AM I A GOOD PARENT?

Sermon AUDIO -28 minutes
(First 2 minutes is audio of movie clip from  TV series called PARENTHOOD. Father is reflecting with one of his daughters and saying “HAVE I BEEN A GOOD FATHER?” to which Pastor Dan refers in message).

Complete Transcription Below:
Teaser #1 – HOW DO WE MEASURE SUCCESS AS PARENTS?
I would suggest that most parents measure their success through their kids’ success. Most parents will say, “Well if my kids are successful at SCHOOL, or my kids are successful at their RELATIONSHIPS, or SPORTS, or COLLEGE, if they have a successful CAREER , if they have a successful MARRIAGE… or are KIND, or HONEST, or HARDWORKING, or CHIVALROUS or GENEROUS… most parents would say “well then we must’ve been successful“.

But I want you to consider another benchmark for success: SOMEDAY, if not already, YOUR CHILDREN WILL HEAR ABOUT OR READ ABOUT THAT THE BIBLE DESCRIBES GOD LIKE A PARENT. And how you have acted around your children will either encourage, help their ability to understand the character of God and to have a relationship with Him… or how you have acted as a parent will hurt their ability to understand the character of God and to have a relationship with Him.

Teaser #2 – If we are ever going to have any HOPE of showing our children or our grandchildren or other children in our lives an accurate picture of WHO GOD IS with our life, then we need to make sure that WE have an ACCURATE PICTURE OF WHO GOD IS.

The truth is that the best Children’s Ministry that we can ever connect kids to, is to connect their PARENTS into an environment where THEY ARE GROWING in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Teaser #3 – If you have children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, or kids running around your church (and you do)… or kids running around your neighborhood, you have the potential to do something significant in the eyes of God.

Transcriber Note:  My wife and I have chosen Public School for our children, but Pastor Dan’s HOMESCHOOL perspective is food for thought.

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Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
http://www.kirkmont.com/

Sermon AUDIO (listen as you read TRANSCRIPTION below)

Sermon Transcription starts at [00:02:00]
Pastor Dan:
“Well as you might be able to tell if you’ve been around here at Kirkmont, we’re taking a break from the current sermon series that we’re in… we’ve been walking through THE SEVEN ESSENTIALS of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and we’re taking a break not so much because of Father’s Day but more in response to the whole Vacation Bible School celebration and looking at the importance and the significance of raising our children in a way that brings Glory to God… but it just also happens to fall on Father’s Day and the two really come together in a wonderful way.

And I love this question… what you just saw is a clip from the hit TV series called PARENTHOOD that is already off the air but my wife and I watch everything FREE on Netflix and we just watched this last episode a couple nights ago and here this man.. he’s had a couple heart attacks up to this point and he thought about his own passing and he’s there reflecting with one of his daughters and saying “HAVE I BEEN A GOOD FATHER?

I think that’s a question that all parents, not just dads, ask… right.. all parents, moms and dads have either already asked themselves or at least at some point in time will ask… right?  But I wonder how do you go about answering it? … how do you determine at the end of the day whether you’ve actually been a good father or a good mother or a good parent?

I would suggest that most parents measure their success through their kids’ success. Most parents will say, “Well if my kids are successful at school or my kids are successful at their relationships, of if they’re successful in sports, or other competitions, if they’re successful in college, if they have a successful career, if they have a successful marriage… well then, “we must’ve been successful“.

Other parents they might just have a much simpler approach.. they have sort of a bring-em-back-alive attitude (Laughter)… and their whole goal is, “Look, just keep the kids safe.. and if we can just keep them protected and raise them till we send them off then we’re successful”.

Some of you might even really reach for the sky and have this aspiration to really infuse wonderful character in your kids and some parents wouldn’t consider themselves successful unless their kids turned out to be KIND, or HONEST, or HARDWORKING, or CHIVALROUS or GENEROUS…

But I want you to consider this as a benchmark for success: SOMEDAY, if not already, YOUR CHILDREN WILL HEAR ABOUT OR READ ABOUT in all likelihood THAT THE BIBLE DESCRIBES GOD LIKE A PARENT. And how you have acted around your children will either encourage, help their ability to understand the character of God and to have a relationship with Him… or how you have acted as a parent will hurt their ability to understand the character of God and have a relationship with Him.

What I mean is SOMEDAY our KIDS if they haven’t already, someday they’re gonna read for themselves, so by the grace of God someone else will tell them that the Bible describes God like one of their parents; and they’re going to immediately think about YOU… about US and the way that we have behaved around them will cause them to say either…

“OH… I HAD LOVING PARENTS… GOD’S LIKE A PARENT, GREAT, I WANT GOD IN MY LIFE”… they’re going to see the character of God and naturally want a relationship with him.. or they’re going to think about the way we’ve acted around them and say, “I’m not so sure I really want another one of those” .. hmmm.

We will either help or hurt our children’s ability to understand the character of God and desire to have a relationship with Him.

I want to show you some passages from Scripture that reinforce this idea that God is presenting himself to the world like a parent. FIRST the idea of a FATHER… this is the one that most people think of more commonly–the idea of a father.. in 2nd Corinthians chapter 6 verse 18 the Scripture tells us this,

 I will be a father to you,
    and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

In 1st John 3:1 the Scripture tells us,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

In Romans 8:15 the Scripture says,

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Now many people are accustomed to hearing passages about God presenting Himself like a FATHER, but you might be surprised to know that God also presents himself in the Scripture like a MOTHER as well. In Isaiah 66 verse 13 the Scripture tells us this,

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

In Matthew 23 verse 37 Jesus says this,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

And in Psalm 131 verses 1-3 the Scripture tells us this,

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.”

You see these verses are inviting us as FATHERS and as MOTHERS to stop and to say that eventually our children are going to hear of these passages… and our behavior will have either have helped or hindered their ability to have a relationship with God.

There are many more passages like the ones we just read but there’s even passages that show BOTH the Father and the Mother aspect in one verse.  In Deuteronomy chapter 32 verse 18 the Scripture says this,

You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.

And so we see BOTH being brought into one verse. And of course you and I could never show our children or our grandchildren… I just want to say from the outset that I realize that there are people who are here, who their children are already out of the home… and you might be thinking to yourself, “Well.. this is kinda not relevant for me..” … or you’ve never had kids, or you don’t have kids yet… but the reality of it is, there’s NO ONE in this room who doesn’t have the ability to INFLUENCE a child in their life… that can’t find application to this message that we’re looking at together.

So if we are ever going to have any HOPE of showing our children or our grandchildren or other children an accurate picture of WHO GOD IS with our life then we need to make sure that WE HAVE AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF WHO GOD IS in our life.

When I do premarital counseling one of the questions I ask couples is, “What was your parent’s marriage like?” 

It was really interesting the other day I had to do pre-marital counseling for our Christian Education Director’s daughter, and I got to ask her that question about Pat and Charlie’s daughter (LAUGHTER.. both parents were present at this service).  How many of you would like to have been in that room? (Laughter)… I took real good notes… yeah, they would’ve like to have been there (more laughter)… yes… that’s right, I took real good notes 🙂

Yes.. so the reason we ask that question is because there’s so many couples out there that have this vision of this wonderful, happy, joyous, long-lasting marriage but they’ve never stopped to consider the fact that they didn’t learn that in their childhood, and so it might be a little bit of an obstacle… and we need to talk about that and work through that.

And in a similar way there are many parents who have tried to maybe point their children towards God but they don’t have an accurate picture of who God is themselves.  And to be clear, the Scripture tells us that God is a loving God, who created us to be in a relationship with Him; through the person of Jesus we see that His character is KIND and GENTLE… SLOW TO ANGER and PATIENT and COMPASSIONATE and MERCIFUL… being crucified He was able to say “Father forgive them”… so He’s a FORGIVING GOD.

I just want to make sure that before we talk about YOU pointing your children there, make sure that you have an accurate understanding of who God is yourself. Because we’re never going to be able to do that WELL until we understand who He is ourself.

Look friends, the best chance for your kids to have their own personal, active relationship with God someday is for you to have one with God NOW.  This is not one of those areas of parenting where we can say the phrase, “DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO”… that might work when it comes to things like EATING YOUR VEGETABLES… you know, “Do as I say, not as I do”… I’m counting on that in our household (laughter)… ya know… that might work when it comes to getting your kids to ignore your SWEARING or your SMOKING habit or whatever it might be… but when it comes to children having a relationship with God, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE for parents having a relationship with God.

You might be able be able to outsource things like PIANO lessons and MATH equations and SOCCER skills to someone else, but if the strategy is to outsource your children’s understanding in ministry to the church around you then most likely that strategy will fail.

They’re doing some pretty amazing things in Children’s Ministry these days… I mean, a couple months ago I went down to Florida for a pastors’ conference at one of those churches that looked like a MEGA-MALL. I walked in and you turn right and there’s a big sign: CHILDREN’S MINISTRY WING. Their Children’s Ministry wing is as big as our entire church… and you walk into this MASSIVE “Check-in Center” with all these computers and IPads and things set up to check in HUNDREDS of kids… and as you walk in the whole thing is created to look like an underwater world and environment.. there’s massive aquariums on both sides of you as you walk in … there are literally small sharks swimming around in this church.

And you walk in and the further you go it looks more like you’re getting deeper into the ocean… and they have all these wonderful classrooms and they’re decorated wonderfully and marked great and I bet kids who go there have an absolute blast and learn about Jesus in a really special way…

… but let me tell you something… there is no Children’s Ministry on this planet that can consistently, over the long haul, COMPETE with parents who are not living in a relationship with God.

Now the truth is that the best Children’s Ministry that we can ever connect kids to, is to connect their PARENTS into an environment where THEY ARE GROWING in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

1st Corinthians 11:1… Paul was able to utter these words… it’s a little out of context, but He was able to utter these words to the early church in Corinth that he was ministering to, writing to, he was able to say,

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

He was able to say those words with a sense of confidence, not because he was perfect, but he knew that he had set before them a wonderful example and he was able to say “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ”… meaning, if you follow me you’ll be on the right path to a new relationship with Christ.

DON’T YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO SAY THAT TO YOUR CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN and KIDS AROUND YOU?  I want to be able to say that… I don’t want to have to say, “Do as I say, not as I do”.  I want to be able to say FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE AS I FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

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Ya know, Father’s Day for me is a unique day.  I don’t have a relationship with my father. Some of you know parts of that story. Umm.. the reason I don’t have a relationship with my father is not because (pause) I’m harboring anger or bitterness towards him… it’s not because I’m unwilling to forgive him… ahmm it’s because well, the short of it is… the way that he treated my older sisters and I has given me reason to believe that it Is not safe for my children to be around him… and we’ll just leave it at that.

And so, Father’s Day is a unique day for me… I think to myself, “I really hope by the grace of God that I’m showing our children more of my Heavenly Father’s character than my earthly father’s character”. And I do feel confident, that by the grace of God, that’s exactly what’s happening.

But God challenged me in the preparation of our time together this morning, personally in this… that if I could just merely compare myself to my earthly father and see that I have somehow improved and distanced myself from the way he did things I might become content and think, “Look, I’ve done good, I’m doing better”…

But we are reminded from Scripture that we’re not trying to point our children toward their grandparents for example… we’re trying to POINT THEM TO CHRIST… He’s the standard, and God has placed Himself in that type of a role.  And so our goal is to keep our eyes on the character of God and His Son Jesus Christ and to say, “THAT’S MY GOAL”… the LOVE, the COMPASSION, the MERCY, the PATIENCE, the masterful caring DISCIPLINE… all of the things that Jesus shows us, that’s what I’m trying to do when it comes to my children and grandchildren… I DON’T HAVE GRANDCHILDREN (Laughter).. I didn’t know if I just needed to … I thought maybe someone’s visiting here and they didn’t understand… just thought I’d clarify (he and congregation are laughing).

It doesn’t come natural does it though.. this whole thing of pointing kids to Christ, it doesn’t come natural at all.  I remember when I was in college I got my first job at a church and as you might have imagined from what I told you earlier, I didn’t grow up in the church and so I had connected to a ministry when I was in high school that didn’t really get me involved in a church… and we went and we heard some good Sunday morning preaching, but we never got involved at all… so I had never been to a Vacation Bible School, never been to a Sunday School class, never been a member, baptized, anything like that.

I got hired at a church to be the Youth Director and it was like a month before Vacation Bible School. And they were trying to find someone to do the games for the kids… and they thought “Oh we’ll have our new 19 year old college student, he’ll run the games… that makes sense.  And so I said, OK, I’ll run games and I really didn’t know exactly what I was going to do so they said we’re going to bring you waves of kids and you’ve got about half-an-hour with them each… and I said, “alright”.

So I got this idea that I would… some of you would appreciate this around here… I got this idea that I would dress up in a military uniform and we would run the games like… like military style (laughter) I thought it would be fun! (more laughter).

And so I had a whistle and the camo and it was all on… and the kids came out and I had them run down, ya know where you spin your head around the back and then you get dizzy… and you run back… and I’m SCREAMING and I’m SHOUTING at them and I’m blowing the whistle and this kid falls down to the ground and I’m like pshhhht (whistle)… “GET UP SOLDIER YOU CAN DO IT… GET UP”.. and I’m screaming at him and stuff… and I thought that these kids would just love it… I wasn’t mad at em… I just thought it would be fun.

And this kid just falls on his back and justs starts BAWLING, crying….

Next year I was not in games (LOUD LAUGHTER).  It doesn’t come natural… right? I had no idea how to work with kids… and I remember being afraid of that when we started having our own children. It’s God’s grace and mercy that we NEED and RELY upon… it’s a wonderful responsibility to raise children… it’s also just a great PRIVILEGE and the neatest opportunity we’ll ever have.

I mean if you’re here today… I’m going to assume that you’re at least intrigued by the idea that your life could accomplish something significant in the eyes of God… and let me tell you, if you have children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, or kids running around your church (and you do)… or kids running around your neighborhood, you have the potential to do something significant in the eyes of God.

I remember one pastor’s story… he was imagining a mom or a dad who was praying in the morning… just a wonderful follower of Christ who wanted to please God and there that parent was… just praying and saying on their knees, “God I wanna make a difference for you today… I want you to use me to make an impact on someone’s life”… and while they’re praying that their little son or their little daughter is tugging at his pant leg and he says, “LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M PRAYING TO GOD”… (Laughter)…  “God, I want to make a difference today help me make an impact”… the kids tugging and dad’s saying, “Leave me alone, leave me alone”… ya know, and it’s like, LOOK, GOD HAS ANSWERED YOUR PRAYER… He’s given you a child and there’s no one more important, no other focus than to make a significant difference in that child’s life.

Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 reminds us of this great RESPONSIBILITY, this great PRIVILEGE, this great OPPORTUNITY that we have… this is after the Ten Commandments had been given for the second time to Israel,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Impress them upon your children.

I was at this other pastor’s conference and I heard this speaker… and he was doing a great job… I was so invested in what he was saying, he was SO interesting.  He was talking about this idea of being “MISSIONAL”… that we should have a great desire to tell the community around us about Jesus Christ.  And I was right with him, taking notes, tracking him and then all of the sudden he decided to make fun of homeschoolers.

Well some of you know that we homeschool our kids (laughter).. so making fun of homeschooler was a negative thing to me… but I kept listening. Basically what he was saying was “homeschooling is anti-missional”… that by homeschooling we’re keeping our kids from being missional… from having an impact on the world around them.

And what I wanted to say to him… first of all I don’t think that homeschooling is the only way you need to do this… I want to clarify that… but what I wanted to say to him is “Look, you’re assuming that the kids who are born into the homes of Christian parents are just automatically Christian, and then therefore should be sent into the mission field”.

But that is not the Biblical teaching. Our kids’ default setting is not to be in a relationship with God… it is not on the path of heaven. They need gracious, merciful, strong, Biblical courageous parents to point them towards Jesus Christ.  And to send a kid on to the mission field when they’re supposed to be the recipient of the ministry is just an error.

And so I want to encourage you that our children are not by default Christians simply because they are in our home and we “are”… they are the first and foremost priority of a group of people that we should be reaching for Jesus Christ.

Don’t wait, don’t tell me that you’ll start doing this at another stage in life… when they settle down, or when they can really start to understand you.. EACH_STAGE_IN_YOUR_CHILD’S_LIFE is a new opportunity to show them another aspect of God’s character.

Our final verse shows us the heart that God has for children. In Matthew 19: 13-15 the Scripture says

 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. I want to be clear.. the children were brought to Jesus so somebody in the picture thought this was a good idea. But the disciples Jesus’ best friends, the ones who should’ve known Him he best rebuked those who brought them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

So here’s Jesus, in the height of His ministry, not too busy to be with our children, and not too important to be with children.

This past week I was asked about our VBS decorations [he is referring the the elaborate and very eye-catching, kid-appealing, stage setting around him we used for VBS the previous Monday through Friday]. I was asked about them before church last Sunday and then again before church this Sunday. And this isn’t a knock on the person who asked me… they were just sort of following suit of what’s happened I guess in the past.

But I’m going to assume that the concern in the past has been practical… is there enough room for people? … could people see the screen? … those types of things. But the THOUGHT came into my mind what if the attitude at one time here was that, “This is a Holy Place… and we’re going to have church service and so the VBS decorations really aren’t appropriate”… REALLY??? (scub – “slight chuckle under breath” vs. LOL)… come on now… look at the passage we just read.

It’s like someone bringing the decorations in and the disciples saying, “GET THE DECORATIONS OUT OF HERE… THIS IS A HOLY PLACE”… and Jesus saying, “What are you guys talking about… set em up.. kids are important to me.. they matter… they’re not a distraction from m character, they are a PART of my character”.

This whole subject has been so challenging to me… to think about Jesus not being too busy, not too important… and I was trying to think in my life, what is probably causing me the biggest problem from having a positive influence?  And the thing that God on my mind was this device… this smart phone. As far as I’m concerned I mean I could spend a week alone with this thing… I mean it does everything I need it to do… ya know.

And I realize and am starting to get angry at it.. if you will… because it’s robbed me of face-to-face conversations and memories that I could’ve had with my children.  And I want to encourage you… if you’re one of those parents like me and when we go out to a restaurant, and your kids are right across the table from you and you’re looking at your phone instead of them… to take this challenge that I’m going to take.

I’m going to start for a week, and see what happens. OK?

But my goal, other than to take phone calls… the whole idea of checking Facebook, my email, or Michigan recruiting (LOUD LAUGHTER – because he’s a Michigan State fan and has moved into Ohio Buckeye country)… we’re need a lot of help there… but all the other things I do on this device I’m going to wait until bedtime… I’m going to wait until my kids are in bed and this thing’s going to come out and that part of my life will open up.

So that’s my goal. I’m going on vacation/work for a week, which almost makes it harder because it’s like, I’ll have all the more time around my kids that I could be focused on them but I might be tempted not to be.

And so I want to encourage you to FAST from something that keeps you from building the type of memories and impressing upon your children the way that God wants us to. And not only to ‘fast’ from something but to infuse something positive.  I was thinking about our life in that area… we do a pretty good job at spending time with our kids in the Word in the morning… but one of the things we used to do more often would be pray with them every night when they went to bed.

Somewhere in the transition last December we got out of the routine… so I’m going to try to bring that back. And so I want to encourage you here as PARENTS, as GRANDPARENTS, whatever level of influence you have, to eliminate something that might be impacting your ability to impress it upon children, and to bring it into the equation.

Will you accept that challenge with me?

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All Pastor Dan’s sermons (AUDIO):
http://www.kirkmont.com/sermons.htm

Link to all Pastor Dan Sermon TRANSCRIPTIONS
https://m.facebook.com/notes/?id=580248818

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