Printable PDF: 8-9-2020 Pentecost 10 – Family Ministry Sunday
Pastor Mark R Jacobson ~ Family Ministry Sunday ~ August 9, 2020
1Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done….16Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. 18Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19Teach 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. 20Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21so 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. – Deuteronomy 11:1-7, 18-21
PARENTS ARE ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Let’s say you are a husband and a father. Some of you fit that criteria. And let’s say you have five kids! You need to have five children for the statistic I will share later. And let’s say, today, you are taking your family for a fun day of river rafting. It’s a good time until it isn’t. Without warning, the river current picks up speed and sweeps your group down the river. You try to hide your growing fear. You wonder why others didn’t warn you of this danger. You struggle to keep watch over everybody and then the raging river tosses everyone overboard. It’s survival mode now. You pray everyone makes it. Your spouse is next to you. You see two of your kids stumbling onto shore, but what about the other three? They’re nowhere to be found. They don’t make it.
Such a tragedy would certainly make local and maybe even national news. You would serve as a warning for others who are thinking about making that river rafting trip. There would be a tremendous level of support for you and your wife and your two surviving children. Thankfully, tragedies like this are rare, but the application to our little story is the national average, three out of five.
According to a study done by the Barna research group three out of five spiritually active teens will hang up their Christianity during their twenties. Another study puts this number at 70%. These spiritually active teens – these are the children of parents who brought them to church and sent them to Sunday school or to a Lutheran Elementary School and High School. What happened? And fathers and mothers who serve as the spiritual head of their household, what’s going to happen to your children? Will they keep the faith or are you in danger of experiencing what we might call a “faith funeral”?
- To Teach God’s Word
It’d be nice to go back in time and get some help, and that is exactly what we are going to do this morning. Moses had a hard time raising believers. Moses delivered the Israelites from the mighty Egyptians through the Red Sea, but the Israelites said they would have been better as slaves in Egypt. Moses was going to lead the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, but the Israelites rebelled because they didn’t believe they could defeat the Canaanites. Time and again that adult generation had a faith funeral, and finally all adults of 20 years of age had real funerals outside the promised land of Canaan, except for Joshua son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
In the book of Deuteronomy, at 120 years of age, Moses addresses the next generation of adults, the children who were under the age of 20 years when they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. And in our section today Moses addresses the parents of that generation to teach God’s Word. Moses doesn’t address the priests. Moses doesn’t address the political leaders. Moses addresses the parents. Parents are essential workers to teach God’s Word. Moses wrote, “Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God.” … “But it was your eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.”
The Mindset List was created at Beloit College in 1998. The Mindset List appears every August as American first-year students enter college. The Mindset List reminds educators of the worldview of their students. For 18 year olds, 9/11 is an historical event. For them, the primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures. The nation’s mantra has always been: “If you see something, say something.” In their life, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek has never had a moustache. The Mindset List has 60 different statements like this. The Israelite children born in the promised land of Canaan needed to be taught God had delivered their ancestors from Egypt. They also needed to be taught how God disciplines his people, like Dathan and Abiram, who rebel against God and his Word. Otherwise they would never have known, and they can never learn. The children of your family need to be taught Jesus has delivered them from their sins. The children of your family need to be warned about the consequences of rebellion against God. Otherwise they will never know they can never learn. Anyone can teach your children, but no one can teach your children like you can. Parents are essential workers to teach God’s Word because no one can model discipleship to their children like parents can.
- To Model Discipleship
When worship is over, you can cross that off your list today. Jesus delivered you from your sin and Jesus warns you about sinning. Check it off. You’ve got the message. But you can never cross discipleship off your list of things to do. Discipleship is following Jesus, and following Jesus is 24/7/365. Your discipleship is not done when the final Amen is sung and when your Bible class is over. Bringing your family to church and sending your children to a Christian school won’t cut it! This church service is a blessing. No doubt about it. Our Lutheran Elementary School and our Sunday School are a pair of helpful arms in raising Christians. I love them both. And yet our church services and our Christian schools are poor substitutes for parents reading their Bibles with their children, talking about what it means, and taking their concerns to God in prayer.
To parents, God says through Moses, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.” Let the Word of God be the filter for your heart and mind. You know how a filter works. Water filters. Air filters. Filters help rid your air and water of impurities. If you believe, you believe worship is enough for your children, and God says “Teach them to your children,” you should definitely talk about the church service on the way home. If you think Sunday is the Lord’s Day and the rest of your week is yours to do as you please, you better rethink what “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” really means.
24/7/365. Need a reminder? “Tie them (God’s Word) as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” “20Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Reminders are a good thing. Every Monday morning, I am reminded the garbage container needs to get to the curb. My reminder comes when I hear the garbage truck at about 5:30 in the morning. I don’t enjoy stepping on stones in my bare feet. I don’t think the garbage truck driver enjoys seeing the clothes I slept in last night either. What are your reminders to follow Jesus as a disciple? Do you have a baptismal certificate framed by the light switch in your bedroom to remind you that you are dearly loved child of God? Do you have a cross in your house or around your neck to remind you of the heavy price Christ paid for your forgiveness? Do you have Bible passages displayed in your house to remind you to serve the Lord and to “O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good”? And does your family have a reminder to at least sometime this week if not every day to read a Bible verse together, to talk about what it means and pray about what is going on in your lives?
How long has it been since your family has done those three things? Fathers and mothers who are the spiritual head of their household, I don’t mean to take you on a guilt trip, at least not on your own. My preaching of God’s Word with my family present is not discipleship parenting. This is just me doing my job. It’s only discipleship parenting when I talk about what was preached at home. If you’re on a guilt trip with me, let’s take that trip to the baptismal font and to the cross.
Our baptisms wash away parenting discipleship guilt. On the cross hangs all our discipleship shortcomings. Today is a new day. And today, we have some third grade parents coming in front of church to give their third grade children a Bible. What a reminder for them and for all of us, to give our children what Jesus called, “The one thing needful.” And today, we also have Bible class sign-ups. This fall we are tweaking our Sunday offerings. We start our Sunday Bible classes after Labor Day, we are trying something a little different. We’re not separating our parents and children during our Sunday Bible classes. Parents and their children can sit together in the fellowship hall (and learn together under the leadership of a pastor) or parents and their children can come to the sanctuary, and parents will become further equipped to lead their own Bible study with their children. Singles, married couples without children, all family units, whatever they might be, will benefit from either of these Bible studies.
We’ll see how it goes. It’s not going to be perfect. If we aim for perfect, I don’t think we will pull the trigger. The goal is for our family units to read the Word of God together, talk about what it means to each other and pray. We don’t want to lose 60% of our children when they become adults. We don’t want to lose anyone. We want a Deuteronomy 11 ministry, “Talk about God’s Word at home when you lie down and get up, along the road.” We want an Ephesians 4 & 6 ministry equipping parents, especially the father, to train their children in the Lord. And ultimately we want a Luke 18 ministry where we have parents bringing their children to Jesus. That’s the ministry we want, and we ask God to bless it. Amen.