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Healthy Families

Sermon Series:

A Biblical Vision

Kevin Harney
Kevin Harney

Lead Pastor

Shoreline Community Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 6:1-4


So where does faith get passed on to the next generation? Where is a godly family built? Where does a young person learn to know and love Jesus? Well, I'll talk about some chairs. The chair you're sitting in right now. Downstairs there's little first grade, second grade chairs, there's different sized chairs. On this campus there's lots of chairs, and one of the places where faith is learned is in the church among the body of Christ. Someone say amen. That's a good gift. Keep doing that. There's lots of, there's hundreds and hundreds of kids that are part of this church and there's no better place for them to be than among God's people learning from God's Word. And so yes, the chairs at the church are part of the learning journey and building a godly family. The unfortunate thing is for some people they think it ends there. Well I brought my kids to church, they should love Jesus now. I remember when I was a youth pastor years ago, I'd have some parents come to me and they'd say, you know, why can't you fix my kid? You've got him an hour and a half a week and in my mind I'm thinking, yeah, you've got him a whole lot more than that, so why don't you fix your kid? But I wouldn't say that, but I would think that. But there was a sense of, okay, I bring them to church. That's good, that's great, that honors God, keep doing that.

But I want to suggest that if you're going to pass the faith on to the next generation, whether it's parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren, aunts and uncles influencing your little nieces and nephews, or maybe you serve with a children's ministry or the youth ministry or you teach at a Christian school, you do homeschooling, you get to invest in the next generation, there are a lot more chairs than just these chairs.

And if you look at this is the only part of investing in the next generation It's not gonna go great This is not enough See, there are all these aspects of life and the Bible is clear that faith is learned all through life And so this chair here your faith begins When a mom is sitting and she's what the Bible says great with child She's eight and a half nine and a half months along and she's young can sit in there and she's praying Lord Jesus. I Pray for my little girl. I Pray that she'll love you and follow you. I Pray for the young man someday that I hope she would meet even now if he's not born or if he's in someone else's one would you bless that little guy and Grow him to power into a powerful man of God? She's praying it It's when that couple is laying in bed and the husband reaches over and puts his hand on the on belly It means to pray for his son or for his daughter to know Jesus.

Faith begins in those kinds of places. Faith carries through all of our life and if we're going to pass our faith on well, we have to understand all the different places we live. And so in the living room where you're hanging out with your family, now unfortunately, now too often the family's together in the living room and this is what they all do. And we're staring at all, staring at the same monitor and we're consuming some kind of media, but we're not talking with each other. We're all in the same room, but we're not interacting. But when we push those things aside and shut those things down and interact, it's where games are played and conversations are had. This is a place where faith is passed on to the next generation. Where is faith passed on to the next generation? In the back seat of a minivan. Somebody's missing a seat in their minivan.

But, you know, Sherry has told me many times about how our boys, our three sons, one of the places they learned to pray was in our minivan, going to church. Because I'd go early in the morning and Sherry would come over with the boys once they were all ready before the first service started. And so when they were driving, a five-and-a-half minute drive from home to the church, they'd pray together. She'd say, hey Zach, would you pray for the Sunday school teachers at church today? And he'd pray. Hey Nate, would you pray for the senior's group? Josh, would you pray for Dad as he preaches the Bible? And they learned to pray. And she'd say, and you know, boys, you don't even have to close your eyes when you're praying because mom's not going to.

Good thing.

And just teaching them in the, going from place to place. That's where faith is learned. It's just how about this? How about, along the sidelines of a soccer game or a field hockey game or in the risers for a basketball game? When first of all, the kids look and their parents are there. They show up, they're there for them, but also they watch and they see. Because how we live in the flow of life teaches our children. They're watching all the time. So, so say perhaps you're a dad and there's a referee or there's an official and they're blind and they're for the other team obviously and they don't know what they're doing and they have no clue how to referee a game and how dad responds is teaching. Does faith impact those moments? Because it needs to, right? And then how about just around the kitchen table? You read the Bible and so much of Jesus' teaching happened around meals. If you did a study in the Bible of just conversations about faith and meals, it's all over the place. So as a family sits together, as they share a meal together, as dad or mom read a scripture or say a prayer or ask one of the kids to read a scripture and say a prayer, all of these are places where faith is passed on to the next generation. And what we're going to be thinking about today is just that reality that there's a calling to pass faith on to the next generation. That this is part of God's plan, this is part of God's design, and too much in our world, too many Christians are sort of abdicating that and just leaving it for someone else to do.

But what I hope and pray is that God's Word will come alive to you today and that you will begin to get a vision and a picture that yes, yes, bring your kids to church, yes, do that. Have them come to youth group, have them come to go to camps, all those kinds of things, but understand that so much of what happens in the formation of the faith of the next generation happens outside of this place. We're only here a couple of hours a week, but Jesus is present at all times.

So, Lord Jesus, this is our prayer as we open your word today as we think about what it means to build a godly home, a godly family, as we think about what it means to pass on the faith to the next generation, whether it's parents to children or grandparents or aunts and uncles, whether it's church members here who are teaching a children's class or a youth class and they're investing in the next generation. Lord, will you show us that passing on faith to the next generation doesn't just happen because it happens? It happens when we enter and follow your lead. So speak to us through your word and by your spirit today, we pray this in Jesus' name.


Faith and family are inseparable in the heart of God. Faith and our family, the next generation, are locked together in the heart of God. We oftentimes don't see that. We don't recognize it, but we need to. And so listen to these words.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Deuteronomy chapter 6. In Deuteronomy chapter 6 we find what is called the Shema. Shema is a Hebrew word for listen or hear, pay attention. If somebody says Shema, it means tune in, focus, pay attention. The ancient and present Jewish people refer to this passage as the Shema because look at how it begins. Hear, it's the first word.

Verse 4, Deuteronomy chapter 6,

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

We are a monotheistic people. We believe in one God. One in being, revealed as Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Three in person, one in being, but we believe in one God. We're monotheistic.

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

If you want to pass on your faith to the next generation, make sure you have a faith that's deep and real. Make sure you don't just go to church, occasionally read your Bible or at least know where to find it, but that you actually love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. We can't give to the next generation what we don't have. And so we need to grow in that.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

It kind of sounds like all the time doesn't it because that's what it is when you when you rise up and then versus 8 and 9 get a little strange because there's a cultural distinction here that I'll unpack a little bit for you but verse 8 says you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and you shall put them as frontlets between your eyes you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

So write them wherever, you know, where you'll remember them. And it's interesting because in the first century, the religious leaders, the Pharisees, took this literally, so they would take, and back in the ancient world, a paper or little scrolls or parchment was very expensive, but they would take a little parchment and they would put on it, like the Ten Commandments or some of the Ten Commandments or the Shema key passages, and they would roll it up and they would actually strap it with little leather pieces on the back of their hands so they literally had the scriptures on their hand. And then they would make these things called phylacteries. A phylactery was like a little box and in that box they would have little key scriptures in there and they would take that and they would put a little leather strap around their forehead, a little thing holding it, and they would put that little box right on their forehead so they would literally put it dangling between their eyes. But the problem was it had become a show instead of being real faith.

So when Jesus said to the Pharisees, and now you'll know what he meant by this, you make your phylacteries broad. And you're like, let's just move along. I don't know what that means, right? So what he's saying is you make these big boxes, the bigger the better, because you're showing off. You strap the scriptures on your hand and you're doing it as a show of religiosity, just like they gave their offerings for a show. Giving offerings is good, but do it for the Lord, not for a show. They prayed to put on a show, and Jesus questioned them about that. We should pray, but not to put on a show.

And what the Scripture says is that the Word of God should be on your hands. The Word of God should be in your mind. So everything you do with your hands, it's like the Word of God is there, and you're going, is this on our God? Is this consistent with what the Scripture says? The Word of God guides our hands. The Word of God our minds, our motives, our thoughts, that we keep God's Word on our minds and on our hands. But that's the call, is to live this out. And so here's the challenge in our world today.

There are way too many Christians, Christian parents and grandparents, who have bought a lie from our culture. And that is, hey, your job is not to tell your kids what to believe. Your job is not to try to force them to accept anything. You just throw them out into the world and throw them out to the wolves and let them figure it out. I've heard parents say, oh, I'm not gonna pressure my kids with faith. I'm gonna let them just make the decision on their own. Hey, you don't do that with your favorite sports team.

We're fans, we're in.

You don't do that with their academics. I wanna help them. You don't do that with their sports. You guide them, you direct them. Hopefully you're not forcing them, but you're leading them and you're teaching them How much more do we need to do this with our faith? So don't believe the lie or that somehow you're doing your kids a favor if you say well I'm not gonna pressure them with anything about faith now We can't force them to believe and if you were raised in a home where your home life was one was a mess and then when you went to church you all faked it and acted a certain way and You thought there's a hypocrisy and I don't want to do that to my kids. Well, don't do that to your kids. Live an authentic faith, but share that faith with the next generation. Teach them, encourage them, cheer them on, and watch what God can do. And so we can't sort of abdicate these things and push them off to somebody else because the somebody else in our world is not going to do a good job with it. And so then now look with me another passage, turn to Psalm 78, and I want you to understand there are consequences if we do or don't strive to pass on our faith to the next generation, living out this call of the Shema, teaching our children wherever we are, teaching our grandkids, pouring into their lives. There's consequences if we do it and consequences if we don't.

Look with me at Psalm 78, beginning at verse 4. Psalm 78, 4, we read these words, and it's talking about what comes in the second half of this verse, the glorious deeds of God, His might and His wonders. We will not hide them, these great things that God does. We will not hide them from our children to tell to the coming generation, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and His might and the wonders He has done. If you have your Bible open, just put your finger right there on verse five and think about this. We will tell the next generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, the amazing things He's done, His might, His power and the wonders He's done. If you walk with Jesus, if you know Him and love Him, you know He shows up, you know He's present, you've felt His power, you've seen Him do amazing things. Tell those stories to the next generation. Tell those stories, aunts and uncles, to your nieces and nephews. Tell those stories, Sunday school teachers, to the kids you work with. Because you know what happens? When they hear your stories of God's presence, God's might, God's glory in your life. They think, maybe God is real and can do that in my life. And He is real and He can do those things. We share those stories so they see something they respect and that person is walking with Jesus. They experience His power and His presence in the great times, in the hard times. God is there. And so we tell those stories.

Continue on in verse 5. He established a testimony and Jacob appointed a law in Israel among his people. God gave his law. He gave a direction for our lives, which he commanded our fathers. Now listen to this, which God commanded our fathers to teach to their children. That's forefathers, that's dads and moms, but I'll tell you what, dads hear this because a lot of dads will say, well, the church will do it or my wife will do it. But there's this call, which he commanded our fathers to teach their children, another generation, and arise and tell them to their children, verse 7, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.

Linger there on verse 7 for a minute. What can happen if we will teach the next generation the things of God, if we'll share his word if we'll pray for them and pray with them if we'll tell stories of God's faithfulness what might happen well verse 7 says they that they might just end up putting their hope in God that'd be great that they wouldn't forget the works of God because they hear about him consistently and they would want to keep his commandments and live for him that's what can happen if we gently but strongly and consistently pass on our faith to the next generation. But if we don't, there's also consequences.

Look at the last verse here, verse 8. And then they should not be like their fathers, that's forefathers, those who have gone before. They should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation. A generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. See, we point them towards Jesus. We teach the next generation to love Jesus the best we can. Because when we don't, they're gonna wander. Now, here's, can I tell you something? There's no guarantee. You could do everything right as a parent. And things may not turn out exactly how you want it.

We'll talk more about that in a minute.

But you can do the right things and bring your kids to church and sit in these chairs and learn together. You can, in every place of life. And you're not guaranteed it's all gonna go perfect and smooth. But can I tell you something? If you don't do those things, I can pretty well guarantee you where it's going to go for your kids. There's very little chance if you throw them out to the wolves of the world and say, well, you just find your own way in the sea of philosophies and lies that are floating around our world, and I hope you'll sort it out. But don't ask dad or mom. We're not going to be a part of that. No. That's an invitation to disastrous things. And what we have to understand is that from generation to generation to generation Our call is to tell God's stories to share his word to pray to live out our faith to model it to teach next generation The Holy Spirit has to touch their hearts and they have to decide you can't make them believe in Jesus You can't be nice if you could but we can't but we can do that all we can to show them what a vibrant faith looks like and what it looks like to walk with Jesus and If you read through the Old Testament, you read through the time of the kings, in the time of the divided kingdom. In the southern kingdom, in Jerusalem, there was a series of kings. And it's really interesting when you read through it and study, if you kind of isolate each of the kings and you follow them, you realize there'd be like a good king and a good king, and then there'd be a really bad king. Kind of like it almost came out of nowhere. Where there's this king that, you know, it was a good king, good king, and then there might be a bad king and a bad king and all of a sudden there's a Josiah whose father and grandfather were horrible and he sought the God from the time he sought the Lord from the time he was seven years old became officially king at about 17 or 18 according to the law but all of a sudden from two generations of people running from God he sought after God so God can jump into the process anywhere and do what he wants to do but do all you can to pass on faith to the next generation. One more passage for you. And this says to know your kids and their faith journey. Proverbs 22 6. Proverbs 22 6, one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible for church people. And so Proverbs 22 6 says this, train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. It's a great passage but here's how a lot of people have been taught to interpret it. Get your kids to church and they'll become Christians. You make them come to church, do your religious duty, get them to church, and then they'll follow Jesus. That's not what the passage says. And actually I learned this when Sherry had an opportunity quite a while back to work with a guy named Charles Swindoll, Chuck Swindoll. I think one of the best pastor scholars of the end of the last century, the beginning of this century, an amazing thinker, great and godly man and teacher, and Sherry got to work with him on a couple of projects. And on one of them, dealing with a book he wrote on family stuff, she was studying this stuff. Sherry grew up in the church, and so she had kind of views of certain passages that were just kind of like, well, that's how our church sees it. And so she came to me and she said, I was studying this stuff, and working on this stuff with Chuck Swindoll, and she said, this passage doesn't mean what I always thought it meant. I thought it meant if you bring your kids to church and do the right thing there, then they'll become Christians. But what this passage actually means, if you go back to the Hebrew and really interpret it, it means raise up a child, each child, according to their bents, according to their personal wiring, how God has made them. Raise them up according to how God's made them, and when they grow old, they will become the person God wants them to be. Because you're raising them according to how God has made them. It's not bring them to church and they'll become a Christian. It's study your children. Watch them. What's their passion? What's their interest? How do you connect them in a way that works for them? We grew up raising... we raised three boys. They're now 36, 34, and 32. I figured out just recently, we have over 200 years of parenting experience between the two of us. Because I've parented three boys for 36, 34, and 32 years. That's 102 years, I think, if you add it up. And Sherry's done the same. Interestingly, she's been parenting exactly the same length of time that I've been. Think about that. And so, and so, we've got a lot of experience, but we're not experts. We're still figuring it out. And here's the deal. Our boys in our 30s, if you here have kids in their 30s or older, let me ask you here, are you still investing in them as parents? What's the answer? You're still there. You're still walking with them. That's part of the journey But so this passage is train up a child in the way you should go when he is old He will not depart from it and as Sherry and I this is kind of earlier in our marriage when our kids were younger We started looking good. Okay, how do we raise each one to love Jesus in a way that fits them? See some parents go. I don't know what happened I raised all my kids the same and they turned out different Well, don't raise them all the same. Be fair, but you can't raise them the same. Why? Because they're not the same. So like our oldest son, Zach, and our youngest son, Nate, if we gave them the Bible, we're talking about reading the Bible, they'd read the Bible. They love reading the Bible. Our middle son, Josh, good reader, doesn't really like reading that much. He likes listening to the Bible. So when he was young, we got him this listening thing, this whole Bible listening deal. And he got a lot more to the Bible because he could listen to it. And a couple of years ago, we were at our house for Christmas, and all three of our boys and their wives were there, and I had prepared a kind of a reading of the whole Christmas story, and I broke it up into parts for each one of us, so everybody would read a part of it, and so our sons and their wives shared, and I would each read a part, and so we're reading through it, everybody's doing their reading, doing their reading, and Saxon comes across for Josh, and Josh just goes, holds up his phone, pushes the button, and it reads the passage to us. And I'm like, yeah! And we all kind of laugh. That's Josh! Every morning when he wakes up, he listens to the Bible. That works for him. But when he was young, we didn't say, no, you've got to sit at a desk with highlighters and pens and study the Bible. We figured out what worked for him and then we tried to connect him to God's Word in a way that fit him. And so, each child, this is saying, study your kids, know your kids, and then raise them according to how God has made them and watch what happens. Watch as they become who God has made them to be. But it doesn't guarantee, it's not meant to guarantee that if you do your best it will all come together and everyone will be exactly how you want them to be. There will be challenges along the way but do your best. I remember our son Zach, we asked him each what kind of Bible would you want at different times. We would spend money on buying them Bibles if they had one that they were interested in. And Zach said, I want the archaeological study Bible. He loves history. He's a student of history. So even as a younger kid, he wanted this Bible because in it there would be maps and diagrams and pictures of digs in different parts of the world that showed where they said, well that city doesn't exist, it never existed, the Bible's wrong, and all of a sudden they're digging up, there's the city. And he loved that kind of stuff. Our other boys weren't interested in that kind of Bible. But we tried to kind of figure out each one. And so parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, people influence younger kids.

Watch them.

How do they connect with God? And then you try to connect them in ways that they feel God's made them and they can grow into the person that God wants them to be. I wanna just like I did last week with marriage, I wanna just kind of rapid fire some ideas, some thoughts about how you build a God honoring family or how you pour into the next generation. And I'm just praying you'll have one or two of these things you go I can do that I can start doing that So here's the first one praying for and with your children and teaching them how to pray To pray for them to pray with them to find opportunities When your child comes to your grandchild comes and says hey, I'm going through this. It's really hard. Don't you say? Oh, that's hard. Don't you say I'll pray for you later Say come here. You put an arm around him and you just start praying. I don't ask my kids, can I pray for you? I pray. I just pray. And so just to connect, I had a grandpa come up to me after the first service this morning and he said to me, I wish I'd heard this sermon 55 years ago. He said, I missed it with my kids. I've missed it with my grandkids. So I didn't pray with him. He said in my home when I was growing up, my dad would read the Bible at the table. He'd pray, but he never asked us to pray. He never taught us how to pray. He didn't invite us into it. He said, I missed it. I said, how old are your grandkids now? He says, they're in their 20s. So I looked at him and I said, this is just a couple hours ago, standing right here. I said, in the next few weeks, if you're with one of your grandkids and they share a struggle or a challenge they're facing, I said, you just come alongside of them and you put your arm around, he's a big guy, so put your arm around him, you pull him in and you just start praying. You just pray that God will protect them, that God will lead them, that God will, I said, you become the grandpa who prays starting today. And I prayed that for him, and I looked at him, I said, that makes you nervous, doesn't it? He goes, yeah. So I'd never done it.

I said, in the next week or two,

you're gonna have an opportunity, and the enemy's gonna whisper, don't do it. But I said, you step in, and don't worry about the words, you just pray, you just be grandpa who prays from his heart. They will come to you and start asking you to pray for them. It's not too late to start right now. And so bring prayer in. I had a chance to, one of the reasons we come here a lot is we have grandkids here, our kids are here, our grandkids are here, lots of family here. But I had a chance to have a paw and Piper day. Last time we were in town, Piper is a middle grandchild with our son who lives here. And she's about two years old. And so I was gonna have a Pa and Piper day, and the kids call me Pa. And so we got together and I had about two hours to be with her. And I said, Piper, let's make a list of all the fun things we can do together. So we made a list of like 15 things. And so one of the things she says, Pa, put on the list, snuggle, snuggle. Now I raised three boys. I never had any time where any of them asked me to plan on some snuggle time. But I got a granddaughter now. So I wrote down snuggle. And I said, oh Piper, I got a good idea. Can we put on here, we'll pray together for our family. She said, no Pa, you said we were making a list of things that were fun. She's a little girl, right? And I said, okay, okay, so we didn't put on the list. But a little later on we got a chance to snuggle. I should explain to me how it works. Okay, well Pa, we're gonna sit on the couch over here and then I'll sit by you and we'll get a little blanket and we'll just sit together. Like, okay, great. So we're sitting there and I said, hey, said, Piper, could you, how about right now while we're just snuggling here, why don't you say a prayer for Maga? I think they call it Shere Maga. When Cohen first tried to say grandma, he got it backwards, Ma, Maga. And then when he laughed, he thought, so that became, she's Maga. So I said, would you, Piper, would you pray for Maga? And so she did. I said, I'm gonna pray for your daddy and mommy. I prayed for them. I said, now Piper, could you pray for your little sister, Isla Grace? So she prayed for her, went back and forth. That's a few months ago. So a couple of days ago, we were here, and we were with, Sherry and I had time with Piper, and she wanted to snuggle, so we said, we're gonna make a Piper sandwich. We're gonna put each of us on the sides of the, she's just a little teeny thing. You're gonna go in the middle here. So we're sitting there, we got a little blanket, and then she says, Pa, can we pray? It took one time for her to connect snuggling in prayer. But now this time, we sat together and Sherry prayed, and I prayed, and Piper prayed. Their prayers are beautiful. They're little girls' prayers, but they're beautiful.

See, how do you...

You can't learn that in Sunday school. You learn that in life. And some of you are like, I've missed my opportunity. No, you haven't. Those doors are gonna open. Step through those doors. How do you build a God honoring family? And how do you build God honoring relations for your part of the next generation? Modeling and teaching a love for the scriptures. To really, to just show the next generation that you love this book. See, Christians, we have one book. I always tell people, we got no extra books.

And other groups have extra books.

We don't. We just got one book. It's a compilation of 66 books over an extended period of time, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We have one book. And so I love to study the Bible. When I first became a Christian, got my first Bible, I loved studying the Bible. I like to study kind of at a desk with some notes to write with and with a journal or with my computer open so I can study things and take notes. But when our boys got to the age where they could notice, I moved my daily Bible study from my study to the living room. Why? Not to put on a show. I wanted my boys to see their dad with the word of God sitting on his lap and me reading the scriptures every single day. I wanted them to see that that's how we live, that's what we do. We are people of this book. And so I began, and then Sherry and I would find ways, there was a season where Sherry would wake him up 10 minutes apart in the mornings and she'd send him to me for a little 10 minute time where we'd read the Bible together and talk about it and I'd get 10 minutes with each of the boys. There was times we did around the table, around meals. There's times where we'd, we'd just, all the way through the years, how do we figure out how to say being in the word of God is part of who we are? When they have challenges and problems, we don't just give them wisdom and advice, we give them scriptural wisdom and advice. And so bring that into your home and you'll pass it on to the next generation. Number three, how do you build a God-honoring family? By making grace central in the life of your home. How do you make grace central? You learn to say you're sorry. You forgive quickly. They watch dad and mom, and when dad and mom have a little struggle over something, and it happens, first of all, they don't air it in front of the kids, but if the parents pick it up, they understand that it gets resolved pretty quickly We forgive. When you mess up, and you will, when you mess up, to go to your son or your daughter, your grandson or your granddaughter and say, hey, you know what, Dad really messed up, and I'm sorry for how I got too mad. I pulled away. I did this. Will you forgive? Can you forgive Dad for that? And you teach them how to extend grace and how to receive grace. But you bring grace to the home. Because you can't be graceless in the home and say, hey, I want you to meet this graceful Jesus. They need to see it, right? They need to watch it in your home, in your lives. And so make grace central in your home life. How do you build a God honoring family or a port of the next generation? By speaking words of consistent and honest blessing. Man, bless every chance you get. Speak words of encouragement, of hope, of kindness, of beauty. Tell your son, tell your daughter, every good thing you see in them. Remind them. They need to hear that from you. And they need to hear that God delights in them. And as I was thinking about this, I thought about a friend of mine who's a pastor. He's about my age, and he shared this with me years ago. But his dad was a pastor. I learned a lot from him because I grew up in a non-believing home. He grew up in this pastor's home, in a wonderful, healthy pastor's home. So I learned a lot about how to do family stuff by talking to him through the years. But he told me that his dad would quote, would bless him with Aaron's blessing from Numbers chapter 6, whenever he left the house. And here's these words, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. And I love what comes next. It says, and so they will put my name on the Israelites and I will bless them. See, as they spoke the words of blessing, God came through that and blessed the next generation. Isn't that beautiful? So, Ken told me, whenever I leave the house, my dad would do that. So, he said, when I started raising my family, I thought I'd try the same thing. He said, when they were little, if they were going out to play, they would just run over to me and he said, I would just kind of grab them and I'd say, I'd look at them and I'd say, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and bring you his peace. Have fun playing." Off they go. So then when they got to be kind of teenagers, he'd have to say, come here, I'm going to do the blessing. And they'd be like, oh, all right. And they kind of stop and they'd like roll their eyes, just do it. And he would, you know, do the blessing and they're like, oh, okay. They're at that age. But he told me, he said, when his son went off to college, he came home to visit one time, just there for a couple of days. And he said his son was going to go off and take off for the day and so his son came over to him and said dad do it and he'd be the son of a gun long enough to use like wasn't he's do what he says give me the blessing he asked for it and so on his young adult son he just took his shoulders and made a lord bless you and keep you may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. He said, Off the sun went. Your kids, your grandkids, your nieces, your nephews need blessing in this world that's filled with cursing. Bring that blessing and bring it as often as you can. Find your own words, find your own blessing. Use something like this but bring that blessing. Number five, how do you build a God honoring family? By setting boundaries and saying no. One of the greatest gifts you can give to the next generation is a loving, kind no. By putting parameters on certain things. Don't let them just completely run wild in this crazy world. I remember when our kids were little and we lived on a cul-de-sac. And how many boys under like 12 were on our cul-de-sac? 11 boys under 12. So we'd go out in the front to play and within like 30 seconds there'd be a dozen kids there. And so, at one point one of my boys said to me, Dad, can we ever just play with you? Because when we go out, we turn it into a neighborhood game. I said, oh, and I realized that they wanted some time with Dad, so I said to the neighborhood kids, hey, sometimes we're gonna come out and it'll be a neighborhood playtime, but sometimes it's gonna be a Harney family playtime, and so if it's a Harney family playtime, we don't want you here, we want to just have family time. They didn't get their feelings hurt at all. From that point on, they'd run over and they'd go, is it neighborhood playtime or Harney family playtime? And I said, Harney family playtime. How long? Give us an hour. Okay, and off they go. And then I would have time with my boys to focus on them. Boundaries. You should have some times in your home where you say no to all technology. Shut it down. Hey, tonight we're gonna hang out as a family. We're gonna play board games or we're gonna do this and we're gonna just turn our phones off and I'm gonna take my watch off because it feeds texts and data into me and we're gonna just put all that away. The first time or two you do that with your kids, they're gonna hate it. They're gonna say, I can't turn my phone off, my friends will think I died, you know, and I can't, I need it all the time. But after one or two times when you say, hey, we're gonna do a no-tech time, there's actually something that's like, let that go for a little bit. But put up boundaries so that you can be a family together. That will help you have those moments you can pass faith on to the next generation. Number six, how do you build a God-honoring family? How do you pour in the next generation? By being present and slowing down. By being physically present. If you're not, how can you pass faith on to the next generation if you're never with them? Make time to be together. So be present, but then also be present. Don't just be there, but again, push the distractions away. You all know the feeling when you're talking with somebody and they do this.

Yeah, uh-huh, yeah, yeah.


And they kind of glaze over and they're somewhere else,

right, the phone, the watch, whatever it is. And so make sure that when you're present, you're fully present. I remember a time where our kids were talking to us about, you know, can you, they actually said, you know, when we're playing the game, can you not, you know, do laundry, can you not do this or do that? Can you just, can you just focus on us? Oh, good message. Make that decision. Be present and be fully present. And that creates opportunities, again, to just instill faith and to go deeper in life. Number seven, build a godly, God honoring family by teaching the next generation to think, debate, and articulate what they believe and why they believe it. Don't just tell your kids, this is what you're supposed to believe. And if they come to you with questions, don't shut their questions down. They come with a question about sexuality. They come with a question about heaven and hell. They come with a question, is it true that people only come to God through Jesus? Somebody told me that wasn't true. And they come with these hard questions. Don't say, well, no, we just, this is what we believe. Just believe it. Say, that's a great question. Maybe we can study that together. Call one of your pastors and say, my kid asked me about this. What's a good biblical resource that we can study together? And then as you study that together, you're instilling faith, but you're learning stuff. You're sharing with them. You're having spiritual conversations. If your kids come with questions, welcome those questions. I remember when our son, Nate, who's a pastor here, when he went off to Moody Bible Institute, he came back up, came home after like a month and a half for a little visit. And he said, Dad, you didn't teach me like all the Bible trivia stuff. He had these friends that were in homes where they basically, they learned to memorize all these things. They knew all the genealogies and who's the father of who and who's the mother and all this stuff. And he said, Dad, you didn't like teach me all that stuff. I said, no, Nate, we taught you to think biblically, analytically, to grapple with things. As he continued on his education, he came back and he said, yeah, I can look up the trivia, but I had to learn how to think and grapple with things biblically. Teach your kids to ask hard questions and think because when they leave your home, they will be asking those questions. Let them ask them now and know that you have the openness to talk about those things. And one last of many things we could talk about, but how to build a God-honoring family by creating space for fun and laughter in your home. Create a space for fun. Create a space for laughter. Of all the places in the world, the most joyful place should be the church and Christian homes. Amen? Because the Spirit of the Lord is there, because God is there. So make your home a place that's fun. Parents, this is another thing we learned from Chuck Swindoll years ago when our boys were little. Say yes as often as you can. Don't be no-machines. Say yes. Now, you're going to have to say no to some things. So I remember our boys came and said, Dad, do we have to wear these suits to bed? These little suits with a pocket and like these matching pants and shirt kind of thing? Pajamas. We're like, no, if you don't want to, you don't have to wear them. At one point, one of the boys came and said, dad, do I have to have my mattress on a pedestal? Can I just push that away and just put it on the floor? We don't have rats gnawing at them or anything. It's like, sure. We said yes when we could, so we could say no when we had to. One time, our oldest son, Zach, came and he said, he said, dad, dad, the back of our lot line was a little, on a pond that had like five or six homes. We called it a pond, it was really a county water retention area, but it was a pond. So it was clean enough, and there's a little fish in it. So, but he came and said, dad, can we build a ramp into the pond, going up the pond, so I could take the, or we could take the bike from up here, right down the hill across, and then jump off the ramp into the water and like try to do cool stuff. And so I said, well, yes, but hang on, Sherry, I said, Sherry, go in the house and close the door, don't look out here for a while. And so we had moments like that with three boys. And I said, okay, I said, so we'll do it. But I said, I have to be here when you do it. You have to have, I wanna have some supervision. I wanna give, I said, I'll step on, I'll sit there and I'll be your lifeguard from there. But, and it was a thing of beauty. I mean, we built this ramp and they're going, first they're just going to the water, then they're trying to do back flips and stuff. One time they tried to put two people on the bike, do it at the same time, and the thing snapped down, they went head first and flipped right in the water. It was beautiful. They're fine. But it's just a blast, right? And then after a while, Zach comes running to me and says, Dad, do we have a couple of life jackets? And I said, I'm a dad, I have no idea if we have safety gear. And so I said, ask your mom. So they went and got him a couple of life jackets. And so, and then they ran out in the yard and they tied the life jackets to the bike. Not on them, why? They were sick of diving to the bottom of the pond and dragging it back up again. But they weren't thinking safety, they were thinking fun, right? But this is a moment where I could say, yes, have fun, I'll be part of it with you. If your home is a place where it's sort of locked down, no smiling, rules and regulations to the point where kids can't have any fun, that doesn't show the spirit of Jesus. Your home should be the funnest place in your neighborhood, if you have kids, if you have grandkids. Work for that, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. See, these chairs are good for spiritual growth. They're wonderful. But the faith is passed on, day in and day out, through all of life. So Lord Jesus, this is our prayer, that our lives will be bound up with you so closely. We would know you so well, we would love you so much that every part of life, every chair we're in, every place we go is a place for faith. Everything we do opens the door for us to be able to walk with you, to love you, to know you, to follow you and to share your goodness with the next generation. So that's our prayer, that every one of us that can have influence on the next generation would do it. And little bits, day by day, moment by moment, until faith becomes real in their hearts. I'm going to invite you to stay in this place of prayer. If you're able to stand, if you're physically able, would you stand with us? And the song we're going to sing as we close the service is one that if you could teach this song and the words of this song to your children and grandchildren, you would teach them the gospel of Jesus. As you sing, pay attention and understand that every time we sing, we're also teaching the next generation.

Sermon on Healthy Families

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