Recently, I was listening to Dr. Rydelnic on Moody Radio. He shared the following about discipline between him and his son:
When my son was in high school, I’d wake him every morning and he’d hop out of bed and we’d lift weights for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, he’d shower while I made coffee. Then, he’d dress and join me in the kitchen while we read the Bible together for about 15 minutes. This wasn’t about correcting him. No, this daily discipline was instructional.
Dr. Rydelnic was modeling a key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is that we talk about the scriptures with our children. However, he was also modeling another key part of Christ-centered parenting, and that is relationships. He focused on a relationship with his son. He spent time with him.
I am in a sermon series dealing with the questions that you have. Most of the questions are regarding difficult times. This one may, or may not, have to do with difficult times. The question today was about Christ-centered parenting. I struggled thinking about what direction to take this message. The reason being is that I did not want to repeat a sermon to you. However, my sermon from April 29, 2018, was regarding the text that answers this question. That sermon introduced my series on scriptures that I have been convicted to pray for my children. Today, I will begin with the text from that sermon, Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and then bring in some new ideas.
Today, I want to make the case to you that as parents, we must keep Christ in the center of everything.
This is true for Christians in general, not just parents.
By the way: Many of you are grandparents. In that case, model this for your grandchildren.
- Keep Jesus in the center of your conversations.
- Deut 6:1-9: Deuteronomy 6:1–9 (ESV) “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
- Notice that in verses 1-3 we see the repeated emphasis on parents teaching their children spiritually.
- Moses is passing on the commandments, statutes, and judgments to them.
- Moses says that the Lord has commanded him to teach them.
- Moses was commanded to teach them so that they might do them in the land where they are going to possess.
- Right now, most of Israel is younger than 60 years old. This is because everyone who was 20 and older has died off in the wilderness. Three people could keep living: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. We see this in Numbers 14:20-38. They were sentenced to die in the wilderness because of their lack of faith that Israel could take the land.
- It has been 40 years of the people wandering around the wilderness. But it is time to go in and take the land.
- However, Moses is giving instructions.
- Deuteronomy is a sermon, or a series of sermons, given by Moses to the people before they enter the land.
- In verse 2, we see a purpose. Moses is to teach the people so that they will obey, and this includes their sons and grandsons.
- Verse 3 is urging them to listen and obey.
- I notice a repetition in these first three verses that if they listen and obey, they will multiply and live long on the earth.
- Israel’s life in the promised land is contingent on their obedience to God.
- In verse 4-5 we see the Shema.
- Shema is the Hebrew word for “hear.”
- Notice first the simple statement “The Lord is One.”
- This may seem basic to us, but not to them. Think about it, most societies in that day and age were polytheistic. They believed in many Gods. But this is saying that there is one God, and He is the Lord. Notice the repetition: The Lord is our God. This is the Lord. This “Yahweh” is our God. This is the unique name for the Lord as opposed to “Elohim” which is translated “God” the second time.
- Theology matters.
- Then we have three words to describe our love for the Lord. They are nouns: “heart,” “soul,” and “might.”
- This means we love the Lord with all our being.
- They did not have a word for the brain at that point so they would use the word for heart. Jesus would quote this and include “mind.” We see Jesus quote this in Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27.
- As an interesting note, the only individual in the Old Testament—of whom it was said that he turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might—was King Josiah (2 Kings 23:25).
- In verses 6-9 we see the idea of taking every opportune time to talk about the Word.
- Verse 6 says that these words should be on our heart.
- What words, the words of Deuteronomy, Moses’ sermon, but we could apply it to all the Bible.
- Verse 7 tells us to teach them diligently to our sons.
- In Hebrew we have one word that the NASB translates as “teach” and “diligently.” This word carries the idea of engraving. As we recite something over and over again it is like it is engraved on our heart.
- Pastor, author, and Theologian J.D. Greear writes that many parents talk about their teenage or adult children wandering away from the Lord. They will talk about how they would bring them to church. But he would ask about the family life. This next generation has a hypocrite meter on them.
- One wites: “The reason for this emphasis on the children is clear. Deuteronomy is always aimed at the next generation. It takes the present (next) generation back to the past and brings the past afresh into the present. The children are now the ones before whom all the choices are laid, and some day their children will be there and the divine instruction will confront them (e.g., 30:2). Can they learn afresh what it means to love the Lord wholeheartedly?” (Dr. Contable, soniclight.com)
- Keep Jesus in the center of your planning.
- This includes spiritual disciplines as well as your church community.
- We must have individual and corporate spiritual disciplines.
- Individual spiritual disciplines are your own daily devotions, prayer time, scripture reading, and meditating time.
- Corporate spiritual disciplines are spiritual activities with the body of Christ: Sunday School, small groups, Wednesday night Bible study, youth group, worship services, and etc.
- When you plan as a family, are you factoring in your church community?
- Or, do you plan everything else, and the church gets the leftover time?
- Mercedes soccer coach sent out a text. It said something like, “make sure that your daughter is practicing at home, this is the age when girls really begin to learn skills.”
- Mercedes soccer coach sent another text and it said something like: “make sure that your child is attending the practices.”
- What is true of sports is all the truer of the church. If you desire your children to walk with the Lord, you must commit to the church with them. They must be at Friends Club, they must be at youth group, they must be at Sunday school, they must be at the worship service of the church.
- Further, what happens at the church must extend to the home. It must go both ways. They cannot hear you mock God at home and then bring them to church. No, Jesus must be the center.
- Several years ago, I heard about a parent who was babysitting her grandchildren for the week. Her son had left her and her husband specific instructions to practice a sport with the kids each day. That is good, nothing wrong with that, but do we do that with our commitment to Christ? If someone babysits our children for several days, do we expect certain prayer times, worship times, Bible study times, church commitments, etc?
- Keeping Christ at the center of our planning means that we think about church when we schedule. We think about spiritual disciplines when we schedule.
- We have family devotions.
- We have family conversations about God.
- We pray as a family.
- We sing a worship song as a family.
- We must keep Christ at the center.
- Keep Christ at the center of our conversation.
- Keep Christ at the center of our planning.
- Keeping Jesus at the center means practicing simplicity.
- We make ourselves and our families so busy.
- Simplicity means that we recognize our limits.
- In Emotional Healthy Spirituality, Scazzero writes: The primary issue here is to remove distractions and remain free from attachments. “Live as free of complications as possible [so] you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master” (1 Corinthians 7:32 MSG). For this reason our children were not in three sports at one time while learning violin. We are careful to not buy every new electronic or technological item to help us save time. Instead of having five credit cards, we have one. Instead of cooking elaborate meals and having a house that is always perfectly clean, we have made choices to let that go. We are no longer involved in fifteen projects at the same time in our service for Christ. We do less, but do it better than before. We also got rid of our cable a number of years ago and opted for a DVD player instead.
- The longer I live the more I am convicted of this idea of simplicity.
- We have to cut some things out so that we can prioritize God in our family.
- We cannot have it all.
- We must understand that.
- Create a family mission statement and stick to it.
- Apply and summarize:
- So, keep Christ at the center of your conversations.
- As I look at that Deuteronomy 6:1-9 passage, it seems that the Hebrew people were supposed to be talking about God everywhere they go.
- We ought to have devotions with our children and our grandchildren.
- We ought to sing songs of praise as a family.
- We ought to prioritize church as a family.
- BUT more than that, we must have constant spiritual conversations.
- There is a well-known author and his son turned on the faith. He became an exvangelical, an ex-evangelical. More than that he started making tik-tok videos against Christianity. One person wrote that those videos made him respect this author more. That is because this person would be at locations and talk about how his father taught him Bible themes and Christian teaching while driving by this location or things like that. Basically, that shows that this author was always talking about God. Everywhere he went, he was talking with his children about God.
- We must keep Christ at the center of our conversations.
- We must keep Christ at the center of our planning.
- To do this we must practice simplicity. We cannot have it all.
There could be much more to share about Christ-centered parenting. There are household codes in the New Testament, but I think the passage in Deuteronomy 6 is more powerful.
Keep Christ at the center.
When Sunday School started in the late 18th century there was a concern that parents were no longer going to educate children in the Word at home. There was a concern that parents were going to leave it to the church. I remember being a small child reading Little House books and Sunday afternoons Pa read the Bible to the children.
Who’s job is it to disciple the children?
4-14 window: There is a statistic that says if a person is to receive Christ, it is most likely to happen between 4 and 14 years old. Also, children have their values set by around 9 years old. Most by around 5 years old.
So, let’s keep Christ at the center.
Many of you are grandparents. In that case model this for your grandchildren.
 Scazzero, Peter. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (p. 199). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.