Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
A little over 4 years ago, my wife and I were at the doctor because she was pregnant.
Only about 8 weeks at that time.
And I was already excited…and knew I better start preparing J
And then something changed.
The nurse doing the ultrasound said, and I quote, “Your baby’s heartbeat looks great. Hold on a second, let me just look over…and…there’s another one!”
I spent the next few days just googling things about twins…..and all I got were pages about a really bad baseball team.
7 months later, I remember right after they were born, going back to the hospital room…and everyone had always told me, “Kids don’t come with a manual!”
But right there on the table…was a MANUAL about my baby!
Never trust a “saying!”
Turns out though, it was only like 21 pages long, and mostly had stuff on how much to feed them for the first week.
And from then on…we were on our own!
Many of you that are married, had the same problem
Your spouse didn’t come with a manual either.
I’m already working on developing a manual for kids’ future spouses.
Raising a family isn’t easy.
Now before we go any further, let me acknowledge that so many of you are from so many different life stages.
It’s something I actually really love about this church right now.
When we started this church almost everyone was in their 20’s.
And a few 30somes.
There were 11 kids in our entire church.
And then there was Rick & Kathy Olson who’ve been with us from the beginning…giving us wisdom. J
But now, as we’ve quadrupled in size as a church:
There are people with babies everywhere
People w/ elementary kids…
Parents of high school students
And in the last few years, many empty nesters have joined us too.
So we all come at this from different places.
Not to mention…some of you are single.
But, you might not always be…and much of this could be good advice for your future.
And even if not, that’s okay.
See, many of these Biblical principles will apply right to some of you today, but even if they don’t
It’s still okay to hear about others.
Because we have a culture at this church where we support each other…we don’t just come for ourselves.
We’re a community.
DEVELOP A PASSION FOR GOD YOURSELF FIRST (v. 18)
We are in week 2 of our Rooted Series this week, and we want to take a look at how to you Deepen the Roots of your family…no matter what stage it might be at.
How do you deepen the roots so that the people in your family have more life, so that they are stronger in God?
Today, we’re going to look at some practical wisdom that Moses gave the Israelites (God’s people in the OT) about how to raise families right before they were about to enter the promised land.
(Deuteronomy 11:18-21) – NIV
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
There are a lot of great principles in here for deepening the roots of a family.
But let’s start with the very first one.
And this applies to you no matter your circumstance.
If you want to have influence on someone else…it starts with you.
Look at verse 18 again:
(Deuteronomy 11:18) – NIV
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Notice that the focus starts, firstly, on you.
It starts with us.
That we would be first & foremost be passionate about God ourselves.
Moses says we are to firstly love God and take his commands (His ways to live)…and base our lives upon them.
We are to plant our tree’s roots in God’s ways.
Like roots in the soil, we are to be surrounded by them.
“Tie them as symbols on your hands…bind them on your foreheads”
Before we get to anything dealing with the rest of the family or teaching children (or even grandchildren for some of you), it starts with us.
You can talk to your spouse all you want about God…or teach your kids all you want about the Bible…but if they don’t see it in you, it’s just wasted words.
One of my friends often tells me that one of the things he remembers most about his dad growing up, was not any speech that he gave, but just coming down for breakfast, and always seeing his dad reading his Bible at the breakfast table.
Or, I read a story once about a Christian who said when he was a boy, one time he was sitting next to his dad in church, and he was struggling to pay attention (long before the days of children’s ministries).
And he started going through his dad’s checkbook without his dad noticing.
And he noticed that his dad had a whole year’s worth of checks made out to the church for a certain amount (for the next 52 weeks), but hadn’t signed them yet.
He just wanted to be ready to give back to God, and make sure that has the months of the year went by, he wouldn’t trick himself back into spending on himself instead.
He had never talked to his son about it, but it’s what his son remembered.
If you really want it to catch…in any family relationship…it starts with entrenching our own roots in God’s soil.
But what else can you do?
How else can you grow your families roots deeper, so they can all keep growing in their relationship with God?
I believe that verse 19 really shows us two ways of doing this.
Take a look at it again:
(Deuteronomy 11:19) – NIV - Leave up for A MINUTE
19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
The first way to deepen your family’s roots in faith, is what I would call a “scheduled deepening,” the second, is an “unscheduled deepening.”
When Moses is talking about talking to your family about God when you lie down, when you get up…that’s a scheduled sort of thing.
That you’re planning a time, (in this case, he’s talking about doing it daily) to talk about God.
When he’s talking about things like…just sitting at home…or walking along the road, that’s an unscheduled time.
I want to talk about both of those.
Let’s start with the scheduled time.
(back to Deepening the Family slide)
Now, I know that not only do you all come from all sorts of different life stages and situations when it comes to your families, you’re in different stages of your faith-walk as well.
Some of you are just starting.
Maybe you even decided to follow Jesus for the first time last week.
Others of you have been following Jesus for decades.
So let me give you each some different options for this one.
If you’re just starting to follow Jesus, one of the best things you can do is just to commit to coming here…every week.
Rain, wind, shine, or MN snowstorm.
Last week, we challenged all of you to take the 3-week challenge
(put up 3-Week challenge slide)
To commit to coming here 3 weeks in a row.
This is week 2.
I believe in this…
Because I believe when you get in the habit of this…even when you’re busy…what you’re teaching yourself (and your family!) is that you’re rooting your life in faith!
That FAITH comes first.
Not your schedule.
Not the weather.
Not the free time to clean the garage or mow the lawn
Rooted in faith.
And that will have powerful implications for the rest of your life.
Plus, every time you’re here, you grow.
You talk to God..
You take steps forward in your faith.
And, if you have kids, they do too!
This is such a good thing, for your whole family!
Stick with it.
(back to Deepening the Family slide)
There are other ways to schedule spiritual growth too.
One of the best ways your family will grow spiritually, is if YOU join a House Group.
Which are our groups of 20-30 people that meet weekly, and by the way, start THIS week!
If you’re single or married without kids, you can meet other adults who are trying to follow Jesus.
If you’re a single parent, or a divorced parent, you can find support.
Even if you’re married with kids, this is one of the best ways for your kids to grow…even though, it’s not for kids.
Let me explain.
Raising a family is hard work. Really hard work.
Especially without help.
After I get my kids to bed at night, especially on Mondays when I watch the kids by myself I think, “Man that was insane. Those little people are crazy. I need to lay down somewhere…and then go google how to get a 3 year old to stop doing whatever…”
And that’s kind of how parenting goes nowadays.
When we’re stuck, we just ask google.
Google is a great resource, but not a great friend.
And when you put yourself in Christian community, you give yourself support AND friendship.
My wife and I have experienced this a lot.
And I know others have too, whether they have toddlers or teenagers.
There are others there who can pray for you, suggest a book to read, or have been through it before
For our growing demographic in your 50’s and 60’s…we need you too…more than ever.
Come, share your wisdom with us.
God’s not asking you to retire from the body of Christ. This is your time to shine.
But it’s tempting to think, “Nah, it would be better for my kids…if I was home with my kids…not at a House Group somewhere”
But it’s actually not true.
This is a principle I try and teach at least once every other year or so because I believe it’s SO important, and 90% of Americans have this completely upside down.
I call it the pyramid of priorities.
(Show upside down pyramid)
Most Americans live for their kids FIRST…if they have sometime for their marriage, they’ll squeeze it in, and every once in a while…like on vacation staring at a beach or something…they’ll think about God.
But that’s an upside down pyramid.
I read of a conversation between a young pastor and a old pastor and the young one said, “We want to have a big conference at our church, but I don’t know whether to have it on marriage or parenting.”
And the old pastor said, “Have it on marriage. It’s not easy to raise kids when you have a strong marriage, but it’s nearly impossible when you have a shaky marriage. Fix that first.”
And that makes sense.
(Show right-side-up Pyramid)
And makes even more sense if you bring it up another level.
If your relationship with God is your foundation, and it’s in a good spot, and He’s growing fruit in you…
Then, you’ll have more patience, more love…and guess what?
You can be a better spouse.
And when the two of you are better together…you can be better parents.
During the school year, my wife and I try and live out this principle by getting to our House Group every week…
And what we started doing a couple of years ago, is have the babysitter come about 90 minutes early on that day, so we can go on a date beforehand.
It’s usually like Wendy’s or something…we’re not going to Manny’s Steakhouse here (we’re eating together…in the same place…and no one’s whining…and that IS romantic!)
But it’s time, that we just have scheduled in every week.
And we’re better for it.
It’s our time to not only grow spiritually at House Groups and get support, but to keep working on our marriage.
And I 100% believe, that our kids, are absolutely better off because of this.
They don’t just need more time.
They need us to love each other and love Jesus.
For those of you that are just starting in your faith, those are some great places to start.
For those of you that have been following Jesus for quite some time, let me talk to you for a moment, and give you even a few more ways you can schedule the deepening of your family’s faith like Moses talks about (in the morning, in the evening)
And let me talk to those of you who still have kids in the home:
When Moses says those things, by the way, He’s talking about YOU deepening their faith…not the church.
One of the mistakes that the American church made in the 80, 90’s, and 00’s (or aughts)…
Was that parents put an over-emphasis on the church spiritually rearing their children.
The thought was, “If I just drop my kid off at Sunday School, Awana, Confirmation, Youth Group, or 6 other children’s programs, then my kids will grow to love and obey Jesus” or at least be able to make their own choice.
But what happened was: we got a generation full of people who believed Christianity was possible (atheism is NOT on the rise)…but don’t actually practice it
And what we’ve found out, that although those church programs are nice and aren’t hurting anything, that the previous generation (40’s, 50’s, 60’) actually had better results…when they put the emphasis of a child’s spiritual growth on the family…not a program
Because, like I’ve been saying, “If your kids don’t see it in YOU, it doesn’t matter”
And so parents, you are the leaders and shepherds of your family.
You have a mini church in your home.
And so what would it look like to deepen your spiritual roots together, at home?
For those of you that are ready for this, and I think plenty of you are, let me give you some suggestions:
Start by just reading the Bible together.
Let me talk to those of you that have smaller kids first.
Read to your kids…every day.
Any teacher of pediatrician in America will tell you that.
But when you do, at bedtime, always read the Bible too.
If you don’t have one for kids, write down the “Jesus storybook Bible” in your phone.
It’s very, very good.
Every night, we read to our kids, and then we each pick a Bible story.
And we always have the best conversations during that time.
I just read slow…and I let me kids ask questions.
Kids are chalk full of “WHY?” questions…
If you’re the type who loves to say, “Bedcause I said so!!” put that aside…and let them ask.
I just love the idea that these are the stories that are shaping my kids…not just another movie about how they are the hero and the world revolves around them!
We have some our best conversations…even about what happened that day…just while we read.
Then every night, right before we get into bed, we pray.
With little kids, it can just be, “What do you want to thank Jesus for today?”
Or what do you need help with today?
It might be, “My owie I got yesterday.”
But that’s fine…let them pray that…it’s real to them, and that’s how they learn to pray
And then, if you can, add singing too.
And just like that, you’ve got a 10 minute reading, prayer, and worship time.
And no one had to say, “Attention everyone, it’s time for FAMILY DEVOTIONS!!”
It just happens at the end of the day…part of the bedtime routine…or for others at the beginning of the day, or anytime that works for you.
If you have older kids…
Find time to pray together every day if you can. Even if it’s just a couple minutes before or after dinner.
If you’re going from nothing to something…maybe even try to read the bible together one day a week…even if it’s just a couple of minutes
I was talking to a guy recently who has a ton of adult siblings.
And almost all of them are doing absolutely incredible things for God.
Pastor, worship leader, leads non-profit, you name it.
And I said, “Tell me your parents secret!”
And he said, “Simple, we prayed together every day”
And we learned what it looked like to follow God in an everyday relationship…not just a forced service.
That’s what you’re going for!
Scheduling times for your kids to see and hear about YOUR faith.
UNSCHEDULED DEEPENING (v.19)
(back to Deepening the Family slide)
And when you do this on a regular basis…whether for you…that’s just starting to get your family to church every week…or for others of you…you’re starting to read together…
What happens is, God will start to move at unscheduled times as well.
Moses tells us in verse 19, not just to talk to our families about God at scheduled times, but at unscheduled ones as well…
Like when you’re just “walking along the road” he says.
I heard of a guy once, that every serious conversation he had with his teenagers always ended up being in the car…
Where the teenager didn’t have to look at someone right in the eyes, but could still talk.
But they had some very powerful, God-filled conversations in the car.
But let me boldly tell you something:
I often hear people say, “Yeah, we don’t ever read the Bible together or pray or any of that stuff…but we definitely talk about God if he comes up”
And again, I know some of you aren’t there yet…but hold this in your back pocket for the future…
But the limitations of that sort of thinking is this:
If you don’t talk about God in a scheduled way:
1) He’ll come up way less often in an unscheduled way (because it’ll be too uncomfortable to talk about…for you AND your kids!)
2) You won’t have a great framework to talk about him when He does come up.
I don’t want you to leave here thinking I’m super dad or anything…because most nights I put my kids to bed thinking, “Lord, is there’s some way my kids could still turn out okay despite my anger…despite I was on my phone again when they were talking to me…despite me…that would be great!”
But one thing we have done is just been regular about scheduling time to just read the Bible and pray with them...every day (to them…it’s like brushing their teeth)
And the beauty of that…is it’s THEN really easy to talk to them about it at unscheduled times.
Just this week, when one of my kids did something they shouldn’t have, we started talking about it…
And I said, “Do mommy and daddy love you if you make good choices?
“Do mommy and daddy love you if you made bad choices?”
“Wrong, I said”
We want you to make good choices…because it usually goes better for you, but we love you no matter what.
Do you remember that story of the boy who ran away from his daddy and had to eat with the pigs?
What did his daddy do when he came home…after he made all of those bad choices…”
“He ran at him and gave him a hug anyway!”
And I felt like, I had this once-a-year-epic unscheduled (probably spiritually forming) conversation with a 3-year-old…but it only went well because of the scheduled work we had already put in (with them…and in ourselves!).
And that principle is the same with 8 year olds and 16 year olds.
It’s even true if you’re married and don’t have kids…or if you’re an empty nester.
Some of our greatest moments of spiritual growth …the “moments” that truly shape us…are completely unscheduled.
Events…conversations…that weren’t on the calendar.
But the reason that spiritual deepening happens at those unscheduled times is because of progress that’s already been made at the scheduled times!
But you prepare for the power of the unscheduled by first working on you…and 2nd being faithful in scheduled times
TRUST HIM & FRUIT WILL GROW (v.21)
And so I guess my question for you today is this: What are your family gardening plans?
How do you need to deepen and strengthen your family’s roots based upon what God is putting on your heart this morning?
Whether it’s just committing to keep coming here as a start?
Or starting something at home?
What is it?
I want you to trust in God’s fruit.
His ways truly work.
That’s what the final verse of our passage is about
(Deuteronomy 11:21) – NIV
21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
The idea is: If you do these things…if you put down your family’s roots in God…fruit will grow above ground.
And even if you’re sitting here today…thinking… “But David, it feels like it’s too late. Those days are gone for me”
“My teenager…they’re so far from God right now”
Or maybe it’s even your adult child…God seems like the last thing on their mind.
I would just say this to you…my friend, it’s never too late for God to move.
You can’t outsin the grace of God.
Two weeks ago, I came across this amazing picture of a tree in the state of Washington
(Show ResurrectedTree Photo)
In the foreground, is a tree that was at one point, cut down by someone in the world.
Someone probably took an ax right to it, and it appeared to certainly be dead.
Just a stump with tree rings on the surface to show how many years it had once been alive.
But somehow, years later…this is happening.
Bark is appearing again on the top, and it’s beginning to grow.
The scientist in the article I read said this:
The tree had for all appearances basically died…except…under the surface, in the soil…what happened…
is roots from a nearby tree intertwined and grafted together with the dying tree.
The living tree began to share its nutrients and life through its roots.
And let me say this: As family…you are linked.
God has rooted you together.
The culture and the world may have appeared to cut your loved one down…but your SUPPORT…YOUR PRAYER…and YOUR GOD…can revive them.
So keep going deep into Him.
We can’t control what others do…but WE can go deep in God ourselves…and pray that God will use our support and use our prayers to bring life back to that family member.”
Keep going deep.
Never give up. Never.
From the very beginning, God has ordained the family
It’s one of the most powerful things on earth when linked together and rooted in Him.
So stay strong. And stay in Him.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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