ReThink Group founder Reggie Joiner shares fascinating insights from Deuteronomy 6 when Moses gave his farewell speech to the Israelites. In it, Reggie points out, is the key to generating faith in the next generation.
ReThink Group founder Reggie Joiner shares fascinating insights from Deuteronomy 6 when Moses gave his farewell speech to the Israelites. In it, Reggie points out, is the key to generating faith in the next generation.
Reggie: If the forty hours in a given year that a church has isn’t somehow leveraged and partnered with three thousand hours that a parent has, then there impact will be minimal. If a parent will just go do a few things in a given week that will reinforce what happened on Sunday and if everyone is working off the same blueprint, it raises the level impact exponentially.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to hear today from Reggie Joiner about what some churches are doing to help moms and dads connect spiritually with their sons or daughters.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us. I wondered how long it would take before you started wearing orange into the studio, but it didn’t take long.
Dennis: This is not orange.
Bob: This is theatre of the mind. Just go with me on it, will you?
Dennis: Okay. So, it should be orange.
Reggie: So, it should be orange. A matter of fact, after this is over, I’m expecting a lot of décor to change.
Dennis: I’m kind of disappointed you’re not wearing Auburn colors in here.
Reggie: I have orange on. As a matter of fact—
Reggie: Right here in my belt, right here.
Dennis: That’s enough. That’s enough.
Reggie: I literally have worn orange somewhere for the last six years. Just because—
Bob: Every day?
Reggie: Every day. Cause of the cause.
Reggie: Yes. It is kind of a joke around our staff, but…
Dennis: Rubber bands or whatever it takes.
Reggie: Whatever it takes.
Dennis: Reggie Joiner joins us again on FamilyLife Today. He along with Carey Nieuwhof have written a book called Parenting Beyond Your Capacity.
Bob: There is orange all over the cover: orange and silver on this.
Dennis: Tell us about Carey. He is a Canadian pastor that collaborated with you on this book.
Reggie: Carey is a great friend of mine. I met him several years ago, and he had transitioned a traditional church to reach a lot of the un-churched culture in Canada. Just an amazing senior pastor. What we’re trying to do in essence is to redefine what family values should look like and be like for the parent or the home.
Bob: You’re suggesting that the church and the family need to blend together for those values to be locked in, synced up, and tied down.
Dennis: All of that linked to the Scripture. You go back to Deuteronomy 6, which is kind of the standard of what a family ought to aspire to.
Bob: Is it the orangest verse in the Bible?
Reggie: It is the orangest verse in the Bible. The reason—
Bob: Do you have an orange lettered edition in your home?
Reggie: We do. Yes.
Bob: I bet you do.
Dennis: Wait. We have not explained what the orange deal is here.
Reggie: Well, that’s a good one.
Dennis: We’ve continued to allude to it. Let me see if I caught it or not.
Dennis: The church is yellow that is the light of Christ. It is meant to be bright and reflecting who God is and the truth of Scripture. Parents have heart. They are red.
Reggie: Unconditional love.
Dennis: Together, you say, those two entities, living organisms need to join together to form orange and raise the next generation and launch them to have an impact on their generation.
Reggie: That is exactly right. I think when we get to Deuteronomy 6 the most important part of that passage is there is a story going on that we need to make sure we understand the essence of. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is kind of at the end of his journey. It is his farewell speech. I’ve often read it thinking in my mind, “Okay, you’ve got a final message to deliver to the people that you’ve led what are you going to say and how is this going to come across and what are your values going to be?”
So, when we read Deuteronomy 6, the reason it is such a powerful passage is because he knows that are about to go into Canaan, and he is concerned. He is concerned that in a matter of days, in a matter of weeks, in a matter of months or years, they are going to drift away from their faith.
He even states in Deuteronomy 6 what he is concerned about: that they will forget the God who brought them into this land. When the cloud of fire and the manna is no longer there every day to remind them about God that they’ll just over time forget. What he is doing is he is speaking to a generation of parents whose parents blew it in the wilderness.
He is saying to them, here is how you will transfer faith to the next generation. He is not only speaking to parents—and this is a critical part of the passage; he is speaking to the entire audience of leaders. He is saying to that community, to that nation, to that village, if you want to say it that way, make sure that you transfer your faith to the next generation and remember these things. He starts off, and he says, “The Lord your God is one.”
For us, that’s probably the most important part of the passage because in that one sentence, he clarifies something that is the most eternal, the most important, most sovereign, most critical thing we need to remember: that God is who He says He is.
Somewhere along the way, as a parent, I need to remember what I imagine the end—
that’s the way we say it in the book—that if my kids grow up and they get the right kind of job; or they get the best college experience they can; they marry the right kind of person; but they missed that, they missed God. It doesn’t matter what they got right.
I don’t know about you, but I can think of a hundred times as a parent when I would get obsessed with things that I thought were huge and important. I just needed to rest in what was really important and get perspective about there’s a bigger story going on. God’s really in charge of this. It really started with Him, and it is going to end with Him. That is the focus I need to keep in front of me.
Dennis: As you were talking and I hadn’t really ever thought about this before, but I just took a quick glance. When Moses stood up and said, this is the commandment. What had they just heard? The Big Ten.
Reggie: Right. Right.
Dennis: The Ten Commandments.
Dennis: Here is Moses standing up and going, “This is the Commandment: Remember the Lord your God is one.” There is one God. Then, he said like putting a baton in a relay race in the hands of parents and the elders and the community, he said pass this baton on to the next generation.
Reggie: Dennis, there is something else that happens there. When I first realized, it kind of calls me to step back and to look at the Old Testament through a whole different light. We know the Old Testament was basically a set for the New Testament. It is right here at this passage that he leans into us and he says love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He gives us at that moment what becomes to the Jewish nation one of the most important passages.
I always wondered why that passage was so critical. If you go back before that, you never find a time in the Old Testament up until this point where God invites the people or the leaders invite the people to love God. What you see up until this point is the writers, the leaders talking about God came for the people and loving them. It is like this patriarch is giving his farewell speech, flips a switch, and it is almost a new thought. It is a new idea.
He stands up in front of these people and he says God has kept his promises to you, he’s proved his faithfulness to you, now listen to me: I want you to love Him. He draws a line of distinction between simply performing and obeying and keeping the rules—
Dennis: The law.
Reggie: Having a relationship. The law.
Reggie: Having a relationship right here. The reason this is critical, I think for parents is because we have a tendency, don’t we, to want to emphasize the rules, emphasize performance, emphasize all those things. I think what we really find here is a heart issue, a heart matter, where Moses is teaching us to fight for the heart; and it is about a relationship.
Bob: So, if we could rally together like the nation of Israel, but just a church congregation—
Bob: Dozens of families or maybe hundreds of families and the church leaders who are there, and you’re Moses. You are going to say to them, “Okay, here is the deal: we’ve got to all love God; we’ve got to teach our kids to love God.” Then, you’d tell them, “We’ve got to do it as a community project. It is not just parents, you’re responsible for your own kids, but we’re all responsible for each other’s kids.” Right?
Bob: That is the community aspect.
Bob: Then, what would you tell them next?
Reggie: The reason, I think this is so critical—I noticed this even on your values in your ministry in your board room awhile ago: “Love God and love others”—is because what Moses—the stake Moses put in the ground here was a huge, huge transition in issue. It was the set up for what Jesus would do two thousand years later when the Pharisees come to Him, and they say, “Of all the commandments, what is the greatest commandment?”
I always think there is humor in this because I don’t know if the disciples are on the sidelines going, “Oh, here’s that question. How is he going to answer this?” Everybody is nervous because Jesus has been put on the spot. He’s asked the question: what is the greatest commandment? So, Jesus pulls a Moses, which was the smartest thing to do with the Pharisees.
He reaches back, and He pulls out this passage that Moses said. He says—here it is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Now that shuts up the Pharisees because they can’t argue with Moses. Then, He adds a new verse. Just like Moses introduced a new thought, He introduces a new thought, which He can do because He is Jesus. He adds another passage. He says, “And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now, what I think sometimes we miss is how powerful this is for parents and leaders to understand for marching orders. At the end of the day if a church wins with a teenager or a parent wins with a teenager, that win will look like a student who walks away; who continues to pursue a right relationship with God; who sees themself the way that God sees themself; and who is passionately concerned with helping a generation and the world around them to do the same thing for others that Jesus stepped on the planet to do.
I think it is really simple. I have this disease of over simplifying things. I think it is really simple that every curriculum and every message in every book, in everything we do from a Christendom standpoint that when we’re trying to raise up a generation, we should go back to those three issues: loving God, seeing yourself and loving yourself, and loving others. It really comes back to the Great Commandment because Jesus said, “You can take everything else and you can hang it on these three issues.”
It all comes back to this; and when my son or daughter is sitting in their freshman class in college and they’re wrestling with life, the one thing I want to be moving in the right direction is a relationship with God, them seeing themselves in light of Scripture and their value for God’s truth, and their relationship with others. If those three things are happening, I’m winning.
It is cyclical. It is not like, “Oh, yeah! We’re going to fix this once and for all.” It is something we continue to build on over and over and over again. The fighting for the heart principle means that I’m continuing with my own children to prioritize our relationship over the rules. Because if I don’t do that, ultimately I will set them up to think it is about performance; it is about a picture; and it is not about a story and a relationship that I want to have with him and that God wants to have with him through their story.
Dennis: Moses may have initiated it. Jesus may have duplicated it, but a guy who discipled me and mentored me, Bill Bright—
Reggie: Oh, yes.
Dennis: He replicated it as well because he used to give this message, Reggie; and we used to sit out in the audience. We’d go, “Bill, don’t you have another message? Can’t you speak on something else? I mean, give me a break. Move us to the deep things of Scripture, of Truth.”
He used to give this message from Revelation on losing your first love. He kept calling us back to keep falling in love with Jesus Christ. It is a little bit, kind of like, your earthly father: the older you get, the smarter he becomes. It is true of our spiritual fathers, too, who discipled us.
Reggie: It is.
Dennis: Jesus and Moses knew what they we’re talking about when the commanded us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength—with all your being. So, that is the assignment for parents.
Okay, I’m going to move you to put the cookies on the lower shelf, Reggie, and coach a parent in terms of how do they start doing that because they do not feel equipped to pass on spiritual truth, the reality of their experience with God and who He is to their children.
Reggie: The practical side of this really is seen in what Moses teaches in Deuteronomy 6 because he begins to move along in this passage. He begins to tell them now I want you to talk about these things; I want you to impress your children with these things; and here is how you are going to do it: you are going to do it as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and you’re going to do it when you get up in the morning. He basically paints this picture of an everyday life.
Here is what I’m afraid is happening in many of our churches and in many of our families: if we don’t integrate the church in the family, we create a mindset that faith is a Sunday morning thing. That faith is something that happens at church.
Dennis: You called it, wasn’t it fine china or something like that?
Reggie: Absolutely. It’s something we only take out every once in a while. We really don’t integrate it into our everyday routine and world. What Moses knew—I think this is what he was afraid of and what he was concerned about—is that up until this point, God had shown up for them very visibly every day.
There had been the pillar of fire that they would follow. There had been the manna would come every day. There were daily reminders to them that God is who He said He is and that all around them there was the essence of God’s presence. It wouldn’t take long living in Canaan without those daily reminders unless they put into their daily habit and daily routine things that reminded them of God’s presence.
I think, not intentionally, but I think we ultimately created a system of religion in our churches that is almost like the Sunday morning newspaper. You know? The world I grew up in. The Sunday morning newspaper there was always a religious section. It was just there on Sundays. You had the rest of the different segments of the newspaper that would show up the rest of the week, but the religious section was just for Sunday because that’s when you do religion.
Bob: You’ve got sports every day. You’ve got business every day. Religion was just once a week.
Reggie: Somehow we’ve bought into a mindset—and again this is kind of my opinion—that we’ve separated the secular from the spiritual. It is really all spiritual. All of life really has to do with us showing up in the world we work in, the school we have to participate in, in the lives that we live with the people around us. God is supposed to be a part of that in an everyday sense. Moses was saying here become intentional when it comes to these principles and this relationship with God in talking about it.
I don’t know that we can say every rhythm for every family should look alike or look the same; but I think in your schedule, in your routine, in what you do at meal times, and what you do with your children, when you drive down the road in your car, that you find opportunities to build into this rhythm of life, of everyday life, these principles in this relationship with God. So, they can see that in your life.
Bob: You are presupposing that families have time together as families. There aren’t a whole lot who do today.
Reggie: Well, that is true. They don’t have time. There are things already built into their routine—
Reggie: That if they would tap into those things would be amazing. We’ve had unbelievable stories of things that have happened simply because of drive time components that we’ve given because families are travelling together. I think there are natural things that take place especially as your kids are younger. Too many parents send their kids to bed instead of taking their kids to bed. There are just prime opportunities to reinforce this in a way that would be really practical.
Dennis: Too many parents pray for their children by themselves and don’t pray with their children as they put them to bed all the way through high school. I mean your child needs that type of spiritual connectivity with you as a parent.
Reggie: They really do. There are a thousand creative ways that churches are beginning to discover and find that they can hand to parents after a Sunday to get parents to engage with their children during the week on the same issue.
The point is if the forty hours in a given year that the church has isn’t somehow leveraged and partnered with the three thousand hours that a parent has, then their impact will be minimal. If a parent will just go through a few things in a given week that will reinforce what happened on Sunday and if everybody is working off the same blueprint, it raises the level of impact exponentially.
Dennis: I’ll tell you: I did not know what I was doing when I did it. This was Providence of God. I started teaching a sixth grade Sunday school class, had twelve kids in the first class. It was like I stumbled into something where I was able to teach my kids everything I wanted them to hear about moving into adolescence without them being forced to sit down and listen to daddy.
They heard their buddies going Mr. Rainey that was a good point. They heard them talking, “This is really where we’re living. Yes. There really is such a thing as pornography, pressure in dating, peer pressure, traps, and all this stuff.” It was fascinating, Reggie. As our kids got older, I looked back on it and smiled. I thought, “I could never have been able to have done that in my wildest imaginations if I’d tried to have done that over the dinner table.”
Reggie: No, you couldn’t have. Even for the parents out there, who aren’t Dennis Rainey and they don’t have the Bible knowledge that would enable them to teach that class, the fact is that they still need to find a creative way to create a rhythm where they can be a part of the spiritual direction and formation of their own children. It is just important that this happens.
Dennis: This is one of the ways I would suggest they’d do that, College Ready. We’ve spent over two years developing this. This is a six part video series that is designed to be lead by parents of either high school seniors or incoming college freshman who want to prepare their children and other children to know how to engage college.
It deals with dating. It deals with purpose, with friends, with spiritual growth, how to make good grades. It is designed to be a fun, energetic, enthusiastic course that kids get into and can begin to interact with their buddies but also with adults, being plugged into the curriculum. That is what I hear you saying in your book. You’re saying we’ve all got to help one another in this process of raising the next generation.
Reggie: If I were going to use that, what I would do with it? I would actually invite multiple families, about three or four families that I know that have kids the same age getting ready to go to college together.
Reggie: The power of that would be this other parent, this other mother, could say some things that my kids my might receive that would be something that I would have reinforced. That would be even more powerful in a lot of ways. Does that make sense?
Bob: Yes. This is just one tool. I mean—
Bob: There are lots of tools; that’s the point. Moms and dads can feel intimidated, sad, “I don’t know what to say”. There are tools available to help you with what to say. You’ve just got to catch the vision. As a church, you’ve got to be reinforcing it with one another. I think that’s where your book, Reggie, helps paint that picture in a lovely orange shade for—
Reggie: Definitely orange.
Even when you use a tool like this or whatever other tool you would find out there to use, you’re creating a rhythm for your family to continue to make their relationship with God, their faith, every day.
Dennis: You are finding a new way to gain access into your children’s lives. Even if it is, kind of, like the sixth grade Sunday school class, I slipped it on them; and they had no idea what was happening.
Bob: If our listeners are interested in the College Ready material, it is available from us here at FamilyLife. They can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about it. They can also find out about Reggie’s book which is called Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. We would love to send you a copy of that book when you contact us as well.
Again go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order online. It’s FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; 1-800, F as in “family”, L as in “life”, and then the word “TODAY”. When you get in touch with us, we’ll make arrangements to send Reggie’s book to you, the College Ready resource, or whatever it is you are looking for. See if we can help you connect together as a family or as a church in raising the next generation.
Now, let me just mention how grateful we are for those of you who listen regularly, those of you who pray for us, and for those of you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. If we didn’t have listeners, there wouldn’t be any reason to be here. If we didn’t have folks praying for us, we’d be in a world of hurt. We do appreciate those of you who pray for us as a ministry, who pray for Dennis, who pray for me, who pray for our guests.
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In fact, this month, if you can help with a donation, we’d love to say thank you by sending you a four CD set that’s all about romance. We thought that was appropriate with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. This four CD set includes a message from Dennis on how to keep romance alive in your marriage during the rainy season. I don’t mean the Dennis Rainey season. I mean the season when things can get a little frazzled in your marriage relationship, and it doesn’t feel particularly romantic.
In addition, we’ve got three CD’s that feature an extend conversation we had with Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus about Intimate Issues. That’s the title of a book that they wrote on the subject of romance and passion in marriage. They wrote it for women answering the twenty-one questions women most often ask about intimacy and romance in marriage. We’d love to send you the four CD series as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation this month to support FamilyLife Today.
You can do that on FamilyLifeToday.com. If you do, when you come to the key code box on the online donation form, type in the word “ROMANCE.” Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, make a donation over the phone, and just ask for the romance CD’s. We’re happy to send them out to you. Again, thanks for listening, thanks for your prayers, and thanks for your financial support of this ministry. We appreciate you.
We hope you can be back with us tomorrow. Kay Marshall Strom is going join us. We’re going to talk about how you can thrive during what she calls the second half adventure. The second half of life: where you’ve got capacity and energy and opportunity, in a way you might not have had in the first half of your life, to get involved with what God is doing all around the world. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can join 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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