We are midway through a 5-week sermon series entitled Upstream: Counter Culture Discipleship. Are we going with the flow of culture or taking the more challenging course of Christian discipleship? A key area for asking this question is the topic of family.
I realize that we all in different situations (single/married, kids, grand-kids, no kids/ kids (of all ages), and that all families have unique challenges, hurts, and struggles. So, I want to begin by reminding that your family is bigger than your family. In the church family, God has given you “brothers and sisters and mothers and children” (Matt 10:30). (How many of you have been thumped on the head by a woman who wasn’t your mother?!) When we talk about family, we’re not just talking about the folks you go home with today; we are also talking shared responsibility and shared joy we have as the family of believers.
Shameless plug: Say Yes to CT Kids & VBS
A Christian brother of mine helped me when I first became a dad. At the time, it was trendy to refer to one’s family as a team. He had a lot of kids, so it wasn’t much of stretch to think of trading the family car for a team bus! But he said something that stuck with me: We aren’t a team; we’re a family.
God's design of the family is special. It’s function is unique and profound. And I want to draw you attention to a significant part of that purpose today: family is ground zero for for disciple-making.
Beware of Culture-Drift
Beware of Culture-Drift
Deuteronomy 6 is likely one of (if not the first) passages of Scripture that would have been taught to Jesus as a boy. Fascinating to me to think of Jesus, the Word—who was in beginning with God and was God (Jn 1:1)—the Word being taught the Word of God. These were words that shaped him as he grew “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:42).
Moses was preparing the next generation to cross into the Promised land. He had just recited the 10 Commandments that were initially given to the parents of the present generation. And so he reiterates it here for this generation to keep and practice in the Promised Land.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it,
that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
Moses is teaching them to cultivate the proper regard for God (fear of God) in their heart and in their children and grandchildren so that they will thrive as God intended. If you want to thrive, don’t forget God.
Beware of cultural influence that leads away from God. The threat of armies was minor in comparison to the more serious and prolonged threat of “going with the flow” of Canaanite culture.
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
Many people today are lamenting the decaying values of our surrounding culture (belief in God, morals, virtue, etc.). But what about at home? Whose values are we ordering our family life around?
Cultural drift in our homes: children are more more versed in politics or sports or academics than faith / screen time replaces table time / Mom and Dad have got nothing on Alexa, Siri, Google, and YouTube (Ask Siri: “Is there a God?” “That’s a topic for another day, and another assistant”) / flurry of extra-curricular activity is the norm, busy has become a family virtue
Chap Clark: Parenting today has “evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture. We are a culture that has forgotten to be together.”
Parenting is so much more than being active parents shuttling kids to activity after activity. It is about making disciples. And doing that well will mean having “upstream” routines, habits, and disciplines.
Make Disciples at Home
Make Disciples at Home
There was a radio program that offered over a hundred dollars to the third caller if they would honestly tell them what the first words were that they said that morning. As you might imagine, many of the responses were profanity laced realizations of people who overslept, stepped on their dog, or realized they left the garage door open. But one man called in with a strong Jewish accent and said: “Shema...
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
After an awkward pause the DJ said, “Wrong number” and hung up.
Jesus would have grown up saying those words every morning and every evening. They were God-pointed counter-culture words then and now. And this passage of Scripture, more clearly than any other, instructs us to make the most of the opportunities we have at home as a family.
God is of primary importance. Love the Lord with all. (Point to the loveliness of God.)
Rob Rienow - The biblical purpose of parenting is to do all in our power to impress the hearts of our children with a love for God.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
You can’t lead where you won’t go— “on your heart”
Don’t miss prime moments for teaching and talking about God and his ways (home time, driving time, bedtime, and breakfast time)
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Don’t forget the Lord your God
Literal application: frontlets/symbols - gave rise to the use of the phylactery (small leather containers to hold the texts of Ex 13:1-10; Deut 6:4-9; 11:13-21 inscribed on scrolls)
Metaphorical application: subject of your thoughts, on your mind and heart, remembered at all times : hand and forehead, doorposts and gates
Do all in your power to impress on your heart and the hearts of your family members that which is #1: God. (Revelation and response)
Remember the Cross
Remember the Cross
One more thing I’d like to emphasize: When we teach God’s ways to our children, it’s important that it is not mere moralistic teaching. Researchers have shown that the most common view of teenagers is that Christianity is about being a good person and it helps you feel better, but God is not really involved in one’s life.
That’s not the gospel.
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
Notice how ‘obeying the rules’ was linked to the active deliverance of God. It’s important that we teach our children Christian morals, right living, etc., but let’s not forget to give ‘em Jesus. This is our story: God sent a Savior. The perfect Son of God—because of his love for us—gave himself up to be crucified for our sins to deliver us from sin and death.
We love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and might because He first loved us.