Worship Together: Influencing the Next Generation by Preparing Ourselves and Investing in Our Children

2017 Messages

Jason Bradshaw, Patrick BlockerSep 3, 2017

Jason Bradshaw: Just a little bit about me. I'm a dad of three. So my wife Betsy and I have three kiddos in our house. I remember when our first child was born and just feeling how excited and crazy and emotional and everything that goes into that, and I'm not even the one having the baby. Regardless, we were trying to figure it out. The first time we needed to change a dirty diaper, I'm like, "Oh, I don't know how to do this." So the nurse comes in and helps me learn how to change the diaper. Awesome.

Then we have to learn how to feed this little human, so another nurse comes in to teach us how to feed the human, and that's exciting and crazy. Then all of a sudden this little baby, this little small thing starts shooting out black tar, and you're like, "What in the world is going on?" The nurse comes in and is like, "Oh, it's normal. It's fine." I'm like, "Okay, I didn't break the kid. It's awesome." So another nurse is coming in to help with that. I'm thinking, "I'm glad these nurses are around."

We make it through the night, and the next day the nurse comes in. She goes, "Okay. Well, it's time to go." I'm thinking, "Okay. It's kind of weird to change shifts at 1:00 in the afternoon, but who's going to be the new nurse?" and she's like, "No, no, no. It's time for you guys to go." I was thinking, "I'm not ready. We've built such a great thing going on here. The three of us are tackling all these baby's needs. We're good to go."

She's like, "No, we need you guys to get on home. You guys are good. You guys are set." She's like, "Can you get the car seat?" I'm like, "The car seat is in the car. It's a car seat. It's in the car." She's like, "Well, go get the car seat and bring it here. That's how most dads carry their child to their car." I'm like, "Okay. Well, I want to be a good dad." So I run down to get the car seat. I had never touched the car seat before in my life.

For those of you who have never seen an infant car seat, it has two parts. I did not know that at this time. One is a base that stays in your car. The other comes out of the base so you can easily transport your child wherever you may desire to go. I know this, but I don't know how to get them apart. So it's the end of May. I'm in my car, and I'm sweating, and I'm getting very frustrated. I'm getting very flustered, and I just can't figure it out.

All of a sudden, my hand slips and hits this magical button, and they separate. It was the most glorious moment of my entire life. So I get the base in, and I run back up 45 minutes later to my wife. I'm like, "Let's put Jayden in the car seat." I'm putting him in the car seat, and I'm trying to get his arm through the strap, and I'm like, "I think I'm going to break his arm off if I put him in this car seat, and that is not what a good father would do."

My wife is like, "Get out of the way. Let me do this." So she starts going after it, and she's like, "I can't do this either. This is overwhelming. I'm going to break his arm." We were like, "Nurse, nurse! Can you come in here?" She comes in. She's like NASCAR changing a tire. She's like done. I remember thinking as I was carrying him out, putting him in the car… I'm pulling out onto Bryant Irvin, and I'm going a very, very cautious 21 miles an hour on the road.

I've never checked my mirrors before in my life. I'm checking them. I'm making sure, "Is he still breathing?" Like, put my finger back there. People are zooming by me at 31 miles an hour, and I'm like, "Guys, slow down. I have to get these 'Baby on Board' stickers or something to let people know what is happening here." Needless to say, I felt very ill-prepared and very, very overwhelmed about what it was going to mean to be a dad, what it was going to mean to be a great parent.

As we talk today about what it means to be a great parent, I think it's really important that we remember it's not about teaching your kid how to play a sport. It's not about teaching them how to make chocolate chip cookies. It's not even about teaching them how to excel in school. That's not what being a great parent is. That can be part of it, but the main focus about being a great parent is pointing our kids toward righteousness and training them in truth and the way they should go.

This morning, we're going to talk about a couple of things to do in order to set ourselves up to be a great parent. Some of you may be in the room and might be thinking, "Okay, I'm an empty nester" or "I don't have kids yet." No, this is a group effort. As you'll see here in God's Word, it is a group effort to raise up the next generation. So wherever you guys are, just buckle in, and it's going to be a fun ride this morning.

The first thing we are going to talk about to be a great parent is to prepare yourself well. The nation of Israel in the book of Deuteronomy is about to go into the Promised Land, and Moses is reminding them of the things they need to know before they go into the land. He's trying to prepare them well before they go into the land. In Deuteronomy, chapter 6, Moses says to the nation of Israel…

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand… You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

This is Moses trying to prepare this generation going into the land and how to hand that over eventually to the next generation. The first thing we need to do to prepare ourselves well to be a great parent is exactly what it says in verse 5. It says, "Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." To love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

The greatest thing you can do is be fully devoted to Christ. John the Baptist says, "He must increase, and we must decrease." Apart from him we can do nothing. So we need to surrender fully to the Lord in the process of being a parent. This is a little garden. (This definitely is what a garden looks like at my house right now. I do not do a good job of taking care of the outside of our house and the flower beds.) This is going to help guide me to communicate to you guys this morning.

If I look at this garden, I realize this is not the ideal garden. It has weeds in it. It has rocks in it. It has all sorts of stuff that should not be in there, but I have to commit before anything. I have to commit to the fact that I have to go all in with this, because if I just go in and take out one rock or just kind of move some dirt around over here, nothing really is going to happen. I need to realize that I need to surrender fully to the project of this garden.

That's just an example for us to surrender fully to Christ. Your career is not the most important thing, your spouse is not the most important thing, and your kids are not the most important things, even though sometimes they fall into that slot. We need to constantly remind ourselves that Christ is the most important thing in our lives and to fully surrender to him. So as we come fully surrendered… I have my sleeves rolled up. I'm ready to work.

With the power of the Holy Spirit, I'm able to see, "You know what? There are some things in this garden that don't need to be in there." The reality is I need to begin to remove these things. Out with the old, because nothing can be implanted that's new without getting rid of the old things first. So, taking these rocks away, picking out these weeds so they're not in the garden. Make sure I get all those. Put those down here. A tennis ball…somebody left that. A shoe…that's definitely in there.

The picture this paints for us is as we get the old out… The rocks, the shoe, the weeds represent those things in our lives, those sin patterns, those hurts, those habits, and those hang-ups that distract us from being fully surrendered to the Lord. The reality is we need to get rid of all of them. Not just some of them. Not the ones that are easy to share but all of the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that will distract us from fully devoting to Christ.

If we bring our sin patterns into our parenting, what happens is that our kids can notice those things. In fact, they can even influence our kids to begin to do the same things as us. So to prepare ourselves well we want to surrender fully, we want to be all in, we want to get out with the old. Maybe that means a season of re:gen for you guys or maybe it's confessing something you've never confessed to anyone before.

There's fear associated with that, but being able to fully be known and fully be loved is so imperative in being able to continue the next step of being a great parent. So get rid of those things. Young adults right now, do whatever you can to continue to make yourself healthy. Even parents with kiddos right now, set yourself up to be a great parent by committing to distinguish those hurts, habits, and hang-ups in your life. Don't let them rule your life.

The next thing we want to do is implement good habits. We want to take the things that are good and implant them in our lives. Now that the old is gone, the new has come. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come." When you get rid of those sin patterns in your life, set up good habits of spiritual discipline in your life: being committed to God's Word, committed to memorize it and put it in your heart, that you might not sin against him; being able to realize the importance of worship and corporate worship and all those things. Set good habits.

"You know what? We go to church once a month, because it's good and all, but we're so busy." Here's what I would say. Make those habits now that you want to model to your kids, that when it's time to talk to them about reading God's Word it's second nature because you are in God's Word. When it's time to pray and lead your kids at night in praying, guess what? You are so in tune with the Father it is coming naturally to you.

So spend this time preparing well by initiating good habits. Once we've done that, initiating good habits… I'm going to water this. I'm going to watch it grow. I'm going to plant more things up here. Then we have a chance to leave a legacy with our kids. It takes having that mindset early on. Here's what I would say to you guys. If you have an infant in the room, I think sometimes an easy thing to do is to think, "Oh, I can start initiating with them in godly things when they get of age and we can interact with each other."

Here's what I would say. As soon as they come out of the womb, even before they come out of the womb, spend every night praying over that child. As they come, they're not able to engage with you yet, but you're praying and reading God's Word with them every night. That way, when they get of age, it's not a new habit you're having to create. It's something that's already established and already there.

You've prepared yourself well to this point, so when your child is ready to engage with you, you are ready. You don't have to get out with the old. You don't have to start creating new habits, but you are ready to go. Guys, this matters. The way we prepare ourselves to lead kiddos, whether in our house or not, matters, because it is a communal calling God has given us. It's super, super, super important to prepare well. Now my friend PB is going to come up and talk about investing.

Patrick Blocker: It was January 2013. My family and I just celebrated five years in Fort Worth. We're never going back to Dallas. That's how we feel. We're bold about it. We went to our first Fort Worth rodeo. This was January 2013. We moved here summer 2012. We are watching this, and it is gathered in. I have my two kids at the time. It was a 5-year-old and almost 3-year-old. They come in at the beginning and form a loop around the arena.

These two gals, who as we talked about it as they came in, they go, "That must be the mayor's daughter or somebody." They are head-to-toe in sequins. They have an American flag and a Texas flag, and they go to the middle. Then all of the lights go out. The spotlight goes on them. There are gigantic mirror balls. A commentator comes over (this is one of the reasons we love Fort Worth) and he goes, "Our city only needs one man, and his name is Jesus Christ." We're like, "Yes! This is what they do at the rodeo? This is our place."

There are two girls (I'm thinking they're teenage daughters) in there in the middle, and this male opera voice comes over. "God bless…" It's just this amazing moment. My almost 3-year-old kind of stands up in the chair and goes, "Daddy, is the horse singing?" It didn't make sense. The first thing I think is, "What's wrong with my child?" The second thing I think is, "I've been giving her Aladdin and Finding Nemo and The Lion King," and it's like that makes sense.

It was this magical moment for her, and we had a coachable moment after of what actually happens with animals. It was just fun for her, and it was a great memory for us. When I think as a parent of my magical moment, that crazy thing that could happen, it's "How do I raise my kids to love God and to love his church?"

I was on a date night with my daughter. We go play UNO cards and get a Frosty, and we play little word games in our car. She goes, "Daddy, you just have one wish. What wish would you wish for?" I go, "Maddy, if I had one wish, I wouldn't wish for your health. I wouldn't wish for long life. I'd wish that you and your two brothers would have a deep relationship with God."

She goes, "That's actually the wrong answer, Daddy. You're supposed to wish for more wishes." But it's really true. That's my heart. I want my kids to have a deep relationship with God. One of my favorite verses of Scripture on parenting… It's kind of an odd place. It's in Judges 2. In Judges 2, you have this group of folks. Their grandparents were the ones who saw the Red Sea spread. Their parents were the ones who, with Joshua, took the Holy Land.

Now you have this group of people who continually, over and over again…six cycles in the book of Judges…go away from God, get to such a point of desperation they have to cry out for him, and God gives them a judge or a deliverer and brings them up. I was reading a commentary on Judges 2, and I wrote this at the top of Judges 2. This is Herbert Wolf, who's a commentator. "People cannot thrive on the spiritual power of their parents. Each generation must personally experience the reality of God."

If I could give my kids one gift I would give them the gift of faith, but that's not my job. I can't do that. I can't give them my faith. They have to have their own personal experience and journey and trust in Christ. But there is one thing I can do as a parent. I can invest in my kids. I have up here a little piggy bank. If you invest, you might do a 401(k) or 403(b) or mutual fund, or whatever. In the kids' world we have piggy banks, and I have a giant inflatable piggy bank up here.

When we talk about investing in our kids, we're going to divide it up in three different areas: the physical, the relational, and the spiritual. When we talk about investing in them… (These are my quarters or silver dollars or whatever your kids might be throwing in the piggy bank.) When we talk about investing in the physical, here's what Psalm 127:3 says: "Behold, children are a gift from the Lord." The way we engage with them, the way we are physically around them, that our kids realize, "My parents think I'm a gift from God to them."

The way our kids spell love is the way a lot of us spell love: T-I-M-E, that we invest a lot of time. I'm not sure if you're a gift giver. I am. I love to make gifts magical, mysterious, surprising, engaging, but the best present we could ever give our kids is to be present. Just to speak into our culture of the time, present doesn't mean at a soccer game doing this. They're in the room doing something. "Daddy, Daddy, look at this!" and I'm like, "Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. That's great."

It doesn't mean half attention. It really means diving in and spending time, those unique opportunities of spending time. If you have young kids, preschoolers, elementary, up to middle student, the key times are the morning routine and the evening routine. Am I a part of that time when they wake up and I'm making them breakfast, getting them lunch, talking about school, giving them a ride to school, talking about their day, how school is going?

When they start winding down from the day, I'm going, "How was your day? What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day?" I was that kid that my mom would ask, "How was practice? How was school?" "Fine." Detailed question. "What was the best part? What was the second best part?" Engaging with them, praying with them, talking about what is going on. You are always there.

When it comes to physical touch… As a high schooler, I remembered this counsel. I snuck into what was equivalent to The Porch in Richardson, and there was a guy named Tommy Nelson, one of my favorite Bible teachers, and he was talking about how he parented his kids. He has two boys. He just goes, "Hey, here's what you do with boys. You hug them, kiss them, love them, and as soon as they're old enough you beat them up." He was talking about wrestling.

We are always around, that my kids just know, "Man, I am a gift because of how my daddy comes around me, engages with me, loving on me, being near me, wanting to be with me." We invest in them by taking them wherever we're going. A friend of mine has older kids, and he goes, "Hey, the real secret is not creating events for your kids, but whatever you're doing, bring your kids along."

If you're building something in the garage, give them a screwdriver, and if they make a hole, you could patch that. If you go hunting, bring them in the hunting blind. If you do all of these things, bring them along with you. They're always going on errands and things with you. You are in physical presence of your kids. There's the physical.

The second bucket is relational. This is one of the most specific verses in Scripture that's given to parents. It's specifically given to dads. It says in Colossians 3:21, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." Don't wear them out. Don't overwhelm them. It kind of gives the heart of rules. Rules are good. Boundaries are good. Discipline is good, is what the Scripture talks about, but he builds the idea of our relationship with God.

We have a God who doesn't give us 10 rules, and if we do those 10 rules he will love us. We cannot keep those 10 rules and he loves us, and he helps us and engages with us. This is about relationship over rules. It is about engaging with our kids to such a level that they know, "Whatever we did wrong, Daddy is with me. Mama is with me. They're going to help me and engage with me, but not wearing it out."

The most important thing you could do with your kids is not to give them advice but to listen to them, understand them, to create such an atmosphere where your kids naturally tell you what they are feeling. They're engaged. They could say, "Daddy, my hair looks funny. Does it look funny to you?" "Hey, somebody said this at school today, and it seemed inappropriate. Can I tell you about that?" You create an environment where those awkward, hard conversations happen easily, where there is no taboo topic. This is the place we talk about those things.

Another thing is you practice in this relational time incredible conflict resolution. We know the story of David and Bathsheba, David's biggest leadership and purity mistake, but a lot of times we're not aware of David's biggest parenting mistake. It's in 2 Samuel 14. His boy Absalom makes a big mistake. He does something really, really, really foolish, and David casts him aside and makes him go live somewhere else.

David's buddies come around him and go, "Hey, you've got to make this right with your boy. You've got to make this right with your boy. You've got to make this right with your boy." He goes, "Okay, he can come back." It says his son came back in but never saw the king's face for two years. What I have written in the heading of 2 Samuel 14 is that public forgiveness without private reconciliation is useless.

When we do reconciliation really well… I think the best times I lead my kids is when I ask them for forgiveness, when I go, "Daddy did not make that rule clear." "A tool or a toy" is what we say in the Blocker house, and doors are tools not toys, so slamming it and not getting fingers in. I was pushing on a door, and then they got in trouble, and I was like, "Man, that was a miss. Daddy was not being clear."

Practicing that great conflict resolution is such a great tool for them. Our goal in all of this is to communicate relationally, "You are valuable to me." The way God tells us he loves us, he delights in us, we're the apple of his eye, in the same way communicating to our kids. There's one more on the relational. I was always convinced as a young boy that God was in it to steal my fun, to steal life.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and creating an environment… We love being together. We love engaging with each other, because Christ has given us a life we love celebrating. If you see our children's ministry, our kids love being there because they create an environment that we are going to work hard, in the sense that we are going to do real discipleship, and we're going to play hard. We're going to celebrate the gifts God has given us, our relationships.

Then we have the spiritual. I'm going to bring out a special four beanbags in a bag for this. The first part of spiritual is a lot of times when we have kids we go, "Man, I need to take those kids to church. They need to learn about God." Hey, we have a great church, an incredible children's ministry that loves our kids, but we come to the realization the greatest teacher of our kids about God happens in the home. Our full devotion or lack thereof will be the greatest teacher of our kids about God.

There's this great verse we see in the Scriptures. We talk a lot about it of just knowing the Scriptures, but there's a great introduction to it. This is 2 Timothy 3:14-16. "You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…" This is Paul talking to Timothy. Timothy had a great mama and a great grandmother who taught him about God.

"…knowing from whom you have learned them [Mama and Grandma] , and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings [the Scripture] which are able to give you the wisdom [investment] that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Here's what your Bible is: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…"

It starts in the home. As we love and lead our kids in the home, here's what we do: we share the gospel in front of them. We have conflict in front of them. We engage… One of my favorite things is to tell my kids, "You have to go to bed early because community is coming over tonight. Mom and Dad have to work on us, so you have to go to bed." That they see us being fully devoted and engaging. They catch us wrestling with Scripture, talking about God, working on what God has done for us, that we help them have a biblical worldview.

My daughter isn't in this service. She was in the last service, and this totally happened by chance. One of the things is music in our household. We choose it. We talk about it. My daughter wanted to download a Taylor Swift song, "Bad Blood." We just go, "Hey, let's listen to this song together." We have a little statement in the Blocker household. "What is the only language Daddy doesn't speak?" I pointed to my daughter in the first service, and she goes, "Drama!" I was like, "That's right." It was fantastic. It was improv but great.

So we listened to that song and went, "Hey, she says 'Band-Aids don't fix bullet holes.' Can we just talk about what Taylor Swift is talking about? She had a fight with another girl about these things in a concert and stuff. Hey, I just want to let you know, as long as you're listening to that song and knowing that Taylor Swift is being dramatic and you know that in this home if you are hurt, insecure, frustrated, you don't communicate in a way Daddy can't understand you, because Daddy wants to help you, okay. If we understand that, let's download Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' and we'll sing it together." Helping them understand the world through a biblical worldview.

Here's Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." Kids who are in this service, I want to give you an assignment. I haven't asked your parents' permission, but I'm giving you authority anyway. Such a great dinner conversation, car conversation, whatever it is, for you to ask your parents, "What is God teaching you?" Engage with them. Can you imagine a better conversation, a better dinner conversation, car conversation than that?

Here's the goal of this whole investment. The goal is that when our kids go, "Okay, I'm being told there is a God who loves me, cares about me, and disciplines me for my own good, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and he's not trying to steal things from me; he's trying to give me life," our kids would go, "Man, that's not that far off because of the way my mom and dad love me, the way they invest in me." That is the goal.

When you look at our piggy bank over here, it has some sandbags in it. I could still move it, but it has more weight. The goal is to have roots. For our kiddos, that is their response with God, and we hope and pray… It is our one wish that they would experience Psalm 1, that they would plant themselves by streams of living water and have a deep relationship with God, but that is between them and God. Here's what we can do as parents: invest in them. We can add weight to them so they do not experience James 1:6; not be driven and tossed by the wind of culture, but they are anchored down in truth as their parents invest in them.