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James Merritt - Poster Child

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    James Merritt - Poster Child
TOPICS: Family Ties, Family, Obedience, Children

Just about the time you think you've seen it all, and you think you've heard it all, you haven't. I mean, after all, children having disagreements and disputes with their parents, goes all the way back to the first parents, it goes all the way back to the first children. So let's just be honest, how many of you ever had a disagreement with your parents? It's better be unanimous, don't sit there, come on now. Yeah, it's not a big deal, right? Well, you think, yeah, that's not a big deal, but then you read this, rather than being grateful for his opportunity in life, Raphael Samuel is suing his parents for bringing him into the world without his consent. I'm not making this up. The 27-year-old man from Mumbai claims his parents were selfish, and had me for their joy and their pleasure, he explained. I want everyone in India and the world to realize one thing, they are born without their consent. I want them to understand they do not owe their parents anything. He also stated, if we are born without our consent, we should be maintained for our life, we should be paid by our parents to live. If only my Archie Bunker dad were alive today.

Now I'll be honest, I don't really think he has a real good case in court. And you might know this, both of his parents are attorneys, so I don't really think that's gonna work out that well. But by the way, I do love his mother's response, I thought it was classic. I must admire my son's temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault. Now, I only wish Raphael could hear the message that I'm going to deliver today, because it actually goes to the very heart of his concern. If you are joining us for the first time, we've been in a series we've been calling, Family Ties.

Family's a big deal to me, should be a big deal to you, 'cause it's a big deal to God. Because the first unit that God ever created was not the government, not the state, not the school, not even the church, the first unit God created was the family. So we've been dealing with various parts of what we call the traditional family. And in this series we've not left anybody out, we've talked to husbands, we've talked to wives, we've talked to fathers, we've talked to mothers, but today we're gonna do something really, really different. We're gonna talk directly to, not just about but to children, especially if you still live at home with your parents this message is really for you. And the reason why I'm doing that is because that's exactly what the Apostle Paul did in a New Testament book called Ephesians.

And I wanna invite you to turn to Ephesians 6, it's in the New Testament, go to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and about six, seven books over, you'll hit the book of Ephesians. Now, let me tell you why this is so unusual. It's so unusual that Paul would address something directly to children because rarely are children ever directly addressed in any of the Bible. As a matter of fact, in the ancient world, you may or may not know this, children were very unimportant, children were seen as really irrelevant. They were considered of low value as compared to the grownups. Let me tell you something really interesting, we sing this song, Jesus loves the little children, he loves the little children of the world. And yet you wanna know something strange?

Never in scripture is Jesus ever recorded as having one conversation with a child, not one. Loved them, they sat on his lap, loved to hear him, loved to touch him, loved to feel him, love to see him, but he never had one conversation with a child. And yet Paul is not just talking about children to grownups, he's talking to children, which we either are or we were at one time. Now, what I hope happens today is this, I hope this message is an encouragement to a lot of parents today who are dealing with children and you are dealing with teenagers. Because to be very honest, in my opinion, you've got a teenager today and you got a child today, you got a much more difficult job than Teresa and I had when we had teenagers and we had children.

Now, it's never been easy, but I don't think it's ever been more difficult than it is today because we're living in a cyber world that's computerized, it's digitalized. And frankly, kids today, they've got so many ways and so many people they can communicate with that we don't even know about. And I'll tell you what's really sad, we're in a day and age now when parents are texting more with their children than they're talking to their children. Matter of fact, I read about a website, this is a real website two brothers created, it's called And what they've done is they've compiled private text messages between parents and children. So I was reading through them and this is my absolute favorite, it's between a dad and his son, this was a text exchange.

Son: What time are you picking me up?
Dad: Who is this?
Son: It's your son.
Dad: How did you get this number?
Son: I programmed your phone, remember?
Dad: How do I delete people?

That's the age we live in, that's the day that we live in. It's a strange day how parents communicate to children and children communicate to parents, and the way kids verbally interact with their parents today. I just be honest, I mean, you're about like I am, I see how kids, little kids interact with their parents and teenagers and it's just different. Kids say things to their parents today I would've never thought about saying to my mom and dad, I just never occurred to me. Matter of fact, there was a mom and her son that got into a disagreement. He looked at his mom, you know, this is one of those personal things you'd say, he said, mom, you're invading my personal space. The mom looked at him and said, well, you came out of my personal space, so we're even.

Now, today I'm talking directly to children, but I'm also talking indirectly to parents because I'm gonna give you my message in one sentence. Here it is, God's children want to be godly children. Simply put, God's children want to be godly children. So I wanna ask every one of you in this room, you're either under the age of 18 or you still live at home, are you a child of God? Forget about your parents for a minute, are you a child of God? Well, yeah, I'm a child of God, well, if you're a child of God, then you want to be a godly child. And by the way, that's true of you no matter how old you are. But it doesn't just happen spontaneously, it takes godly parents to do their best to raise godly children. So two things have to happen in the home for this to happen, number one, parents have got to give leadership, the kids have gotta give followship, works both ways. Parents lead, kids follow.

So I'm speaking today to all the "kids," whether you're a first grader or high school senior, or maybe you've left home, maybe you're off to college, but you still have parents. And if you are a child of God and you claim to be a child of God, you ought to be a godly child. You say, well, what does it mean to be a godly child? Well, Paul is going to tell us three things you have to do. One you have to do as long as you live under the roof of your parents, but there are two things you ought to do no matter how old you are if you're going to be a godly child. So, mom and dad, I'm gonna do you a big favor, I'm gonna do the talking today, I'm gonna be the bad guy, you be the good guy, I'll be the bad guy, so they can roll their eyes at me and leave you out of it, okay? So number one, be right by obeying your parents. If you wanna be a godly child as a child of God, be right by obeying your parents.

Now, for all you children out there, what Paul says is pretty straightforward, right? He doesn't mince words, he says, children, obey your parents, children, obey your parents, okay? Now, let's just all say that together, ready? Children obey your parents. I mean that's just kind of really straightforward. So, what he says to all of the children in this room and all the children who may be listening, and by the way, you may be here saying, man, I wish my kid was here, I wish my child was here, I wish my college student was here, go on the website when this is over, pull it up and listen to it with them. But the number one part you're to play in your family is this, be an obedient child, that's your number one role you play in your family.

Now, parents, that means the first lesson you begin to teach your children from the time they're born is the lesson of obedience. Because there's one thing we all know, I don't care how beautiful that little baby was that came out of your womb, I don't care if you thought you just bore the next Miss America, they don't come out obedient, they come out disobedient. You don't have to teach them to disobey, you have to teach them to obey. And let's just be honest, I'm a good example, obedience just doesn't come naturally to any of us, disobedience does. I mean, if we were all really honest, sometimes we just don't like to obey. I heard about a man that was coming home from work and a police officer pulled him over, he wasn't wearing his seatbelt. So he gave the man a warning and he said, look man, you know what the law is, please make sure you wear your seatbelt.

Well, the next day, the same police officer pulled over the same man at the same place, wasn't wearing a seatbelt. He said, Okay buddy, I gave you a warning, this time I'm gonna give you a ticket, so he writes him out a ticket. He said, now, have you learned anything? He said, you better believe it, I need to take a different way to work next time. We don't like to obey. There's a part of us, we're kind of born rebels, and that's what same with all of us. By the way, we never get too old to obey, we never get too old to be under somebody's authority, you're always gonna be under somebody's authority. There may be a point you get too old where you're not under your parents' authority, but you'll never be so old that you're never under someone's authority. And that's why mom and dad, you've got to teach your children obedience.

And the way that you teach them changes at different stages of their lives, and that's where parents sometimes mess up. You can't train your kids at six the way you train them at sixteen. You can't teach that first grader the same way that you teach them when they're high school seniors, because they're in different phases of life. There were two women that had kids and there were different phases of life and they were discussing children, and they were watching their children play on the playground, one of the mothers said, you know, I got a thing the other day, she said, It is so ironic about being a parent. She said, what do you mean? She said, well, we spend the first 12 months teaching our kids to walk and talk, and we spend the next 12 years teaching them to sit down and shut up. And that's really, if you think about it, that's kind of the way it is, there are different phases in their life. And the point is, you really, really, really need to teach your kids to obey until they leave your house.

Now, lemme just say to some of you kids here today, you may be a maverick, you may be a rebel. We had three sons, and he'll know who I'm talking about, but one of our sons, he was the maverick in the family, he was the rebel in the family, he was, I'm gonna do it my way or bust son in the family. And I'm gonna be very honest, you may think it's you're kind of being cool to show your parents, you know, I'll show them who's boss, I'll show them they can't, even though they put food on my table and clothes on my back and pay my rent, I'm gonna show them, they're not gonna boss me around. I just wanna remind you of one thing, even the son of God was obedient to his parents. Now, think about that. Even the son of God was obedient to his earthly mom and dad, because remember, the son of God was once the son of God child, and the son of God was also a son of God teenager.

Lemme tell you what we read about Jesus. "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart". I mean, you talk about having a trump card in your pocket, if you've thought about this. You know, Jesus could have said to Mary or Joseph, hey, let's get something straight, I created you. He didn't do that. Mom, you seen me walk on water in the bathtub, I don't think y'all ought be telling me what to do. He never did that. He respected, he obeyed his parents, he knew who he was, he knew who they were. And Paul gives one... Tell me, just give me one reason why I ought to be obedient to my parents. Paul says, okay, I'll tell you why, because this is right. End of discussion, no more talk, this is right, it's just the right thing to do.

Now, that takes me back to parents. So what does that mean? It means it is your job, mom and dad, to teach your children the difference between right and wrong, and to teach your children to do right and to act right. It is right for children to obey their parents and parents have the right to teach their children what is right. Now, having said that, let me just be very straight upfront with mom and dad today, that is your responsibility. It is not primarily the responsibility of our church to teach your kids right and wrong, now, we wanna do that, we wanna join you, that's not our primary responsibility. It is not even the primary responsibility of the school they go to even if it is a Christian school. It is the primary responsibility of the mom and dad to teach their kids right from wrong, and there are three basic lessons we ought to teach our kids from the time they come out of the womb and I'm gonna share them with you, not hard.

Number one, there's a difference between right and wrong and God tells us which is which. And by the way, we're living in a society today, you better be teaching your kids that. There's a difference between right and wrong, and by the way, I don't care what the president, the Congress, or the Supreme Court says is right and wrong, what God says is right and what God says is wrong is what is right and what is wrong, and that never changes. So when your kids are trying to figure out, I don't know whether this is right or not, well, let's see what God says. I had a conversation this morning, this morning, with a former student of mine who was in my student ministry when I was a student pastor, he wouldn't mind me telling you this. He just got divorced from his wife, 40 years they've been married. So I called him on the way into church this morning, man, what's going on?

Here's what probably will surprise you, he said, you know, I've come out as gay, I've come out as gay, he's got two boys, I've come out as gay, and, you know, I just, you know, wanna get a divorce. I'll just call him John, and I said, John lemme tell you something. He said, I was so afraid of talking to you 'cause I've had so much respect for you, I said, look, I love you unconditionally. And I'm gonna be here for you, you're one of my boys, I'm gonna take you, I gonna always stand with you. But I told him this, I also want you to hear me 'cause I'm gonna be talking about this fall. If you try to find your identity in your sexuality, you're gonna be one miserable human being. Listen to me carefully, if you are a child of God, your identity is in Christ. It is not in your sexuality, it is not in where you work, it is not in who you're married to, it's not what you do for a living, it's not what you majored in college, your identity is in Christ, your life is Christ. And so you teach your kids the difference between right and wrong and God tells us which is which.

Number two, we're to do right and not wrong, it's not hard. But number three, if we do wrong and not right, we will suffer the consequences. We're living in a day more and more, you know, everybody gets the ribbon everybody gets the trophy, sorry, that's not the way life works. And there are consequences to decisions. You make wrong decisions, you ought to expect wrong consequences, that is the job of the parents. Now, let me just jump in and say one thing 'cause I thought about this, I think ahead. I said, okay, I'm gonna have some kids that are gonna hear this story and say, wait a minute, what if my parents are not Christians? Great question, here's my answer. As long as your parents do not ask you to do anything that is unbiblical or ungodly or immoral, it's even more important that you obey your parents.

As a matter of fact, not only is it the right thing to do, probably the best way you can be a witness to that lost mom and dad is to show them this is what a Christian child does, this is the way a Christian son acts, this is the way a Christian daughter responds. Because remember this, when you obey your parents, kids listen to me, you're not just obeying your mom and dad, you're obeying the God that gave you that commandment to begin with. So be right by obeying your parents. Now, let's put that aside because we're not always kids, right? We finally do move out. Some move out when they're 10, 20, some move out when they're 60 or 70, but eventually we move out. So it's okay, I'll move out, all right? Well, you're still a child, they're still your parent in a way, so here's step two. Be respectful by honoring your parents. You're right in obeying your parents, but you'd be respectful in honoring your parents.

Now, the result of obeying your parents is you honor your parents. So Paul goes all the way back to the Old Testament, one of the commandments, he says, "Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise". Now, let me just get something out of the way. There is a difference between obeying your parents and honoring your parents, I'll make it plain. Obedience is an action you do on the outside, you do what you're told, that's obedience. Honor is an attitude that you have on the inside. So to honor means to respect. So let me give you an example. Your mom or your dad asked you to clean your room or take your, you know, dishes to the dishwasher, or you know, whatever your chore might be. And you do it, but you do it grudgingly, you do it complaining, you do it moaning and back talking. Why do I always have to do it? Why don't you ever ask my brother to do it? You do it, you know, with a bad attitude, well, you're obeying them but you're not honoring them. Because the truth of the matter is, you cannot honor your parents without obeying them, but you can obey them without honoring them.

Now, it is one thing to disobey your parents, we put that aside, it is a different thing to disrespect your parents. So here's what I wanna say to all of us, how many of you still have one or two parents that are living. Okay. You never outgrow the responsibility to respect your parents. You don't have to obey them, I get that, they can't tell you what to do, they shouldn't even try, but you never outgrow the requirement to honor your parents. We're to hold our parents in high esteem, treat them with respect no matter how old they are or how old we are. So that means, no, you don't have any right to speak to them any way you want to just because you are an adult. Yes, you're going to agree with them sometimes, you're going to disagree with them sometimes, but disagreements should never turn into dishonoring them. That verb to honor by the way is in the present tense, that refers in the Greek language to an action that never stops.

So what Paul was saying was, honor your parents to the day they're dead or to the day that you're dead. You never ever out from under the requirement to honor your parents. I've got three sons, they've all reached a stage in their life, they are not required to obey me anymore, I don't even try to tell them what to do anymore, if they ask my advice, I give it, if they don't, I don't give it, and if they give it and they don't take it, then they can go do something stupid, that's up to them, it doesn't matter her. They're no longer required or obligated to obey me or their mother. But I've let them know before, you still are gonna honor me, and you're still going to honor your mother. Obedient stops, honor never does. When I became a dad, I still respected my dad. When she became a mother, she still respected her mother. Never called them by their first name, and by the way, don't ever get around this guy and call your dad, your old man, or your mother, your old lady, it will not go well with you. And you don't get too old to say yes sir, and no sir, and yes ma'am, and no ma'am. It may be a southern thing but it's in the Bible somewhere, I'll find it.

See, there are two stages in honoring your parents, two stages. In stage one, you honor them by obeying them, okay? You're at home, whatever they tell you to do, you do it, and you do it with the right spirit and a submissive heart. In stage two, listen carefully, here's the way you honor your parents in stage two, not by doing what they tell you to do, but doing what they need you to do. 'Cause this is the way it works and you kids listen to me, when you're a child they care for you and they should. But one day they'll be old and they won't be very healthy and they'll be lonely, and they will need you to care for them. And you'll get a chance, you'll get a chance, to invest in them, respect and love and care for all the things they have done for you, that's the way that it works. So, you take care of them, you call on them, you check on them, if you can, you visit with them, you do for them what they can no longer do for themselves that they need you to do without them having to beg you to do it, talk you into it, it greases me when parents almost have to bribe their kids to do something for them.

I read a story, it was two days before Thanksgiving, and there was this old man in California and he called his son, he said, David, David lived in New York. So he calls his son up two days before Thanksgiving he said, son, I hate to tell you this over the phone, but he said, I'm leaving your mother, I can't stand anymore, I've had enough. 43 years of her nagging and groaning, I'm out. Well, he was shocked, he began peppering his dad with question, and, you know, what can we do to take care of things? And finally the dad just cut him off, he said, listen son, we don't need to talk about this anymore, my mind's made up, if you don't mind, just call your sister in Chicago, tell her what's happening, but I do not wanna talk about it anymore, do you understand? I'm done.

So the brother calls the sister and he says, you're not gonna believe this, and man things are just blowing up at the house, I don't know what to do. And so about five minutes later the phone rings, the dad answers the phone, it's the daughter. She says, dad, listen to me, don't you do anything until we get there, nothing. David and I have talked, we're both gonna be there tomorrow night and we're gonna be bringing the kids. The dad said, well, okay, see you tomorrow. Hung up, turned to his wife, said, okay, they're coming for Thanksgiving, what do you want me to do for Christmas? That was good, I liked that. But you should be respectful. I've told you this before.

My dad died in 1998, my mother died in 2015. Beginning the day my dad died to the day my mom was able to talk, it didn't matter where I was in the world, every single morning, Teresa is this true or not? Every single morning at 8:30, I called my mother, every single morning. Your baby boy loves his mama, and your mama loves her sweet baby boy, every morning even to this day at 8:30 I'll think about calling my mom, and I'm not saying that to brag. I'm just simply telling you, you must be respectful in honoring your parents and you be respectful until you draw your last breath or they draw theirs. Be right in obeying your parents. Be respectful in honoring your parents. And then here's the last thing, be reverent by loving your parents, be reverent by loving your parents.

Now, there are three words we need to go back and pick up in verse one 'cause I left them out on purpose. Paul says, children, obey your parents, read this out loud, say it real loud. In the Lord. Do it in the Lord. Now, what does those words mean? Matter of fact, in another passage over in Colossians Paul said it this way, he said, children, obey your parents and everything for this pleases the Lord. Well, what does that mean? Simply put, so when I obey my parents, I'm obeying you, right? And when I'm pleasing my parents, I'm pleasing you, right? And when I'm honoring my parents, I'm honoring you, right? So now we gotta bring the parents back into play, because your children will not do what they're supposed to do in the Lord if you don't take the lead in teaching them to know the Lord. So it goes all the way back to parents. Your number one job, I said it over and over, your number one job is to make sure your children know the Lord. You cannot please the God that you do not know. But once you come to know that God you need to be taught to love that God in such a way you always please that God.

So, one of the greatest questions you'll ever teach your children to ask before they start to do anything is this, if you will teach your kids and your teenagers to ask one question before they go off to that spring senior trip, before they go off to that college and think they're ready to sow their wild oats, if you'll teach your kids to ask just one simple question, would this please the Lord? There are kids that got killed last night driving drunk because they didn't ask that question. There are girls that lost their virginity last night because they didn't ask that question. And there are people today that are living in guilt for the way they disobeyed and dishonored their parents because they didn't ask that question. Would this please the Lord? Would this bring a smile to the face of the Lord? Would this bring joy to the heart of the Lord?

I've told you before, I spent the first years of my life as a student pastor. I was a student pastor in three different churches, including my home church. And to this day that's why I'm real big on next gen, I've never lost my love for teenagers, never lost my love for next gen ministry, that's why I'm so interested in parents and children and the way they respond and react to each other. And let me just tell you, after all these years I've basically observed that there are two kinds of parents, there really are, I'm not oversimplifying this, and there're pretty easy to spot. There are parents, and I hate to say this even in the church, this is the majority of parents, there are parents who raise their children by looking at the culture. They just watch what other parents do, they kind watch what does Hollywood, what do the entertainers, what do the children's peers do? And they let that dictate how they raise their children, they just look to the culture.

Well, they're doing it, must be okay, they're saying it must be okay, they believe it must be okay, they look to the culture and unfortunately that's the way most parents raise their children. But then they're parents, they don't raise their kids by looking at the culture, they raise their children by listening to the scripture. They say, you know what? I believe the one that I call heavenly father probably knows more about rearing children in his little finger than I know in my whole body, maybe I'll let him show me, maybe I'll let him tell me how to raise my children. So, they don't take their clues from modern family, they take their clues from ancient scripture. They teach their kids to take a stand for what is right, to speak up for what is right, to live their life by God's word, not the opinion of what may be culturally in vogue or politically correct.

So, as I kind of wrap this up, I just wanna say one final hopefully encouraging word to parents, and I wanna acknowledge something. 'Cause I know some of you sitting up there and you're saying, yeah, it's easier to sit there and pontificate and point and, you know, exhort, and, you know, say those things, it's not really 'cause I was a parent at one time like you are, we had kids and teenagers at one time just like you do. And I've told you before unashamedly, I wish I had my parenting days to do over again, I'd do some things differently. And just like you sometimes I look and I wonder, where did I go wrong, where did I fail? I've got three great kids but, you know, I always expect more for my kids, I always want better for my kids. And I fully acknowledge, I'm telling you, it is more difficult being a parent today and raising children than ever before. Someone as well said, children are a great comfort in your old age and they can help you get there a lot faster.

I wanna share this with you and I hope this will help some of you, in case you felt like, gosh, you just kind of been beating on me, let me just stop and put everything in context. Even the most good and godly parents sometimes have children that just don't turn out right, they just take the wrong path. Sometimes parents that are neither godly or good wind up with children that are both. You've seen it, I've seen it, I know people, you know people. Here's a mom and a dad, they did everything they need to do, they crossed the Ts, they dotted the Is, they took their kids to church, they tried to live right, they tried to live a godly life, and some way somehow that spirit of rebellion got into the kids and they took off in this direction. And then you've seen other parents never darkened the door of the church, never gave a flip about God, but somehow God intervened in the life of their children and they turned out to be great godly children, and you go, what in the world happened? What did I do wrong?

Let me just give you a little word of encouragement, in the 17th century a man named Thomas Fuller studied the genealogy of Jesus. This is the family tree of Jesus. And he found out four remarkable things. I want you to watch this, this is so incredible. Rehoboam, a bad father, produced Abia, a bad son, you'd expect that. Abia, a bad father, produced Asa, a good son, didn't expect that. Asa, a good father, produced Jehoshaphat, a good son, you expect that. Jehoshaphat, a good father, produced Joriam, a bad son. It happens. So what's the point? The point is, I want you to hear this carefully you mom and dad, just like I did, I did my best as a dad, what I thought was the best. But I didn't always get it right. I smacked my kids in anger at times, I shouldn't have done it. I was too strict on my kids at times, I shouldn't have done it. My wife was a far better mother than I was as a dad.

And I've had to work through a lot of things with the Lord in my own life. But finally in reading the scriptures and walking with the Lord, spending time with him, asking for forgiveness, being repentant, I finally realized ultimately at the end of the day, the boys got to sit down and the man's got to stand up and take responsibility for his own actions. You do your best that you know how, knowing before you even start out know before that child even gets to be one years old, you're gonna make mistakes, you're gonna blow it, you're gonna do things you wish you hadn't done, you're not gonna do things you should have done, it's just life because the only perfect parent is God and look how his first two kids turned out.

So what do you think you're gonna do? What I'm saying to you, at the end of the day there comes a point where you have to say, you know what? I did my best, I trusted the Lord, I've tried to live the best way I know how, nobody's gonna put me on a guilt trip for where they are now, they've gotta stand on their own two feet. I'm not accountable for them anymore, they are accountable for them, that is the point that I'm trying to make and I want you to please hear that. I beg you to hear that, don't feel like you're a failure, don't feel guilty. If you can honestly look in the mirror and say, look, I did my best to be a good godly parent, kids didn't turn out the way I wanted them to turn out, and let me just say this, I'm gonna it one more time, I don't care if you had bad parents, I don't care, if you are a child of God, you wanna be a godly person, end of story. If you're a child of God, I don't care whether your mom was a bad mom or your dad was a bad dad, you don't have to be a bad man and you don't have to be a bad woman, you've got a choice.

You can break that chain if there's a generational chain, you can break it. You can't just push a button and guarantee that your children will be less like the children talked about in this passage. All I am saying is, it is our job to do our very best that we can and then leave it to the Lord, but we've got to do that. There is a man who once argued with the English poet, Samuel Coleridge, about the importance of parents instructing their children in spiritual matters. Well, this man wasn't really that religious and he wasn't really a church goer. And he said, I'll just tell you Samuel, I just think you're wrong. He said, I'll just tell you, he said, I just don't think parents ought indoctrinate their children into their religion, I just think they ought to give the children the freedom to make their own choices, just let them do what they wanna do.

Well, Coleridge didn't say a word, instead he invited the man to his backyard to go look at his garden. So when the man walked outside, Coleridge said, how do you like my garden? And the man said, that's not a garden, that's just a patch of overgrown weeds. And Coleridge said, well, it used to be a garden, but I decided to give it the freedom just to be whatever it choose without any interference from me. No mom and dad, it is your job to be godly parents, but yes kids and teenagers, it is your job to be godly children, and God's children want to be godly children, and God's children ought to be good and godly children and the choice is up to you. Choose wisely. Choose carefully. Obey your parents in the Lord for this is the right and the pleasing thing to do.

Would you pray with me right now. With heads bowed and with eyes closed, with those of you who are watching right now, you're a parent, you're a mom, you're a dad, or you're a teenager or you're a child, let me just say this to you. You can't be a godly father, you can't be a godly father if you don't know God. You won't be a godly son or a godly daughter if you don't know God. And you will never know God the way you ought to know God until you come through Jesus Christ, you cannot. You cannot know the Father until you come to know the son. Jesus Christ died, by the way, not just to save you from your sins, though he did, Jesus died so you could be that godly father, you could be that godly mother, you could be that godly son, you could be that godly daughter, that's why Jesus died.

And I just wonder how many have heard this message this morning, both listening to me right now and in this building. And deep down you know your problem, you know my problem, it's not my mom, it's not my dad, it's not my son, it's not my daughter, it's me. I'm not godly 'cause I don't know God, I've never truly trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and my savior. I have a simple question, how many of you would like to do that today? How many of you would like to make that decision today to say, yes, today, beginning today, I wanna be a child of God so I'll be a godly child, I wanna be a child of God so I'll be that godly mom, that Godly dad, well, why don't you just tell God that right now? Why don't you just say something like this? Why don't you say:

God, I thought it was enough to be a good parent, a good mom, a good dad, a good son, a good daughter, that's not enough. I wanna be a godly dad, and a godly mom, and a godly son, and a godly daughter. And I can't do that apart from Jesus. So Lord Jesus today I'm gonna make the greatest decision of my life, today I ask you to come into my life. I surrender everything that I am to everything that you are. I believe you died for my sins, I believe God raised you from the dead, I believe you're alive right now. And Lord today I ask you to save me, change me, forgive me, give me eternal life. I repent of my sin, I turn away from my sin, and I give all of my heart to you.

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