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Charles Stanley - A Strong Family


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God created a family, and yet there are no perfect families. In fact, if you'll look in the scriptures you'll find pretty quickly Adam and eve had a very difficult time in their family. Not only was there conflict between them, because you remember when she said to Adam, "Uh, why don't you take a bite"? He told God she made him do it. It's sort of that's what she said, he said. And then, of course, they had two sons. One of them killed the other. And ElI's sons, the priest, and both of his sons, the Bible says, were evil. Abraham married Sarah. They were getting along real fine. And then, Hagar comes on the scene and they have a conflict. Then you could move all the way through the scriptures, but let's just take David, he was the supreme of all the kings of Israel. There was lying, murder, rape, and rebellion in his family. And this was an awesome family and he was an awesome king. And yet their family was a total disaster.

So, when you're thinking about your family and you're thinking, we're not doing too well, well, just remember this: just because your family isn't doing too well isn't because you can't be better. In other words, you can improve what's going on if you're willing to work at it. It's difficult in these days to have a strong family. And yet that is exactly what I want to talk about in this message. And God intends for us to have strong families and proof of that is this.

If you turn to Deuteronomy, chapter six for a moment, I want us to look at a few verses that's absolute proof that God was very interested in his families being strong families. If you'll look in the sixth chapter, and I'll just start reading in verse three to save a little time here. And notice what the scripture says. Scripture says, "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may bay be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Then he says, "Hear, o Israel! The Lord is 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. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart".

And then, this is what he says about the family is proof that he wants strong families. He says to them, speaking primarily to the fathers, "You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up". That is, to teach the Word of God to his children, his family. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates". And he was simply saying the Word of God I want in your family. Everywhere you turn there's evidence that the Word of God is in your family.

So, when you look at your family and you say, well. Some of you may say, well, my family's gone now. I can't do anything about it. Well, gone where? In other words, if you can call on the telephone you can reach them. Somebody says, well, I text them once in a while. You know what? That's so impersonal. There's no feeling in a text. You say, well, I tell them I love them, but that's still a text. There's something about, sweetheart, I love you: honey, I love you: you're just fantastic, sweetheart. In other words, there's a whole lot of difference in that than i-l-u-v and a capital u. What's happening to a society that we can't even communicate with each other? God wants us to have strong, loving families.

So somebody says, well, so, how would you define that kind of a family? I'd simply say this. And that is, we mean by strong family one in which the members of the family have a love and devotion to one another, love and devotion for one another. No other, no other substitute, just love and devotion for one another. That's the beginning of a strong family. And it doesn't just happen, it takes work. And I think one of the reasons many people don't have strong families is the father and the mother, or one of the two, they're not willing to do what is necessary to build strength into their family.

So, the purpose of this message is this, is to give you the characteristics of a strong family. It doesn't mean that you have to do every single one of these things. But it does mean this. These are the characteristics of strong families. Now, personally, I've been on all sides of this. And I'm simply saying this to you. You don't have to give up, no matter what happens. You can keep moving on in your life and keep having an awesome influence in the lives of your children, no matter what happens. But it depends upon us and our relationship to God. So, I want you to listen carefully to this message. And I want you to think about your home and how you can improve, how you can make it stronger, wherever it might be. And don't give up. No matter what's happened, you don't give up. God placed you there for a reason. And if you will listen to him carefully, he can make you a strong influence. And your children will grow up to have the right kind of influence and testimony. And they'll pass on what you pass on to them. And that will make a wonderful family for you.

So, let's begin with the first one and that is, now, let me say this right up front. When I say this first one you're going to say, well, that, just count me out. No, no, no, no. Because I'm coming to the part where their families are divided and separated and blended and so forth. So, stay with me from the very beginning. First of all, godly parents. You want a strong family? You need a strong father and a strong mother who love God and are devoted to him. That is the most powerful of all the elements in the strong family. Secondly, one of the, one of the very important things about having a strong family is that parents are consistent. That is, if you say something, do what you say. Because here's what children do. They hear what you say, but they do what you do. And children watch that very carefully.

If you want consistency you have to do what you say you're going to do. Very important. Then, of course, you need to be a good listener. Everybody wants to be listened to. And children want to be listened to. And if you want to turn a child away and separate yourself from that child, whether it's a little boy or little girl or a teenager, just get too busy to listen. Listening is a very important activity in a family. You may not always be interested in what they have to say. But remember this: they honor you as their father and their mother, and they think that you're smarter than they are, so they want you to listen to what they have to say because you may be able to help them.

And everybody wants to be listened to. You want to be listened to on your job and your family, among your friends. You feel like that's very important. To refuse to listen to somebody is to shut them out and, really, to make the statement, you're not worth listening to. You're not important so I'm not going to listen. Be sure not to let that happen in your family. Then, of course, discipline them without rejection, a very, very important point. Which simply says this: you don't discipline your children when you're angry with them. If you're angry at something they did, get over it. Move is, walk away, do something to get over the anger 'til you and God can settle your feeling about that. Then you come to them and discipline them.

You see, if you discipline your child out of anger, you're probably going to hurt them. Secondly, they're going to feel by your attitude, they'll feel your rejection. You don't want them to feel rejection. You want to say to them that you're doing this for a reason. So, I made it a policy early in my kids' life not to ever discipline them until first of all I explained what I was getting ready to do. I would never in discipline touch my child with my hand. When you slap a child with your hand, whether it's a face or some other part, there's something about that that transfers into rejection. There's something psychologically very destructive about that.

Then, of course, parents loving one another builds security in a child's life. If a child growing up, whether it's, whether he's six or whether he's sixteen, and he sees dad and mom really love each other, they feel that love, they hug each other, they kiss each other, and right in front of everybody, and he talks about what a wonderful gal she is, and he's a wonderful guy. In other words, when that goes on in a family, what that does, that builds security in the life of those children. And here's what they say. That's the kind of love I want. That's the kind of woman I'm after. I want to marry a woman just like my mother. You remember that song, "I want a gal (just like the gal that married dear old dad)"? You don't remember that song? Well, it's a wonderful idea, and it's because two people genuinely love each other. And if you love somebody, you can't keep it to yourself. People who pout and go off and act like children, you know what? That doesn't build a strong family. It breaks it down.

A strong family's built by mom and dad who love each other and don't mind demonstrating it in the right fashion. Then, don't play favorites. For example, let's say you have three sons and you say, oh, he, listen, he makes straight a's, his teacher just loves him. And over here are two more saying, well, what about us? Or if there's a daughter who is especially beautiful and the other two are just sort of hm, hmm, and you are always talking about how beautiful she is, how smart she is, she's probably going to marry some handsome guy. What about the other two gals who are just as precious? You can play favorites. But I'm telling you, it's destructive to the other two.

And I think about some people who've come to me at times and said, you know what, I don't think my father loves me. Why not? And it's all about his attitude toward the other son, not anything he does against him, but it's the prejudice he's developed as the result of playing favorites. So you don't want to do that. Then, of course, one of the things that we have to do if we're going to build a strong family, we have to admit that we failed. And if you can't admit failures on your part, they're not going to admit it on their part.

And so, all of us have failed at times in our life. We, listen, maybe we didn't keep our word. I think one of the difficult things, and it's really inexcusable when the father promises his son or his daughter he's going to do something and you don't do it. You know what makes it worse? When you don't do it, you don't remember it, and you don't mention it. And what it says to a child is, I'm not important. His work's important. This is important. His car is important. Washing his car is important. All these things are important but I'm not important. To a child, father is the authority. And that's the way God made it. He say, he says that husband is the head of the home. And so, when father or mother make promises to sons or daughter and they don't keep those promises it builds distrust: it builds insecurity because, then when something comes along that's really, really major they don't know what's going to happen because you didn't attend to the small things.

And people say, well, I don't understand why my kids don't listen to me. I'll tell you why. Listen, they will listen to you when you listen to them. And when they come to you to talk and talk and talk and you don't listen to them, when they come to you about things that are really difficult, if you've not been listening, you won't listen to that. And all of these things just shout rejection. I'm not important. And so, if you've not listened before, they won't come when you need to talk to them and you need to listen. Then of course, praying together about everything. And I think this is so very important.

Parents say, "Well you know what? Some things I don't want to pray about". Well, if there's something that's that private, that's one thing, but for the most part, and we had we had a coffee table, that's what we called it, low down and we could sit around it. And so, that's where we'd do our praying together. And we didn't pray together every single, every single night. When kids get a little older you don't, but at least once a week, we'd get around the table, and that's where we sort of brought up things and issues that we would need to pray about as a family. If there were financial issues, or some kind of issues that we had to deal with, that was a good place for us to pray together. And listen. When you listen to your kids pray, you'll know when they know how to pray.

Then, of course, reading the Bible together. It'd be amazing to know how many Christians, Christian homes, as we would say, where the parents and the kids read the Bible together. There's not a dad alive who's too busy. There's not a mother alive too busy. You may make yourself busy. But what could you be, what could you do more important to a young child, now listen, to keep this Bible before them and to magnify the Word of God and to talk about the Word of God and, and, listen, and read it with them? And read the whole family. And you may not read it with the whole family every single day. But you could read it at least once a week. But you could help them learn to read the Bible daily.

And, when my kids were growing up and I would try to get them to read the Bible, they'd say, well, I don't understand some of these words. Well, the king James version, written back hundreds of years ago, some of the words don't mean the same thing today they meant then. So, I thought, okay, I'm going to settle this issue. So, when the living Bible came out I bought both of them a nice, leather, bound, copy of the living Bible translation. From the day I gave them that Bible I never had to ask Andy or Becky to read the Bible, never. And it has become the Bible that I read for my own personal, private devotions because it's written in a different way, and it's written in a more personal way, and it's good for me. I wouldn't want to go with that all the time because I like to see what that, that verbs and pronouns and adjectives and tenses and so forth.

But when it just comes to just ministering to my soul, you give your child copy of the living Bible translation, one that they can handle, small maybe, that they can take with them. And they both took it, took it to college with them, and they're still reading it. And anything you can do to get your child into the Word of God, listen to me, you're saving yourself trouble, heartache, and tears. Because as they read the Word of God and find out what God says, and then they compare what God says to what you say, then there is authority in that. And let me say this. It's your guidebook for life. It's their guidebook for life. You're the one who is to instill within them, watch this, the wisdom, the wisdom of guiding their life by the Word of God.

If I should ask you, well, do you want your children to read the Word of God and to be guided by that? Yes. Well, who's going to be the most effective? Not the pastor. I can talk about it just an hour on Sunday. You've got six days and twenty, three other hours. You're the pattern. It's what you teach them by what they see, reading the Word of God together. There's an awesome, awesome lesson in that. Just being there with them and opening the word. And, for example, here's what they'll do. When you're gone some time, they're going to find your Bible and look through and see what you Marked and what you underlined, and all that says is this: my dad thinks there's something really important about this verse. I better look at this one again.

And so, what you're doing is you're enriching their life in ways that are very, very simple but will absolutely affect them as long as they live. And if I should ask you today, how many of you read the Bible with your children? How many of your children have seen you read the Bible, have heard you read it, have heard you try to explain it? Where's the Bible, the word of? This is the eternal, infallible word of the living God and it's our guidebook for life, and the book by which you and I will be judged. Where is it in your family? And if you'll think about it for a moment, your children probably, if there's none around, they probably wonder why you don't read the Bible.

I cannot tell you how important this book is. It's the guidebook for life. We'd not be having the problems we're having. We'd not be in the mess we are in this country if the people in leadership and the people, whether it's in towns or a city or state, country. We wouldn't be where we are if the principles of the Word of God were lived out by those who rule over us. And that is true in the family as well as any other place in life. So, you want to encourage them to have private devotions. Not just what you all read together, but they need to get into the habit of reading it by themselves and just say, if there's something you read you don't understand, you come ask me, I'll help you understand it. If I don't, we'll find out the answer. Don't just leave them hanging. We'll find out what the answer is. Then, not just reading the scripture and so forth together but, you need to attend church together.

Now, listen carefully. If you happen to be one of those parents, whether you're in this church or some other church, and you come to, and you go to your church, or come to this church, and you drop your kids off for Sunday school, you come to what we call big church, then you go pick them up after Sunday school and take them home, you know what you've done? You've said, number one, worship is not important or big church is not important, hearing the pastor's sermon's not important. You went to Sunday school: you got some training: so that's it. What do you think they're going to do when they get a little bit older? You know what they'll do? Instead of coming to big church, they'll go somewhere else.

And you think, what'll they do when they get to college? When all, listen, everything is stacked against most kids when they go to college because of what they're going to hear. If they're not rooted and grounded in the Word of God, they're going to come out of college, listen, having laid aside what truth you've tried to tell them. And if you'll look at the statistics, it's horribly unbelievable how many kids leave college, do not believe in God or do not believe or anything about the church or anything about Jesus Christ anymore. And then, of course, you need to explain to them how to handle money.

Now, somebody says, well, yeah, well, somebody should have explained that to me a long time ago. Well, this is how simple it is. You can say to a little child, give them a few years there, well, here's what you do. You save some, you give some, and you spend some. Just those three things. And if you get them in the habit of saving very early in life. It may not be much. And one of my friends is telling me not long ago, his mother passed away when he was rather young. But she taught him when he got his first job to do that. To save some, and to give some, and to spend some. And so, he put aside a dollar. He said, I've been practicing it all my years. He's forty, some years old. He told me how much money he had. And if I told you the kind of job he had, you'd think, eh! But, you know, those things multiply.

And so, ask yourself the question, what about, how, how do you look at money? If you got a stack of credit cards or do you have money? Do you have a lot of debt or do you have money? And to think, if you'll think about this, I don't, this is just my personal opinion, and, but it's worth something. The only thing I've ever been in debt for, if I had to say debt, was buying a house. That's the only thing. The only other time I've ever borrowed any money was when I was, had my first paper route, I had to buy the paper route. And so it cost a hundred and twenty, five dollars. My mother and I went to the bank because she didn't have any money. And so I made a deal with them, naturally, that I would pay them back at two dollars a week. So I paid it back in such a way that I paid it off in a year. And the fact that I had to pay interest was terrible!

So it taught me a lesson. And so, we teach our children to save some, teach our children to give some, teach our children to spend some. And we teach them that the biblical example for that is tithing, that the first ten percent. I taught my kids that. I never tithe. I always gave more than that because my attitude was it looked a little cheap to me to give God change. I made four dollars. And to give God for, forty cents when I was thankful for a job? I gave him a dollar. And I've never tithed: I've always given more than that. I taught my children that. And, to say, okay, he, here's how much you have. Now, if you divide this into ten, ten pennies, and if you gave God one of those, how much would you have left? And, of course, we got out of the penny age pretty fast. But, I taught them what tithing's about. And both them have tithed all of their life and stayed out of debt.

And you say, well, it's too late for me. It's not. Listen, pay it off if at all possible. Don't get back in debt. Listen, teach your children that, to save some, put some aside. Because if you'll start now, one of these days you won't have to borrow any money to do anything. Just start young, start early putting it aside. If you will help them do that, you'll be grateful and they'll be grateful all the days of their life. Then, of course, discourage any kind of criticism in your family. It doesn't do any bit of good. Just discourage that. You say, well, you know what, let's don't criticize him or her. Let's talk about this and see if we can't figure this out in some way because there may come a time when you have the same problem. And so, just discourage criticism.

And there're families that don't get along, and he calls her something, and she calls him something back, and it's just on and on it goes. And next thing you know, parents are in it. She gets on his side and he gets on her side. I mean, a family can have an awesome, terrible fight over something that oftentimes isn't important. I'll tell you what'll keep that from happening, reading the Word of God, discussing the Word of God together. You get a whole different perspective on God and perspective on each other. And so, I would just simply say this: don't criticize each other. If you don't like something, keep it to yourself until you can figure it out or sit down and just talk about it.

Criticism, criticism tears people down. It tears, listen, what it tear, you can take this from me and that from the other, but when you take away somebody's, when you take away something that is built within someone, their sense of self esteem, it's who they are, when you tear away at that, you tear away at the very heart and core of that person. You can destroy them with ever, without ever touching them. You can do it with words if you're not careful. Then, at the proper age share your heartaches, disappointments, trials, and tough times. In other words, you say, well, how, what is, what it the proper age? I don't know what that proper age would be for your children. But depends on the problem. But, for example, if you're going through a hard time, let's say, on your job, and your kids are ten or twelve years of age or whatever it might be, and you say, you know what? We need, we need to pray tonight before we go to bed about dad's job or around the table or whatever it might be.

And just share, listen, if you will learn to, if you will share your heartaches, your burdens, and things that you go through with them, then when they go through them, they're going to share them with you. And what you want is them sharing those difficult times with you very early in life before it gets impossible. And if you will do it with them, they will do the same with you because they going to copy you in that. And then, I would say, don't avoid the hard questions kids have. Kids have hard questions these days and time. Don't say, well, you know what? Ask somebody else. Or you may say, I don't know the answer. Go, eh, ah, yu, eh, eh, call the pastor. Well, they're not going to do that, probably. If they ask you some hard question, listen, even try to answer it as best you know how. Or, say to them, you know what? The truth is I don't know how to answer that, but why don't we ask God to show us and maybe if we need to talk to somebody else, he'll show us. Are you listening? Say amen. Amen.

Now listen. I said to my children then they got to be right at teenage, thirteen or fourteen, somewhere thereabouts, I said, look, I want both of you to find an adult that you have a lot of confidence in, somebody that you think you can just say anything to, and I want you to develop a friendship with that person so that, when you want to talk to them about something you don't want to talk to me about. You say, well, now, you should be the kind of dad they can talk anything about. Well, not necessarily. All of us have private things in our life about what's going on. And so, my kids always talked to me about most things. But I said, look, there may be something you don't want to tell me.

And so, I want you to find somebody that you can trust and they won't tell me. But I want you to be able to tell somebody else something that maybe you're going through, or maybe you've had some temptation or something you did and it just hurt you so bad to have to tell me. Tell this person and you all work it out. Well, both of them found a person. And so it was interesting to me who they found. One of them, one of them, chose a counselor in our church, chose a real fine, godly man. And I was happy to see them be able to share that. And your children don't want to disappoint you. And even though they may act at times, deep down inside they don't want to disappoint their parents. And, if you come across in such a way that there's no way for them to get to your heart, you'll drive them away. Then, of course, build biblical convictions into their life as a guide.

Now, that means you, you need to know what you believe. And you need to be able to stand up with the word and if necessary. Maybe you have, listen, maybe you have convictions you can't even go to the Bible and find the reason for it. If it's a godly conviction, it's in here. For example, you may say to your children, very early in life it is a sin to drink alcoholic beverage because it affects your mind, listen to me, it lowers your resistance to moral temptation. Anybody who denies that doesn't know what they're talking about. And so, I said, for example, no drinking.

Well, if you, listen, you can't build that conviction into them if you're drinking because they see you're not consistent with what you're saying. And I know some dads who drink and say that they're Christians. I'm not denying the fact that they're Christian. But it's a terrible testimony in their home. And I can also name some their children who have developed the same habit. Well somebody says, well, there's nothing wrong with drinking a little wine. A little? How long do people drink a little? And besides, what does alcohol do to a person's mind, to their brain? And, you want your kids to go away to college drinking? You paid a lot of money to get them educated. You don't want them messing up their lives getting drunk, having immorality and on and on it goes.

That's just one thing. But there are other convictions. You want them to have a conviction about how they treat each other, to love other people, and the convictions about forgiveness, and on and on it goes. If you have those convictions, you can teach them by demonstration. If you don't have those convictions, no matter what you say, it won't work. They're going to do what you do, not necessarily what you say. And then, spend time with your children. What's their interest? And you say, well, my kids, they don't seem to have the same interests I do. Then maybe you need to change your interests. Maybe, in other words, make some adjustment, depending upon the age of course. So that, in other words, kids love to do things with their parents. It says, what I'm doing is important. It says, what I'm doing he or she thinks it's important, that they respect what I do as well as I do it.

And so, I can remember when I used to build little model airplanes, you know, the stick and paper kind about that large and some of them are huge. My mom, she'd come and see me doing that and she would always say something complimentary. Now, she didn't know a thing in the world about what I was doing, but she'd say, oh, Charles, that really looks, oooh! You must be smart! It didn't take me very smart because I had a blueprint and you put the stick here and put pins here and you put the sticks here and you finally put them all together with glue and put paper on them, you sail them. But you know what? She always encouraged me, whatever I was doing, she was always an encouragement. And you say, well, that's not very, very important. Because, you see, she didn't stop encouraging me making model airplanes. She encouraged me when I was preaching the gospel. But she encouraged me all my life.

That word encouragement is a powerful word: it's a powerful action. Everybody wants to be encouraged. Everybody needs encouragement in their life at times. There's nobody who's beyond the need of encouragement. Because things happen in our life, we can't always handle it by ourselves. We need to be able to tell somebody, share with somebody, kids especially. And so, I want to encourage you to do that. Then, plan fun things together, until they get a certain age and then they're gone. And think about this. You love them when they're small and you all can do this and do that. There's going to come a time when, you know what? They're not interested in that. They have their own world. And what you want to do is, listen, you want to build memories into their life, where they can remember what you all did together.

If you sat down with Andy and said, what do you, what did you and your dad do together, he would talk about us fishing together, about us loving that especially, about us shooting guns together, about playing games together, about what we believed and why we believed it, all kind of things. There's something about what you do together. Might not always agree, but that togetherness, now, if you're a husband or wife and you love your husband or wife, it's that togetherness you like. In other words, if you don't love her, you don't want her around. But if you love her and you love him, you want him around. Because there's something that's the way God made us. He made us persons to love and to be loved, and to show interest.

Then, of course, you have to be willing to ask for forgiveness. If you can't ask for forgiveness, you can't have a strong family. We all make mistakes. And, when my kids were young, I would say to them about once every three months I'd say, well, tonight at supper, let's just talk about, if we have anything between us that we've not talked about, not dealt with, then, let's just get it out and make everything clean. So, they said fine. And so, a few times they didn't have anything. When, I remember one time I said, so, tonight, that's what we're going to do. I said, becky, do you have anything that you need to bring up that maybe I've done? Yes, I do. She didn't hesitate. She told me about something that happened years before that she hadn't mentioned before. Made her go in to her room, shut the door, and the door, I didn't lock it: she thought I did. But it was tight and so she couldn't get out.

She was very, very young at that point. All, listen to this, all these years, and she was a teenager, now, she's probably about fifteen or sixteen. This happened when she was about six. All these years in her little mind and heart was this thought: my daddy locked me in a room by myself. It finally came out. I said, beck, let me just say this. No defense. I didn't lock you in but I shut it and I knew that it was tight and I knew you couldn't get out. So I want to ask you to forgive me, that you've held it all, that I did that and all these years, it was back in your subconscious, and you probably for some reason didn't ever want to say it. And I'm grateful to God that you told me that because it really broke my heart to think that I would shut her out about anything.

So, somebody says, well, that gets too personal. You're mighty right it does. And if you're not man enough to take it, then you'll never have a strong family. We all make mistakes. We all hurt people without realizing that we do. And when we do, we need to say, I ask you to forgive me. You ask God to forgive you, he always does. If you ask them to forgive you and they refuse, that's okay. You've asked for forgiveness: you've settled your conscience: you've confronted it. Don't leave anything unforgiven. Because, listen to me, forty years from now, they'll still remember it. And it's destructive. And it's not worth it. You have to be forgiving and you have to be willing to say, you were right: I am sorry: please forgive me.

You know what that does in their mind? Makes you a giant because you're no longer untouchable. You're a father and you have feelings. And you know what they'll do with their children? The same thing. If you look back in your family and the kind of influence your parents had, it could be bad influence or good. You'll remember some things they did or said that you've never forgotten, never forgotten. It's amazing how those things will pop up in your mind. Then, of course, when a problem comes, don't take sides. If you got a boy and a girl, whatever it might be, or three or four or five, six kids, don't take sides. Just listen and say, we, we need to think, we need to talk about this and think about it. If you take sides, what you do is you, you drive one away. You can deal with major problems without taking sides. Somebody's probably more wrong than the other. But instead of saying, you're wrong. Why do you always do this? We'll never have peace in this family as long as you act that way. All you're doing is driving them away.

And sometimes you may have to say, well, you know, I didn't give very good instruction. I think this is my fault. We just have to release our pride and just say whatever's necessary at the time to keep from having a brawl, a fight, a fuss and divide the family, and keep the family strong. So, oh, here's one of the major things. Always be honest. Listen carefully. Always be honest with your children about everything. Now, for example, listen carefully. Let's say that you are a daughter and you ask your dad about something and he was dishonest. He didn't tell you the truth. And he did that two or three times. When this little girl grows up and she's looking for a husband and this young man or that young man, whatever it might be, do you know what's still in her subconscious? You can't trust men. Aww, you say, that's not true. It is absolutely the truth.

When a person of such authority as your father is dishonest, doesn't tell the truth, lies, or you can call it anything you want to, a child sees that, hears that, feels that, carries that, and what happens? When it comes to men, listen carefully, her experience with the most important man in her life is, you can't trust them. That's exactly what happens. And the same thing would be true if mother's dishonest, doesn't tell the truth, what happens? You think, well, is my wife going to tell the truth? Now, now, logically and openly you don't say, I wonder what all women are like. No, it's deep down inside. You start off with a marriage with a hindrance.

So, I want to encourage you to be honest, listen, no matter what you say. Do what you say, because what you do, what you say is not what they're going to do necessarily. It's what you do is what they're going to do. And you can wreck their family very early in life. Then, of course, I'd say, last of all at this point, be a refuge for one another. When somebody's hurting, be there. If you can't be there in person, be there on the telephone. Not by texting, on the telephone. It's got to be personal. I need to hear your heart, sweetheart. You tell me, son, you tell me exactly how you're feeling. I want to know how you're feeling. When you're hurting, I'm hurting. And listen, when some member of your family hurts and you don't hurt, you have a problem because they're your children, they're part of you and you should be able to feel what they feel, especially if they come to you with some hurt. Don't defend yourself. Just listen carefully and do your best to encourage them and to help them any way you possibly can. Walk through whatever they're walking through in life.

Now, you say, well, now what about broken homes? Is there any way to have a strong home once it's broken, once there's divorce, once there's separation? Yes, there is. May not be as strong as it could be, but it can still be strong. You say, well, how do you do that? Listen carefully. The first way we started off, we started off with two Christian parents together. So, remove that for a moment and everything after that you can practice in a home that's broken. And the husband's gone or the wife's gone or there's somebody else, you've married someone else, whatever's going on there. You can still practice all of those principles, every single one of them, except that you, this is a different family and you have a major issue right up front.

And so, I would simply say this. If the family is blended, if you got two children from her and two children from him or whatever, if you'll just remember this: stay physically and emotionally close to your children, primarily, your children, stay close. In other words, if your wife takes them away or your husband takes them away, stay as emotionally close to them as you can because, listen, they're part of you. They came out of you, mom. They're still your children. And so, mom and dad need to stay as close as they can physically and emotionally so that they never feel like their genuinely parents just left them. And oftentimes that's difficult, especially in a wife, if a wife or a husband have had a terrible, horrible divorce, and now that they're at the point of hating each other, and here're children.

And I think about the awesome, horrible trauma in a child's heart who sees one day his dad walk off and not come back, a little girl who sees her father walk off and not come back. And no matter what you tell them, they can't, they don't understand that. And I think of this dad, when you walk off, remember this, you will give account to a holy God for bringing children into this world and you absolute desert them, not realizing you tear apart in that child's heart, their whole emotional being gets affected. You say, well, they get over it. No, they don't. They do not get over it. It's there. It's a scar as long as they live. This is why you should do your best to keep that marriage together. Sometime you can't. Nobody, no matter what happens, sometimes it doesn't work. Somebody decides they going to leave and they going to walk away, no matter what, that you can't help that. But God will be there to help you. And he'll be there to strengthen you. And he'll be there to help you love those children in a very unusual way.

Then, if one parent leaves, increase your time of prayer and reading the scripture with your children. In other words, you become the physical refuge. The Bible says that we live in the shadow of the Almighty. In other words, if I'm in the shadow of something, there's something big there. And he says, he's our shelter and our shadow and our keeper. And when you keep reading the scripture with those children, though mom or dad's gone, and you have to understand and they have to understand, you know, we don't understand why. We don't want to be critical. We want to pray that whatever's going on in their life God will work in their life. No matter how good you try to make it, there's a scar, there's hurt, and there's pain. But you do have a responsibility to alLeviate as much of that as you can.

And then, remind them that trusting God is more important than ever before when, when one of your loved ones is gone. Trusting God is more important than ever before because now you don't have a father, you don't have a mother: now we have God. And what you want to drill into that child's heart is God is your Father. You don't, earthly father's gone. But God is your father now and he'll provide your needs: he'll provide our needs. And I know in my mother's, in my life, not having a father for those years, my mother would keep reminding me that our Heavenly Father was my Father now. And that we going to make it somehow and some way. And times got pretty tough, but she was always there to encourage me.

And one of the interesting things you can do for those children is give them a verse of scripture every morning that maybe God laid on your heart. And just ask him, say, why don't you read this before you go to school this morning. And if you've given them a Bible and they have their Bible, then, and just say, well, maybe this evening, when we eat dinner, we'll just talk about this, something that would apply to them. And don't give them something out of Leviticus, that has, you know, that would be, but you want to go to the Psalms and like, for example, if you gave one I quote to you often, that God says he'll teach us in the way we should go: he'll guide us with his eye upon us.

Well, to a little child, they can sort of get that. So, you'll know exactly what to say to them. And this is a wonderful opportunity for you to teach the importance of their personal relationship with God and that no matter what happens in life, you're going to make it, we going to make it. We're going to have a strong family, no matter what. It'll never be as strong as it could be, but it'll be stronger than most people allow theirs to become. And so, I want to encourage you, whoever you are, if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you're going to have a very difficult time having a strong family and growing strong children.

We live in a world that's slanted against our kids in every way. There's something out there everywhere to destroy them mentally, physically, and morally. You are their refuge. You are their help. You need them: they need you: everybody needs God. And want to encourage you to trust to Christ as your Savior, ask him to come into your life, help you to be the kind of person God wants you to be, and be the kind of parent, a godly parent, that you need to be. You may be a son or a daughter and you've treated your family terribly. You say, well, that's been a long time ago. You know what? They still hurt. They're still hurt. You say, well, they've forgotten it. No, they don't. You don't forget when people hurt you deeply as a child, and they don't forget when you hurt them.

So, I want to encourage you to settle up any issues in your family, ask for forgiveness, make things right, and do your best to honor your mother and to honor your father. And I want to say to you this morning, all of us have responsibilities to our children. We have responsibilities to each other, to love one another, to help each other any way we possibly can. That's what being a Christian is all about. And I want to encourage you to take the notes that you have today. You can put them on the shelf somewhere, you'll be sorry. What you need to do is to look them over, read them over, and if I want to remember something that's normally I would have a difficult time remembering, I make a list of it and I lay it somewhere I can just see it every day. I just read over it, and read over it, and read over, and read over it, and here's what I've discovered long time ago.

When something comes up I need to remember, there it is. Not because I read it once and not because I heard it once, because I knew I was, it'd be easy for me to forget some of it. You've not heard anything unimportant. It's all been important: all works: it's all truth. And you're talking about raising children, raising grandchildren, and some of you grandparents, you going to have to step in to the position of a parent because your children have just blown it bad in their marriage. But grandparents, there's something about a grandparent, I'm telling you. I know that and I've watched this with my own grandchildren. When they got to be teenagers, at first, you know, I was just gimps, mm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm. Then, there came a time in their life when they had questions. And then it was, gimps, let's talk. And, go to dinner with them.

And not long ago I took each of them by themselves, Becky's children, one of, each one of them by themselves and we talked probably for an hour or so. I just wanted to hear them. I wanted them to hear me. I wanted to hear what they're thinking, what they're saying, and to say to them, gimps all be, always be available. You remember. Text me if that's the way you want to do it. Call me, write me, whatever you want to do. You get in trouble, call me. If you've got questions, call me. If you're hurting about something, call me. In other words, grandparents, make yourself available. You are not too busy to hear your grandchildren. You're not too busy. And they need you. You know what you'll be? You'll be like an anchor to them. I can always, I can always go to gimps. I know he'll be there for me. They'll do the same for you. If you're not saved, you're working against yourself. I plead with you in Jesus' name to give yourself to him, asking him to forgive you of your sins and trusting him as your Savior and then let God work in your life and the life of your family.

And Father, we commit all of this to you. And I pray the Holy Spirit of the living God, you, Lord, will etch these truths into the minds and hearts of those who've heard it and who will hear it. And Lord, you'll work in the hearts in such a fashion that every family becomes stronger and stronger and stronger and share these truths with their friends who have broken families or their family friends who are going through difficult times. Make all of us, Father, missionaries of truth in all the truth that you teach us, to give it away because we want somebody to give it to us. And we pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

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