Matt Hagee - Take the Reins
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To help you understand the importance of teaching your child to take the reins, I want to begin by telling you a true story. It's a true story of a 41-year-old rancher by the name of John out of Montana. John is the kind of individual, who spent more hours and more days on the back of a horse than he ever did in a building or in a school desk or a classroom. He spent many days and many years working alongside his father and his grandfather. He never had the chance to know his great grandfather, but his great grandfather's father was the one who started the family ranch that John was now in charge of.
And like many individuals, he looked forward to the time when he could take his sons out with him and begin to teach them the traditions of the family in being a part of the ranch and working the land. Ranch work is hard work. Ranch work can sometimes be dangerous and risky work. But today, John was extra careful. Today, John was going to do something very special. Today was the first day that he was taking his eight-year-old son, jess, along with him. John picked the best horse for jess. He picked the one that could be trusted.
John made sure that the saddle and all of the equipment was right where it needed to be. He even took the time to check it again and again, because today was going to be the day when jess became a cowboy. John and jess rode away from the trailer. And for hours, they went through the pasture that was six-thousand acres, looking for cows. And when they finally gathered the cows and moved them where they needed them to go, they turned back in the long ride. And jess, the eight-year-old boy, looked at his father and said, "Dad, I bet you my horse can beat your horse back to the trailer".
Now John knew that jess was right, because shogun, the horse that jess was riding, was faster than the old horse that John was riding. And jess, the eight-year-old boy, didn't weigh near as much as what John weighed. And it was over three miles back to the trailer. He knew there was no chance in a race, even though cowboys like to race. But John also knew that if you teach that horse to run back to the trailer, he's going to run fast. And an eight-year-old boy without enough bit in his mouth doesn't have the ability to stop a full-grown horse. John warned his son, jess. He said, "Jess, you don't want to run that horse back to the trailer". But it was already too late. Jess had squeezed the horse in the sides and the horse went from a trot to a lope. And before long, he was at a dead runaway.
John, being a good cowboy, began to do exactly what he was instinctually felt he should do. He ran up alongside the horse. But the faster he ran towards the horse, the faster his son's horse ran away from him. It got really exciting. In cowboy terms, we say, "It got western". Because jess was sitting in a saddle, screaming his head off, "Daddy, make him stop"! "Daddy, make him stop"! And daddy couldn't make him stop. He'd seen all the cowboys in the movies do it. Ride up there and grab a hold of the bridle, and say, "Woe". But that wouldn't work this time. Tears and shouts and terror were coming out of the eight year old. When John realized the only thing that he could do was bring his horse to a stop and hope that his son would stay on. He slid his horse to a stop, and he watched as his son, screaming, ran over the hill on a dead runaway. "Daddy, make him stop"! "Make him stop"!
John waited about five, ten minutes, and then began walking his horse back towards the trailer. And about 45 minutes later, he pulled up to the trailer. And there, he saw the sweating and panting shogun and a terrified eight-year-old kid sitting in the saddle. "I couldn't make him stop, dad". "I tried to make him stop but he wouldn't stop". "I don't know why he wouldn't stop, dad". John got just off the horse. He threw him in the truck. He took him back to the ranch and everything was fine. You know sometimes in ranch work, you celebrate the fact you didn't die. But that night when everybody in the house was asleep, John was lying in his bed, and all John could hear in his ears was a terrified sound of his son, "Daddy, make him stop"! "Daddy, make him stop"!
John sat up in bed in a cold sweat from the nightmare that he was having. And he thought to himself, why am I so worried about jess? Jess is fine. Jess made it through the ride. Why am I concerned about what's going on with my son? And then he heard the voice of the Lord tell him, "Teach him how to take the reins". John fell to his knees and he started to pray. And he heard the Lord say, "This won't be the last runaway he's ever on". Life is full of runaways. Life is full of situations that you won't have the strength to control unless somebody teaches you how to take the reins. In this room today, there are men, who their entire life, have been on a runaway and they don't know how to make it stop. You've got a runaway.
And it started out as fun, but now it's an addiction. You've got a runaway. And it started out as a career, but now it's an obsession. You've got a runaway and you don't know how to make it stop. And the reason you don't know how to make it stop is because no one ever stopped and taught you how to take the reins and pull it in. Fathers, it's our responsibility to teach our children to do what God's word says, diligently live in his truth and take the reins. If we're going to do this, we have to recognize that the toughest thing we're ever going to do is break this set of colts right here. Now that's horseman talk. But right here is everything that God is holding me accountable for.
When I get to heaven, he's not going to judge me for as many things as he will judge me for how I raised them. And that's a job that you don't ever get through with. You see cowboys get to raise a set of calves and ship 'em. But you don't ever get to ship these. But the truth is the responsibility that God wants parents to take over their children is very real. This is what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6. God is speaking to the men in Israel. And he's telling them, if the Promised Land that I'm going to give you is going to be filled of the promises that I have for you, then there's some things you need to remember. One, you love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all your strength: and then two, you teach these principles to your children.
You see it's one thing for you to have God in your life, but you have a responsibility to make sure that God gets into their life too. There's a lot of parents, who want their children to learn by proximity. They hope if they keep their kids around it, it'll get caught. It's kind of like the flu. But faith is not something that you learn through proximity. Faith is something that you learn through practice. And the thing that your children are waiting and watching for is to see the faith that you practice in your life. This is why God challenged the fathers. He said, "Fathers, teach your children". Say that with me. "Teach your children"
There's a lot of things that men should teach their children. And there's a lot of essentials that every child needs if they're going to learn how to ride the runaway horses in life. If they're going to ride the runaway of temptation, if they're going ride the runaway of greed, if they're going to ride the runaway of peer pressure, whenever those horses start to run, they need to be taught well. And the first thing that you do to teach your children is you encourage your children. One of the greatest ways that you encourage your children is you are there. You need to be their biggest cheerleader. No matter what life throws at them, you need to let them know you're with them no matter what.
One of the ways that you encourage your children is you celebrate who they are, not who you were when you were their age. I get to see this all too often. I get to see a dad, who played a little bit of tee-ball, believe that he has birthed babe Ruth. God has made each and every one of us unique. Celebrate the unique nature in which he created your children, because if they're not encouraged by you, then someone else will encourage them for you.
Another way that you encourage your child is that you prioritize your children. You put them first no matter what. Don't ever make your kids seem like they're an inconvenience to you. Yes, you need to make sure that you live with good balance in your house. But if ever the thing that gets out of balance takes you away from your children, get rid of it and get back with them. Whenever people hear that you should prioritize your kids, the first thing they say is, "Well you don't understand: I've got a full-time job". Believe me: your full-time job will still be there if you take a little time for your kids. The world will keep turning if you stop for your children. But you will turn their world upside down if you're not there when they need you.
Not only do you prioritize your children, not only do you encourage your children, but you value them equally. Now this is a challenge, because most people don't want to admit that they have natural tendencies towards certain behaviors and natural aversions to others. But it's human nature. Romans 3:22, it says, "There's no difference in God's eyes to all who believe". It's the Bible's way of telling us that God looks at every human being, and he loves them all equally. Romans also tells us he's the same Lord over all. The thing that gets difficult in family is that your children are a combination of the things that you like about yourself and the things that irritate you about your spouse. And this is where a lot of the conversations come in that do not encourage your child.
You hear mom say all the time, "You're just like your father". "You're just like your grandfather". That's not their fault. You made them. And just like that runaway horse, the things that are frustrating that you see as character traits, if you learn how to control it, if you learn how to bridle it, if you learn how to guide it, it can be used for great things. And you can either take it and harness it, and focus it, or it can be a dead runaway. Love your children equally. Recognize their strengths. And give them compliments when necessary. Recognize their weaknesses and encourage them to work on those as well. Not only do you encourage your children by loving them equally and prioritizing them, but you encourage them by blessing them. How many of you've heard pastor hagee's teaching on "The power of the blessing"?
The Bible taught fathers to bless their children. Abraham blessed Isaac. Isaac blessed Jacob. Jacob blessed his sons. And the blessing that he gave to those 12 sons shaped the destiny of the world. Why? Not because what those boys were was great when Jacob laid hands on them, but because what Jacob said in heavenly places came to pass in their life after Jacob spoke it. The Bible says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. And what you say to your children either blesses them or burdens them. And you encourage your children when you bless them. If you haven't heard that teaching, I encourage you to get it. But I assure you: everything in your child's life will change when they recognize that you are speaking blessings over them.
When you begin to tell them of all the good that they can do instead of all the wrong that they are doing, when you begin to say, "I see in you a great potential, I see in you a great leader, I see in you a difference maker, I see in you a world changer, I see in you someone who is going to do great things in the future", when you begin to speak those words of affirmation and hope into the life of your child, they'll wake up in the morning believing that they can do all things through Christ! One essential is that you encourage your children. The second essential is that you nurture your children. Now encouragement is a spiritual thing. But nurturing is a natural thing.
In Luke 2:52, it says, "And Jesus increased in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man". This is written right after he left the manger. So this says that from the time that he was born until the time he was 30, Mary and Joseph nurtured him, and they enabled him to become what God wanted him to be whenever it was time for his ministry to start. I assure you: God has great plans for your children. But they shouldn't be called prophets right after they're weaned. You're going to have to give them the chance to grow up before God gives them the opportunity to be who they are. And Mary and Joseph nurtured Jesus. Listen to what the Bible says. It says, "He increased in wisdom". "Wisdom" is intellect.
God holds you responsible for your child's educational quality, not the school board: mom and dad. I get to hear parents complain all the time about the lack of quality education that's available to their children. Well guess what? God didn't say blame the superintendent. God's saying, what are you going to do about it? And you fathers, teach your children. God did not give your kids to a school district. He gave your children to you. Do not apologize for that. That means that you have an obligation to take responsibility over what they're teaching your child at the schoolhouse. And if what they're teaching your child at the schoolhouse doesn't line up with what you're learning at your house, you have a decision to make. Jesus grew in wisdom, and he grew in stature. "Stature" speaks of the physical development that every child needs.
Let me tell you something, parents. One of the greatest gifts that you are ever going to give your children is W-O-R-K, work. This used to be something that happened on its own accord, because before the industrial revolution, before technology whenever people lived out on the farm and they had 15 kids, they didn't just have kids: they had ranch hands. And so children learned how to work. Now we live in a society where we hand them iPads to keep them busy, and they listen to us complain about work. And then when they graduate college, we say, "Go get a job". And they say, "You're crazy. I've listened to you complain about work all of your adult life, and now you want me to go to work"?
I assure you: work will not kill your kid. It'll actually make them valuable for the life that God wants them to live. Nothing in God's economy does well without working. Take out the trash. Make the bed. Sweep the floor. Feed the dog. Work is not cruel and unusual punishment. Work is what God intended humanity to do. The Bible says that Jesus grew in favor with God and with man. How? Through obedience. How do people grow in favor? Through obedience. Read Ephesians. It says, "Children, obey your parents, for this is right: for this is the first commandment with a blessing, that it may be long with you and go well with you". If you want favor with God, obey your parents. And if you want favor with man, obey your parents. Have you ever complimented a child for being a sarcastic snot? Absolutely not. "My goodness: you have such a sassy kid. They're great". "See ya next week"!
The children, who have favor with other people, are the children who are well mannered, well behaved. They know how to shake a hand and say, "Yes, sir". I don't know when society accepted, "Huh" and "What" as acceptable answers to authority. But we need to get back to showing a little bit of respect. The reason that Jesus grew in favor with God and in favor with man is because Jesus was pleasant to be around. He wasn't 12 and thought his opinion required attention. I grew up in an only-speak-when-spoken-to generation. How many of you know what that's about? There's nothing wrong with telling your children, "Shhh," which is very kind for other ways to say, "Shhh". This is how they grow in favor with God and with man.
God wants you to raise your children, encouraging them. God wants you to raise your children, nurturing them. God wants you to raise your children, training them. How do you train? It doesn't matter what you're trying to train. If you're going to train, you have to train consistently. People, who have tremendous athletic physiques, do you know how often they train? Consistently. They don't lift weights on the first of the month and then take 29 days off. People, who have highly-trained animals, highly-trained dogs, highly-trained horses, the Shamu Show out at sea world where they teach them how to dunk a basketball: you know how they did that? Consistently. Do you know how your children are going to learn? Is if you, as a parent, are training them, say it with me: consistently.
The rules cannot apply on Monday and then be gone by Friday. You've got to be consistent. And one of the ways that God told the fathers in Israel to be consistent was to make it obvious. Here's what the Bible says. It says, "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand. And they shall be as the front lets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates". Now this speaks of three things that you see orthodox Jewish men do every day whenever they pray and whenever they go in and out of their house. When an orthodox boy becomes a man at the age of 13, he's given what they call "The phylactery". And the phylactery are a box that are wrapped with leather bands that represent the Ten Commandments, and they bind it on the back of their hand right here.
And then they bind it between their eyes right here. And then when they go into prayer, they wrap themselves in their prayer shawls. And that do that, not out of tradition or custom: they do that because, Deuteronomy tells them right there in verse 8, whenever you do this, "Tie it on the back of your hand. Tie it between your eyes". And then you see another thing in the Jewish culture. You see a Mezuzah. How many of you recognize a Mezuzah when you see one? It's the Ten Commandments on the doorpost of the house that are pointing back in towards the house. And orthodox men and women, when they walk in and out of the house, they'll touch it, and they'll quote Deuteronomy 28, "He'll bless us in our going in and in our coming out".
And when a Jewish child was asking his Jewish daddy, "Daddy, why do you put that box on the back of your hand"? He said, "Son, it's because it was God that got us out of bondage in Egypt". "And daddy, why do you put that box between your eyes when you pray"? "Because it was God that gave us provision in the wilderness". "It was God that was the water that rushed out of the rock". "It was God that was the manna that fell from the sky". "It was God that was the fire by day and the cloud by night". "When you walk in and out of your house, daddy, why do you touch the doorpost and you quote the verse that he'll bless us in our going in and in our coming out"? "Because son, it's Jehovah God that gives us every good and every perfect gift".
So you fathers in this modern world that we live in, how do you make it obvious? What do you do that gives your children enough curiosity to ask you, "Why do you do the things that you do the way that you do"? Do you do it conspicuously enough that it creates in them a question about where it came from? Do your children ask you, "Daddy, why do we go to church on Sunday every Sunday no matter what when all of our friends get to go and they all get to go there, and they get to be everywhere"? "Why are you taking the time to go to the house of God"? "I'll tell you why, son, because it is the Lord who made us and not we ourselves. He's the one who created the heavens and the earth, and it is him who has asked us to remember the sabbath and keep it holy".
He's the reason that we breathe. He's the reason that we move. He's the reason that we have. And I can't take one day away from him if it's the only day that he's asked of me". "Daddy, why do you read your word"? "I read my word because it's a lamp unto my feet and it's a light unto my path. When I didn't know what to do, it led me, it guided me, it took me through".
When I was weak, I read it, and it made me strong. When I was sick, I read it, and it healed my soul. When I was broken, I read it, and it mended me. Son, this book, when I open it, it looks back at me, and it helps me become who God wants me to be". "Dad, why do you get into church, and you raise your hands and worship"? "I raise my hands and worship, son, because the Lord inhabits the praises of his people, and in his presence is the fullness of joy. I raise my hands and worship, son, because God Almighty is the one who sent his son, who died for me, who redeemed me, who set me free. I raise my hands and worship, son, because without him, I'm nothing. But with him, I can do all things"! Man of God, do not be ashamed to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength! For our God is great and greatly to be praised! Give the Lord a handclap in this house today! Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, in this room today are fathers and mothers, in this room today are your children, who have walked in here heavy burdened. They've walked in here with the weight of the world on their shoulders. I ask, in Jesus' name, that you'd lift that burden: that you'd destroy that yoke. I ask, Heavenly Father, that you would encourage every man to be who God created them to be. I ask that you would give every woman the deep desire to live their life, according to your plan and purpose for them. And I ask that every child would hear the Word of God and take it to heart that by submitting themselves in obedience to their parents, the blessings, and the goodness, and the favor of God overtake them and all that they put their hands to. Now father, as your people on this earth, give us a passion for the principles of your truth: that the goodness, and the mercy, and the grace, and the love of God would overtake us, and we would receive your blessings in all things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen and amen.