Chris Hodges - They Want Us to Fight for Them
So good to see all of you here today at church. Who's glad to be in church today, anybody? I know, me too. I am so fired up today. I'm so excited to preach to you. We're in week number three of a four-part series that we're calling "Unpopular Opinion". I'll tell you more about that in just a second. But as always, I like to look into the camera and just say hello to all of those that are in any one of our auditoriums, one of our churches across the state of Alabama and into Columbus, Georgia. We're so glad you guys are joining us. And we have the honor of bringing this service and really all that we are as a church into 21 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. We're glad you're with us; and, of course, as always, people watching online. Grants Mill, like you've never done it before, say a big hello. Come on, everybody. That's awesome.
So, we're in this series called, "Unpopular Opinion". About this time every year we do some type of marriage, dating, relationship, something around that, Valentine's Day. We always include our marriage conference during this season, as well, and I want to encourage all of you who are married or engaged to be marred to join us for this conference. We bring in the best of the best to teach us for two days. It'll be spectacular. Please invest in your marriage. It's one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for your children and really for our generation, and we encourage it. And by the way, as always, some of you are new to our church. Sometimes there is a fee attached to some of these because of what we give you during these conferences. But if money is ever the reason why you're not coming, not a good enough reason. We'll foot the bill. We'll pay for it all. You can come as a guest of ours.
Please don't let that be a reason. Just let us know you need to be scholarshipped, and we'll take care of that because we really want to invest in our families. And that's the topic I want to talk about a little bit today, and that is I want to talk about this generation. I want to talk about the young generation. And this is gonna be in a couple of different parts. I want to preach to you at first. I'm gonna give you a little bit of an understanding of who we are as a church and what our plan is to reach this generation. And then I have a message for all of us, a three-part practical application that I'm asking every single person to walk out of this door, if you love God whatsoever, if you love God, I'm asking for every single person to take this little three-part plan for all of us to engage this generation, and we're going to see a change, in Jesus's name, all right? I'm talking about a generation that the world calls Gen Z, and Gen Z was born between 1995 and 2015. They are currently between the ages of 7 and 27.
Now, this is one out of four Americans. This is 74 million people, and there's a lot of bad news about this generation right now. I would call that the popular opinion. I'm gonna give you a different opinion today. I'm gonna give you some good news about this generation. They say that two out of three of this generation is currently either leaving church or has already left church. They are twice as likely of any other generation to become atheist. There's only three percent of this generation that is reading their Bibles. So, everybody would say, "Hey, that's bad news". And, of course, we all have COVID, right? COVID came along, and it's kind of, in my opinion, has decimated all of us in some kind of a way. But it's really decimated, in my opinion, this generation. It's put everybody in isolation. Everybody's stuck on their phones. In fact, this generation spends more than four hours a day on their phones, which usually that's not good stuff on the other side of that, and everybody would say we have a problem. There's a problem. And I would like to give you a different opinion today. We have an opportunity.
Now, you're gonna see about more passion in me today than you've seen in a long time. In fact, I've had this message prepared for you of what I was gonna talk about to you today for four months. We built this entire series really around part three. I was gonna give you this message. I had been praying. I've been fasting. I've been meeting with our teams. I have been working hard, and today I'm ready to announce some things that we're gonna do to declare to you that we don't have a problem. We have an opportunity. And I need our church to step up. All right? So, we'll start off with a verse out of Nehemiah. And before I give it to you, I'll set it up for you. Nehemiah is not the last book of the Old Testament, but chronologically it is.
So, this is the last story in history before Jesus and the New Testament. The story of Nehemiah is this was the season where Israel was taken into what's called the Babylonian exile or captivity. You'll see either word when it describes this 70-year period where Israel was decimated. In my opinion, it gives us a modern-day picture of really our country and our world. The walls were torn down. Walls were always the symbol of systems, good systems, values, traditions that have been decimated. Well, Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king in Babylon, which is modern-day Iraq, Iran, in that area. And he had favor in the king's palace, and he had made an appeal. "Look, I want to go home, and I want to rebuild my country". He got favor with the king, and so he was allowed to go back to rebuild. And I'm really asking in this message that the spirit of Nehemiah jumps on all of us, 'cause I think the tendency is to look at it and go, "Well, this is their fault, and this is this person's fault, and this is, you know, well, I don't know what we're gonna do about this," and to sit back and kind of watch it, or there can be some Nehemiahs who will go back and say, "Let me be a part of rebuilding this thing".
And he said in Nehemiah chapter 4, when he went back he looked things over, and he basically said, "This ain't good". And he said, "Then I stood up to the nobles. I stood up to the congregation. I stood up to the Christians. I talked to the other people, the officials, and the rest of them. And I said, 'Hey, don't tuck your tail. Don't be afraid.'" And that's the first thing I would tell you. Don't look at it and be totally alarmed. Don't be discouraged. Don't be afraid. But I want you to remember that our God is great and awesome. Say amen right there, everybody. He's awesome, he's great. And what you need to do and what I need to do, and I'm gonna give you the playbook for it today, is I want you to fight for your families, your sons, your daughters, your wives, your homes.
Now, this is whether you have kids at home or not. This is not a parenting messages. This is in all of us, need to have our role, I don't care how old you are. You could be 12 years old. You could be 70 years old. You have a role in fighting for this generation. Here's the unpopular opinion of the day. This is basically my sermon title, 'cause I believe this generation actually wants us to. Now, think, people would say, "Well, no, they're disinterested. They want to be independent. They want to do their own thing". And I'm gonna show you in a fairly painful way that that's not true. So, just recently, we did a survey of our kids, our students, our middle school and high school students, and we basically said, "You can do this anonymously. We're not gonna put your name on it. We just want to know what you're thinking. We need some feedback on how you're feeling".
And we framed it with this: "I wish my parents knew," and then you fill in the blank. And I can't even show you all that we got because you couldn't handle it. I'm gonna show you a few. "I wish my parents knew that even though my actions don't always show it, I desperately want to please them". And that's the unpopular opinion. The popular opinion is they don't want to please us. They're just... no, that's not true. "I wish my parents knew how much I love them, even though I don't always say it". "I wish my parents knew how much I treasured their advice, even when I acted like I couldn't care less. So, actually, I know I showed you I didn't want it, but that was not the real thought that was going on the inside of me". This one gets specific. "I wish my dad knew how much I love holding his hand, even when I acted like it embarrassed me in front of my friends. I was loving every second of it". "I wish my parents knew that when they wouldn't let me date a guy, and I acted mad, I was really thankful that they were fighting for me". "I wish my parents knew that instead of threatening to punish me, I needed them to do it".
Are we all hearing the cry of a generation that says, "Please, please be more involved. 'Cause you think it's this, and leave me alone, I'm in my room, I'm on my phone, I don't care," they do. "I wish my parents knew that when I saw them fight all the time, it really messed me up". "I wish my parents knew that their words, they were impacting me more than anybody else's words. Things they don't remember saying have changed my life. I was actually listening all the time". "I wish my parents knew that I wanted to open up with them about my mistakes". "I wish my parents knew the evils that I faced every single day". "I wish my parents knew the fear I hide behind my rebellion". "And I wish my parents knew how hard it is to stay pure".
When I read these, I read them over and over. In fact, I read this list, and the rest of them I didn't show you, every day this week in my prayer time, because I wanted something to stir up on the inside of me. I wanted to hear the cry of a generation that's called me their pastor, and I refuse to sit by idly and just create something, and walk away, and hope that it works. No, no, no. It's time for the spirit of Nehemiah, not just to rise up inside of a pastor, but every person who loves this generation, and together we're going to fight. Come on, everybody, put your hands together. We're going to fight for this generation. So, part of fighting is building a plan and then educating everybody involved.
So, if you'll allow me, for the next five to eight minutes, I want to tell you what the Church of the Highlands plan to reach this Gen Z generation actually is. And this is gonna inform a lot of you of something you did not know, and some of it is actually new, because I've been working nonstop with our children's leaders, our middle school, and high school leaders, and our college leaders to formulate a plan that actually works. In some cases, we've needed to update it because times have changed, seasons have changed, contexts have changed. When we first started this church, one of our goals was not to overwhelm you with so much church. I grew up in a church where they had something going on every day, and it was too much, and I kind of felt guilty half the time for not showing up. And every Sunday, they would remind me of what I did not show up for, and they were mad at me. Remember that, church?
Okay. So, we were like, okay, we're gonna make church easier. Well, we've got a generation now that's been in lockdown, isolation, and now we have a different cry going on, and we've been listening to parents who are saying we need more. We need you way more involved. We don't just need a Sunday and a service. We need family consistency, we need leaders, we need activities. Come on, we need Six Flags. Right, everybody? We need something. We need something. All right, we're listening. So, I'm gonna go through our plan a little bit with us today, and then I'm gonna give you three things that I'm asking all of us to do, as we leave this place. First, let me talk to you about our children's ministry. We have basically three things. I'm gonna put them all on the screen at one time here so you can see it. There are three things, but each one of these that we would want you to know about, that when they come to children's church, it's in two parts. They are first engaging in an engaging praise and worship experience. It is, of course, set for children.
So, there's motions, and jumping, and lots of fun, and this is to make serving God attractive. You go back to children's church for that first part, it's a blast, and we point them straight to Jesus. But then they break up into small groups that are age specific and gender specific, so that kids can share what's on their hearts. So, there can be discipleship and training. And then all of them are getting graded curriculum; graded meaning that each year it teaches them a different thing. You may not even know this, but we have a six-year graded curriculum plan. So, they come the first year they get this, second year they get this. So, like, every, all 52 Sundays for six years, it's already planned. If you give us six years, I give you my word they will know the Word of God. It is systematic and growing each year, building on the next year, building on the next year, building on the next year, so that when they come out of children's church, they not only know the Word of God; they love the Word of God. Are y'all listening to me, everybody? You might not have known that.
And that's why your consistency, parents, is important because you're skipping lessons they actually needed. We aren't randomly going, "Okay, well, you love God, okay, you have a prayer request, okay. Here's a lollipop, go home". That's not what it is. It's incredibly intentional, and you just needed to know that. So, your participation in church is actually pretty important, so that they don't miss a single thing. I grew up in that kind of church. We didn't miss. We never went to church. We went to Sunday School. We did not miss. I never missed. We weren't allowed to miss at all. If we were throwing up, they're like, "Get a bag, you're going to church. You're gonna be going to church". And today, honestly, then just allow me to just say it like I'm thinking it. I am actually a very consistent and disciplined person, and I point it all back to my mom and dad who just said, "No, no, no, don't think it, don't put your feelings in whether we're going or not. We're going to church. We're going to church".
Just letting y'all know that, okay. I'm gonna be a little bit more forceful than I ever am. I'm just like the nicest, I'm always like, "Come on, y'all. God's good. If you feel it, you know, come on". Today, just forgive me 'cause I'm gonna be stronger with you than I've ever been in my life. And if it's too much, just forgive me. Come back, we'll be a lot nicer next week. Okay? I promise, all right. I want to talk to you a little bit about what we call Motion, which is our middle school and high school ministry, which by the way, starting in April of 2022, just in about a month and a half, you're gonna see the most changes 'cause this is where we were hearing from our parents that once a month we have a once-a-month Motion night, student, you know, service, once a month. They say it's not enough.
So, we're starting in April, we're going to weekly gatherings. Yeah, August. And they're on Wednesday. So, on first Wednesday, come as a family. All of you come as a family. We came on Wednesday night as a family. And we will have things for your kids before and after services, so that we can connect with them. But come and let your kids see you in church. Like come on the first Wednesday. Second Wednesday, we'll have Motion night. Now, that's gonna be the big gathering. It's strange, just like I am right now, to all of our campuses, because we want our kids to feel a part of something big. We'll bring in great speakers for them, great worship leaders, and it's gonna b be very evangelistic. But on the third, fourth, and if there's a fifth Wednesday, it goes to local campus ministry.
So, now there's smaller youth group. And I don't know if you know this or not, but we've been hiring and developing youth pastors for all 23 locations. It's taken me a year to do it, to build them, to develop them. And some of them are in school to learn. We're gonna ordain them, lay hands on them, license them, 'cause every campus needs a youth pastor, who goes to their football games, who knows their names. Come on, everybody, right? We're calling it Motion Midweek, Motion Midweek. So, it'll happen every week, so they can have that consistency. And then we're gonna commit. We already do this, but we're ramping it up, our leadership development to our students, because that's what they need. I have learned a long time ago that the best way to pastor a kid is not to tell them what not to do. The goal isn't to suppress evil. It's to elevate good. You want to write that down by the way.
Some of y'all are like, "Thou shalt not stop don't". That's the only thing they hear from you. No, no, no. When I was a youth pastor (I did it for 11 years) the way we discipled our kids is on missions trips. And the world's gotten a little crazy since then, right? I get it, but we're figuring out new ways to basically recreate the missions trip experience. 'Cause I had a whole generation of students. They weren't thinking about dating. They were thinking about smuggling Bibles into East Germany. We did it. And what it did is that it fired them up to some type of purpose. And today, those students, when I was a youth pastor, are some of the greatest leaders in America. But we were developing them. We weren't getting them there where we could tell them what not to do. We were saying, "Hey, go change the world," and we developed them as leaders and discipled them, and that's getting ready to happen for us, guys.
In fact, if you're a parent, and you want to know the full plan, that I don't have time to tell you about, just text the word "parent" to 74000, and we'll send you all the details on what we're talking about. Here's the last one, and that is our college students, our college students. Right now, it's called One. There may be a change to that. I've actually recently just handed it over to some new leadership. For years, Pastor Mark Pettus has been our middle school, high school, and college pastor, and then I handed him Highlands College, as well, and it's too much. In fact, he's building a world class college called Highlands College, and I'm very proud of the work that's going on there, but I need him to give his full attention to Highlands College, which left a leadership gap there, and so we're starting to fill it. And this past Friday night, I met with all of our college students.
In fact, we bussed them in from Troy, and from Montgomery, and from The shoals, and from all over. We bussed them in. And we had a collect service, and I preached. And by the way, I had more fun Friday night than I've had in five years. I walked on the stage saying, "I don't think I've had joy preaching that much in at least five years". 'Cause I was with my people. I'm telling you, God has called me to invest in all generations, you included, but especially that college aged generation. 'Cause I'm convinced out of it are gonna come some of the greatest leaders this world has ever seen. I'm convinced of it. And so, we handed it over to Pastor Bubba and Brittany Massey, who are our Tuscaloosa Campus pastors who, by the way, are staying at Tuscaloosa. It's created quite a stir, like, "Oh, my God, are we losing our campus pastor"? No, he's gonna lead it centrally for the whole state, for the whole region, out of Tuscaloosa. But they are some of the finest college pastors. He's been with me for 14 years, and I honestly don't know of a better college pastor in the world.
Let's give it up for Pastors Bubba and Brittany Massey. And if you don't know who he is, he's going to be preaching to you the first Wednesday of March because I want all of you to know how fine of a man this guy is, all right? It's gonna be awesome. But the same thing, there are three things about this that I want you to know about, and that is that they meet weekly, but on Thursday nights at 8 p.m., you probably didn't know that. So, if you know of a college aged, they don't have to be in college, but if they're a college aged student, they need to come to our gathering at 8 p.m. in six locations where we currently have colleges in our state, and that is growing. We're going to continue grow that. They're also involved in small groups; but more importantly, they're also involved in leadership, not just development, but opportunities.
I'm determined to put these people into key places in ministry in our church. I'm convinced that's the best way to train them. You guys don't even know this, but Pastor John Larson, who is our worship pastor, he's been a worship pastor for 21 years now. He leads at over 23 locations, oversees all of our production. He's an amazing, he's 40 years old. But when he first came here, he was 19, and we put him on stage, and he was nervous that first time. I was actually leading worship and saying, "Come on, John, come on up here, let's go". And he was like, "All right". And he went up there and led, and now he's the best in the nation at what he does, but we put him in as a college aged student. Are y'all following me, everybody? And so, I'm gonna look right in that camera, and I'm calling on every college aged person, every college aged person to come into part of the leadership of Church of the Highlands.
I heard this week of a girl who has written her own curriculum. She's a freshman in college here in our church. She wrote her own curriculum and has a small group with high school girls in it. And she teaches them rules for high schools, and they were her curriculum. And she teaches the 12th, and she learned. That keeps her pure, that kept her pure and serving God through high school. And we looked at her curriculum. It's phenomenal. And I'm calling on all of our college students. I've already told them this Friday night. I need you to step it up. Let's go. I need you to lead, be a leader in this generation, and make a difference in this world, and we're inviting you to come step into whatever God has shown you to do, because I believe this is the way to do it. Amen, everybody, you got it? Come on, give God praise. You got everything else, he'll do it for you, all right.
So, take some notes. I'm gonna close with three things that I'm asking every one of you to do. And again, I determined to be a little bit more strong on this message. This is not normally my style, if you're new to the church. I'm gonna be very strong 'cause I'm not even just like requesting it. I don't want you to think about it and if it fits your personality, do it. I'm asking all of us, every single one of us to do these three things. Number one, I'm asking you to pray for this generation 'cause prayer works. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? Okay, say, "Well, what do I pray"? Well, I'm gonna show you. Because for 30 years now, my wife and I have prayed for our kids and this generation. We were actually trained by another pastor to pray for three specific things. And for 30 years, my wife and I have been praying for these three specific things. Now listen to me. My kids are far from perfect. We have had our ups, and we've had major downs. Okay?
But listen to me. But they all have recovered. All, I only have really one goal with my kids. I want them to love God. I want them to love his church, because a lot of PKs don't, preacher's kids don't. And my kids love the church. They're involved in the church. All their spouses love the church. I want them to love God, love the church, and love me. Come on, somebody, right? I want them, me, too, right. And right now, we're batting 1000. Wasn't pretty, but we're there. They love God. And I'm convinced it's the consistent prayers that I prayed and what my wife has prayed. Tammy, it looked different ways, by the way. Tammy loved that, you know, cuddle prayer, you know. So, she went in their bedrooms every night and just cuddled up, all up on them, and then stroked their hair. 'Cause we had four boys, you know. They just loved their hair stroked, you know, by their mama. They don't want me to do that, but they loved it when mama just strokes, and she prayed. And Tammy, y'all, you know Tammy. She's very soft-spoken. "Oh, Lord Jesus. I just love him, Lord Jesus".
And, you know, she did that, okay. And then when they went to school in the morning, we were always in the kitchen together when they left for school. And Tammy would, again, hug them, and she'd whisper in their ears, "Lord Jesus just love, Lord Jesus". All right, she did it. Okay, that was her. And she'd kiss them. And I was always like, "Hey, give me a high five. Be a leader, not a follower. Don't let the world change you. You change the world". So, we had a different, little, looking style. But one of the things I've purposed to do is that I wanted to be the first one up. And I'm an early riser, so it's easy for me. But I wanted them, when they woke up, and Tammy would always say, "Hey, go see your dad". 'Cause I wanted them to see me in my study on my knees praying for them, and it wasn't a show. I really was praying. But I wanted them to see a dad who was wearing it out. I either had my Bible wide open or they saw me on my knees praying for them, and I'm asking for your parents, listen to me, step it up because they want you to fight for them. They want you to pray for them. Okay. But all of us, if you have kids or not, I'm asking you to pray for three things.
Number one, pray for them to fear and reverence God. And I don't mean fear as being afraid, I mean fear as in respect. The fear of the Lord, Proverbs says, is the beginning of wisdom. We want our students to be wise. It comes from a healthy dose of the fear of the Lord. "Come, my children, listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of the LORD". And with the fear of the Lord comes favor, riches, blessings. The Bible just talks about it over and over. Lord God, let them just fear you. And I watched it. I watched my kids. One of them I won't name, but he went, when he was in college at the University of Alabama, he called me one night, and he said, "Dad". He was just crying, "Dad". Like, "What's going on, buddy"? He goes, "I'm walking home from a party I got invited to". I said, "You're walking home"? He says, "Yeah, I went with another guy". And he says, "Dad, they're doing stuff. And Dad, Dad, Dad, I came this close, Dad". And he had this fear, and he was talking. I said, "Son, it's gonna be okay, buddy. Good job walking home. How far is it, by the way? How far you gotta walk home"? You know? What was that? That was the answer to this prayer. He got in a situation I didn't even know about, and I bet there were other times he didn't leave. You know, probably didn't leave. I understand that. I'm not naive. You know what I'm saying? But thank God, in that moment, he had a healthy dose of "I've gotta get out of here". Pray it over them.
Here's the second thing we prayed for is pray for them to be surrounded with divine favor. Because when they know God is involved in their life in a way that they never earned, they'll love him 'cause God desires, the Bible says, "Surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, and you surround them with favor like a shield". There's nothing better than for a young person to be going through life and know God's supernaturally postured you for that moment. I know that first hand 'cause I haven't earned anything that I currently have, nothing. I know I am, there's one thing for sure: I know who I am. And I was a C student on my best day, and I was just, I liked to play. I was a clown growing up, and God put me in positions I never earned, and I knew God's hand was on my life, and it made me love him. Pray for the divine favor. I'm asking for teachers and tests and jobs and every place they go, God, would you supernaturally push them forward, so that they know your hand is upon their life? Come on, somebody. Fires me up. I'm just fired, I'm so sorry. Y'all forgive me for my passion today. I'm just fired up about this today.
Here's the third thing, and that is, of course, pray for God to bring them godly friends and godly influences. You show me their friends, I'll show you their future. That's a fact. As iron sharpens iron, a friend is sharpening another friend, good or bad. And for some of us, we have our kids around a companion of fools, and they're suffering harm. So, we want them around the right people. And I pray this: God, send the right people. And even to this day, I had one of my kids call the other day. "Dad, did you tell Pastor So and So to call me"? I said, "No, I did not tell him to call you". "Well, he called me". And I said, "He did"? It's just a pastor friend of mine, just called one of my kids out of the blue. I said, "What'd he say"? He goes, "It's like he's been walking with me for the whole week. He just spoke to me and said things that no one could know. That's why I thought, Dad, you called him". I said, "Didn't call him". No, God answered the prayer of a dad who said, "God, send people into my kids' lives who will impact them in the right way". Are y'all following me, everybody?
I've gotta get moving 'cause I've got two more points, and they're so good. All right, here's the next. So, first of all, pray, pray. I'm asking, look at my eyes. I'm not messing around with you today, okay? I'm telling you we're gonna lose a generation that wants us to fight for them. So, let's go, everybody, let's pray. Let's all pray. Let's fight for them. They want us to fight for them. Second is I want you to prioritize church. So, this is where I'm gonna get so strong. You're just gonna have to forgive me. I'm like, I am just a little fired up, today, and just, can I just say it like I want to say it, everybody? I'm always thinking about putting a little garnish on that, a little sugar on that, and I'm telling you, our kids need us to take them to church, and then they need all of us to love God when we're in church, especially you dads.
And over the past two years, it wasn't really good before COVID, and it's really bad after. Now, we have a higher percentage of returned back since COVID of any church that I know of. Praise God. I'm grateful for it. And I'm not trying to build a church. I'm trying to build our kids, and our kids need the consistency, the discipline, and the strength that coming to church gives them. And I'm not talking about watching a sermon. I'm grateful for online. I'm grateful for, you know, our influence. More than 100,000 people will watch this message not in our church after this week. Praise God for that. But guess what, guess what? That's not what we do it for. And a lot of pastors, and I'm just gonna say it, are more interested in building their own personal brand and putting it out to the rest of the world but not taking care of and shepherding their own church. And I'm just not into it. I'll take off online. I will take it off. I will, because I don't think my preaching is what changes lives. It's one small part, but you don't need a 30-minute sermon.
You need a hug in the foyer. You need, when you're discouraged, and you see another person jumping up and down like a wild person and worshiping, and I think I'm gonna go there too, like, that's what you need. And you can't get that in your house by yourself. So, I'm calling on all bathrobe Christians to come back to church. I'm sorry. Get out of your pajamas. Shave your face. Okay. 'Cause Jesus went to church, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as was his custom. And I'm just gonna say it. Growing up, we didn't have, sports didn't get in the way. The beach didn't get in the way. When we went on vacation, I never forget, one time we were in Wyoming. My dad wanted to see Yellowstone and wanted to see all of that. We were up there, and it was a Sunday. And Dad was over there in the yellow pages looking for a Baptist church.
It was the First Church of Wyoming, and there we were. 'Cause it was our custom. I'm gonna tell you we're gonna fall if we don't. The Bible says, "Let us hold," I love this word, "unswervingly". A lot of you are swervingly. That's what your life looks like. If you're like... oh, I don't think I'll go. I think I'll go next week... That's swervingly. Well, how do you hold on to your faith unswervingly? Well, the Bible goes on to say you should probably think about the fact that you're needed not just for you but for others. "Consider how you can spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up the gathering, as some of you have got in the habit of doing".
But actually, you don't just need Chris's amazing sermon. You need a hug in the foyer. So, here's the plan. I want you to pray. I want you to prioritize. I'm just gonna say it. Don't miss, don't miss, and your life will be better. Don't miss and your life will be better. Just don't. Just decide. And I'm gonna raise my kids up that way. We're just not gonna miss. Here's the third one, and that is I want you to participate, every one of you, in the development of someone younger than you. So, if you're 15, I'm asking you to come serve, help us serve in children's church. If you're 22, come lead a small group for high school girls on rules for high school. If you're a parent, get involved. Develop others. Now, I wish I had time to teach you. I could've done the whole message on this point, almost did, 'cause you can't get away from it in Scripture, that there's a call on all of us to live a generational life.
It's in the Bible so many times. I could've given you a hundred Scriptures. I looked them all up, actually. One generation tells the next. Go read Titus. The older women will teach the younger. It's all over. And then Paul was coaching this young pastor named Timothy. Hey, "Continue in what you've learned". Well, how do I continue? By developing others. He says, "convinced of, because you know that those from whom you've learned it". So, in other words, take what you've learned and pass it on. And I think about my mentors, my grandma, my Papa Joe. I do table questions when I'm at dinner with people. I've got a hundred of them. My favorite question to ask at the dinner table with people is, "Who has been one of your greatest influences of life, and what did they teach you"?
And nine times out of ten, I've done this a hundred times, nine out of ten talk about a grandparent. It's amazing. You say, "Chris, well how do I do that"? Let me give you three things, and we're going to close. I might go a minute over. Just might, just one, just one. Stay with me though. I want you to be an example. So, they don't need you to be smart. They need you to be consistent. "Well, I don't know much about the Bible". That's not what they're looking for. They're what? They're watching you. People want to watch you. Follow me as I follow Christ. Paul taught in Titus, "Encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything, to set an example".
I'm calling on you dads to set an example in your speech, in your patience. Like, they're watching us. They're watching us. Let's be an example. All of you can be an example. Secondly, I want you to be available. Again, you don't need to know the Bible. You don't need to be real smart. But you do need to say, "Hey, if you need me, call me. And hey, let's have dinner. Hey, let's go get coffee". We had this thing when we were raising our kids. We told them, "Any time you need to talk..." We called it pillow talk. There is no curfew. When they were little, we had curfew, had bedtime. It's amazing how many times they broke that because they wanted to stay up late, and they said, "Dad, can we have pillow talk"?
It was just because they didn't want to go to bed, but they had to come lay on the bed and talk to us, and we had pillow talk. And the best conversations growing up happened when we set aside some time to be with our kids. And the Bible says, you know, "Lord, teach me the number of my days, recognize how few they are and spend them as we should". This isn't about counting your days. It's about making your days count. So, be an example. It's simple. Be available. Hey, I'm here. Let's talk. Let's go to dinner. Let's spend time together. They want it. Dads, they want you to hold their hand. Moms, they want it. This is so important. And be positive. Be positive about them.
So, again, I wasn't a perfect parent, and we don't have a perfect story. We just don't. But they all love God, love the church, and love me. But the one thing I did do, if I could just let kind of is I never, I never pointed out what they were doing wrong. That was already clear. I always told them who they could become. So, I know this is what you did, but I want you to know that's not who you are. That was my line. I know this is what you did, but that is not who you are. I was doing what it says in the Bible, and that is calling things that are not as though they were. And I'm asking you to do the same. That's what they want from us. They want you to look at them. They know they, they know. I know that's what you did, but that's not who you are.
So, we've only had police involved one time. And I won't tell you which one it is, but his initials are David. And I got that call at 11:30 at night. "Hey, you need to come". And I'll never forget walking up to that scene, and when I walked up his dad was berating his child, who was with David. Just, and I remember him saying, "I'm done with you". That's the line he said, "I'm done with you. I'm putting you, you're going to a boarding..." He was talking about boarding schools and stuff. Like, "I'm done with you". And as I passed him to go find David, I thought, "I need to get this right".
So, David was actually sitting in the back seat of the police car. And in fact, the police officer went, "Ah, Pastor Chris". Like, oh, man, shoot, that's terrible. And he laughed. He goes, like, "It's gonna be fine". I said, "Okay". He said, "It's gonna be fine". Said, "I know, I know". So, David, I walked up, I looked in the window, and I went, "Hey, buddy, what's up"? And he starts bawling, crying. And I said the line, I said, "This is what you did, but that's not who you are". And I said, "Listen to me". I said, "I've never loved you more than I love you right now, you've never needed me more than you need me right now". And we got through it.
And today, in fact, I was with him this week, as he made a presentation in the business that he's in to a bunch of pastors, and serving God, and happy, but he needed me to fight for him. I'm calling on Church of the Highlands to fight for this generation. Amen? You with me? I said are you with me? Let's pray, gotta go. We've gotta go, we've gotta go. There's a whole 'nother service waiting for your seats. Close your eyes. Don't move around just for a second, please.
Father, I'm asking for the spirit of Nehemiah to jump on every person in this room. We're not gonna complain about our conditions. We're gonna see the opportunity, and we're gonna do something about it. That's what we're gonna do. So, I'm asking for the spirit of Nehemiah, a church that rebuilds broken walls. And God let it be the things that we have in our hearts to do with our children, our middle school and high school students, our college students, God, asking for your blessing and favor on every family, on every dad, every mom, every broken place.
If you're here today and you need Jesus, you're one heartfelt prayer away from your sins being forgiven, your life being changed. Pray this prayer. Say:
Jesus, I need you. Forgive me of my sin. I surrender my life completely to you. Everything, I'm giving you everything. Be the Lord of my life. Change me. I put my faith in you. In your name I pray, amen.