in their interlock, and in their creativity, and their ability to relate to other human beings. What does Ecclesiastes 12:1 say?
“Remember now the Creator in the days of their youth.” Impress that upon your child. They are a creation of a powerful and all-wise God. Their life is a gift from God. Life is marked by beauty.
Help them to be inspired by the wonder of the creation around them. Help them to understand the full promise and purpose of human life when related to and associated with God. Help them to know that the Creator, who give them physical life, wants to recreate them into the image of His Son through new birth. Number two, teach them the character of God and His providence. Help them to see that history is His story.
I mean, that’s what the psalmist is trying to do in Psalm 78:4, and also Psalm 145:4-7. Let me read those verses to you. “One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on Your glorious splendor and Your majesty, Your wondrous works.” So the psalmist wants the next generation know that God is holy, glorious, sovereign, wise, omnipotent, omniscient.
He wants them to understand the glory of the God who’s worthy of our worship, and by default, warns them against idolatry, and taking anything within the creation and allowing it to substitute the Creator. How gross is that, given His glory? Another thing, we talk to God about His works within history. I mean, one of the things we have done with our girls, just in a tangible way, when we focus on that God’s wonderful works and God’s mighty deeds, we talk a lot in our home about Israel, and how the nation of Israel among the nations is evidence of God’s providence within history, that God took the weakest of the nations and has shown Himself strong on their behalf. Why does Israel exist today?
Why haven’t they gone the way of the Jebusites and the Hittites? Why? Because God said in Deuteronomy 31:35-36, that the sun would have to stop shining, and the moon would have to fall out of the sky before He would stop loving that nation. God has covenanted to love the nation, and we have shown our girls, after 2,000 years in exile, 1948, this nation was reconstituted within history and fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Oh, the mighty works of God.
In fact, two of our girls, Angela and Laura, spent a semester through the Master’s University at a program called IBEX, where for months, they lived in Israel, and drank in the culture, and saw these historic places within history where God has done His wonderful works, and just the existence of modern Israel was a testimony to them that the Bible, their father had taught them as little girls is true. Do whatever you can to teach your child creationism, the character of God and His providence, and certainly, teach them the gospel. Remember, we’re trying to create disciples, not well-behaved children. In Ephesians 4, we’re told this, that we need to be taught by Jesus, the truth that is in Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15, we quoted it, Timothy was taught from childhood the Scriptures, which you’re able to make them wise onto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus.
Teach your children the gospel. Help them to see from Genesis to Revelation, it’s really about Jesus, although Moses is talked about and all the great characters of the Bible, David, and Joshua, and Solomon, and the apostles of Jesus. Jesus is the main Actor in the story. The gospel’s the storyline. Help them to see their sin.
Know their fallenness. Help them to know that the wrath of God abides upon them, that they’re not the child of God yet until they become the child of God through faith. They may be our child through physical birth, but they must become God’s child through adoption and new birth, where they receive Him, and own Him, and understand despite their sin, God has made an offering for their sin in the gospel. I love that image in Galatians 4:19, where Paul says of the Galatians, “I travail.” That’s a pregnancy word, and that’s a woman desiring the pain, the passion to give birth to new life.
Paul says, “I’m like that. I’m like a pregnant woman. I’ve got spiritual contractions, and my heart aches to see you birthed in Christ and grow in the Lord Jesus.” Let God make us those kind of parents. And then finally, teach them godly wisdom.
This is marked by instruction, bringing to their mind … Help them to understand the way they ought to live. Certainly, our greatest concern is the part of them that will never die. I want you to look at your children today, or your teenagers, and realize there’s a part of them that will never die and will exist in one of two places for all of eternity, heaven or hell, that should move you and motivate you to disciple them intently through instruction in the Word. But, while we’re to prepare our children for eternity, God also calls us to prepare them from everyday life.
That’s going to require wisdom. I mean, it says in Luke 2:52, that Jesus grew in wisdom. We want our children to go in wisdom, and wisdom is skill for living, under the umbrella of fear of God, the rightly relating of life to God, and living out that life with a sense of God’s glory and our accountability to Him. And Book of Proverbs is a great place to start, a book of wisdom, where you have teaching on work ethics, sexual purity, wealth, health, humility, friends, family.
Okay, here’s another one, marked by imitation. If you’re going to disciple your child, let your discipleship be marked by imitation. Make sure that what you’re calling them to do, you are, or else it’s hypocrisy, and children hate that. They like it no more than the vegetables you give them for dinner.
They can smell it. It puts them off. It’s funny, “Dad, you don’t do that.” It’s been well-said that we should train up a child in the way they should go, and as Spurgeon said, “Go there ourselves.” It’s hard to pass on to your child that which you do not possess or practice.
Family discipleship requires modeling. Modeling. Let me give you two verses and we’ll move on. What about that famous passage in Deuteronomy 6, where we’re to teach our children the law of God when we sit down and when we stand up, but notice the preface, the porch, verse 1 and 2. “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord, your God, has commanded to each of you to teach, that you may observe them.”
Moses is telling parents, “You need to observe them. You need to do what you’re going to call your children to do, that you may fear the Lord, your God, keep all His commandments, which He commands you, you, your children, and your children’s children all the days of your life.” Psalm 101:2, David prays, so we ought, “Lord, help me to walk with integrity in my own home,” because listen, teaching that is all lip, all words, all mouth, without the echo of a life example, will stop at the ear and never get to the heart. It needs to be lip and life together. That’s what will impact the heart.
Thomas Watson, the old Puritan said, “A father is a looking glass.” That’s a mirror. “A father is a looking glass, which the children often dress by. Let the glass be clear and unspotted.” See, the children are looking to you.
May they see a clear reflection of God in you, that they might dress their lives accordingly. Another brother said this, “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they’re always watching you.” Here’s another two thoughts and we’re done, marked by individualization. While we’re to minister to the whole family, we’re to minister particularly to each part of the family, because I think you know this, each child has a unique bent, a unique personality. Now, they all share the same sin nature, and they’ve all got to meet the same Savior, who will take care of their sin and break the cycle of slavery to sin, but they’re all different.
And in some ways, while there’s only one path to God, there are different paths to Christ. It takes different things sometimes to move people in that direction, and so if you’re a wise parent, you’ll know that each child has a certain bent. They have different levels of spiritual openness. There’s a different timetable in terms of their development, and you shouldn’t ignore that. Susanna Wesley didn’t ignore it.
Was it 17 or 19 children? She discipled them all, but across a week, she spent particular time with each child, loving on them in a particular way. See, that’s Proverbs 22:6. I take the interpretation along with Bruce Waltke and some other great Hebrew scholars, that it’s saying, “Bring up a child according to its bent, its proclivities, the way a child naturally expresses itself. Bring them up that way in the fear of the Lord, and they will not depart from that way in later life.”
At least that’s generally true. I don’t know if you’ve read Genesis 48 to 49 recently, but it’s the scene where Jacob is dying. There’s a beautiful phrase where, by the end of this blessing upon his family, it says, “And he kind of pulled his feet up into the bed, and he then was gathered to his father’s.” You know? You can imagine him sitting on the edge of the bed, all his sons are there, the 12 tribes of Israel, and here’s what’s interesting.
Read it later today, Genesis 48:29. He speaks to each boy individually, and his blessing is personalized. And in fact, he’ll even talk about their weaknesses and their sins. He kind of knew his children and their proclivities and their bents, and he addresses the things of God to them in a particular way. I find that fascinating. Listen to G. Campbell Morgan, the great English expositor, where he says this, “Every child you have demands, special consideration, solitary attention. You must discover what the child is if you would train that child.”
I think we have suffered in every way socially, may I say politically, and most certainly, religiously by the habit of imagining that we can deal with children in crowds, and treat them in the same way. Don’t parent wholesale, parent retail. Spend time with each child. They’ve got different bents, or let me put it like this. I’ve told you this before, about my wife and Jelly Bellies.
She tends to eat them by the handful, which I think is sacrilegious, right? Jelly Bellies have got 50 flavors. These little things pack a wallop. I want to taste the pineapple, and the watermelon’s one of my favorites, and I like it a bit of licorice once in a while, so I like the black licorice one. June takes them by the 10s and the 20s, and I go, “Why are you doing that? You’re blending all the flavors to a flavor your tongue can’t even describe or fathom.”
We have a little bit of fun about that, but don’t parent like June eats their Jelly Bellies, okay? Just, each of your child has their own signature, their own flavor, and you need to bring, by God’s help, creativity to helping them see their need of Christ, and helping them understand what they could become in Christ, and live a life for His glory. Finally, marked by improvisation. Marked by improvisation. What do I mean by that?
Marked by creativity, spontaneity, leveraging every moment that comes your way when appropriate to turn the gospel in. See, there’s a formal manner in which we should teach and admonish our children, and there’s an informal manner. I advocate family altar, I advocate bedtime devotions, I advocate time with the family around the table where the father leads in prayer, and studies the Word of God, maybe reads a Christian book or Christian history. We took our girls through a series of books called Hero Tales, but all the great Christian men and women throughout church history. You need those formal times.
Deuteronomy 6:7 talks about sitting down, but here’s what’s interesting. Deuteronomy 6:7 not only talks about sitting down that speaks of formality, where it’s kind of school is in session, it speaks about walking by the way, commanding and teaching them as you walk by the way. What does that mean? This is you go about life. You go about life from tidying up the home to a vacation, to dropping them off at school, to little league, soccer, visit the McDonald’s, whatever.
As you walk by the way. Listen, and something they’re saying. Look around you for something you can draw into the conversation. I’m going to go through this very quickly, don’t worry. I wrote down several things that I’d invite you to think about, and then we’re done.
Think about celebrations. Use celebratory moments, even national holidays to spawn spiritual conversation. Think about Exodus 12:26. It’s the Passover. It’s a national holiday in Israel, and God delivered the people. And here’s what we read about that in Exodus 12:26, that when your child asks you, “What’s this all about?,” and then teach them.
“Dad, what’s this all about? What’s this, the lamb, the shed blood, Egypt?” “Well, I’m glad you asked.” Number two, trials. Your children will be enrolled, like every other child, in the school of hard knocks. They may get bullied by someone, they may be betrayed by a friend, they may suffer physically with an illness.
We could go on. Take those moments of tears and heartache, and turn it to help them see the God who suffered on their behalf, and wants to identify with them and help them. You want a verse for that? Psalm 119:71. David said, “You know what? God afflicted me, but I’m glad He afflicted me because during the times of affliction, I learned His statutes.”
Number three, journeys, traveling. They’re wonderful times to teach your children the things of God. That would be Luke 24:13-15, the two on the road to Emmaus. They’re trying to compute what went on in Jerusalem. Jesus looks like He’s dead and gone.
Our hopes were set on Him, and it says, “And Jesus drew near and walked with them,” and then He helped them understand that Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms talked about by death. When we lived in Ohio, we dealt with brutal and long winters. So almost every year, for about five years, we made a pilgrimage to Florida, and we went down to 75. It took us about eight to 10 hours. We usually stopped somewhere about Georgia, Atlanta for an overnighter, but besides the moments we got on each other’s nerves in a little Dodge caravan, those were wonderful times, just talking to the girls about life, maybe picking things up along the road.
Meals, I don’t know if you have meals anymore as families, but we made it an important part of our family, to sit down to a meal every day. I know my hours as a pastor maybe is a little bit more flexible than yours. I want to give you that. You’re stuck on the 91, getting home, but where you can, set up a rhythm of where you have meals together and eat together. I mean, Jesus did a lot of discipling around food.
I mean, think about the Upper Room Discourse I preached yesterday at conference in Carlsbad. The Upper Room Discourse is a discourse and a sermon over a meal. What about answering questions? I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but children tend to ask a lot of questions. Don’t let those go by.
Even if the question isn’t that great, could you not creatively turn it to something that’d be a little bit more substantial? Jesus answered questions all the time, and He used it, but rich, young ruler comes to Jesus. Amazing, talk about tee ball. “Lord, what do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” At some point, your child will say, “Mommy, is there a God?”
“Where did I come from, mommy? What’s life about? What happens when we die?” Take those moments as you walk by the way. A couple of things and this is over, stories. Stories.
Psalm 78:5-8, Psalm 145:4 following, we’re going to talk of your wonderful works to the generation to come. And throughout the Bible, there’s records of stories. Children love stories. Young people love stories. Tell them stories about yourself, and how, through many dangers, toils and snares, you have already come, and the grace that has brought you safe this far is the grace that will take you home.
I have a friend who’s a member of the church here, who just did … There’s a new online app that sends you a question every week for 50 weeks about yourself, and as you answer it and write a page about it, at the end of those 50 weeks, they bind it into a book, a hardback, beautiful book. He showed me it. It’s about your life that you give to your children and to your grandchildren. Beautiful.
This guy did it. In fact, he sped it up. It’s all kinds of questions about his life and, “When did you first kiss grandma? Where did you did it? When did you come to Jesus?,” all that.
The family kind of sets the questions. Mark milestones, right? 1 Samuel 7:12, where Samuel raises a monument, an Ebenezer stone to God’s help. Mark milestones, your child’s birth. I mean, right now, little Lilly’s two, but her little sister, Zoe arrived yesterday.
We use that to talk about Jesus, and the Creator, and the joy of life. Baptisms, your child’s graduation, moving to a new home, a new community, dad’s new job, all kinds of milestones. And then finally, this is something we don’t often think about, heirlooms, you know? That could be a Bible that’s been handed down across the generations, some jewelry, some memento, attached to an event in the family, or a story. Could it be maybe a title deed on a piece of property that God gave your family, and God has used that to bless the family?
I’ll finish with this. My mother passed. My father invited us all to take one of her watches or one of her ornaments. My mom loved Royal Doulton, and so the girls all kind of grabbed that, and her pens and all of that, but the one thing we all wanted was her brooch. My brother got it.
Not that I’m bitter or anything, but my younger brother got it because he deserved to get it. He had nursed my mom, along with my dad, as she dealt with Alzheimer’s towards the end of her life. Now, here’s the thing about the brooch. When my mom and dad were dating, they weren’t Christians, and just like everyone else in Belfast, around that era, the thing they loved to do was dance on a Friday night and hang out with their friends, and party a little bit. Nothing crazy, but just out with the world and enjoying that, and going about life, and my dad gets saved at a evangelistic event in a soccer stadium, where one of the associate evangelists was a man called Jack MacArthur, Jack MacArthur’s father, who was in Belfast at the time.
So my mom learns about this, and she didn’t bargain. They looked like they were heading towards marriage. She didn’t bargain on living with a goodie two-shoes, who would go to church rather than go to the dancing hall, so she said, “You know what? I like Billy. I may even love him, but it’s over.”
And so she’d kind of worked in her head, that the next time they met, it’s curtain. She’s going to pull the plug. And my dad still loved her, and a young Christian and hadn’t thought through all the implications and complications of being with a woman that doesn’t love Jesus, but he had bought her a brooch as a nice gift. And so my mom met him on the Friday. She’s about to tell him.
Before she can get it out, the brooch appears. And being the good materialist that she was, she decided, “I’ll take the brooch this Friday and I’ll ditch him next Friday, get something from him after all. Look what he’s done to this relationship.” And you know what the amazing thing is? During that week, independent of my father, my mom gets saved.
So you can imagine why we’re all fighting over the brooch, because it’s such a part of her story, and she’s told that story to our girls, and she likes to say in some ways, “Girls, I was saved by a brooch, because it helped me stay in a relationship with your granda, and I got saved.” Wow. God has called us to disciple the nations. Nations are made up of families. So discipling the nations starts at home by discipling your children. And I hope that what we’ve looked at today will help you to do that with intensity and creativity, and with a focus on Jesus Christ in His gospel.
Lord, we thank You for our time in the Word. We’ve been a few weeks in it, maybe exhausted ourselves in the process, hopefully haven’t exhausted the truth of the text and its timeliness. We feel the impact of it as man. We are the spiritual headmasters in our homes. We must school our children in the gospel. Help us to do that with an intensity.
Help us not to lose sight as we put clothes on their back and food in their mouth, and provide them an education, an opportunity in life. Help us not to lose sight, that there’s a part of them that will never die, and apart from Jesus Christ, that part of them, that will never die, could be separated from God forever. That’s our burden. We want to be gospel men, discipling our children. Help us to do that through prayer, instructing them in the Word, preaching the gospel.
Help us to look out for those moments that we can address them as individuals, as well as a family. Help us to understand them in the best way, to communicate the gospel to them, and help us to leverage every moment from church to McDonald’s, and everything in between, where we strategically leverage those moments for the gospel. Lord, answer our prayer. Use us as a tool and a means by which You will see of our children for all of eternity. It’s our greatest prayer because it will be our longest joy, and we pray it in Christ’s name. Amen.