Dennis Rainey continues his message on gospel lessons he learned by parenting his six kids.
Dennis Rainey continues his message on gospel lessons he learned by parenting his six kids.
Bob: Most of us try to avoid discipline and, certainly, our children try to avoid being disciplined. Yet, Dennis Rainey points out that the Scriptures command discipline and encourages us to embrace it.
Dennis: “‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Discipline is training them for righteousness.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 16th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I’m Bob Lepine. Discipline is a part of discipleship. Properly understood, it’s an important part of our assignment as parents. We’ll hear more from Dennis Rainey about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. So, you’ve said before—you think this era for parents is the most challenging in the last couple hundred years?
Dennis: I actually wrote my adult children a note of apology. I read a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “The greatest gift one generation can give another is that of a moral society.” I wrote to apologize to our kids that—I said: “Your mom and I tried. We did our best, but it was not good enough. The society we’re passing on to you and our grandkids is, unfortunately, not more moral / more spiritual; but unfortunately, it’s on a downward spiral.”
I think it’s all the more reason, Bob, for why messages like our listeners are about to hear today—why parents need to be vigilant to teach their kids the right stuff about who God is and to pass on to them what they’re learning and what God’s teaching them in their own lives.
Bob: You and Barbara are working, right now, on a book called The Art of Parenting that will be released in late summer; and this is a book that—well, it’s been on your heart for years; it’s just never gotten on paper. So, now, you’re transferring it from your heart on to the printed page.
Dennis: Twenty-five years, this book has been—
Dennis: Yes; I guess that is a good word, but it’s been percolating for a quarter century. I feel like we’ve got something to say now that we’ve raised all six of ours to adulthood, and we’ve got 23 grandkids. I’m telling you—this is a generation who needs to know what the very basics of parenting are all about. In fact, in our book, The Art of Parenting, we talk about how just as there are three primary colors that we learned about when we were in the first and second grade—you know, red, blue, and yellow?—
Dennis: —that forms all the other colors.
Dennis: Well, there are four primary colors that the Bible teaches that we, as parents, need to be building into our children’s lives. That’s what the book is going to be all about—The Art of Parenting—using the four primary colors of the Scripture.
Bob: So, wait. You’re not going to tell us what the four are?
Dennis: Of course not. [Laughter] I’m not going to give our listeners a sneak peek on that; but here is the thing, Bob—if they’ve been listening over the years, some of our listeners should know.
Dennis: We have some people who really do listen to our broadcasts.
Bob: Well, you hinted at it a little bit in a message that you gave a while back at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Conference on Parenting. You were asked to speak on gospel lessons you’ve learned over a lifetime of raising your kids. One of the things you shared with parents, as we listen to Part Two of your message today—you talked about the importance of teaching your children to have a healthy respect for / a healthy fear of God.
Dennis: One of the things that Barbara and I would do was—we would practice the presence of God / our respect of God by admitting our sin, especially when we committed it in front of our kids—like I did one Christmas with my son. We’d gotten a Christmas tree. We began to pull out this Christmas tree stand—that I don’t know where they are made / what country is trying to take over America with this stand—but I’ve got some psychological testing. I score in the lower two percentile of all the people in the world at being able to work with my hands. [Laughter]
I’m out there with my son. First of all, the tree’s got branches that won’t go all the way to the bottom of this thing. Then, I cut the branches out. Then, it’s too big. So, I’m sawing it off, and I’m working on that tree. I just couldn’t get it to work. I thought about having guide wires in the living room just to keep it up. Barbara didn’t think that was a good idea.
Well, finally, I lost my cool. I was doing all this on our front porch that had an iron rail around it. With my five-year-old son watching his father—who leads a family ministry—I threw a hammer across that porch. It skipped on the tile and hit the wrought iron around the porch and made a gong noise to signal to whatever neighbors that weren’t already watching their lunatic neighbor try to wrestle this Christmas tree to the ground. [Laughter]
I didn’t care. I grabbed the tree; I went and threw it in the back of our station wagon. I went over to K-Mart and I said, “Fix it!” [Laughter] He took a piece of wood about that wide. He nailed it to the bottom of it; set it in the stand. I said, “Thank you!” [Laughter]
Between the store and our house, God got my attention—said: “Hey, Rainey, you’re acting liking a fool!
“You need to repent, and you need to ask your son to forgive you.” When I got back, I got down on one knee, looked my son in the eye, and I said, “Not so good at being a dad; huh?” I told him I was sorry and asked him to forgive me. He reached out his hand and started patting my shoulder—he said: “It is okay, Dad. Everybody makes mistakes.” [Laughter] How you practice the presence of God—in dealing with your sin; in dealing with the victories that God brings / the God-moments—all very important.
I mentioned earlier that the fear of God sets us up in a place of authority with our children and, I think, gives us great strength in discipline. Hebrews, Chapter 12, verse 5:
“’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
Barbara and I would read this passage to our kids; and they would say, “We kind of wish you didn’t love us so much, Mom/Dad.” But it enabled us to hold fast and realize that discipline is training them for righteousness. I think God feels sorry for parents, and I think it’s why He delights in answering our prayer. It’s called the prayer of the helpless parent. When you know something is wrong and you can’t figure out what it is, we would pray a prayer: “Lord God, would You help us if one of our kids”—and we might name them—
—“if that kid is stealing from us, lying to us, deceiving us?”
One time we did that—I’d come back from the bank that day. I’d stopped at the teller and had gotten 12 crisp five dollar bills in my billfold. I sat my billfold on my desk and went about the rest of my evening. My son was sitting at that desk, doing some homework. It wasn’t a trap—I just set it there. Then, something told me, as my son was preparing to go to bed, “Check your billfold.” So, I went down there; and I opened it. I went through—there were 11 five dollar bills.
So, that night, I went—got down on my son’s bed, right next to him, where I could look right across, eye to eye, with him. I said, “Hey, I just was wondering, when you were doing your homework down there, did you happen to, maybe, take one of those five dollar bills?”
“Oh, no, Dad! No; I didn’t do that. No; not at all.”
“Okay; Mom and I have been just asking God to help us catch whoever in the family is pilfering some money.” I said, “Let me pray for you, son.” I put my hand on him and I said: “Lord, God, thank You for this young man. I thank You for his life. Father, if he’s lying to me and if he’s stealing, I pray that You will trouble him.” [Laughter] I opened one eye, and I thought I saw him wince at that point. [Laughter] Two nights later, my son came in next to our bed, stood by the bed, and said, “Dad, couldn’t sleep well the other night.” “Why, son?” “Been stealing the five dollar bills.” We got a porch painted out of that. [Laughter]
Use the fear of God in your own life as you practice it to pass it on to your kids, because He will be there. His presence will turn them away from evil just as it has you on more than one occasion.
A third lesson, looking backward, the gospel embodies God’s love—John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…”; 1John 4:7; 1 John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us.” The gospel is all about love—God, not only coming into the darkness, but also wooing us with forgiveness of sin. Model and teach your children to love God and to love others.
The great commandment—Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest of all the commandments?”
“Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love others.” How do you do this? Well, you do this by teaching and modeling God’s love as you relate to your children.
I just have to brag on a great wife and a great mom, Barbara, for a moment. Our son was—I’m not sure how old—but he had a rambunctious spirit and liked to play ball inside the house. Barbara finally kind of drew a line in the sand and said: “We’re not going to play ball in the house. Go outside to play ball.” Well, he stepped over the line and broke one of her favorite Hummels, which was from Germany, passed down to her from her grandmother. It was called “Little Apple Girl.”
I will never forget this moment. My son was up on the top bunk, and Barbara was standing, looking up at his face.
In one hand, she had “Little Apple Girl’s” split personality as he had broken it. In the other hand, she was cradling our son’s face. She said: “Son, you are more valuable than this Hummel. I want you to know I love you. I care for you. This is not what life’s all about—you are—but you’re still going to pay the price for this.” [Laughter] And he did.
Pursue relationship with your child is another way to communicate the love of God. Just go after them and date them. Sometimes, as you do this, there are some opportunities, in the midst of this, to really impact them—not only with the love of God—but also with what you believe about God.
I took my daughter, Laura, on a date. I think she was about 14, and we decided to go by Abercrombie & Fitch.
We went in, and she found a beautiful baby blue sweater—I still remember it. She went to try it on; and as I’m standing there, I look back over my shoulder. There, behind me, is a buck-naked young man with water—he’s leaning on a boat dock with water up to about his knee—he’s leaning on the boat dock. I’m going, “This is a clothing store!” [Laughter]
I asked to talk to the manager, and the manager came over. I said: “I just want you to know—I’ve got six kids. I buy stuff here, but I’ve got to tell you—that’s indecent!” He said: “I beg to differ with you, sir. That’s not indecent.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Why would you say it is?” I said, “By any standard of society.” He said, “I differ with you on that, sir.”
I said, “Well, if that’s not indecent, then, I’d like you to get in the same pose, right now, that he’s in.” [Laughter] He was like a deer in the headlights. I said: “No; drop them! Drop your pants, right now.” He said—at that point, he said, “Well, if you think that’s bad, you should see our catalogue.”
I went over to the catalogue. The catalogue had a teenage boy in the middle of bed with four nude girls. It’s like some young people in some big corporation, somewhere in the headquarters, think this is cute. As parents, we’ve got to draw the line sometimes. So, I bought all of Laura’s clothing back from her—from Abercrombie & Fitch—I don’t want her advertising them.
Pursue a relationship with your child. Go where they are going and courageously protect them as you go with them.
Then, as you train them to love others, train them in how to ask for forgiveness and also how to forgive. That’s what the gospel is—Ephesians, Chapter 4, verse 32—“…forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
If you’re like us, you wonder sometimes: “Are we raising juvenile delinquents? They’re tearing at each other.” All the sibling rivalry—it’s a place to teach them about forgiveness over, and over, and over again—not only from the Bible, but also in relationship—their relationship with God.
Well, the final one—the last gospel lesson that we learned—is transmitting a vision for their mission. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Matthew 28:19 and 20 is the Great Commission. It is the great vision casting of the Savior, wanting to get every person a piece of the action.
But the passage that I want to challenge you with this morning is in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Hear what God is saying to you as parents: “You are a noble dignitary of the King of kings. You are an ambassador.” What does that make your home?—an embassy. Your home is an embassy of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Do you know anything about embassies?
An embassy is a place that doesn’t have to honor the laws of the land where it’s located. It is a piece of property that only enforces the law of the kingdom that it represents. The world we are operating in is not our home. The embassy you’re from represents the place that is home. So, you’re raising children who are to be ambassadors to their generation. What an incredible privilege you and I have of being an embassy of the King of kings / an ambassador to proclaim the greatest message that has ever been declared.
We raised our children to have a mission—to be ambassadors / to reach out to their friends. We had hot dogs and evangelistic events at our home. We had meetings at schools in junior high and high school. We raised our kids in homeschool for a few years / public school for most of the years—
—we wanted to be a light in the midst of darkness.
When it came time to launch our daughter, Ashley, to college, it was a big deal; because it was game time. I began to get emotional about it. There have only been a couple of times when I’ve cried like a baby and just boo-hooed. This is one of them, as we took Ashley to go to Ole Miss, of all places, to become a Rebel. [Laughter] As we were standing outside her dorm, I read this passage to her—and this ended up getting read to all of our kids as we launched them to college—Philippians, Chapter 2.
Listen to this—if this doesn’t capture what you and I feel, as a parent—“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent”—listen to this—if this doesn’t describe launching the arrow into the marketplace—“children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud”—your mom and I may be proud—“that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”
You are raising ambassadors / emissaries to the next generation. Don’t lose sight of the nobility of the privilege you have been given.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to the second part of a message from Dennis Rainey about lessons learned as a parent.
You learned a lot from looking at what the Scriptures have to say about raising the next generation, but there’s nothing like having some real life come along and help you know how to apply what the Scriptures teach; is there?
Dennis: I tell you—we had plenty of real life at our house. Unfortunately, a lot of it was imperfection by the parents. [Laughter] I mean, if there’s anything that children teach you—it’s about your own depravity, selfishness, and brokenness. In the process of helping them grow up, you have to face a lot of your own shortcomings.
I think, Bob, what we can do is—look back on the past and say, “God really has taken some of our errors, and He built convictions into our lives so that we would pass on those convictions to our kids”; and they wouldn’t have to go through some of the same sorrow and trauma because of the mistakes that we made when we were growing up.
I just want to put my arm around the parent out there—the single parent / the blended families—
—who are hammering out life: “Stay after it. Don’t quit.” The gospel is the gospel of God not giving up on us. We can’t give up on our kids, and we’ve got to keep on loving them and pursuing them.
Bob: Well, we are looking forward to having the book that you and Barbara are working on, right now, available. It will be out late summer. We’re also excited about the video series—The Art of Parenting—that we’ll be launching in May. It’s something that couples can go through together online, or you can do it with a small group in your neighborhood or from your church. Get a group of five or six couples together—maybe, some single parents—and go through this material.
In addition, we are kicking off the launch of this video series with a movie that we’ve created called Like Arrows. It’s a movie that will be in movie theaters for two nights only, May 1st and May 3rd. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—you can see a trailer for the movie. You can also find the list of theaters where the movie is going to be playing on those dates—
—Tuesday night, May 1st / Thursday night, May 3rd.
We’re really excited about what this movie communicates regarding parenting / about the importance of having Jesus at the center of your family—not just as a sidecar—but He’s the centerpiece for your family. It makes a huge difference as you raise your children. Again, see the trailer at FamilyLifeToday.com. You may want to share the trailer with some friends and plan now—you can actually buy tickets now for the movie. All the information is, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, we have got a lot of couples who are going to be spending the weekend with us this weekend in Colorado Springs; Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Hershey, Pennsylvania—three of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways kick off tonight at 7 o’clock. Then, next weekend is a big weekend. Be praying for couples who are going to be joining us in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Ashville, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; and Minneapolis.
We’ve got thousands of couples who are spending a weekend with us this weekend and next weekend at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. So, please be praying for these couples.
Thanks to those of you who make these events possible. One of the reasons we are able to keep the registration cost as low as we are for a Weekend to Remember is because folks, like you, help cover the cost of these events, this broadcast, our website, our resources. When you donate to FamilyLife®, you make this ministry possible. You are a part of effectively developing godly marriages and families every time you make a donation.
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And we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday. Our friend, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, is going to be here. We’re going to talk about what it looks like when women pour their lives into younger women. No matter how old you are, there are younger women who could benefit from what you’ve learned—your life experience—and how God has led you. We’ll talk more about that Monday. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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