16 Things to Convince Your Children of Before 16


This week, Todd urges all current or potential parents to resolve to be the best parents possible for their children. In doing so, he gives us a list of 16 principles every parent should be instilling within their children.

Todd WagnerFeb 7, 2016Proverbs 4:1-15; Psalms 19:7-11

Good morning! We are going to talk today about being resolved to be your kid's best parent. Not their best friend, but their best parent. You're the only one they have. The Scripture says, "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." That means it's not our student ministry's job to aim your kids in the direction they should go. Our job is to supplement what you do, never to substitute.

We had an amazing weekend here pouring into your kids, teaching them all kinds of amazing stuff they were just given the privilege to learn from some of our best communicators, best teachers, in homes with people who are investing their life into them over a six-year period of time. You have been given by God to invest in them over an 18-year period of time.

No matter how much we come alongside of them, if you are a burden, a hurdle, and a barrier to them being all God wants them to be that they have to get over, you will be just that: a burden, a barrier, and a hurdle and not the blessing God intends for you to be. Today what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you 16 things your 25-year-old wishes you had convinced them of before they were 16 so you can say, "I'd better start to snap the plumb line of my teaching and modeling and line myself right up alongside of them."

Now look. It's not enough just to teach them these things. Your life is the most powerful teacher, right? Kids would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. Paul said, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

So as I go through these 16 things, you might ask yourself, "Am I myself diligent about modeling these for my kids?" You want to be great parent? Here is the number one prayer you should pray: "Lord, change me. Make me the man, make me the woman, you want me to be so as my kids learn, receive, hear, and see in me, they would learn the goodness of your way."

I don't want anybody this morning to get out of here and just be overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are the Devil's tools. Conviction, correction, reproof, training in righteousness are the Lord's. Today I'm going to give you that which will set you up that you might be adequate, equipped for every good work as you run through life with others toward the purpose of serving your children and launching them in every way God would intend you to. All right?

If your program for parenting is, "The grace of God is going to show up," I might commend to you a different way this morning. Some of you did not grow up with godly parents who aimed you in the way of righteousness. You have felt a tremendous amount of pain in your life as a result of that.

My statement to you is you no longer (if you are out of that home) are a victim of your parents' reign and rule. Why you want to continue to live underneath the insanity you yourself saw and damage your heart more makes no sense. Bad parents are a fact. They are not an excuse. You have a loving Father who cares for those whose parents abdicate their role, and he is reaching out to you this morning. Now is the time to return to your Father's way.

Father, I pray you'd teach us now, you'd give us ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts that receive truth. We would build our life according to these things that we could walk according to your ways. I pray, Lord, we would have a generation that would follow in us and would call themselves blessed because their mothers and their fathers knew you, loved you, and taught them when they sat down and stood up, when they walked in the way and were in their homes of the goodness of who you are, the rightness of your Word, and the joy it is to know you intimately and walk with you.

Would you help us to teach that above all things? We love you, and we ask that you correct, reprove, teach, and train us now for the glory of God and the good of our heritage. In Christ's name, amen.

Well, here we go. Everything I'm going to say after this flows out of this, but the number one thing your 25-year-old wishes you would have absolutely gone hard to the hole on to teach them before they were 16 is this:

1._ God's Word is life-giving and worth giving your life to._ Now it's not enough just to say that. Again, are you modeling that with your life? One of the things I tell parents to do all the time is you want to sit down with your kids, and you want to ask them this question: "What is your dad, what is your mom, most passionate about?"

If they say your car, your boat, your lake house, your alma mater, football season, their athletic career, their grades, you are going to set your kids on a course that's going to lead to pain. If those kids say to you, "Dad, you are most concerned about not walking in the counsel of the wicked or standing in the path of sinners or sitting in the seat of scoffers, but you are concerned that you would delight yourself in the law of the Lord and on that law mediate day and night," then you have done your job.

You want to be a mom, a dad, a leader in somebody's life who says, "God's Word is life-giving. God is not here to rip you off. He is here to set you free." Every way of the Lord is good, pleasant, and perfect. I tell my kids all the time… I came to know Christ when I was in high school. It's been over three decades now that I have walked with him. I can tell them, without exception, every time I have chosen to walk in God's way, heed his Word, yield to his Spirit, it has been a blessing to me.

I have missed out on intimate moments of fleeting sexual pleasure. I have missed out on inside tracks to political gain. I have missed out on notoriety, but I have not missed out on joy, peace, hope, and life. God does not rip you off. There have been a number of times I have rebelled during these 30-35 years of knowing Christ and gone my own way. I have paid dearly for it, not always in a very visible way, but always in my heart and typically relationally with those who are close to me.

God's Word is life-giving and worth giving my life to. Solomon, by all accounts, was the wisest man who ever lived. When he was summing up his teaching to his son as he reflected back on all that was right that came from his father toward him in Proverbs, chapter 4, wrote these things: "Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father…" All I'm going to talk about today are instructions of a father, instructions of a family leader, instructions of a mother and a dad together shepherding and pouring into their sons and daughters.

"Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father… For I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me and said to me, 'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live; acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom.'"

He already said the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord earlier (Proverbs, chapter 1, verse 7), which is to say you should be scared to death that you're not going to hear God's will and way for your life in any area because when you miss out on God's will and way, you miss out on what's best for you.

You have a loving Father, a good, good Father. "Acquire wisdom," which is a right understanding of God. He is not here to rip you off. His Word is true. It is good. Disobeying it or becoming deaf toward it is expensive. You acquire wisdom, which is skilled knowledge. Skilled living is wisdom.

Then it says with that, "Acquire understanding!" In other words, you yourself employ that wisdom in your life. "Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you." Verse 7: "The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom." Verse 8:

"Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty. Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded. And if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life."

Moses (Deuteronomy 32:47), wrapping up his entire leadership of the nation of Israel, held up the commandments of God, and he said, "They are not just idle words…" In other words, they're not just creeds to know, doctrine to agree to. These words should be employed. You should put them to work. He said (Deuteronomy 32:47), "They are not just idle words for you—they are your life." Trust it.

Verse 14: "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it, and pass on." God is good! His way is right and true. He remembered his father David. When David sat down to meditate on the goodness of God and his revelation and creation in nature in Psalm 19, verses 1 through 6, he talked about how you can see the beauty and the brilliance of God's way in all that is out there in nature.

Then in verse 7, he starts to talk about God's specific and special revelation. He says, in effect, this to Solomon and anybody who would care to listen. "The law of the Lord is perfect…""Your daddy is not." "The testimony of the Lord is sure…""The example of your father will sometimes be suspect, Solomon." "The precepts of the Lord are right…""The practices of your daddy are sometimes going to be wrong."

"The commandment of the Lord is pure…""The instructions of your dad are going to sometimes be polluted by the way of the world, the lies of the Enemy I buy into, and just my own corrupt flesh. "The fear of the Lord is clean…""God is a leader you can follow without regret. There is no impurity in it." "The judgments of the Lord are true.""Some of mine will sometimes be tainted and filled with mistakes."

Watch what Solomon learns from his dad in verse 7 again. "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." In verse 8, "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." It will never in any way get tarnished. It's as relevant today as it was the first time you spoke. Then he says, "Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward."

When I bought my son his very first Bible, I wrote this note to him in the front of this. I said, "Son, my prayer for you, my vision for your life, is that as a result of this gift and your and my attentiveness to it, one day you'll be able to answer the most complex questions in the world with confidence. As a result of you giving yourself to this Book with me, one day you'll be able to face the darkest and most difficult of circumstances with hope.

One day you'll be sought out by multitudes to provide them comfort, guidance, and leadership in their distress, and you will be found ready, full of unfailing confidence that you can serve them well. One day, son, you'll be able to stand firm against the passions of your flesh, unwaveringly remain pure while others are all around you falling into the irresistible titillations of the moment.

My son, if you give yourself to this Book, one day you'll be able to speak with profound insight, great courage, unwavering boldness, while others are uncertain, constantly changing, and consumed with the opinions of others. One day, you'll be a pillar of strength for a world ready to collapse under the weight of its foolishness. One day, you'll be able to stand strong when others crumble.

One day you'll speak, and others will be fed by the fruit, which pours forth from your lips. My son, if you commit yourself to this Book, you will be able one day to reveal to others what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what hasn't even entered into the heart of men. You will be able to un-powerfully reveal truths to them. One day you'll be able to restore souls, rejoice hearts, enlighten eyes, inform minds with perfection from the very mouth of God.

One day you'll be ready to step up and lead courageously, speak out boldly, stand firm bravely, stay humble continually, and serve the one true King nobly. One day you will be blessed because you will delight yourself in the law of the Lord, and on that law, you have meditated day and night. My son, no man is wise who is ignorant of God's Word, and no man is uneducated who knows his Bible. You read it to be wise. You believe it to be safe. You practice it to be holy. You share it to be useful. Read it through. Pray it in. Live it out. Amen."

Gang, I'm just telling you, when you sit and you talk to your kids about where life can be found, if you don't start with, "God is good. He loves you. His Word is true," if you don't counteract the very first lie of the Enemy, which is, "You can't trust God. He doesn't have your best interest in mind," your kid is going to be tattooed in this life with a lot of scars that God wants to spare him from.

Some of my favorite notes to read are from my kids who, especially when they got to college, started writing me. They said, "Oh my goodness! Dad, I had no idea what you and Mom spared us from as you taught us to walk with God. You told us stories of what's on the other side. I'm living with them.

I'm watching my friends try and recover from them. I am busy at work, but I want to thank you that I am not spending my days right now with a daddy wound and with a mother wound and trying to sort out what to do with my tattered life." That is the grace of God that comes through his Word.

Not only should you make sure your kids are all in with the Word of God. You want to make sure your kids know…

2._ Life is not about you. Your 25-year-old wishes you would have told them that, that they're not the center of the world, and that the fast road to being lonely is to focus only on themselves. Your 25-year-old wishes when you were raising them up that you would have shown them that a fast track to deep despair is to be endlessly obsessed with themselves and to focus on what _they want, what they think is unfair, and what other people think about them.

I'm going to tell you, we have people who are diagnosed with depression in our country at an exponential rate, more than ever before. We are the most depressed country on the face of the earth. I don't think it's because we have a self-esteem problem. I think it's because we have a self-obsessed problem. I think it's because we have too many kids whose mom and dad made it all about them. Now life is difficult, and life is hard. They wonder why the whole world doesn't bow at their feet and give them what they want.

You need to let them know they have been bought with a price, and the life they have is not their own. There is a God they're accountable to, and they are here to serve. Jesus himself didn't come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. They need to know that if they put I in the middle of their life, they have trouble. When you spell pride, right in the center is I. God is opposed to the I-focused person but gives grace to the humble.

I love this statement by somebody who said, "…the utmost evil is Pride." Again, that's not walking around thinking you're better than everybody else. It's walking around thinking about yourself. This is the opposite of humility. Humility is not when you look at somebody after they compliment you and go, "Oh, no. That's not true." That's false humility.

I taught my kids early on what to do when they receive a compliment. It's to look somebody back in the eye and say, "Thank you very much. That encourages me." If their encouragement was about something superficial, to follow that up with, "I pray you see in me an inner beauty and not just an outer one, but thank you very much," or, "Hey, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the encouragement about how I just performed on that athletic field, but I pray the way you watch me perform in life encourages you even more."

Follow it up like that to remind yourself of things that are important. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less. That is the way to life. It is not about you. If the essential vice of all vices is pride. Chastity, anger, greed, drunkenness… All those are mere fleabites in comparison. "It was through Pride," this man wrote, "that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."

I tell my kids, "Listen. You want to be great? A man's greatness is judged not by how many people serve them but by how many people he serves. Any gift you have, any privilege you've been bestowed is not for your fame, your fortune, your felicity, your happiness. It's been stewarded to you for others."

This is 1 Peter 4:10. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." This isn't about you! You have to teach your kids that early on, or they will be self-obsessed, depressed, frustrated humans.

3._ Who you follow with is going to shape who you are_. Your 25-year-old wishes you would have told them that they should be slow in choosing friends and even slower in losing them. They need to know how to work through conflict, how to find mighty men they run with and mighty men who go to war against the right things and live for the right purposes.

First Corinthians 15:33 just says this, man. "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.'" The translation I use with my kid (the Todd Wagner translation) says this: "Don't be surprised if you sleep with dogs that you wake up with fleas." Proverbs 13:20, right? A verse we talk about in here all the time is, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."

Who you follow is a big deal, okay? I mean, you have to start with just saying, "Who is my master?" because if your master, if your hero… When kids say, "Man, I want to be like LeBron. I want to be like Justin Bieber. I want to be like Taylor Swift," ask them why. If they say, "Because it looks like they've worked hard, they've developed their skills, and their lives are now being stewarded to the glory of God inspire me to greatness," then you go, "Good!"

If they say, "Because I want all the money, all the women, all the freedom, and all the pleasure it looks like they have," then you go, "Not good." If their hero is not a selfless servant, if their hero isn't living for something eternal, they have problems. Who their master is is the biggest deal in their life, because their master will determine their mission. Once you know your master and your mission, then you can find your mates.

Anybody who has been through a difficult time in life knows the very first thing you'll hear as you go through recovery is, "Man, you have to change your playground and your playmates. Otherwise, the way you play is not going to change. As you can see, the way you're playing is leaving a lot of scars, a lot of scrapes, a lot of devastation in your life."

The mission is the playground. Your friends are your playmates. You want to find men and women who run the right way. This is the thing. Second Timothy 2:22. It doesn't just say, "Now flee immorality." Fleeing immorality is not enough. We are admonished to make sure we "…pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."

Because why? We're prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love. When we're weak, they can be strong. Sometimes somebody else has to fly out in front. Sometimes I have to be encouraged day by day as long as it's called the day so I'm not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Choose your friends wisely.

4._ The people around you today are full of worth, but they are not worth all you think they are_. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is this. I love that! I ask you guys right now. I want you guys to think through right now. Look at your cell phone and go through. Don't actually look at it, but in your mind, look at your cell phone. Look at all the numbers you have down there. How many of them are your high school friends?

When you think about what you're going to do this weekend, how many of you go, "Hey, I'm going to call that guy who was in my homeroom class who I played football with in high school"? There may be one or two people, maybe, in your life on a regular basis today who you in high school were absolutely fretting about what they thought about you. It's one of the great mysteries in life that kids don't figure out that what you're defined as in high school is what defines your life.

I tell my kids all the time, "You just need to know something, man. Nobody really cares who is going to be voted most likely to win an Oscar, most likely to marry a millionaire, most likely to show up in a Beyonce video, most likely to run away with a circus, most likely to be president, most likely to win The Voice, most likely to be successful. You want to be successful? Here's how you do it. You stop caring and being infatuated with the opinions of the most fickle people on earth: other students in your high school. Be faithful, and be free." Amen?

How many of us just were absolutely devastated that in high school people didn't think the world of us when you look back right now and realize the things you did and what it cost you to have a fleeting moment of coronation? Do you know what's really sad? It's when somebody walks around and tells you how popular they were in high school. Have you ever tried to work in the fact that you were homecoming king into a conversation? It's not easy. Right?

"I played some quarterback in high school." They're looking at you like, "Man." Right? We make movies about that, right? Uncle Rico. You know? That's the whole movie! I'm just telling you, bro, it doesn't matter that much. Now look. One of the things you have to make sure you know and you do tell them is, "Look, the people around you are full of worth. Because they're full of worth, you can't need them. You have to lead them."

If, by the grace of God, you've come to discover the goodness of God, the rightness of his way, and the beauty of his Son, these kids don't all have parents who have taught them that at a tender age where freedom is increasing, discretionary time and income is increasing, because now they're going to be more powerfully set up to hurt themselves than ever. God has placed you as a prophet, a priest, and a king in their midst.

I'm going to tell you something. Ten years from now, you may not remember their name, but 10,000 years from now, there are people you're surrounded by today who will still be prospering or suffering based on how they responded to how you led them when you were in high school. These are kids. These are your community. These are people in your congregation.

I know you're a young man, but when a candle is lit, it doesn't wait 10 years to start giving off light. You give off all the light you can, and you serve those you're around. You don't seek to have yourself celebrated by them. You teach them to be on mission.

5._ Money is not a ticket to freedom._ It is a tool. It's a test. It's a testimony. Debt matters. It's probably not worth it coming out of college with $120,000 in student loans. Look. Here's the thing about money, okay? Money is not evil. Money is like a hammer. It's a tool. When you have a hammer and you look at it, it is amoral. It doesn't have any innate morality.

If you use that hammer to drive a nail to build a house to provide shelter for somebody, that hammer is a useful tool. If you use it to show your frustration with the person who just changed the channel when you didn't want them to, it is now an immoral tool because it was in the hands of an immoral person. Money is like that. It's a tool for you to use. Look. This is 1 Timothy 6:9 through 11. It says just be careful.

"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Your 25-year-old wishes they would have heard you tell them, "Don't live for money" and, frankly, modeled that. "Hey, Dad, let me tell you what you're most passionate about: more money. It seems to me that you love money or you love fame that comes through your career. I know you never teach me that, Dad. I'm just following your leadership."

"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." Proverbs 23, verses 4 and 5 say, "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."

Learn to use this tool, and it will bring you great joy. But if you make this tool the totality of your focus, it is the beginning and root of all sorts of evil. It is a test. Money is a test. You're going to be tested the rest of your life by money. The man who thinks money can do anything for him will likely be a man who will do anything for money. You'll be tested all the time.

It reminds me of the story of a woman who was on a plane with a guy. They were flying along, and the guy looks at the woman. He was very attracted to her, and he just said, "Man, you're really beautiful. Listen. I'm going to be over in this little town we're flying to for a couple of days. How long are you going to be there?" She said, "I'm going to be there about the same amount of time."

He said, "I would like to have a relationship with you, and I'm willing to pay for it." He just said to her, "I'll give you $500 if you'll just spend the time with me here in any way I want you to." She looked at him and said, "What kind of woman do you think I am? I'm not going to do that." Then he said, "Okay, let me start this conversation over. How about if I told you I was a man of great wealth? I want to give you $1 million."

She said, "You're going to give me…what? A million dollars? Well, I kind of find myself attracted to you anyway, but I just didn't like the way you came on to me. You're going to give me $1 million if I spend the next couple of days with you and we just have a little dalliance? I mean, I'm on Tinder anyway. All you have to do is swipe right, but nonetheless, I'll take the $1 million." The guy goes, "That's great! That's awesome!"

They fly a little bit longer. He said, "Hey, let me ask you a question. I know I said $1 million, but let's go back to that $500 thing. Would you be mine for $500?" She goes, "What kind of woman do you think I am?" He said, "Look. We've already established that. We're just negotiating the price right now."

Okay, gang, look. Here's what I'm telling you. If you have a price, it's going to be met. We've already established what you are. It's a test, and you'd better make sure your 25-year-old knows it's not worth worshiping. That's why it's a testimony. Jesus said this in Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

I told my first son when he went off to college… I sat him down, and I said, "Look." We were talking about what he was going to study, what his career path was going to be. What I told him was, "Look. You have the freedom to choose whatever you want to choose. But I'm going to just commend you, don't choose your friends or your future career by how much fame or finances they offer. That is a fast track to despair. What you need to be is somebody who loves people and uses things. You'd better avoid like the plague people who love things and use people."

Your 25-year-old wishes you had taught them the truth about money. A generous man is a man who is celebrated. A man who will use the tool (the smallest of things, the least of these things, is what the Bible says is money) effectively, you watch the way they're loved. You watch a guy who will prostrate himself out and prostitute himself out for and before money, and you find a man filled with sorrows, pierced with many a pang.

Let me just tell you something. It's not just your 25-year-old but your 20-year-old. It's not just your 20-year-old but your 15-year-old. It's not just your 15-year-old, but these days, your 10-year-old wishes you had taught them…

6._ Pornography is not just a lie; it is lethal._ You guys need to know the number one consumer of pornography today is 12- to 17-year-old boys. The average 16-year-old in our country has already had sex with someone, and that's because they fueled their normal adolescent appetite to discover just the way they are designed by these images that are just rampant today.

There was a survey that was recently done. It just came out within the last couple of weeks about actions that our youth today always or usually would say are wrong. This is teens 13 to 17 and young adults 18 to 24. From 13 to 24, 88 percent of them say taking something that belongs to somebody else is either usually or always wrong.

Seventy-five percent say having a romantic relationship with someone other than your spouse (in other words, being adulterous) is wrong. Only three out of four think it's wrong. The third thing on the list is saying something that isn't true. Seventy percent of our 13 to 25 year olds say lying is wrong. That means 30 percent go, "No. No! Sometimes it makes sense."

"Not recycling" is the next thing on the list. Fifty-six percent of our youth say not recycling is usually or always wrong. Do you know why? Because we have gone on an aggressive campaign to talk about how we are stewards of the earth, so a little over half of our youth know that not recycling is wrong.

You have to go down five more clicks all the way down to less than 30 percent before you see them say that viewing pornographic images is usually or always wrong. Folks, that is devastating. Twenty-five percent say watching sexually explicit scenes on TV or in a movie is a problem. You'd better watch where your kids go when they go spend the night somewhere else.

I tell my story of my exposure to pornography when I was in elementary school. I can remember to this day where I was the very first moment pornography was put before me. It was like somebody took a horse needle filled with adrenaline, just shoved it into my arm, and went boom! I was years away from anything that even remotely resembled puberty.

It was just electrifying. In that blog post, I talked about an article from a sweet little girl. You need to know this. This is not just a man problem. As I told you, the number one consumer of porn is 12- to 17-year-old boys, but 33 percent of all individuals who watch pornography are female. This sweet little girl wrote this blog post I referenced here, and she said, "I wish somebody had told me this 10 years ago." Here's your 20-year-old saying, "Mom and Dad, I wish somebody would have told me the truth about porn." She says this:

"I wish that 10 years ago someone had educated me on pornography. […] I wish that someone would have told me that researchers have suggested it sabotages your sex life. I wish someone would have explained how dopamine, the chemical that is released every time you experience pleasure, drives you to return to what provided that feeling before. […]

I wish someone would have told me pornography would normalize things I wasn't emotionally or physically ready to handle in my relationships with men, making me feel like I had no options or control over my sex life, filling me with much regret and physical pain. I wish someone would have told me I would begin to objectify men, build up images in my mind and think of sex day in and day out, to the point where I couldn't remain focused on anything else.

I wish someone would have told me it would make me feel less valuable to men and bring up insecurities for years in the bedroom. I wish someone would have pointed out pornography can establish your sexuality completely apart from real-life relationships, causing huge problems in your intimacy with real significant others. I wish someone would have explained what 'sexual anorexia' was and that countless young men are unable to get erections because they've been watching porn since they were around 14 years old.

I wish someone would have told all the men I've dated that the porn they are watching is keeping them from being turned on by me, ultimately destroying our relationship. I wish someone would have told me that the dopamine and oxytocin being released from my watching certain types of pornography would cause me to question my sexual orientation, which in turn cost me relationships with friends. […]

I wish someone had talked about how women watch it too, so I wouldn't have had to spend years living under the shame that comes with being 'the only one' and thinking there was something wrong with me." She goes on. I have to tell you something. You guys have to learn to talk to your kids about this stuff. It is lethal, it is a lie, and it is rampant.

If your kids have a smartphone and they have Twitter, they have access (which your little Internet safety device can't track) that gives them opportunity to look at graphic images that only the hardest core of pornography intake people used to have access to. If they're on Instagram, they have access to the wildest gifts in 15 seconds of pornography you can almost think about.

If they're on Snapchat, you are putting a camera in their room and giving them access to confused little people who have cameras in their room that they think will be evaporated forever and not have long-lasting impact. You have to wake up. This stuff is lethal.

7._ Sex is not just intercourse and if they remain a technical virgin, they'll be okay._ You need to know that 66 percent (two-thirds) of Americans 15 to 24 have engaged in oral sex. You need to know that even though they haven't penetrated somebody or been penetrated by somebody, they've been exploited by a lie. Our president did have sex with that woman, and when they were doing that with one another, they were having sex with each other.

You need to know that's why we have over three million teenagers a year who are getting sexually transmitted diseases, because it's no surprise to us that in oral sex there is direct transmission of bodily fluids. We have an epidemic right now that's going on with STIs. All the while, our kids think they're staying virgin. Twenty-five percent of our kids who are virgins have had oral sex, and they wish somebody would have told them the truth about what happens when they give themselves in that way.

There is no pill which will keep you from conceiving guilt even if you don't conceive. It reminds me of a little deal I read. One gal was just talking about how she is now 35, and she remained chaste and pure. She just talks about how a good friend of hers lost her virginity her senior year in high school after having given herself away to intense sexual activity before that. Her friend regrets it to this day.

She said, "My senior year of high school was now 18 years ago." She is 35. "The wait has been a trial, but I keep waiting, believing that God's Word is good, even though fornication is everywhere." She said, "I just keep telling myself the truth. If free-for-all sex was as good as they claim it to be, why are so many people depressed? If unmarried people's sex lives are so good, why are they supplementing it with pornography?" Your kids wish you'd tell them the truth about it.

8._ Sex is not dirty, but outside of marriage it can be damaging_. You're like, "Wait a second, Todd. You tell me there are 16 things that if you love your kids, you're going to tell them. Now you're at number eight, and three of them are about sex?" Yes, that's exactly what I'm telling you. Do you know what? It's very biblical. If you go read Proverbs 1 through 9, which is basically the introduction to the book of Proverbs before we get to the couplet proverbs in Proverbs 10 really through 29… Chapters 30 and 31 are also set off a little bit more.

In Proverbs 1 through 9 when Solomon is beginning to write down basic youth training, wisdom, and skilled living, five times in nine chapters (chapter 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9), there is an extensive discourse on sexuality and the warnings that go with it. But you don't just warn kids. You don't tell kids that sex is bad. You tell them sex is beautiful. It's God's gift. The problem is not that we have this thing called sex. The problem is we're taking it out of the place God gave it to us to enjoy.

If I give you a chainsaw for Christmas, the problem is not the chainsaw if you choose to floss with it. The problem is the way you're using what I gave you. Don't go around badmouthing chainsaws. Make sure your kids know there is a gift God has given us. When you use that gift the right way, it is highly enjoyable. It's God's gift for pleasure, God's gift for procreation. It's God's gift for intimacy. You save that gift.

I think I mentioned here before, right before my oldest daughter got married, I took her aside, our last daddy/daughter date. I said, "Hey, sweetie. Your dad has to do one more thing, because part of my training you up in the way of righteousness, we've talked about this…" I go, "I'm going to ask you a question. How many times have I ever talked to you about sex in a negative way?" She goes, "Never."

I go, "Good, sweetie, because you need to know something. I'm not going to ask you now to come back and unwind 18-20 years of teaching and just whisper in your ear, 'Guess what? Sex really is okay,' and expect you to be able to flip that switch overnight. No, I've told you for a long time that sex is good, but I've told you that God is good, so we have to use it God's way.

Sweetie, I want you to know that in a couple of days when you're on your honeymoon, I don't want you to have to think anything you're doing with your husband is anything but God's delight. He loves you, and he gave you that gift. You learn to be great at it." It's not dirty, and if you grow up telling your kids it's anything other than a tool, a treasure, and a testimony to God's love for us, then you are damaging your children.

9._ Dating in high school is a date with trouble_. Your 25-year-old wishes you would have told them that. I mean it! There are many things that could happen when you start to date in high school, and only one of them is good. That one thing is you get to tell the story at some dinner party, "We were high school sweethearts. We laid eyes on each other in third grade math. We've held hands ever since."

Well, way to go! Congratulations! Let me walk you through the killing fields of high school dating where everybody else lives. What I would tell you is there is no reason for you to engage in a relationship that you are not ready to execute on. It is a distraction, it is defrauding, and it is dangerous.

Somebody said, "Well, what if a guy and a girl just go to dinner?" I go, "Why are they going to dinner?" "I don't know." I go, "To open their hearts. That's why. To start to move toward each other." Okay? If you put nitro and glycerin in the same test tube, if they don't blow up, it's because nitro and glycerin are somehow degenerate. Let's just work on getting healthy nitro and healthy glycerin.

You know, flowers are supposed to bloom in sunlight. Hearts are supposed to release. As you move toward each other, it's totally natural to want to move toward each other in every way. I tell my kids all the time, when a guy says, "Will you be my boyfriend?" you're a friend, and you're a boy, so yes. But if you were to ask me if I can be your best friend, I don't do that.

We started with our guys with other guys in kindergarten, our girls with girls in kindergarten. When I heard the words, "She is my best friend," I go, "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Stop that. We don't have best friends. 'Best friend' is something that people who are insecure need to be validated by another person say, 'Beyond all other people, I'm going to just think you're more important than everybody else in my class.'

We're not those people. God has already said you're valuable, and so is everybody else. I'm glad you're good friends. It's okay that you two like the same things, but don't you ever tell somebody you're going to love them or like them exclusive to somebody else until one day you chose to love them in a way that's going to be a screaming example to the entire world of what real love looks like.

Right now, you are friends. You are not best friends. The same will be true of guys you know along the way. You'll have many friends of the opposite sex, but none of them will open your heart until it's time. You are mine. We date each other. There will be a day a guy will come up to me and tap me on the shoulder and say, 'May I cut in on this dance?' If he is fit for you, I will celebrate that if his intention is to do what the purpose of dating is."

Dating comes from the word data, which means, "I'm learning about you and assimilating data to determine if you are the mate I should go on mission with as we serve the same master." If you have no intention with mating with that person, then do not awaken love before it's time. You don't need somebody to validate you.

I taught my little girls from day one, "Never buy the lie that anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ can satisfy you. You don't need to be validated by some guy who thinks you're special. There's already a guy who thinks you're special. His name is Jesus. I'm going to be the closest thing on earth to you to remind you of that until that day when somebody is ready to really do something with the data he accumulates. You be God's girl. You don't need to be any boy's date."

You can have a different opinion if you want to, but you are just wrong. All right? Let me just say this to you. It's called puppy love for a reason. I'll do this one last thing. It's called puppy love for a reason! Okay? What is puppy love? It is the infatuation often felt by people when they see a puppy.

You're going to the mall to see a movie. You walk by. You go, "Aww… Look at the puppy! It's just adorable!" You buy the puppy on an impulse. You take it home. It craps all over your floor, it chews your shoes, and you live with it for 15 years because you had puppy love where you lost all sensibility for a moment. Stay out of the mall of high school dating, and don't ruin the carpet of your life.

10._ Life is hard. Don't be shocked by hard. You have to help your kids understand life is hard. It's harder if you're stupid, but even if you're _not stupid, it's hard. Jesus says in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

I can remember when my kids were in elementary school one of their classmates walking to school was run over and killed. We had a parent meeting that night, and the parents were saying, "We have to have more areas that kids can cross. This mother probably didn't do her job. The crossing guard was not high enough on there. We have to get these same lights that are on runways out at DFW to show cars that are there. High school kids should not be able to drive."

They went on and on about all the things we needed to make sure this never happened again. By the grace of God, the principal looked at me and said, "Todd, what do you think we should do?" I said, "Well, first of all, you're doing exactly what any parent who loves their kids is going to do, which is to say, 'Is there anything we could've done to protect our children more and to care for our kids?'

I want to tell you something. Some of you guys have talked about what that mom didn't do, and that would devastate that mom. She was within inches of her daughter when that happened. She walked her daughter to school every single day. She loved her daughter. Let me tell you something. You guys love your kids. You need to do everything you can to protect your kids, but if you promise your kids…

If you go home tonight and you tuck them in and say, "We've figured it out. There will never be tragedy. There will never be horror again that comes into your life," they're going to find out really quickly that you're a liar. They're going to live filled with fear. This is a broken world," I said.

"In this world, there's going to be trouble. Sometimes sweet little kindergarten girls are going to get run over, and it's a horror. If you tell them there's anything but a hope in a world to come that we can get there, we'll have faith in a God who can even turn evil into good, you're going to have a very neurotic, discouraged, depressed, fearful, untrusting child. You'd better tell them life is hard."

You can do everything you can to protect them, but they should not be surprised that sometimes trouble comes. Your 25-year-old wishes you would have told them that no matter how excellent they live their life, they may not be married when they're 25. Sometimes life is hard, and you have to brace them for that.

11._ You can't be whatever you want to be when you grow up, but you can be all you should be_. What do I mean by that? I mean, look. Quit letting them memorize Philippians 4:13 that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. If they're 5'6", they're probably not the next Spud Webb. They probably ought to look beyond their NBA career. All right?

You probably ought to quit telling them that they can be whatever they want to be. Some of them can't be it at all! Quit lying to them! Philippians 4:13 is there so when they have unmet expectations or things don't go the way they want them to go, they can still find joy in life despite the fact that they weren't dealt the winning ticket in the DNA lottery pool.

That's probably not going to be their destiny, but guess what? God designed them perfectly. They're fearfully and wonderfully made, and they can be exactly what God wanted them to be. It's going to be beautiful in your sight and their sight. The sooner they get busy finding out who God made them to be and stop living somebody else's life, including yours, the happier they're going to be. You quit telling them that they can do whatever they want to do, and you start telling them they should be who God wants them to be.

12._ It's called work for a reason, and the work is not a curse._ Listen. Work has been around before the fall. God gave it to us for purpose, for dignity. It's a gift. It gives us stewardship on this life. It's part of what we do, but it's hard. I can't tell you how many 25-year-olds come and say, "Well, I'm just unfulfilled in my work. It's just hard. It's not what I thought." Guess what? It's called work for a reason. All right?

Now look. Work is not here because of sin. Sin does make work harder, but here's what you should do. Be excellent where you are. If you want to chase another job, that's fine, but I get so sick of people coming, saying, "Well, I really would love to work at Watermark." I go, "Well, what do you think we do at Watermark?" "Well, I don't know. I would just love to have coffee with people all day and read the Bible with them." I go, "Well, guess what? Win the lottery, buy a Bible, and camp out at Starbucks. That's not what we do."

I work my tail off, and there are some days… I love what I do. Stop telling your kids, "If you find something you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life." I love what I do. I'm working every day, and it is hard. Pop that little balloon of fantasy. Believe me, your 25-year-old wishes you would have told them that. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…"

13._ Lies abound in most of what you see, read, and hear._ They should be discerning and guard their heart. It's not just porn that's a lie. It's songs they sing. It's relationships they see on the silver screen. It's social media. There are all kinds of lies that are out there, and they have to learn to spot it and run from it. Teach them to be discerning. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."

Quit buying the lie, "I just like the tune. I don't listen to the lyrics." Not only do you listen to the lyrics; you make heroes of the people who sing it. It's a mistake. Be like the king in Psalm 101 who sets no worthless thing before his eyes. Be like Paul who takes whatever is true, right, honorable, pure, and lovely. Let your mind dwell on those things.

14._ Failure is not fatal, but failing to try can be_. Tell them that if the reason they're not going to go out for cheerleading is they're not sure they can make it, they should go out for cheerleading. The reason they're not going to run for senior class president is they know they won't get elected. Tell them to run anyway, and tell them to do the best they can.

Tell them to learn why maybe they aren't going to become president of their senior class. Remind them of people who have tried and went on to great things. Albert Einstein couldn't talk till he was 4. His teacher said, "He'll never amount to anything." Steve Jobs was ceremoniously let go from the company he founded when he was 30.

Michael Jordan took over 26 game-winning shots he missed. He lost over 300 games, missed 9,000 shots in his career, and won six NBA titles. You tell them Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas. You tell them to go for it. Be realistic. Learn why they didn't succeed but to try. You tell them if they fail before God, it's not fail. God is the God of second chances. You tell them to take a good look at Peter, Jonah, Mark, Samson, David, and many others.

He is the God of third, fourth, and fifth chances. You make sure they don't buy the lie that because they have already been down the sexual road they can never be a virgin again. God makes beauty from ashes, and he can take your sins that are red as scarlet and make them white as snow. It's the Enemy who is lying to you telling you you're damaged goods. What God says to you is, "I will make you holy in my sight." He can restore what we have given away.

15._ I love you._ Your 25-year-­old wishes they had heard that every day all the time. Tell them you love them, and say it, and say it again. Show it to them, and show it again. You quit trying to be their friend. You be their parent. You tell them no to things because you love them. I love this little thing right here.

"Dear Child, as long as you live in this house you will follow the rules. When you have your own house, you can make your own rules. In this house, we do not have a democracy. I did not campaign to be your parent. You did not vote for me. We are parent and child by the grace of God, and I accept that privilege and awesome responsibility. In accepting it I have the obligation to perform the role of a parent.

I am not your pal. Our ages are too different. We can share many things, but we are not pals. I am your parent. This is 100 times more than what a pal is. I am also your friend, but we are on entirely different levels. You will do, in this house, as I say, and you cannot question me because whatever I ask you to do is motivated by love. This will be hard for you to understand until you have a child on your own. Until then, trust me."

You need to know something. Kids spell love T-I-M-E. Quit buying the myth of quality time. Quit buying the myth of quality time! Your kids want to know you love them, and they know you love them when you're present in their life. This is the first rule of parenting, man. You must be present to win.

When you're present, you have in your heart what's on the heart of God. You can tell your kids you love them, but if you're never around, you're on to other things. You're going to teach them to live without you, and you're going to leave a hole in their life that they're going to have to overcome the rest of their days.

16._ God is love, full of grace, and full of good_. You model that with your life, and no matter where they go or what they do, it's never too late to pay attention to that fact. As much as they can steer their ship by that truth, it will go well with them.

Guilt and shame are not God's tools. Conviction, truth, and encouragement are. I hope you're encouraged today that your kids need you. Kids love you. I hope you're encouraged today that if you've been living in rebellion against your mom and your dad who didn't train you up in the way of righteousness, there's been a Father who has been trying to show himself to you all along. He still loves you. It's not too late. "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

He is a good, good Father. If you have never come home to him, know he loves you this much. He wants to shepherd you, care for you, restore you, and heal you. If you're a mom or dad, you've been given that tender privilege of caring for his little ones you're a steward of. I pray you'd love them well by teaching them the things that will help it go well with them. Would you let us know how we can help you know your Father? Would you let us know how we can help you be the father and the mother our Father wants us to be?

God bless you. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.