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Parenting: Challenging the Values of Our Culture
05/27/2007
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-4
Track 7 of 7 in the A Transforming Church . . . Produces Transforming Families series
Running time: 35 minutes, 18 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

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You! Or Someone Else?

"Many of the students we talked to told us that their parents shaped their environments by making church activities a regular part of their lives, and took on service projects as family - they took the kids with them when then went to work in a soup kitchen, for example. But while 'walking the walk' was certainly important, it was regular, specific conversations about religious beliefs that gave students a more accurate perception of what their parents actually believe. It's not enough for parents to just model beliefs for their kids." - Lynn Okagaki; Purdue University.

Someone will establish the values by which our children will govern their lives. In the past, values were primarily taught by family, church and school. Today experts agree that values are primarily taught by the media. Sometimes it's overt . . . celebrities announcing what they hold to be their values. Most of the time it's subversive . . . we simply observe and absorb.

On the bus to the Junior High I was the "dictionary." Many other children came to me to learn what the latest vocabulary meant. They knew I knew because I read them on the walls of the bathroom in our tavern and I heard them used by our customers. Their "education" was determined by a bathroom wall.

Unfortunately only the location and appearance of the wall has changed. Too many children learn their values from bathroom walls . . . TV, music, the internet and their peers (who learn them from the same sources). Far too many parents have abandoned the practice of teaching their children.

Texts like Deuteronomy 6 (the Shema), Ephesians 6 ("bring them up..."), Proverbs 1-9 ("listen, my son...") and Psalm 107 ("Except the Lord build the house...") teach us the responsibility for passing along values to the family. Parents must rise to the occasion and teach their children appropriate attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors.

The church can help. But the church can never replace parents. We can support you and encourage you, but we can never replace you. We will stand by you, we will give you resources, we will attempt to motivate you, but we can never do your job for you.

Determine today to take advantage of the resources MPCC offers (library, resource center, staff, elders, other members, classes, etc). And determine today to begin intentionally, systematically, teaching your children.

May 27, 2007 - Parenting: Challenging The Values of Our Culture

What I really want to ask is ... who are they kidding? I ran into the most interesting little discussion on line this week, and I want to read just a portion of it. It comes from a book or it was stimulated by an author of a book. The book is called "The Nurture Assumption." It was published in 1998. The blog entry is called "The Idea of Zero Parental Influence." Judith Harris says it's dangerous to claim that parents have no power at all other than genetic to shape their child's personality, intelligence, or the way he or she behaves outside the family home. Is it, she says, dangerous to do that. More to the point, is this claim false? Well, was I wrong when I proposed that parents' power to do these things by environmental means is zero, nada, zilch. What she's asking is whether or not living with you as a parent makes any difference at all. Her proposal: she says when I first made this proposal 10 years ago I didn't fully believe it myself. I took an extreme position, the null hypothesis of zero parental influence for the sake of scientific clarity. Making myself an easy target I invited the establishment, research psychologists in the academic world, to shoot me down. I didn't think it would be all that difficult for them to do so. It was clear by then that there weren't any big effects of parenting. But I thought that there must be some modest effects that I wouldn't ultimately have to acknowledge. The establishment's failure to shoot me down has been nothing short of astonishing. One developmental psychologist even admitted a year ago on this very website that researchers haven't found proof that parents do shape their children, but she was still convinced that they will eventually find it if they just search long enough. Thank you for nodding your head no. I appreciate that. That has got to be the most absurd piece of writing I have even seen and yet it elicited this kind of rather interesting debate online. People saying yes, no, do parents have any influence over their children other than genetic.

Well, some people seem to think that you have influence over your children. According to another entry by Thomas Keeler, he says let's not be fooled by illusions. Children are greatly influenced by their parents' behavior, practice of sports, nutritional habits--the values of children are often the reflection of their father and mother. Scientific studies demonstrate that children who have inactive parents have a greater risk to also have a sedentary lifestyle. We can apply this reality to nutritional habits. It seems that parents who eat too much have a greater risk to see their children eat too much. Even though in adulthood we choose consciously our own path to follow it's better to have had a good education during childhood. Therefore, in the interest of your children you, the parents, should show the example by adopting good life habits and by living actively. This is obviously a nutritional site. Later your children will be grateful.

In his address to the nation on July 25, 2003, George Bush said as a child's first teachers parents are the must influential and effective instructors in a child's life. Through their words, actions, and sacrifices parents are living examples for children. Young boys and girls watch their parents closely and imitate their behavior. Parents play a critical role in instilling responsibility, integrity, and other life lessons that shape the lives of America's future leaders. I'm standing here saying I think common sense says I'm a lot like my dad. I have absolutely no genetic connection to my father, well I mean to the guy who sired me, I do. But you can sire children and not be a father as that particular man demonstrated in his life by abandoning a 16-year-old unwed mother. But the man who raised me left me profoundly influenced. And every time I turn around I see things in my life that are just like him. Some of them I don't like. Some of them I do. I'm not arguing that I haven't chosen to dismiss some of those things or ignore some of those things or do opposite of those things. What I'm telling you is common sense says you as a parent have tremendous influence over your children whether you like it or not. Just by living in your company they are going to be influenced by you, sometimes for good and sometimes not. Let me just illustrate with a couple of biblical stories. Some of you will recall this story. Others may want to come back to the book of I Samuel and we'll just pick up a little bit of a story out of the life of Samuel. Samuel, as many of you know, was born to a woman who was barren for years. She prayed diligently that God would give her a child and then in an act of what can only be defined as worship decided to give the child to God, literally, by letting him live in the temple and be raised under the influence of Eli the priest. Samuel went on to become Israel's first judge. He was the man who came along and anointed David, Saul, and then David as kings. He was a tremendous man of God, but I want you to notice something that is just fascinating in this series of texts in this passage. In I Samuel, chapter 2, verses 11 and 12, you get a hint of what kind of a father Eli was. Now remember, there's no genetic connection between Eli and Samuel. Eli is the high priest. Samuel is the son of Hannah. When Elkanah went home, verse 11, to Ramah, then Elkanah went home, that's Samuel's physical father, the boy ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest. Verse 12, Eli's sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord. Verse 17, this sin of the young men, Eli's sons, was very great in the Lord's sight for they were treating the Lord's offering with contempt. I'm not going to go through and describe everything they did, but these guys are really bad fellows. They're not good men. When you come over to chapter 3, you find midway through chapter 3 this comment about Eli's family. Verse 12, Samuel is reporting God's response to Eli's family. Verse 13, I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Now that's a text for last Sunday's parenting sermon, but that's not what this is about. We aren't going to talk about him failing to restrain his sons though that was obviously a major mistake. What I want you to do is come over to chapter 8 in the book of I Samuel. Now remember, Samuel was raised under the influence of Eli and though he turned out to be a great man of God himself, he apparently was deeply influenced by his parenting skills. In I Samuel, chapter 8:1, "when Samuel grew old he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Give us a king." Somehow Samuel had inherited the parenting skills of the man that he grew up under and he didn't do it well. Parents have incredible influence on their children.

Come over to a more positive illustration in 2 Timothy, chapter 1. 2 Timothy chapter 1. Some of you will also be familiar with this text because you as a parent have relied on this. In fact, you as a single parent have found great comfort in this particular text. Those of you who are like me, a grandparent, find great comfort in this particular text. 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul, in writing about this young man Timothy, says, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." Do you hear it? The passing along of the faith from generation to generation to generation. Parents have incredible influence over their children. It's powerful influence that has to be handled with great care. We are responsible for the next generation. We cannot stop them from rebelling against what we teach, but we can live and act and move and breathe in ways that exhibit our faith so that there is a hope that the next generation will adopt the faith that we hold and the values that we hold.

Maybe you saw a couple of weeks ago in the local paper Steve Eighinger's article about who's going to be America's next minister. It was an article reflecting on the fact that Billy Graham is about done as an influence, at least as a living influence. His life is short to be lived, I assume, his health is not good, he is no longer able to do the things that he used to do but frankly, in the history of the United States, there cannot have been a more influential religious leader other that maybe Jonathan Edwards. This guy has influenced more people than anybody that you can possibly imagine. And the question is a legitimate question...who's going to be the next person to do that and Steve makes two or three interesting observations, one of which is his son, not Steve's son, Billy's son, Franklin Graham, the head of Samaritans First. I don't know whether that's true or not. I don't know whether he'll be America's next minister. I don't have any idea if anybody will climb to that kind of stature, but it's fascinating, isn't it, that one of the options is his son though it wasn't always an option because Franklin has not always been a faithful son. Parents have enormous influence over their children. Are you starting to hear what I want you to hear today? Because if you're not hearing it, I haven't said it yet. Here's what I'm trying to tell you. Parents have enormous influence over their children. Good, bad, and otherwise we influence the next generation. Now if you remember the text that we've been looking at for this week and last week is Ephesians, chapter 6. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." And then, verse 4, "fathers, don't exasperate your children, but bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord." I want to come back to that. I want to talk about bringing them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. I just want to remind you of one simple thing. We have a responsibility to bring them up with biblical values. That's our job.

So let's think again about that text in Deuteronomy chapter 6. Remember? It was up here on the screen a little while ago? Hear oh Israel, the Lord of God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you shall bind these things on your heart and then you will teach them diligently to your children. You will talk about them when you lie down, when you get up, when you are having meals, you will put them on your forehead, you will put them on your sleeves, you will post them on your doorposts, and you will write them on your gates. These things will be something that you diligently, intentionally teach to your family. I'm just waiting for somebody to nod their head yes and say okay, I can do that. I will do that. I will consciously teach biblical values to my children and my grandchildren and my adopted children and the little kids who think I know something. I'm going to take that responsibility. See, I think the thing that you hear in Deuteronomy 6 is in verse 6, you first of all have to put them into your own heart. Those have to come home to you. You have to have biblical values if you're going to be able to pass biblical values. I hate to say something so simple, but that's the truth. If you're not living a Christian lifestyle, if you're not walking like Jesus walked, your children will have less chance of doing that unless they want to adopt the lifestyle other than the one that they've seen most often.

I wanted to play a clip for you today, I actually have it, just couldn't get it to come through with sound. So I'll just tell you briefly. One of my students, Keith Williams, is from Florida. His father owns a construction business. In the middle of the sermon in class he started talking about things that he saw his father do. It was absolutely remarkable. I wish I could repeat all of the things that he saw growing up. Here is a guy who running his own business decided that for eight months he would pay an employee's salary and health benefits and his hospital bills because he happened to get hurt and didn't have medical coverage at the time and it wasn't a job-related injury. But just because he's a good man he decided to cover the guy's costs. Here's the story of one of their employees who has invited a bunch of friends over to work at the house and a bunch of his friends don't bother to show up and so somehow his dad finds out, he gathers all of his family, wife, children, they go over, they spend the day serving the person who works for them. And he says I remember thinking to myself, what are we doing over here? This guy works for us, he serves us and here we are on our hands and knees serving him. After one of the hurricanes to hit Florida a few years ago, not the most recent one, they lost a bunch of trees and other things on their property. Their house was damaged and his dad went and got one of his front-end loaders and started down the street of their town cleaning up people's driveways and pulling trees off of other people's houses before he ever got around to doing one thing at his own home. And that night Keith bought our supper. Now where do you suppose he learned generosity? We adopt them into ourselves and then we give them away by virtue of osmosis to our children, and they pick up what they see.

And then he says when you're sitting at home, those planned intentional times. I love the image of table talk. Martin Luther was famous for table talk. Sit around, get at the table, turn off the telev ... oh they wouldn't have had that problem. But the point is they sat and they talked. Do you realize there have been a number of studies done according to Iowa State University. One of the studies that they did pointed out that every family that they surveyed, at least 40% of the families watch television during supper every meal. Every meal. There was a survey done at the University of Illinois in which they said 50% of all the families that they surveyed during supper hour watched television. An organization called MediaWise surveyed families--66% of the families that they surveyed said most of the time we watch television. Another 40% said all of the time we watch television during supper. Whatever happened to table talk?

Well you can't talk if you've got the television going. So I did a little looking around and I ran into this, I am so sorry that, well, this is a mixed statement. I'm so sorry the internet wasn't available when my kids were little. Ahhhh, maybe not. But there's a place out there I want to highly recommend. It's put out by an organization called Family Matters. It's www.dinnerdialogue.com. Now I looked at two or three of them and they were fascinating. What they do is they take a news article and they create a bunch of questions and they suggest that when you're sitting at meal, you introduce whatever that topic is and they've got questions that you're not smart enough to figure out how to do it, and I wouldn't be. They give you sample questions to get the dialogue rolling and some sample verses to bring into the conversation so that in the course of a supper meal you can talk about something that matters. What a great idea. Table talk. When you actually listen to one another talk about something that matters. Planned intentional conversation.

Well, he says then when you walk along the way. I think those are those teachable moments. You know teachable moments, don't you? When your daughter calls you one morning, it's cold, there's snow on the ground. This is not hypothetical, by the way. Your daughter might call you one morning, it's cold, snow on the ground, icy, slick and she says dad, there's something wrong with the car. And I say, and I mean, dad says, hypothetical father says, could it be out of gas? Oh no, of course not. You know, it was out of gas. Funny how cars won't work with no gas, even on cold mornings when you're standing in snow up to your ankles on ice trying to make sure that you don't lose your footing while you put gas in and not throw the gas can at your daughter. And you take that teachable moment to say something profound like ... the little needle. When it gets down near E, put gas in it. Or something profound like you know, it's just as easy to drive on the top half of the tank as the bottom half. It costs the same to put $5 in when it's almost full as it does, although $5 today would get you 1.5 gallons which wouldn't help. Teachable moments, you know how they work. They abound. I remember listening to one of Dan Clymer's children. They had just seen a really cute kids' movie and as soon as they got outside the theater, one of the girls, one of the twins, turned to Dan and said okay dad, what was wrong with that one? They were in such a habit of having to discuss the movies for their values that they already knew this was a teachable moment. Didn't know what was coming, but something was. Do you hear the intentionality? I take responsibility as a parent or grandparent to teach my children.

Well, let me hurry on because it's not only teach them, it is in the process of teaching them that you keep practicing the process. One of my favorite texts is Hebrews 5:14. I would encourage every parent to circle, underline, mark, memorize, get this text into your life. Somehow underline this thing and then practice it. Hebrews 5:14 says, "solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." They have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. They have trained themselves by constant use to discern. Are you listening to me? You don't gain discernment without constant practice. You have to keep coming back again and again and again to the same fundamental practice of looking at things to ask this question. What are these people trying to sell me? What are they teaching me? Well, let me just ask if we could see a little brief video clip that some of you have seen if you've been through Financial Peace University. But it will help set up what I want you to understand from here. So if we could have that clip, please.

Video: I found this just the other day on the back of a Raisin Bran box. Now who reads the back of cereal boxes? Children. If you look carefully it says Visa, the official card of Whoville. Tell me the Grinch isn't alive and well. Something's up here, isn't it? It's gotten out of hand. I found this the other day in my son's classroom in a public, in a public education setting. Oh, make's me angry in a whole new way. This is a company called Learning Resource. What a piece of trash. Wonderful idea. Good idea. They have a little solar-powered calculator. You can play and learn how to make change which is a good thing that a lot of people in our culture can't make change. And you know, it's a good idea to teach my little nine-year-old, my little ten-year-old, my little seven-year-old, whatever, how to handle money. As a matter of fact, this is a home school product. For those of you who are home schoolers, you see this brand a lot. The only problem I've got with this is not even that they had a credit card with it, because that is a part of our culture today. What I had a problem with was when I found Citibank had sponsored the toy. This learning aid. Now think about why Citibank would do that. Because they're corporate giving citizens. Oh bull. They want that kid to understand that's how you handle money, not with just a Visa, but with a Citibank Visa. And you understand we produce products at our company. And we understand what product endorsements are worth. We understand that for that little sticker on the front of that piece of plastic that says Citibank that these jokers probably have now a zero cost of goods sold in this thing. Okay. They kicked their profit margins up to about 100% because of that little endorsement game there. It's greed and it's wrong, okay? We're going to have to wake up and we're going to have to think not only as adults but as parents, these people are out of control. This little product here, Cool Shopping Barbie, she is now off the market. She came out Christmas of 97 and they pulled her off the market because of consumer advocates like me in the press, in the AP wire and Reuter's news service screaming bloody murder because the problem is Cool Shopping Barbie for an undisclosed number of millions of dollars Mattel received was sponsored by MasterCard. She came complete with a little MasterCard taped to her hand and of course, when they pulled her off the market they didn't pull her off at Christmas. They waited until February. Now here's what happens when Cool Shopping Barbie scans out with her MasterCard. (Beeps, credit approved.) Credit approved? You airhead.

Did you ever ask yourself when you look at a product what's being sold? Do you ever ask yourself what your children are getting when they read the back of a cereal box? As a parent, do you ever take the time to evaluate what's being promoted in the movie that they're watching? Do you ever sit down and say how can I teach my children to see through the junk in order to get the value that may in fact exist? It will not happen if somebody like you doesn't take the time, who with practice teaches your children to be discerning. To be able to separate the truth from the advertising. To get the bottom of what's really being said.

Well, I don't have time to pursue that much. What I discovered in a little bit of looking this week is it's hard to find people who are learning to ask the right questions. I don't know if I'm smart enough to get there or not but starting next week we're going to start looking at some American cultural values, some American idolatry. And we're going to start asking ourselves can we be discerning enough to see what's behind this so that we can address it as Christian people. We've got a ton of resources to try to help you be a better parent, to teach your children, to help your children learn to discern. They are listed in this week's Gospel Messenger. When it comes out, you'll want to take a look at it. It's both marriage and parenting. We've got a library full of resources, literally hundreds of titles and videos. We have a staff and elders and parents who would love to try to help you. We will try to be as responsive and responsible to you as we possibly can. What I want you to understand is that there's one fundamental truth to today's message and that is we are responsible for passing along appropriate values to our children.

Now, what I wanted to do was to ask this question. What values should you be teaching? I thought man, I don't have time. And we talked about this at Power Lunch a couple of weeks ago. Some of the guys got together and Steve Hill raised the question. How do you protect your children from the internet, for example. I went online and asked that very question. I typed in a search, protect your children online. I got 14,300,000 responses. Is there an internet blocker out there that will work for you? Probably. Is there a tv program blocker program that will work for you? Yes, called unplugged. Can I give you a better answer than that? Teach your children the basic values and you won't have to worry about it. Teach them the fundamentals and you don't have to worry about whether or not you've got the right blocker because I'm here to tell you your kids will get around the block. They are smarter than you are. No offense, they just are. But if you teach them the right values, they won't bother because they know the fundamentals. But what are those? I wish I knew all of them. I suspect that we know some major categories.

Can I just give you very quickly three simple categories. One, teach them basic theology. Who is God? If you saw yesterday's paper, you know that the atheists are out to tell us there isn't one. Some of the top selling books in the country right now are anti-God books. Why? Well the article says because they realize how powerful the church really is. But they're out there trying to convince your children that there are no fundamental values in life. It's your job to teach them otherwise. I would suggest that you may want to teach them some basic attitudes that are worth holding dear, some core values. What do you stand for? I can tell you in a heartbeat what my father stood for. My father was an honest man. His word was good. No need for a handshake. If he said it, that was good enough. Certainly no need for a piece of paper with your signature on it. If your word was not good, what good was a piece of paper? You know those kind of values? What values are you teaching your children? Basic fundamental core values. I think we need to teach them some basic lifestyle issues. Just basic lifestyle issues. Fundamentally, here's what we're trying to say. You give them something worth living for and they'll not be fooled by the world. This is the book that Lindi referred to a few weeks ago on Why Christian Kids Rebel. On page 249, Tim Kimmel says when we give kids something to die for we free them to live. When we give kids something to hope for, we free them to face whatever comes. When we give kids something to love for, we free them to make a difference. Kids that have all this going for them don't need to rebel, don't want to rebel, and won't rebel. It's giving them the fundamentals. It's giving them something worth living for.

Listen, parenting is hard. If you didn't hear me say that, I want you to hear clearly. I'm tell you, parenting is hard work. I sometimes feel like I'm walking into a war zone and sometimes, I'll be honest with you. In some of the conversations I have with parents and some of the things that I have felt personally when I was in the midst of direct parenting more often, I really felt like we were walking into war. And what in the world were we to offer and what would I offer you as a preacher to parents and grandparents and future parents and uncles and aunts? What would I offer you if I could say one thing walking into this war? What would I say to you? Can I just take the liberty of borrowing something from King George? It was his Christmas message, 1939, on the eve of World War II really heating up in an attempt to say something to the British people, to give them hope for tomorrow. He borrowed from a poem, a poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908. Some of you who have heard this speech will remember it. "I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than life and safer than the unknown way."

I don't have any specifics to say to you as a parent. There are no lists of rules that we can hand out that guarantee you that you'll be a perfect success. What I can say to you is this: walk into your parenting hand in hand with God and trust him. Trust him. Teach your children to trust him. Now remember there is not a value that you can offer to your children that will be valid if it is not first yours. So if you're not walking hand in hand with God, you don't have much to offer your kids. So if you've not first trusted him yourself, we're encouraging you to take that step, whatever that needs to be for you. If you've got questions, you don't know where to go, you don't know what the next step is, then we need for you to ask. We're going to stand and sing.

[Transcribed by PU4]