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January 07, 2018

Families Part 1

Building community begins with building godly families. How are the parents and children in your life living their calling for the Lord?

Mike Gerhardt, The Spirit-controlled life is necessary for Building Community and for Families (Part 1), Ephesians 6:1-4. This is the 2nd command with a promise (not to worship other gods has a promised blessing). Paul meant of first importance here. Children sometimes complain that they get their parents so late in life that it is impossible to do anything with them. A parent was complaining: We were kids when everything was the kids fault, now we are parents when everything is the parents fault. I overheard one parent say: I am just finding out that insanity is hereditary, you can get it from your children. Parenting doesn’t stop, it continues with grandchildren especially when their parents are away. (Play Video) Here I am teaching my one-year-old grandson how to deal with frustration. Paul emphasized living in the power of the Spirit especially in the home. He understood that the home needed order and a procession of authority. The family must remain a team. But in that team, the parents lead. That means the family must pull together under their leadership. You flex, you adjust, you give and take to make everyone get along and prosper in the Lord. No doubt you and I have witnessed the paralyzed parent being controlled in the marketplace by the screaming three-year-old. Or the parent trying to negotiate a friendly discussion to get their child to like them as their buddy. Are we as parents to be friends or foes to our children? Neither. Godly Christian parents in a Christian home trying to raise Christian children are called to be parents not buddies, friends, pals, BFFs nor enemies. The parent-child relationship is unique. Just as in marriage you don't marry your buddy but as a God-fearing man you choose a God-fearing woman as your wife. In parenting, fathers and mothers can have a fun, loving, friendly relationships with their sons and daughters but they must always remember they are parents and have authority and responsibility from God over the children. Children obey your parents. Why even mention it? It is the fifth commandment. Exodus 20:12: Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Colossians 3:20 Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord. Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. 10:1 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. 15:5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence. Obey direct and indirect requests. Understand the intention of their direction, what they mean by what they say. Obey here is a habitual present tense verb meaning obey over and over. In the Lord means in the sphere of godly behaviors. It is not a requirement that the parents are believers. Child are to obey requests for godly behaviors. There is always the kid that asks: if my mom told me to rob a bank, do I need to obey her? The answer is to obey God and your parents in all moral issues. Honor by the way is more than just obedience. It would include respect, love, and esteem. Obedience fosters self-discipline, which prepares you to join the army. Self-discipline in turn brings stability, and longevity. Conversely disobedience fosters an undisciplined lifestyle, which leads to destruction. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is a passage I once read to my preteen boys at bedtime. A Jewish teen who persistently disobeyed his parents was taken outside of the Israel camp, and stones were thrown at him until he was dead. That kept them awake for several nights. Honor and respect. What you say about your parents and how you talk to them in front of others verifies your respect for them. Be truthful. Lying can become habitual so don't get started. Yet don't offer information about your siblings unless it is an emergency or has dire consequences. Be loyal and protective. Avoid other kids who speak ill of their parents and stand up for truth about your parents when someone slanders them.

In Chuck Swindoll's book called Family Life, he writes: One mother described her son as a human jet engine, flying at top velocity during every waking hour. Trying to get him to hold still was like trying to sew a button on a poached egg.

That sounds like my boys. On the other hand, Ann Landers got a letter from a New York mother: I've lived 70 years, and I speak from experience, as a mother of five, it wasn’t worth it. The early years were difficult. Illness, rebellion, lack of motivation (we called it shiftlessness and laziness in our day). One was seriously disturbed - in and out of mental hospitals. Another went the Gay Lib route. Two are now living in communes (we never hear from them). Another has gone loony with the help of a phony religious leader who should be put in jail. Not one of our children has given us any pleasure. God knows we did our best, but we were failures as parents and they are now failures as people. Signed Sad Story. Obviously, child rearing is demanding, difficult, and often confusing, but it is not impossible. And it is worth every bit of the effort and sacrifice. Do not let anyone convince you that you've got more important things to do or personal projects that rate a higher priority than the joy of rearing godly children. Understand and accept limitations. We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Nobody is perfect. Try to see your parents for their best qualities. Don't compare your parents. God allowed these parents to be your parents, learn from them as you are learning life lessons from God. Love unconditionally as you have been loved. See their hearts of love, not their mistakes. Share your joys and trials. Talk to them in complete sentences. Tell them everything, they are not busybodies, they really want to know how you're doing. They care about you.

Now, how does God feel about those who disobey their parents? Romans 1:28-32 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. Paul lists disobedience to parents alongside every kind of wickedness and evil.

What kind of parents do you have? What kind of parents did you have? In my home growing up in the projects of Philadelphia PA, the 7 of us in a two-bedroom one bath row house: hard work was a reality, not an option; first-time obedience wasn't negotiated it was necessary for survival. Respect was given, boundaries were appreciated and upheld, and though my mother was fun and silly at times, my father made sure she was always honored.

We will continue next week talking to parents. But for now, think about your parents. Are you a godly example to your friends and colleagues when it comes to talking about your parents, obeying your parents, praying for your parents? If you are no longer living with you parents when was the last time you wrote to them, or spoke to them? I know some here have never known one or both of their birth parents. Those who were substitute parents for you, have you told them how much they mean to you.

Conclusion: Walking a tightrope needs balance. To be friends with your mom or dad, you must balance that with respect and honor. Keep on that tightrope and God will surely bless you.