FamilyLife Today® Podcast

God Sightings: Making God Real for Your

with Brian Haynes | May 7, 2010
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Is God real to your children? Pastor Brian Haynes encourages dads to take up the mantle of spiritual leadership in their homes by talking about God's truth to their children day by day.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Is God real to your children? Pastor Brian Haynes encourages dads to take up the mantle of spiritual leadership in their homes by talking about God's truth to their children day by day.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Is God real to your children?

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God Sightings: Making God Real for Your

With Brian Haynes
May 07, 2010
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Bob:  Which of these do you think is more effective for the spiritual development of your children:  If the church takes care of all of your children’s spiritual development, or if you and the church work together on that assignment?  Here is Brian Haynes.

Brian:  The difference is you can have a kid that grows up in a church and gets faith-talks with thirty other kids in rows, one day a week, or you can have kids that grow up in the church and also their family pours into them and they lose—I think—this compartmentalized view of Christianity that says, “It happens inside certain buildings on certain days of the week.”  Instead it’s for the everyday of life.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday May 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I'm Bob Lepine.  We’ll talk today about ways that churches and families can work together more effectively to raise a generation of young people who know and love Christ. 

Welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, I think if parents ever had the idea in mind that the way their kids would grow up to embrace Christ was to drop them off at church and the church would get that taken care of and send them back as Christ followers, I think that myth has been debunked by now, and parents realize that isn’t going to work.  Don’t you think?

Dennis:  Less than 10% of these young people are going to keep their faith upon graduation from college.  We’re losing a generation of young people.  Really I think not so much because the church hasn’t done the job.  I think the real responsibility comes back to family, it comes back to homes.  When I think about that, I have to wonder what we’re modeling.  Are we really modeling an infectious Christianity that communicates to our children that our first love is Christ and His work and the work of the Kingdom?

Bob:  Yes, I think what you’re saying is, our kids have to be able to see in our lives that what matters to us: how we spend our time, how we invest our talents and our abilities, how we invest our money, and where our treasure goes shows that our priority is what God is trying to accomplish on earth.  They need to see this if we want that to be their priority.

Dennis:  That really provides a great opportunity to tell our listeners that here in the month of May we have the opportunity for them to give a gift.  And, I think model for their children that they not only believe in God’s work.  But they also believe in family.

Bob:  So, you’re talking about the whole family together getting the kids together and letting them know about the matching gift fund.  That’s what you’re making reference to.  We’ve had a matching gift fund established here at FamilyLife during the month of May, where every donation we receive is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar up to a total of, now more than $300,000. 

Of course, we’re hoping to take full advantage of that matching gift.  But here’s an opportunity to get the family together and say, “This is something mom and dad really believe in.  So we’ve decided to make a $20 or $50 or $100 donation to FamilyLife to help support what God is doing through that ministry.  And our donation is going to be doubled and we’re doing this because mom and dad really think this is an important thing for us to be investing in.”

Dennis:  That’s right, Bob.  I just want our listeners to know I need their help.  We’re running a bit behind where we need to be right now in terms of our giving.  If you’ve benefitted from this broadcast, if you’d like to make it possible for FamilyLife Today to continue to come into your car, your home, your place of work or on your iPod, if you’ve benefited, what I’d like to challenge you to do is go to, and look up in the right hand corner where it says “Donate.”  I’d like you click on that button and make a generous gift. 

When you do, it’ll be matched dollar-for-dollar.  My promise to you is that not only will we continue to come here every day on FamilyLife Today with timeless, biblical principles to your home but I think you’re going to be modeling values to your children and your children’s children for decades to come.

Brian:  Right, right.

Dennis:  And, our guest on today’s broadcast, Brian Haynes, that’s his voice, you just heard him, “Right, right” 

Brian:  I agree with you man.

Dennis:  He’s written a book called Shift: What It Takes to Finally Reach Families Today.  Brian is the Spiritual Formation Pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas.  He’s been doing that since 2003.  He has three daughters.  He and his wife have been giving leadership down there for a number of years.  Your wife is kind of like Barbara and Mary Ann Lepine.  I married a wife who is pretty strong.  She’s never hesitated to speak the truth to me.  It’s my understanding that your wife gave you a wake-up call.

Brian:  Oh yes, a big wake-up call.  I found myself working hard in ministry, sold out to my calling to the local church and all of that.  I was serving in a church that, at the time, began to decline.  We began to lose some people, some great people.  I thought if I worked harder, longer hours, if I could make more things happen, somehow from this secondary role I was in at that church, I could turn this thing around.  I worked hard.

I was frustrated during that time.  I would come home and vomit on her, garbage from church.  One night we sat and I began to do that.  We were sitting on the couch, watching TV and talking at the same time.  She just quietly said in the midst of all that, “You’re losing us.”  At the time I had a four-year-old daughter.  My wife is my high-school sweetheart.  I’ve loved her since she was fifteen-years-old.  To hear her say that broke my heart.  It just penetrated my soul.  I thought, “I’m losing you?  What are you talking about?” 

She began to tell me that I was so busy shepherding everybody else that I didn’t have time to tell my own daughter a bedtime story, or to talk to her about the Bible right before she goes to bed every night, and pray with her.  Because, I would come in and she would be asleep, and I would leave in the morning and she would still be asleep.  I just began to pray and seek the Lord and repent honestly; because I was, in the name of the work of the Lord, totally neglecting my marriage and my family, with the best of intentions.

Bob:  You know it’s not just guys in ministry where that’s happening.  Guys can get sold out to whatever career or vocation they’re in.  But, you do have to stop and wonder, is this the common pattern in our culture today?  Where young men—in ministry or whatever vocation—are investing themselves fully in the pursuit of a vocation, a career and neglecting their responsibilities for discipling at home.  When it comes to spiritual formation in the home, fundamentally the responsibility falls to dad.  Doesn’t it?

Brian:  Right.  I see that very clearly in Scripture.  Certainly there are family situations where that just can’t happen.  But, for the most part, biblically, dad’s got to take that role and run with it.  He’s been designed uniquely to do it.

Bob:  Now, you say that, and dads that are listening are going, “I don’t feel designed uniquely to do it.  In fact, I feel inept and incompetent.” One of the reasons guys are investing themselves in work is because they win at work.  People cheer them on and say, you’re doing a good job.  They get home and they feel like absolute failures. 

Dennis:  The rewards are instant.  Raising a family is like growing an oak forest.  It takes a long time.

Bob:  And you feel, every night when you say, “OK kids, we’re going to talk about the Bible,” and they go “Oh Dad, please no.  Don’t make us do that.”  And you go, “Well, why would I want to stay here and face opposition like this on a daily basis?”

Brian:  Right.  Definitely we live in a microwave culture, where we want in thirty seconds everything to come to fruition.  Spiritual formation at home is not like that.  My four-year-old is now ten.  Out of that “You’re losing us” moment, we made a significant decision to pray and seek the Lord and make whatever transition we needed to make to prioritize our lives the way the Bible says to do it.  Even, if that meant getting out of the ministry, if it meant going somewhere else in the ministry.  God orchestrated a move that was beautiful and perfect for us. 

Dennis:  But you’re talking about making a radical change to your schedule, even if it cost you your job.

Brian:  Radical, absolutely.  This is the hard part of this.  Because, when you say “We are going to train our kids spiritually.”  You have to make time to do it.  You have to be there to catch the moments, to have the faith-talks to celebrate the milestones, all of that. 

So, we moved to our current ministry situation, which is very family-friendly.  It’s an incredible situation.  Fruit has been two of my daughter’s salvation experiences because I’ve been home to answer the questions.  I’ve been part of their lives to walk it out with them. 

Bob:  Those moments you described with young children who respond to the faith, and profess and pray and want to trust Christ.  That’s one of the spiritual milestones.  You talked about the baby dedication being the first milestone.  It really sets parents on a path to spiritual formation in the home right?

Brian:  Right.  Our whole goal there is to teach the parent, “You are the primary faith influencer.”  Each one of these milestones has a seminar that we offer.  We teach them in the seminar, what you need to teach your kids in faith-talks over the next few years. 

How do you do it?  What are the best resources for it?  Who are the pastors that can help walk alongside you?  Or who are other couples, other men, other women who can help you as you lead your child through this next phase of their spiritual development? 

Dennis:  There are seven spiritual milestones that you walk families through that the church and families work together to make happen.  But you also believe in what Barbara and I call “sandbox theology.”  That’s getting down on a child’s level and helping explain what God’s up to as they’re living their lives.  You call it “God sightings.”

Brian:  Right.

Dennis:  Share with our listeners what a “God sighting” looks like and then give us one from your family.  How you worked it out.  Because I really think as families explain God to their kids and how we can trust Him, it’s through everyday life which is Deuteronomy 6 again.  Every day life that’s coming at us, where we’re teaching our kids, “How do we walk by faith?  How do we trust Him?”

Brian:  Right.  God sightings are moments along the way, the circumstances of life that God provides for us to speak truth into.  Primarily you have to be there to catch them.  If you’re not there, you’re not going to catch them.  You miss out of them, and your kids miss out.  We ask parents to pray for wisdom to see them, and then what we do is say “Capture them, nail them when they happen.” 

A great example from our family life, one night I was tucking Maddy our seven-year-old in bed.  We were going through our bed-time routine with the helicopter.  Where I pick her up and I twirl her around and launch her into bed every night, then we tell a story and pray, then go to bed.  Also sing some songs.

Dennis:  By the way, you need to know.  In our family there were a lot of God sightings by the kids at bedtime.  They were trying to drag it out.  “Oh Daddy, would you read another story?  We want to talk about God now.”  Go ahead and share.

Brian:  That’s exactly right.  So, we went through the routine and we got done.  Angela was making popcorn downstairs, so I was in a hurry to get downstairs and have popcorn with my wife and sit and watch TV and enjoy our time together.  And, Madeline started weeping.  It should have been just, “It’s time to go to bed, goodnight sweetie.  I’ll see you later.”  But she starts weeping. 

I thought, “What is going on?”  So I said, “Maddy, what is wrong?”  She said, “I told a lie.”

I said, “Well, tell me about this.”  This thing had been eating at her since about April, this was probably July. 

In school, before school got out, there was this girl that had picked on her for a long time, for an entire year.  Madeline had put up with it, and put up with it, and put up with it.  Finally, she got smart and devised a plan.  The plan was I’m at the water fountain; this mean girl has gotten herself behind me.  I’m going to splash myself with water and tell the teacher that the mean girl splashed me with water. 

Well, she did that.  The mean girl got in trouble, because everybody knew that was the mean girl.  Right?  She gets in trouble, goes to the principal’s office, all of this.  So a couple of months go by till that moment when we’re laying in her bed and she starts weeping.  She tells me this story.  You know what I got to do that night, in the darkness of her room; I got to talk to her about what conviction is.  I got to say, “You know that feeling in your stomach that’s just eating you alive?  That’s the Spirit of God saying to you, ‘Maddy, come back to me.’”  I got to talk to her about what repentance was and confession.

“I told a lie Daddy.”  She confessed it to me.  But how do you confess it to the Lord.  Then we got to talk about—all in 10 minutes—we got to talk about reconciliation of relationships.  The next day we asked her to call her teacher that she had lied to, we asked her to call this friend and apologize and seek their forgiveness.  They were all gracious and she learned a huge lesson.  To me that was God sighting.  It was a God moment where he showed up, he was convicting her in her life, and I was able to be there, just to speak into that. 

My wife was able to be there the next day to handle the phone calls, and help people understand.  It was just a moment that we had to catch.  Now, I focus on that one because I really believe for her that was the beginning of her understanding of why she needed Jesus in her heart.  I think that was the first time she really thought, “I think I might do bad things.  I might sin.”  It wasn’t me pointing it out and putting her in time-out, as much as the Holy Spirit convicting her and her confession. 

It was one of those things we teach parents in our parents’ seminars to watch for.  Not that you check the “salvation” box off as soon as they can say the magic words, but you watch for the Holy Spirit to work in their life and begin to convict them and draw them to Him.  That’s what was happening that night.  It was a God moment.


Bob:  There are not only these significant, spontaneous moments that come along, but every parent needs to be alert to the fact that emotional, physical, spiritual, developmental stages there are milestone moments.  You talk about pre-adolescence being one of those milestone moments.  Then you talk about, a commitment to purity that comes at almost the same time, right there at the beginning of the teen years.  Right?

Brian:  Right.  We do, we call milestone three “Preparing for Adolescence,” and milestone four “Commitment to Purity.”  You have to be a little bit fluid with this.  It can’t be step one, step two, step three, but you have to know your kid and what they’re dealing with and the culture you live in.  Sometimes those things kind of happen all at one time.  Sometimes it’s a little bit separated. 

Milestone three is really helping them understand their identity in Christ.  Me, as a dad, pouring that truth into my daughter, “You are special because God made you special.  He’s got a plan for you.  No relationship you will ever have in life will be your identity.” 

In our case, Angela, my wife is pouring into her.  “Here’s why your body is changing, here’s why the thoughts in your head are going crazy and your emotions are going crazy.  It’s happening to you and this is what it is.  It’s all natural, and it’s all good.”  She helps her celebrate becoming a woman.

The commitment to purity is more about understanding that biblical purity is for life; before marriage and after marriage, and what that looks like biblically.

Dennis:  To that point around the whole subject of purity, one of the things I found interesting that you pointed out in your book, is you did a little non-scientific survey of the junior high boys and the senior high boys.  How many of them had looked at pornography in the last 30 days?  Now, these are church kids.

Brian:  Church kids.

Dennis:  Church kids in junior high and senior high.  What percentage of the junior high boys?

Brian:  I think the percentage of junior high boys was something like 80% or 90%.  It was high.  I don’t remember exactly.  But for high school it was almost 100%.  This was a camp setting, I was there teaching an “Every Man’s Battle” kind of talk.  I asked all the adults to leave the room and just a show of hands.  Unashamedly, most all of them from seventh to twelfth grade had looked at pornography in the last 30 days.

Dennis:  This was how long ago?

Brian:  This was three years ago, maybe four.

Dennis:  I’m going to tell you something.  The battle has intensified….

Brian:  I believe you.


Dennis:  In the past three or four years, and what you’re talking about doing with families, it is desperately needed today to protect the next generation from being damaged by evil.  What’s happening today to America’s youth, because the family isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to be, is wrong.  It’s absolutely wrong.  You can’t control what your kid sees at somebody else’s house.  I understand all that. 

But, what’s happening is, I don’t think enough parents are doing what you’re talking about here.  They are not stepping into the battle and going “How can we first and foremost prepare our ten, eleven and twelve-year-old for adolescence?”

Bob:  They are not playing offense.

Brian:  They are not intentional about it at all.

Bob:  That’s what I love about what you’re trying to point people to in the book, and you’re trying to encourage churches to get in this joint relationship with families.  You’re trying to encourage moms and dads to be right in the thick of this, to be purposeful, intentional, to play offense, not just defense.  Figure out what are the major issues you’re going to have to wrestle with as parents as you raise your kids all the way to adulthood.  Then get a game plan put together to make that happen.


Dennis:  And persevere, just don’t quit.  This is not about doing it perfectly.  Brian has shared some of his own efforts to educate his kids and train them.  It isn’t going to occur in a storybook fashion.  But as a parent you just need to hang in there and keep on. Because you are going to have your children a very brief period of time, to train and equip for life.  But, you are the most—in my opinion, humanly speaking—the most powerful influences in your child’s life that they’ll ever experience.

Brian:  Absolutely.  Every sane psychologist in the country will tell you that the most important relationship in any person’s life is their family of origin.  God created it that way.  So mom and dad have the God-created ability to influence like nobody else.

Bob:  What you’re trying to do at your church and in the book that you’ve written, is really the same thing that we’ve tried to do with some of the resources we created like Passport to Purity, which enables a mom and dad to engage with a son or a daughter right before puberty sets in.  So that you have an opportunity to talk about relationships with the opposite sex and about peer pressure, and about what the dating years are going to look like, and what kind of structure you want to put around those before a son or a daughter has started to engage with those issues.  So, you’re playing offense rather than playing defense.

I mention that because I wanted folks to remember that we’ve got Passport to Purity in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  But I also wanted them to know that your book, Shift, is in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center as well.  You can go online at to request a copy, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.  1-800-358-6329 that’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.  When you get in touch with us, we’ll let you know how you can get a copy of Brian’s book, or a copy of the Passport to Purity material sent out to you.

Then, quickly let me remind you about the matching gift opportunity that has been made available to us here at FamilyLife during the month of May.  We’re very excited about this and we are hoping and praying that we’ll be able to take full advantage of the funds that have been pledged this matching gift fund.  We’ve had some folks who have stepped forward and said they will match every donation we receive during the month of May, on a dollar-for-dollar basis up a total of, what is now more than $300,000. 

So we’re trying to get the word out so that we can hear from listeners and from friends of the ministry who would make a $20 or a $50, $100 or $500 donation knowing that donation is going to be matched, and as a result will be doubled. 

We really do hope that we can take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity in the month of May.  To do that, we want to ask you to go online at, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation.  Do whatever you can do.  I know for some of you, you may say, “We just can’t do much.”  If it’s $5, if it’s $10, whatever you can do.  Make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today.  Keep us on the air on this station and on our network of stations all across the country. 

We just want to say thanks in advance for whatever you’re able to do to help support the ministry.  We appreciate you.

We hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend.  I hope you can join us back on Monday.  We’re going to talk about what a couple can do in the period from when a young man says “Will you marry me?” to when a couple looks at each other and they both say, “I do.”  That engagement period, what you can do during that time so that you are preparing for more than just a wedding.  We’ll talk about that on Monday.  I hope you can with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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