Family Fusion Week 3
Pastor Brent Way & Angie Way
Parenthood. The most beautiful experience in the world; and yet the hardest job there is.
If it wasn’t for this parenting manual that the hospital gave us after the birth of our first child, Brent and I would have been lost! This thing saved us, SO many times!!!
Of course I’m kidding. As scary as it seems, the day you leave the hospital with your newborn, the nurse checks your wristband against the baby’s, has you sign release forms and then off you go. “Good Luck!” They might add as you drive away. But you’ll need much more than luck to navigate the years ahead.
Now, I don’t what being a dad is like. For that I guess I’d have to defer to my husband; but I do know what it’s like to be a mom.
So parents. How are we supposed to do the HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD, with ALL of these job descriptions, and do it well? Sometimes it feels like it’s nearly impossible.
Fortunately the scriptures say that “Nothing is impossible with God.” When we walk hand in hand with our Heavenly Father, the best father there is, we can rest assured that he will help us through every trial and every circumstance that comes our way. Nothing is impossible with God.
Today Brent and I will be speaking on the topic of Parenting. I will be sharing first on ‘Learning from God’ and Brent will finish up with ‘Leaning on God.’
Many of you know, that Brent and I have 3 children. 3 beautiful girls. Breanna is here today. She’s 13 years old. Then I have Alyssa who’s off at college. She’s 20. And then I have my oldest Kirsten who will be 22 next month. She is also away at college, in Australia!
Although Brent and I are certainly not experts in the field of parenting, we have discovered a few things along the way that have really helped us. Hopefully, they will help and encourage you as well.
As I stated earlier, parenting is NOT an easy job. Much of parenting is truly just trial and error. We do live in an age where resources abound. Books, articles, websites…all devoted to strengthening our families. We also learn what to do, or maybe what NOT to do by remembering how we were raised. Friends can be source of help as well. All of these are important and helpful, but sometimes we forget that we have the best example in parenting there is. GOD himself.
We can look at what God is like, learn from him and apply it to our own lives. God (Abba Father) is the best example of fatherhood that there is. It makes complete sense that as we raise our children, we turn to HIM for help and guidance.
As a young mom, I really struggled. I wanted to do it all right, and yet much of the time, I felt I was doing it all wrong. I especially struggled with Kirsten. She was my strong-willed child. I couldn’t understand why she continually chose to disobey, knowing it would get her in trouble.
One day, Kirsten found herself in timeout. 4 years old...
“Strong-willed children respond well to the authority of God.”
As she prayed, Kirsten wept. She poured out her heart to God. “Oh God! I’ve been a bad girl. I don’t want to be bad anymore. I want to be nice. But I need help. Will you help me?”
And in the corner of that room, something changed. A bond was formed between a little girl and her maker. A God who loved her unconditionally, but challenged her to a higher standard. Was she perfect after that day? Of course not. But today, that little girl is a grown woman, serving God, writing music, singing and worshipping with her beautiful voice, helping others grow and most importantly deeply and profoundly in love with her best friend….the God of this Universe.
I truly believe the change started in that corner, alone with God. She heard God speak to her heart, and she couldn’t turn away. If I could give you my #1 piece of advice it would be this:
Parenting 101: Learning From and Leaning on God
- Give your children access to God
Give them opportunities to be in his presence, to know his voice, to learn from him. This church provides many, many avenues for children and youth to learn and grow in their faith. (RR, GM, SS, PrimeTime, Youth)
We make SO many things accessible to our children. They have school, homework, sports, video games, computers, cell phones, friends….the list goes on and on. But we need to remember that our children’s souls are crying out for their maker. They WANT to answer to a higher power. They WANT to know he cares. They need to know him personally…for themselves.
The greatest gift we can give our children is NOT our love. It is the realization of God’s love for them.
During his years of ministry on earth, Jesus was constantly going. Healing people, teaching them, loving them, spending time with them. He was a very busy man! Yet Jesus did not exclude children from his presence. His disciples tried to ‘shoo’ the children away. He rebuked the disciples, and he let the children come close. Our children are not too young to learn from God and be in his presence. It is our responsibility to let our children come close to God and teach them that they too have access to their heavenly father.
The 2nd lesson I learned, was that children watch us. Carefully. I believe they learn more from what we do (or don’t do) than anything we can possibly say.
Parenting 101: Learning from and Leaning on God
- Give your children access to God
- Be an example for them
If we tell our children to be kind and yet they see us being unkind….
If we instruct them to forgive others, yet hold onto grudges ourselves…
If we say, “Spend time with God.” But never see US praying, reading the Bible or worshipping….
Our actions really do speak louder than words. Kids are smart! They see the real deal.
I remember an incident that happened years ago, back in Texas. I was about 23 years old, driving on the freeway with my 1 year old daughter strapped in her car seat. Traffic was particularly annoying that day. I kept saying “Crap”, every time someone cut me off or made a terrible lane change. A few moments later I heard a tiny voice behind me, sounding out her new word “Cwap.”
“Cwap. Cwap. Cwap. Cwap. Cwap.”
Yes….kids are smart. They listen. They watch. And even imitate.
My favorite scripture in the Bible is Ephesians 5: 1-2.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
I love these verses for many reasons. But the main reason is that it reminds me to LEARN HOW TO LOVE by watching how God does it. We can be better examples to our children by observing how God is. Imitating how God acts.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Philip approached him and said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘ Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
In other words, ‘You know who I am-what I’m like. My character, my traits, my actions-they all reflect who the Father is.’
What if our children could say….I know who God is. I’ve seen his reflection in the lives of my parents.
Wow! Oh to be that kind of an example.
When my daughters were young, I took them to Sonic. We were sitting in our car, waiting for our food to be delivered. I had noticed that one of the servers looked very different than the others. She was wearing heavy black eyeliner, black lipstick and a collar with spikes around her neck. Her hair was dyed jet black and it hung over her eyes. I was quite surprised her employer had even allowed her to come to work like that. As I saw her pass back and forth, I began to make judgments in my head. “Wow.” “Scary.” “I hope she doesn’t come to MY car.”
Sure enough, she headed our way. As she walked towards me, I heard God say, “Tell her that I love her.”
Ok. I’m going to be honest with you. The LAST thing I wanted to do was talk to this girl. She looked terrifying! As she neared my car, I struggled inside. What should I do? She gave me the food. I paid the bill, and she turned and walked away. I heard God again. “Tell her I love her.” In that moment, I made my decision. I called after the girl and she turned to look at me. I motioned for her to come back to the car.
As I drove off, I heard one of my girls call out from the backseat. “Mommy, why was that scary girl crying?” I had completely forgotten that my children had witnessed this entire event. As we drove away, I was able to explain that the girl was not scary. She just needed to know God loved her.
So, whether we are yelling at people on the freeway, or sharing God’s love with others, we are setting an example for our children. What a responsibility.
Parenting 101: Learning from and Leaning on God
- Give your children access to God
- Be an example to them
- Believe in them
My last point is this: Being a great parent means BELIEVING IN OUR CHILDREN.
Someone once said…“Treat a child as though he is already the person he is capable of becoming.”
God is such a great example of this. He sees the intrinsic value of who we are, not the culmination of our successes and failures. The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were at our worst….he died for us. We all know what it feels like to experience God’s unmerited favor. When we failed miserably, and yet he wraps us in his arms and loves us instead of shaming us. THAT my friends…is what we need to learn how to do.
When you say to your child…
- I know who you are.
- You have incredible value.
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made God’s image.
- You are here on purpose! And FOR a purpose.
- You will make good choices and you will make bad choices; but your value will never change.
- I believe in you!
- And more importantly, God believes in you!”
Words of life spoken into the ears of our children WILL make a difference. Believe in them. Fight for them! They are worth it.
Many of you do not have children. But what if you uttered those words today to someone who really needs them?
We can learn so much from God, our HEAVENLY FATHER. What an example he set for us!
Pastor Brent Way:
Ok I am speaking on the part where we lean on God.
Men we have said this many times, it is ok I can handle it I AM A MAN or I don’t need directions. My favorite is who needs a manual I can figure it out.
Proverbs 18:10 says The name of the lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
This does not just apply to dads there are a lot of single men and women out there.
You are good enough.
There are those who are working 2 jobs, cleaning the house, paying the bills, you are doing everything. You single parents remember this.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG) No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.
Trust God and he will lead your path.
Psalms 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Parenting is not easy, but it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do.