Children and Parents

What Is God's Vision For A Healthy Christian Family?

Dan Franklin
Jan 15, 2023    43m
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What is God's vision for how the family functions with Jesus at the center? In Christian families, we will see children that obey their parents, children, and adults who honor their parents, and fathers who are making sure that their children are brought to the Lord. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Amy Parker: [00:00:19] What a day it'll be when every knee shall bow and confess that he is Lord. Amen? My name is Amy Parker, I serve in go teams and also women's ministry here at church. And our scripture today comes from Ephesians six one through four, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." This is the Word of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:59] Good morning, you can grab a seat. I'm really excited about what we get to do this morning. Another thing I'm really excited about, sorry, you guys won't like this, the Bowmans are here. So if you guys, if you're newer here and you're like, who cares? The Bowmans have been serving for over a year in Kenya as members of our extended team. And I was hoping you guys would be here, it's just awesome to see you guys, welcome back. And we all look forward as a church family, just getting to welcome you back and hear more about your time overseas.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:34] And welcome to everybody. Today, what we've done just sort of start off this new year is, last week and this week, we've been in just a short two-week series that we're calling My Family, God's glory. And really the heart behind this series is that I think a lot of times, but for all of us, whatever stage of life that we're at, for all of us, family is very, very important. And at the same time, I think sometimes we can sort of get things a little bit backwards where we can say, alright, my family is really important and I have sort of a vision for what I want my current marriage or my future marriage to be, or I have an idea of what I want to happen with my kids and what we want our household to be like, and so we look to God as sort of a good help with that. So we say, All right, God, I want you to help me find the person I'm going to marry and have an amazing marriage. Or I want you to fix our marriage, or make it what it's supposed to be, or I want you to launch our kids out in the way that we long for that to happen. And we sort of have things reversed, where instead what we want to do is we want to say first and foremost, we belong to God through Jesus. If we are believers in Jesus, we have been bought by his blood, we have been saved by his life, we have been indwelt by his Spirit, we've been given an inheritance and heaven, we belong to him, and our families belong to him. So instead of looking to Jesus and saying, Jesus, this is my idea for what I want from my marriage, get it done. We come to him with the question, what is it that you want from our marriages?

Dan Franklin: [00:03:05] And if you weren't here last week, I do encourage you to go and listen to the message from last week that was through the last part of Ephesians chapter five. Because it helps us see as married couples, for those of us who are married, our marriages are about something much bigger than just us as husbands and wives. We are being put on display to show the Gospel through how we relate to each other and how husbands love wives and how wives respect husbands, this is put on display.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:35] And today we're moving on, we moved on from the section on husbands and wives, and we're talking about the section in Ephesians that talks about parents and children. And I recognize for some of you, some of you, this is right where you're living right now as either parents or children. You're sort of like you are at the building stage of all this right now. Some of you might be sort of at the tail end of the building stage, and you're at the launching stage where kids are going out. Some of you are like, that was a long time ago that we launched our kids out, but you're still dealing with that, you're still dealing with kids and maybe grandkids and extended family and all of this. What I want you to know is a couple of things, and the two things are, first of all, everybody is going to find themselves at some point in this passage, all of us play a part in this, even if you've never been married and never had kids, you still have a part in this because we are a church family. The second thing that I want you to know as we go through this is that we want more, at this church we want more than just sort of we come on Sundays where we come to classes and we sort of get the information that we need, and then we all go back to our individual homes and in isolation, try to live these things out. We want to help create at this church family or help further, a culture where placing Jesus at the center of our homes is just what we do.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:51] If you're in the building stage right now, if you have kids in the home and you are trying to live your life and trying to organize your family where Jesus is at the center, there are probably lots of times when you feel kind of alone. You're sort of like, I'm trying to do this, and nobody else seems like they're trying to do this. We want to create a church culture where we're not only doing it as individual family units but where we have a culture where this is just normal. And we'll get to this later, but on the way in, you saw one of these cards on your seat. We're going to talk later on about some specific ways, not just as we scatter, but together as a church family that we're going to look to live this out.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:29] But we're going to do this by walking through these four verses that Amy just read for us. And let me let you know how this is going to unfold because, in many ways, it's a pretty straightforward passage. So some commands to children, a command to parents, and here's how this is going to go. We're going to walk through this passage kind of quickly because it's four verses, and the way that we're going to walk through it is we're going to see this as this is God's vision for the family and its impact and spreading the Gospel to the world. So we're just going to look at it first of all and say, all right, what does it look like? What is God's vision for how the family functions with Jesus at the center?

Dan Franklin: [00:06:06] After we've talked that through, we're going to do two other things. The first thing that we're going to do is we're going to talk about what we do when we feel like we're recovering from family not being what it was meant to be. And that's where some of you are living right now, where you're going to hear these verses and you're going to be like, that would have been nice, but that's not how it went. We're going to talk about recovering from when the family isn't what it's meant to be. And then thirdly, we're going to talk about what it looks like to build, for those of us who are really in the building phase right now, which some of us are going to be on the front lines of that, but all of us are going to have a part in what we do moving forward.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:44] But we'll start really straightforwardly, we'll start with just the vision for the Christian family, how this is meant to work, and how this is a part of the Gospel spreading. So in some ways, you could say there are two sections, children, and parents, but in some ways, we're going to get this command to children, a command in the middle, that in many ways is for all of us, and then a command to parent.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:04] So the command to children is really straightforward, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." If you're under 18 and you're in this room, you're like, I know this verse, like my parents have let me know that this verse is in the Bible, you're not unfamiliar with this idea. It means what it seems to mean, there's not some secret that I can tell you where here's what's really going on. It means children, and this is specifically talking about children who are in the home. We'll talk in verses two and three about all of us are somebody's children, but children in the home are supposed to do what their parents say.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:40] Now part of this, I'll talk about how this plays into a wider scale, but again, this doesn't mean that you obey when you think your parents are right. This doesn't mean that you obey even when you feel like I understand why my parents are telling me to do this. And this goes for all of us, for obedience in any facet of our lives, we don't wait till we understand, we don't wait till we agree, we just obey. And part of the beauty of this is, he says at the end of this, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." What that is pointing to is, as a child, the main reason why you're obeying your parents isn't your parents. The main reason you're obeying your parents is because you're trusting God as the one who gave you those parents. They're not always going to be right, they're far from perfect, which you all know if you're a child in the home, but your parents are given to you by God.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:38] And a quick illustration on this, on the way that I think we can walk forward in this kind of obedience. And again, this goes more broadly than children, but if you're a child in here you can tune in to this. I'll give you an example of this in my own life. Actually, it didn't have to do with obeying my parents, but I think it'll still make the point, it was something that happened with me and Karina years ago. I'm a Southern California boy, she grew up in Oregon. We moved up to Oregon, and as you can imagine, I had a limited amount of different weather that I had driven a car in being a Southern California boy.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:11] So our first winter up there, it snowed a lot more than it normally snows in the area we were in. And so the roads were icy, Karina had grown up in it and she kind of knew what she was doing. I didn't really know what I was doing, but for some reason, we were in that setting and I was the one driving and we started to approach an intersection, and so I started to slow down because it was a red light. And as I started to slow down, the car started to slide, sort of turned diagonal, and started to slide. And it was just, you have this horrible feeling, just this inevitable, I am going to run into the car in front of me. Like nobody's going to be killed, it's a low speed, but still, like, this is going to be really frustrating. And as it started to unfold from the passenger seat, Karina just called out, take your hands off the wheel. Now, quick question, how much sense do you think that made to me in that moment? I was like, this person is crazy. Like, that is the last thing I should do. But you know what I did? I just did that. I was like this makes no sense to me, I don't understand, there was no time to explain, I just took my hands off the wheel. And to my amazement, the car corrected itself, straightened up, and we stopped. I think you could have barely put a piece of paper between us and the car in front of us. Now, here's the deal, why do you think in that moment, without saying I need an explanation from you, or I need to agree before I do this, why do you think I did what she said? Yeah. She knows more than I do about the situation, and also, she's not going to tell me to do that if she doesn't think it's going to work, she's in the car too. She actually cares about me, she's not going to be like, watch this, take your hands off the wheel. And so here's what I want to say, once again to any kids in the room, your parents aren't perfect. You know, your parents aren't perfect, but your parents do know more than you know. There may come a day where you know more than they know, but they do know more than you know, they've been around for longer, it's just life experience. They know more than you know, and also, they care about you and they're in the car too. The things going bad for you are things going bad for them. So there's good reason for you to trust them, and God has given them to you as a gift.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:38] So the vision of this, the vision of this, is that all right, children are obeying their parents, they're not making life difficult for their parents. Parents, it's wise for us to say, all right, maybe we're asking for obedience without the why, but we'll talk more about this later. It's nice to give the why after the fact to say, just so you know, I did have a reason for telling you to do this. But the whole idea is that even as a child in the home, you might be a child in the home and feel like, well, serving God and showing the light of Jesus to the world is really my parent's job at this point. But that's not true, you have a part in this, and when you obey imperfect parents, you're showing that your hope is ultimately in Jesus and not in your parents.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:15] So we start with the word to the children. We move into sort of the second command of children, but this is for all of us. Because obedience to parents is for a set amount of time while you're in the home, but what we're going to see with this command to honor the parents, is this goes on. This is where basically all of us in here right now are the children who are being addressed in verses two and three, “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” And Paul here is quoting from the Ten Commandments, if you want to look it up later, you can look it up in Exodus chapter twenty. And then the part that he specifically is quoting from is in Deuteronomy chapter five, verse sixteen when the law is given again, and this promise is given again, which we'll get to the promise. But this command to honor your parents, this is one where we all reach a point, it's fuzzy in our culture, it's like, all right, when are you sort of out of strict obedience mode? Is it 18? Is it when you move out? Like we're fuzzy, but we know that there's a point that comes when you're out of the mode of I need to just do what my parents tell me to do. But we're never past this command, this call, to honor father and mother.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:34] Well, now we'll talk more about this later on, but just to tease. Some of you right now are looking at this command, maybe you're well outside of the home, you're in your twenties, thirties, forties, or fifties, and you have baggage with your parents. It's sort of like you don't know what I went through, you don't know all the difficulties that I experienced with my parents. We'll talk more about that later on, but what we need to grasp going into this is that God absolutely knows that we have all had imperfect parents. And God knows if you had parents that it's sort of like, this isn't just imperfect, this was really, really hard. To the point that many Jewish scholars treated this commandment, of the Ten Commandments, they said this one is the hardest one, the hardest command in the entire Bible. And part of it is that it is one that goes on and on, that to honor your parents is the idea of, first of all, talking to them and talking about them in a way that would cause other people not to think less of them, but to think more of that.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:38] And it also has to do with sort of honoring their wishes. One of the things that struck me as my kids, you know, our oldest son is 18, and then we've got a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old, and so as we're moving more into sort of the launching stage, it's caused me to think more about what I want to have, the kind of relationship I want to have with my sons once they're out of our home. And there's something that I've come to realize, and what I've come to realize is that once they're out of our home, I want them to still talk to me. Like I know it doesn't seem like a big ask, but I'm like, I want them to still talk to me and want to be around me and hang out with me and talk on the phone, or come and visit in person, I want that. And it suddenly occurred to me that's probably what my parents want too. My parents live in Georgia right now, and it just really hit me in a hard way, saying my parents are probably craving for a lot more interaction with me than I am naturally giving. I mean, this is like, you know, Cat's in the Cradle, whatever that song, that that talks about that shift that comes on when you're a little kid, you're like, I just want to be with mom and dad all the time. And then you reach the point, and mom and dad are like, why don't you ever call? This, for many of us, should just strike us to say, you know, there are things that our parents long for from us. Some of you are in your sixties and your seventies, and this is still applicable for you. There are things that our parents are longing for, and there's at least a basic level of saying our parents put a lot of time into raising us, a lot of money, for many of us, a lot of prayers, and a lot of emotion. And as things get difficult for them as they get older, it is powerful, it is a sign to the world of the Gospel when we honor them. Sometimes that's financial, sometimes that's through caring for them through old age, and sometimes it's just picking up the phone or going for visits more regularly than we naturally think we want to. But the vision of this is that it goes far beyond, that this is a multi-generational vision that Paul has given us for family. Not just that like, all right, if you have kids in the home, kids obey your parents. But that long after that, there's multigenerational honoring going on and relationships going on.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:51] And once again, don't miss the fact that he says this command comes with a promise, the promise is that it will go well with you and that you'll have a long life. This is one of the promises in the Bible that they're sort of there are the promises that you take to the bank and are 100% of the time true, then there are promises like this where it's like this is a more proverbial promise, that this will be the general result of your life if you honor your father and mother. And the beauty of this is that once again, Paul is pointing us not to the reward that we get from our parents, but to the reward that we get from God, he's saying God is the one who ultimately is overseeing all of this.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:32] So he says, all right, children in the home, obey your parents by focusing on the fact that God has called you to do this. All of us are in this second children category, all of us honor your father and mother, and take to the bank that God is watching that, and that God loves to reward that. And finally, we get to verse four, which is directed to the parents, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

Dan Franklin: [00:18:00] So first note here, you guys will notice this, it doesn't actually say parents, it says fathers. Now, as we talk this through, I think pretty much everything that Paul says is going to apply to fathers and mothers. But he does this on purpose, he could have said parents, he said parents back in verse one, there is a Greek word for just parents. He highlights fathers, and here's why he does, because it is the consistent teaching in all the Old Testament and all the New Testament that fathers are given the primary responsibility of making sure kids are brought up in the Lord. This doesn't at all undercut the importance of mothers to this, but I think we need to just take a moment to take this in, because in our culture we still kind of tend to look at it like, well, mom is the main parent and dad is like the backup parent. Like, dad is there just in case something goes wrong.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:54] that's why sometimes we talk about dads babysitting their kids, which is a bizarre thing to say, by the way. If you're using that terminology in your home, you're doing it wrong, and you need to stop. Dads don't babysit their kids, they parent their kids, and that's just part of the deal. But it's striking here, this isn't saying, all right, dads are going to be the ones changing every diaper, and some of you are like, I don't know how to change diapers, you know, my wife is the one feeding them, obviously. Oh, okay, all right, it's not saying that you are even the most absolutely hands-on parent or the one who has the greatest amount of time with your kids, it's saying as a dad, you step forward and you take on the responsibility of leading your kids to know Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:34] By the way, there is outside data that consistently points toward this moving the needle. If the whole pattern of the family is that mom is getting everybody ready for church and church, and dad is just kind of like, fine. Moms leading family devotions, and dads watching a game while this is happening, there's an impact, there's a loss of impact. So some of you ladies, you sort of, you don't have another option, you're like, I've just got to do this because my husband isn't a believer, or he doesn't want to do this, God will work through that. But men in here take seriously that He doesn't just say parents, he says fathers, and he's assuming we're taking the lead.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:12] So he says something not to do and something to do, he says, "Don't exasperate your children.", which means don't stir them to anger. We get to verse one and we're like, "Children, obey your parents." And all of us as parents are, like, that's right, obey your parents. He doesn't then go to parents and say, and parents keep them under your thumb. Now that you're in charge, you had to deal with it when you were a kid, now you're in charge. He says, don't exasperate your children, don't bully them, don't stir them up to anger. Your children are a trust from God, and ultimately, one day, if parents and children are both believers, ultimately one day we will all stand before God, first and foremost as brothers and sisters, not as parents and children. Our children are a trust from God, so don't stir them to anger. Don't mock them because it makes you feel better about yourself. Don't critique them in front of other people. I feel bad that I even need to say this, but there are too many parents who complain about their kids on social media, and this is not helping anyone. If you're having a hard time with one of your kids and you're like, I need to talk to somebody, get a friend, talk to them, look for solutions. Don’t publicly complain about your kids, what a way to stir them to anger. Don't stir them to anger, don't be sort of large and in charge, it's my way all the time.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:40] Don't stir your kids to anger, and he says, "Instead, bring them up." There's actually, it's not translated this way, but there could kind of be a wordplay between these two things. Where it could be, don't rile them up, but bring them up. And the idea here has to do with the idea of nurture, "Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." So just again, to be real clear, if you're like, all right, I'm not supposed to bully my kids. I'm not supposed to exasperate them, so maybe I should move into this sort of new model of parenting that's become popular, where it's kind of the kids who are calling it. Like I'm kind of there helping facilitate my kids in making their own decisions and just doing their own thing, and I don't want to be authoritative with them, and so I'll just sort of let my kids do their thing. That is not the Christian vision for parenting, he says you bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:38] I guess now, it was about three years ago, right before the shutdown happened. It was funny, it was like the last major thing we did before the shutdown happened is we had a parenting conference here. Maybe that was the Lord's work, he was like, you're all about to be with each other a whole lot, let's get you up to speed on parenting. But some of you would have been here for that, and we brought in a great couple named the Comers, and they sort of led our time and we had breakout sessions. One of the things, in fact, if you're looking for resources, go look this one up later. The Comers who are here and really let our time through talking about this, the book that they've written is called, Raising Passionate Jesus Followers. I was like, that's it, that is the target, saying bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord, which we can very easily translate into our heads and say, bring them up to do the right things and not do the wrong things. But it's much bigger than that, it's the idea that we are looking to shepherd the next generation to love and respond to Jesus. We're not just wanting them to do good moral things, we're wanting them to love Jesus and to embrace that the training and the instruction of the Lord involves the fact that we are sinners, fallen because of our sins, but God has sent His son to rescue us, and we get to live by His pure grace because we placed our faith in him. We're looking to shepherd our kids toward Jesus, and we're looking to train them to walk with him.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:09] I don't know if any of you have ever had a personal trainer before, or if you've ever been to the gym and just watched the trainers working with people. These trainers are not passive, and the trainers also take very personally the results of the people that they're working with. If somebody works with a personal trainer for a couple of years and comes out exactly the same as they came in, that is not a win for the trainer. They are looking to shepherd you toward greater health. And by the way, this doesn't sound harsh, but nobody admires an out-of-shape trainer. Nobody's like, I don't care how much schooling you have and if, you know, body mass, all that kind of stuff, if you're looking at an out-of-shape trainer, you're like, give me someone else, give me somebody who actually has some results in their lives.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:03] So this means, first of all, as parents, if we're really saying, I want my kids to love Jesus, we got to love Jesus. If we're saying, I want my kids to walk with Jesus, we've got to walk with Jesus. On top of this, if you're looking at your kids and you're like, you know when they're adults, I want them to treat Jesus as the most important reality in their lives, and I want them to be actively involved in their church. But if right now, church only is a part of your lives when all of the sports stuff is not happening, you've got to wonder how you're training your child. You may be that out-of-shape trainer that's like, well, I'm going to tell them all the info, and hopefully they'll internalize it. We need to be desperately walking by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to train our kids to love and walk with Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:51] So this is the vision, this is the vision that Paul is painting. And again, it's great because it's a multi-generational vision, the idea, alright we've got kids and they're responding to their parents because they're trusting in God and that God has a purpose; and we've got parents who are actively training their kids, disciplining and guiding and encouraging and facilitating. And then we also have multiple generations going on where parents are honoring their parents and those parents are still involved, and we got grandparents and aunts and uncles and some of you as honorary aunts and uncles all involved in this process so that the Gospel is going to the next generation.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:26] Now, before talking specifically about some ways that we really want to live this out as a church, I want to take a pause here as I said I was going to do and just have a word for those of you that feel like in some way you need some recovery. Because all of what we just talked about here, like, I wish that would have been my upbringing, but it wasn't. Some of you have had to go to counseling because of things about your upbringing. And all of our parents were imperfect, and so even those of us that are like, all right, there's never going to be a Lifetime movie made about how hard my childhood was, you're still dealing with wounds and you're still dealing with stuff that you need to get past. And then some of you are like, oh, yeah, there would be a movie made about it, it was awful that there was abuse, there was abandonment, there was chaos, there were drugs, and you're dealing with a lot. And you're looking at the idea of honor them, like, are you kidding me? Honor them and try to make people think that they're good parents, should I try to make people think better of them. I just want to say this, first of all, I want to say honoring your father and mother, this is not a call for you to pretend that things were different than they were. This is not calling you to say, hey, you just need to pretend that they were perfect parents, that's not going to be healthy for anyone.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:41] But for some of you right now, to do this, first of all, to do this would be a sign to the world that you love Jesus enough that you're willing to honor parents that a lot of others would look at and say they weren't very honorable. And in order to do that, you probably need some healing in your life because right now it feels like a non-starter, you're just like, there's no way. You know, after the service, as we usually do, we're going to have pastors and elders and prayer team members up here, some of you, what you need to do in response to this, whatever else is going on immediately, you need to come up for prayer because you need some healing from wounds that you have growing up. And you're like honoring my parents, no way. God has more, God loves to bring redemption and reconciliation. You can't unilaterally make it happen, but God can lead you towards forgiveness and God can lead you to keeping the door open for him to rectify a broken situation.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:41] And then some of you may be on the other side where you're recovering, where you're like, my kids are grown and they're not walking with Jesus. And some of you, you're looking at all that we talked about before and you're like, that's what I tried to do. Like, I tried to do that with my kids, some of you are going to be honest and you're like, I didn't really try to do that with my kids, I neglected that. I neglected bringing them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:04] But regardless, you are dealing with the grief of kids who sometimes we call prodigals, like, they're not walking with Jesus and I'm praying for them, but it grieves your heart in a deep way. I want to say again to you, God is not done with you, and God is not done with your adult children. And God loves, we call these kids prodigals, Jesus told a story about the prodigal son, and do you know what happens at the end? The prodigal son comes home. God loves that story, and God loves to work that story. So for some of you, the biggest thing that you need to do after this message is you need to come up for prayer afterward and just have people join you in praying for your children who are not walking for Jesus and who your heart is longing to see walk with Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:48] If you're looking at it and you're saying, I'm kind of past either the parenting phase, or I'm past my growing up phase, and there's a lot of wounds, God loves to heal wounds, God loves to heal the broken, and God loves to bring people who are estranged back together. So if you're sort of like, I need some recovery. All right, take it seriously, don't pass over it, but move forward with hope.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:13] Now let me talk to those of us that I'm just calling, those of us who are building. And what I mean is those of us who are sort of like, this is our lives right now, we have kids in the home. This might also, for some of you, apply because you're very involved grandparents, and so we are a part of this ongoing process going on, or you're a kid and so you're in the home and you're still a part of this, those of us who are building. Now some of us that have kids in the home right now, we may have in our mind sort of one of two things. Some of you have kids in the home and you're thinking, I am trying to break a pattern and start something new with my kids. You didn't grow up in a healthy home, you didn't grow up in a Christian home. My parents, well, my dad is a first-generation believer and my mom's extended family is sort of nominal, so my parents, in many ways, were looking to do this. They were looking to start something new, to start a new legacy within their family. And some of you are there, you're like I can't really look to our parents for this, but we are looking to start something new and overcome and break some patterns.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:16] Some of you, on the other hand, would say, like, my parents aren't perfect, but we are looking to carry on a legacy, we received the Gospel from them, we received good instruction from them, and we're looking to pass it along now. But if you're a parent, here's what I want you to hear, all of us are doing both of these no matter how you grew up. All of us are looking to counter-culturally raise our kids so that they love Jesus in a culture that does not love Jesus. And all of us are also looking to carry on a legacy that even if it didn't come from your parents, it came from the last generation, we have it now, and we want it to keep going. All of us are part of the light of Jesus spreading, and we do that not only overseas, we do that with the next generation saying we want them to know Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:08] And so instead of ending this message and just saying, all right, everybody go home and do your best, try to figure out how to do this. We said we as a church family want to figure out a practical, tangible way that we can bond together. So this is the point that, go ahead and take out that card, I'm going to talk you through what we're going to do with this. Now, again, this is going to apply more directly to some of you than to others, but as I talk these through, I think that you're going to see we have an opportunity for all of us to be involved in this.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:36] So before I talk through these five habits that we have here, what we're going to do is I'm going to talk them through and I'm going to be inviting, encouraging, I guess I'm going to say, expecting every family unit to choose one of these habits and say this is the one that we're going to lean into. I mean, all five of these are good, some of you are already doing some of these, but you're going to say this one, we're really going to lean into, we're really going to look to establish as a family habit. And we're going invite you not just to look at this list of five and say, we're going to do that, number three, we're going to do number three. But that you actually scan this QR code, sign up for it, and then we're we have pastors assigned to each one of these five habits in order to bring encouragement, shepherding, ideas, and resources so that we are bonded together as we look to make Jesus the center of our home.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:28] I see, I apologize, Ali, this is...So the Sweeneys are an awesome couple in our church, I have a phrase that I've been saying around the staff, I don't know that you guys know that I say this phrase. But the phrase that I keep saying is, I want to make the Sweeneys unremarkable in our church. And if you know the Sweeneys, you'll know where I'm coming from with this. So as we look at them and we're like, gosh, they’ve got young kids, and they are really doing what we want to see done. I know you guys are not perfect, but when we look at them, we're like, they're really doing what we want to see with their kids and guiding them and family devotions. I want us to have a church where people hear everything that the Sweeneys are doing and they're like, what's the big deal? Like, that's what we're all doing, I don't understand why we're talking about them. So get ready, you're going to be made unremarkable real soon. So that's where we're going with this.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:14] So let me talk through these five now. You can see them up on the screen and you can see them on your card. The first one is to have 4 to 5 meals a week as a family. Now, some of you, if your kids are older or teenagers, you're like, does that say 4 to 5? They're like, that's crazy talk. It's a little bit easier when your kids are younger, we've experienced this, as your kids get into their teenage years they have more independent activities, but family time together at dinner, even if you're not doing anything particularly spiritual, just the bonding and the sense of identity by having that time together is deeply powerful. By the way, I should have said this at the beginning, these five habits that we're talking about are not five habits that happened because we as a staff got together and brainstormed and just said, these look good, these are based on data. They are based on studies of people that tracked with people who had grown up in the church and in Christian homes, and some of them had stuck with Jesus, and some of them had not, and these five were identified as like these are ones that move the needle, these were ones that were present in those who stuck with Jesus. They're not an absolute guarantee, but these are here for a reason. So some of you are going to look at this and say, you know what? Typically, when it comes to dinnertime, we're all in our separate places, we're coming and going, the TV's always on, and it's chaotic. And it's going to be time to say we are going to make this a priority, to develop a family culture where we are together. And also, as I'll talk about later, the dinner table or the breakfast table is the ideal time to have some spiritual connections.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:50] The second habit that you see up there is serving together as a family. And it was seen by these studies that kids who were involved, not just watching their parents involved, but kids who were involved having this sense of I have spiritual gifts that I can use, I have a contribution that I can make. And that can be something as straightforward as doing the have-a-heart activity that Phil talked about earlier. It could have to do with being involved in one of our local outreach partners, as we really highlighted this past fall. Or it could be something on a Sunday morning that you're doing together here at the church. If you're saying, hey, I'm going to show up early to help with some setup and you bring your kids along to be a part of it. It might be in Life Kids that you're serving together, but the idea is to get yourself serving together as a family so your kids have this sense of, I have gifts that God has given me to use.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:42] Number three is to have at least one spiritual experience in the home each week. Church is hugely important to our lives, but as parents, we don't outsource the spiritual development of our kids to the church, that's sort of like they're taking care of it; I don't do that. Your kids need to see that you love Jesus, not just on Sundays. And so this could be something as straightforward as just, hey, at the dinner table, when you're gathered one of those 4 to 5 times each week, you're gathered together, and you open the Bible and you read it together and you talk about it together. It can be a formal family discussion. If you're musical, it could be that you have a time of worship or a time of prayer together. But you say, alright, at least once a week in the home, we're going to intentionally have a spiritual connection as a family.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:30] Number four is to entrust spiritual responsibilities to your kids. And this one is a little bit harder to quantify. But an example of this might be something like, if you regularly read the Bible together at the dinner table, you rotate who's reading the Bible, and you have kids get the opportunity to lead that time. Some of you took advantage of this when we did the Advent devotional this last season of time, where there was a chance to say, hey, this time the kid reads the passage, or this time the kid asks the questions, or leads in the prayer. But it's the idea of entrusting spiritual responsibilities to them so that they can see that they don't just have a connection with God through you, but that they have a connection with a God who loves them.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:13] And finally, number five is to have an adult spiritual mentorship outside of parents. And this could be a very formal mentorship that's set up, or it could be something that is just having an adult in their lives who they know cares about them and is spiritually speaking into their lives. I've been so thankful, if you have kids who are junior high or high school age and they are not involved in Exit 83, you're missing out on the most well set up opportunity to do this. I am so grateful that Matt and Jack have adults in their lives through our Exit 83 student ministry who know them, who are praying for them, who care about them, and are speaking the truth to them. They are probably saying some of the same things that Karina and I feel like we've said a lot, but it sounds ingenious when your teacher or group leader says it instead of your parents, there's a beautiful chance to do this. Some of you have kids in life, kids right now, maybe there's a teenager who's helping out in one of your kid's classes, and you know that your kid thinks that this teenager is the greatest person who has ever been created. Have that teenager over for dinner, get them around, and get them in the circle of your kid. Look to have other adults who love, who are praying for, and who are helping to guide your kids other than just you.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:33] Once again, here's what we're looking to do. By the way, if we're looking to do number five, that means that there's probably going to be a bunch of you who are outside of the direct building stage who are still going to be part of the building stage through helping to be the mentors for these kids. What we're going to do, in a couple of minutes when we close the service, what I want to have happen is I don't want everybody to rush out of here.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:56] I want you to be getting out your phones, I want you to be scanning this, it's going to take you to a real simple thing where you're just going to sign up and say, this is the one, number three, that's the habit we're choosing. Number one, that's the habit we're choosing. And then by the end of this week, you'll get a first email from one of our pastors encouraging you and saying, here's where we're looking to go with all of this. We want, once again, we want to have a culture here where it is just normal that Jesus is at the center of the home and that we are taking seriously our responsibility of the Gospel getting to the next generation.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:32] So what I want to do in closing is, first of all, if you're a pastor, elder prayer team member, and you're going to be up afterward, just go ahead and start heading to the front now, because I just want folks to see that there are going to be some of you up here. Some of you are going to come up here once again for prayers for your prodigals, some of you are going to come up here to be prayed over because you're saying I need to do some healing if I'm going to honor my father, and mother, some of you are going to want to come up just for prayer for where you're at with your family. But what I want to do in closing right now, is I just want to ask if you are either a kid right now in the home or if you are a parent with kids in your home, I want to invite you to stand, I want to especially pray over you right now if you're in this situation. Some of you might be grandparents and because of stuff going on with your kids, you are the primary parent. So if that's the case, you can go ahead and stand up also. But I want all of us just to have a time of commitment to prayer, we are all a part of this, but those of you standing right now, you are on the front lines, and we can't wait to see what God does as we look to lean in here. So let's pray together right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:40] Father, thank you so much that for each of us who has come to love you, that there is somebody who passed the Gospel along to us. Father, we thank you, for many of us that was our parents, and we thank you for our parents. But we also thank you for the aunts and uncles, the brothers and sisters, the friends, the grandparents, and the other adults in our lives who helped us see who you were.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:09] Father, I pray for these parents standing right now, I pray that you empower them. First of all, to love you. Secondly, to know that you know that they are not perfect, and they used to love them. And thirdly, father, for them to know that you love their kids deeply and that you're going to work through our challenging, imperfect efforts in this. Father, I pray for the kids who are in here, the kids who are in Life Kids right now. Father, we pray that you seal them in your love. We pray that they will love you above all else, and that you bless them and shepherd them through a lifetime of walking with you and experiencing the reward that you bring when we walk with you. And father, we pray in our church that you foster and lead us into a culture where it is just normal, where we see more and more of the parents and the grandparents and the kids and the aunts and the uncles together as a community of those who have walked with Jesus and are sharpening each other along the way. Father, we pray this all in the name of our great Savior, Jesus. Amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:23] God bless you the rest of this Sunday, take advantage of the folks who are up front ready to pray with you, and God bless you the rest of this day.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848