Jentezen Franklin - God's Perspective On Parenting
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I want to preach today on God's perspective of parenting. Did you know that insanity is hereditary? You can actually catch it from your children. A science teacher was introducing her class to the subject of magnet and magnetic power, and she said, "I want you to guess what we're going to study next". She said, "The subject starts with a "M", and it picks up things. What am I"? And a teenager spoke up and said, "A mother".
The definition of a father is a man who carries photographs where his money used to be. You know your children are growing up when they stop asking where they came from, and they refuse to tell you where they're going. I love this, this is a great quote: "The advice we rejected from our parents, we're now giving to our children". And the fifth commandment is: "Honor thy father and thy mother". We must remember that this is one of God's top ten. When parents begin to decline in health and require more help from us, we are to honor them. It is a commandment and a big deal to God.
How do you honor your parents? Number one, you honor your parents by accepting them. Proverbs said: "Listen to your father, who gave you your life, and don't despise your mother and her experience when she's old". One translation said: "Don't tune them out". They're not perfect, but you are to honor them by accepting them. In court, when you address the judge, you address him as "Your Honor". It has nothing to do with his personality, you don't even know him, but you're respecting the position, and that's the theme, and that's the point, is we are to accept them and honor them, because of the position that they hold. I accept you in spite of your negatives, and I honor you.
The second way that we honor our parents is by appreciating them. I appreciate the positives. I look and realize that it's costly to raise children. It's expensive. It's a grueling, energy-taking experience to be a parent, and raise your children. A little boy presented his mother with a bill. He wrote the bill up, hand-written, with a crayon. "I took out the garbage, you owe me $1. I cleaned up my room, you owe me $2. I feed the dog everyday, that'll be $2 a day". And then he put the final bill, "$10 you owe me".
So then, the mom decided she would write the son a bill. "I've washed and ironed your dirty clothes for ten years, you owe me $10.000. I've been buying and preparing your meals for ten years, you owe me $20.000. I have been your nurse and your doctor, nourishing you back to health for over ten years every time you got sick, another $10.000. Total bill, I love you". Any mother in this room could perform the job of air traffic controller with ease. Let's appreciate our parents, let's appreciate their effort. Let's appreciate their sacrifice, honor your father and your mother, and you are to do it because the Bible says to do it.
Two fathers were discussing the cost of raising children. One of the dads said, "I know the cost is great, but it's worth it to me, just to have someone at the house who knows how to work a computer and work the DVD player". So there are benefits. Accept them is how you honor them. Appreciate them, honor your parents, thirdly, by affirming them. Do you know the Bible said: "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to help them".
Acknowledge the good that they do. Mom, that was an awesome meal. Thank you. Dad, thank you for taking me to that ball game. I enjoyed it. Acknowledge it, we're human beings too. Acknowledge it. You'll get a whole lot more out of your parents if you'll praise 'em, instead of give 'em your attitude. You will be amazed, and after they faint and recover, they'll deeply appreciate it when they hear you actually thanking them for what they do for you. You have to understand that it's tragic that some people only give honor to their parents at the funeral, when it's too late. No degree of an expense at a funeral is equal to a thank you, a visit, a letter, a phone call, while they are alive and you still have the opportunity.
Number four, honor your parents by not abandoning them. You have to learn as your parents are getting older that you must juggle your own responsibilities with the complex issues sometimes families face, as the parents are getting older. This is a character thing. This is a big thing to God, how we treat our parents, and we don't abandon them as they get older. We honor our parents in their old age by not abandoning them, by assisting them in practical ways. We offer support financially, we offer assistance in their old age.
If your wife or your husband likes it or not, that is what you are required to do, and you should do it, and God will bless you for it in amazing ways. I want to speak a word to the children, particularly the teenagers that are here. You know, the Bible says: "Honor your father and your mother," and when you're with your teenage friends and they tick you off, your parents do, and you walk off and under your breath, you say, "I hate my parents," I want to clue you in on something. We don't like you much sometimes too. If you ever walk into the kitchen and your parents were talking, and they stop talking, as a teenager, when you walk in, it means they were talking about you.
And so, this thing goes two ways, and don't ever forget it. A mother commented about her teenage daughter, "She's very independent. She lives alone at our house". Remember, parents are people with feelings too, so honor them. When you walk around the furniture so you don't have to hug 'em or kiss 'em, that's not good. A father said to a teenage daughter, "I want you home from your date no later than 11 P.M". The teenage girl replied, "But dad, I'm not a child anymore". And the father said, "Exactly, that's why I want you home at 11 P.M". We're not stupid. I know you think we're stupid, but parents are not stupid.
Teenagers say, "I hate it when my parents repeat things". Well, if you would listen the first time, we wouldn't have to say it over and over and over again. Wait a minute. If your parents tell you to do something, acknowledge it. "Yes, ma'am". "Yes, sir". Because if you sit there and get a dazed look in your eye, we will assume you're on drugs. We don't trust you and we know that that's what we... Children, obey your parents. This is the right thing to do in the eyes of the Lord. That's a scripture. Teenagers, get along with your family. Don't be selfish. Address your parents with respect. It's amazing how teenagers become experts in statistics. Anytime you tell them no, their first response is, "Everyone else is allowed to". And it's usually based on a survey of one.
Mark Twain, I love this quote, Mark Twain said: "When I was 14, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly bear him. But by the time I was 21, I was amazed to see how much he had learned over the seven years". It's seldom dawns on teenagers, someday when they grow up, they will know as little as their parents know. Jesus was the only teenager who knew more than his parents knew, and yet, he submitted to his parents, and the Bible said: "He was obedient unto them". The best reason for honoring our parents is because God tells us to do it. Honoring your parents, not only impacts them, it impacts you. It is the recipe for blessing and prosperity and long life, according to the scripture. And when you don't honor them, God will not honor you.
Children have a duty to honor their parents, and parents have a duty to be honorable. Parents must live a life worthy of honor. There was some children who were screaming and shouting in their bedroom, and the mother went back and opened the door, and said, "Why are you children screaming"? And they said, "We're not screaming, mom. We're playing daddy and mommy". One of the best ways to correct children is to correct the example that you're setting for them. Here's a simple test: how's your language around your children? How's your behavior around your children? How do you match up to your own rules? Who is our role model for parenting? Our role model is our Heavenly Father, God. How does God treat his children?
Well, the Bible said: "God is close to all who call on him, for he hears them". God listens to us, and we are to listen to our children. One teenager said, "Home is the place where you can say anything you want to, because nobody's listening anyhow". Listen to your children. Listen to what they say. Secondly, God understands us. The Bible said that homes are built on a foundation of wisdom and understanding of one another. The proof we understand our children is that we're patient with them.
One exasperated father said to his son in aggravation, "Winston Churchill, when he was your age, worked a hard, full-time job all day, and studied his books at night". And the teenage son snapped back, "Yes, and when he was your age, he was Prime Minister of England, so". Two of the best things that we can give our children are roots and wings. Give 'em roots, that they're founded and connected and they are roots to God's house, and roots to Christian heritage, and take 'em to church, and doing what you're doing here today.
There is no price tag you can put on it. It may not seem like it's even mattering, but it matters when you take your family to church, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. It is a priority, it's not a hit, skip, and miss thing. It's huge, you are shaping their life for a generation. You're giving them roots, and then give them wings, and let them dream, and let them fly, and let them do amazing things. Grace says we are loved and we are accepted, even when we fail. Give your children grace. Love them and accept them, even when they fail.
One man said his mom was a travel agent for guilt trips. Admit it when you got it wrong, if you're a parent. Admit it when you have done something and it's not correct. Admit it, keep your promises. It's tough, but keep your promises. If you'll say you'll do it, do it. If you say you won't do it, then don't do it. Even if it's difficult, keep your promises. God loves us and how does God express that love to us? Through affection, through affirmation, through attention.
Affection is how we are to love our children. Affection means touch, hug, kiss. Touch, hug, kiss. Do you touch, do you hug, do you kiss? Affirmation is praise. Do you speak well? Do you compliment? Do you say, "I'm proud"? Do you say, "You're great"? Do you say, "You're incredible. I appreciate you"? Speak that way to your children. And then, attention. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your ears. Give them your attention. God, fourthly, disciplines his children, and if we're going to be good parents, we have to discipline our children.
The Bible said in Hebrews: "Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines". In other words, if you, as a parent, do not discipline your children, you do not love your children. You're wanting to be their buddy, you're wanting to be their friend, and what they really need is a parent who will discipline them, so that they will be all that God knows they can be, and discipline is important. It's a sign of love to give discipline. There are too many parents who tie up their dog at night and let their kids run loose. Some families can trace their roots and ancestors for 300 years, but they can't tell you where their teenager was last night. It is our job as parents to discipline our children, not let 'em run wild and go wherever they want to go, with whoever they want to go, and report nothing to nobody.
It is your job as a parent to be all into that. The Bible said if you refuse discipline to your children, it proves that you don't love them. Don't lay down any rules as a parent you're not prepared to enforce. Now, there are three things that we're to give our children. Number one, we're to give 'em life. Number two, we're to give 'em love, and number three, we're to give 'em laughter. And so many parents need to chill out. So many parents need to have fun again in their family. Three rules that should be in every home. Number one, be fair. Number two, be firm. Number three, be fun.
Everybody say that with me, "Be fair, be firm, be fun". Say it again, "Be fair, be firm, and be fun". You want a happy marriage, you want a happy family. Sometimes, you can't be their little buddy-buddy. There are times when I know when I say no, that I'm going to have an atmosphere in my home for the next few days, it's going to be an issue. That's part of what a parent does. They don't understand it now, but one day, they'll be the parent, and you're training them how to raise their children. And everybody thinks, when I'm a parent, I'll let 'em do whatever.
Okay. You have brain damage until you're 21, by the way. Your brain is still growing, that's a medical fact, and you don't even have all your brains, until you're 21. How about that? Tell somebody, "Be fair, be firm, be fun". Even if my father and my mother abandoned me, God will hold me close, the scripture said in Psalms. If you've been abandoned, God says, "I want to hold you close". Jesus said, "I'll never abandon you. I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you".
Unresolved resentment is what destroys families, more than anything else. We must learn to forgive. One definition of forgive means, "To give up anger and need for revenge". "To give up anger and need for revenge". If you still have anger and a need for revenge, you have not forgiven. Another translation of the word forgive means, "To show mercy and grace". To give up anger and need for revenge, to show mercy and grace. The book of Romans puts it this way: "Do your part to live in peace with everyone as much as possible". Forgive your parents. Receive forgiveness from God. Forgive yourself. If you don't forgive your parents, you break the bridge over which you must pass to forgiveness with God. God loves each of us as if there was only one of us.
And in the story of the prodigal son, the son was lost, and he went away, and he took all that he had. And notice the key to that story, he had to return to be restored. And we can only restore those who return, and there are two kinds of people that are in this room and are listening to me, those who were prodigals, those who were running from the father, those who were running from God, those who may have run from your own parents and home, and you're out, doing your own thing. There's the prodigals, and there's those of us who were prodigals. That's the only two kinds of people there are.
And, you know, I thought about the scripture, and how the enemy wants to divide our families, and I want you to listen to this scripture in Ecclesiastes 4:9. It says: "Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion, but woe unto him who is alone when he falls. For he has no one to help him up". And then, there's one other quick scripture I want to give you before I give you an illustration, and we pray over our families. And it's out of the book of Hebrews, where it says: "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. For such is the manner of some". But listen to this: "But so much more you should assemble together, as you see the day approaching". Now, look up here at me. He said, "The more you see evil and you see the coming of the Lord and you see trouble in the world and trouble in families, is... Don't fail to assemble".
We're better together. The enemy does not want us to get together. The more stuff going on out there, come in, and get together. With your family and with your church. He didn't say, "Do it less". People are going to church, it's a fact, they're going to church less now than they've ever gone in history. They're not doing it more, they're doing it less, and the enemy is beating our brains out and destroying our families. He said, "When it gets bad out there and you see the stuff happening out there, assemble together".
I read in the Atlanta constitution, Andy Stanley wrote a great book, and he shared very openly about how he and his father, Dr. Charles Stanley, who is an amazing minister, both of those guys are amazing ministers, and yet, the enemy got in, and divided their home and divided father against son through a terrible situation, and the divorce that happened, and Andy and his father were just really, they were shattered in their relationship, but he said his father did something that was brilliant.
He said his father would call him every week, and he said, "Sometimes, we were so mad at each other, we couldn't even speak". He said, "Sometimes, we were so upset with one another, I didn't want to be around him". But he said, "My father had a Mexican restaurant that he would make me meet him at for lunch, once a week". And he said, "There were times when we went in, and we were dipping chips in hot sauce, and we couldn't hardly stand each other. But every week, after week, after week, after week, we kept coming together". The colder it gets, the more you get together.
The enemy says, "The colder it gets, just go your separate ways, and let the cold kill you". But the way you hold it together, I don't care what's happening in your family, don't you let the enemy divide you from your own flesh and blood. I'm going to be in your life, I'm going to love you, I'm going to call you, I'm getting in your, I'm coming back, and sometimes, we don't even like to be around each other, but we're going to be around each other, 'cause we're a family. And what's amazing is they kept doing that, and little by little, the walls started falling. And little by little, they started reaching out, and little by little, now, they're totally healed and God is doing amazing things in both their lives, and it's all because they decided, we're going to assemble instead of let the enemy divide and conquer.
And you have to make that choice with your family. You have to decide. I want everybody in this room who would love for a spirit of unity, a spirit of connectivity. Everybody, right now, put your arm around somebody around you. It's part of your family. Hopefully, there's no body heat going on, if that's not your wife. Come on. Let's just leave that there, where it is. But say, "I'm not going to let you go. We're better together". Come on, say it. "I'm not going to let you go, we're better together".
We're a family. And we stand together. I forgive you. Forgive me. I love you. Love me. And in the name of Jesus, no weapon formed against our home will prosper. And as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will assemble together. We will stay together. We will make it through. I don't care how cold it gets, we're going to run to each other, and run to God, and run to his house. And there's stuff going on that I don't like and I don't approve of, but you know what? We're family, and I won't let you go. I won't let you go. You can never get rid of me. Tell somebody that, "You can never get rid of me". Never. I'm always going to be in your business. Always. In Jesus' name. Now, everybody pray this prayer, and we're going to let you go.
Lord Jesus, you're the God of families. You told Abraham, 'I am the God of all families.' Family is your idea. And so, you know how to make our family work. We need your help, especially in our family. So bless my family, keep my family, unite my family, connect my family. Help us to let go of the past. Help us to forgive one another, and help us to have life and love and fun and joy in our relationships. We're better together, and we will not be separated. In Jesus' name, for where two or three are gathered, in his name, he is in the midst. He's in my home. He's in my marriage. He's in my family, because we gather, we assemble in his name. We are blessed. My family is blessed. My children are blessed. My grandchildren are blessed, in Jesus' name.