Turning Your Heart Toward Your Children, Part 1
About the Guest
If all of Satan’s traps were easily recognizable, Eve would have never bitten into the apple. Dennis Rainey points out the traps that lure our teens away from God and onto bunny trails of heartache, and even death.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
If all of Satan’s traps were easily recognizable, Eve would have never bitten into the apple.
Turning Your Heart Toward Your Children, Part 1
Bob: If you are a husband or a dad, how your family is doing is based in large part on how you’re doing. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: If you want to restore family relationships where do you begin? Well it’s interesting in the Bible, Malachi 4:6 said it starts with us, guys. It starts with the fathers. You are the leader of your family, not a lording leader, not a dictator; you are a sacrificial leader of your family. And, it begins with the message that John the Baptist gave us. It begins with a message of repentance.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday June, 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Before a man can lead, he’s got to learn how to walk rightly before God.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You know, in radio, they call this “A Blast from the Past!” That’s the radio term you’d use. I thought you’d want me to turn on my dee jay voice.
Dennis: I wasn’t sure where you were going with this.
Bob: My old 1960s dee jay voice, “Here’s a blast from the past, an oldie but a goodie from Dennis Rainey!”
Dennis: And, there are certain messages from a content standpoint that are evergreen Bob.
Bob: They’re timeless! They never get old!
Dennis: This one, to men, here before Father’s day, I wish I could pass out seatbelts to the dads and say, “Strap this on,” because we’re going to dust off a message that I gave at a Promise Keepers rally in Jaguar Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ll tell you Bob, I’m glad we’re re-airing this because I am absolutely convinced that unless we as men, husbands and fathers assume our responsibility as servant leaders in our homes, and morally and spiritually guide our homes, I’m going to tell you, I think we as a nation have had it.
I think the onslaught of evil from media, from the internet, from the music industry, you name it, it is coming at the young people today and the family today at such an onslaught, I think it’s time to dust off some old messages like this and call men to man up.
Bob: Well, and I’ve been with you when guys have come up and said, I heard that message, I was there that day in Jacksonville when you spoke on traps, because that’s what’s really at the heart of this message. The traps that have been laid for teenagers, and what a dad needs to do to protect their kids from those traps—
Dennis: --And stay out of them himself.
Bob: These guys have said, that message had a powerful impact on me as a dad.
Dennis: Well, it’s a powerful visual illustration that I admit it’s a masculine illustration. Guys grew up maybe trapping small game and maybe if you lived like I did in a small community like I did, I trapped rabbits, and raccoons. You know it does appeal to who we are as men to stay out of the traps and to guide our sons, and for that matter our daughters, to stay out of those traps as they move through their elementally and adolescent years growing up into adulthood.
Bob: As I said, this is going to be a blast from the past, and I mean a blast because you were in a stadium and you were… (speaks loudly) You were projecting! As you were talking to them men that day!
Dennis: If you’re going to speak to about—as I recall—45,000 to 50,000 men. If you’re going to speak to that many men, you don’t get up front, Bob and say, (whispering) “OK guys, I’ve got a few things to share with you, listen carefully.”
Dennis: No, you really do have to let them know, you know what guys, this is important, listen up, because generations are at stake around this message.
(Speaking in a stadium) Just about a month ago, gentlemen, I had an opportunity that I will never forget. I was asked by a local public school superintendent to come and fill in as a substitute teacher for an eighth grade English class. All day long, I taught session after session in eighth grade English to 13, 14 and 15 year old boys and girls. Not only do I now have a greater respect for teachers, but I also have a deep and profound burden for what is taking place in the youth of America. I asked them seven questions. Their answer to the first question is what profoundly impacted me.
I asked these young men and women who their heroes were. The first surprise I had was who they didn’t mention. There were less than a handful of guys who mentioned the great athletes, Jordan, Barkley, and others. It was who they did answer with that so profoundly impacted me because they answered in three groups. Now, guys, they didn’t join together and come up with their answers. They wrote these out on a sheet of paper.
So, the first group, actually about a third, said that their heroes were their moms and dads, their grandmas and grandpas. I was surprised by that. Yes. (clapping) I agree. I was totally unprepared, however, for the next group.
One-third of those students said that they had no heroes. When asked the question “who is your hero,” they wrote on their papers: nobody. One young boy said, “Having a hero is only for girls and sissies.” I was sad for that young man.
But the last third, the last group that shocked me when I asked them who their heroes were was a group of kids which said their hero was “me,” myself. I am my own hero. Now, I ask you, guys, all across this stadium. How prepared were you to be your own hero when you were 13, 14 and 15? That, my friends, is a scary thought. These young men and women today need heroes more than ever because it has never been as dangerous to be a young person as it has been today.
That danger sent me off on a course of studying the book of Proverbs with my 18-year old son before he headed off to college this past year, and my 15-year old daughter, who is a sophomore in high school this year. Verse by verse, we began to go through a book that I think outlines what needs to happen in the lives of young people today. It’s the book of Proverbs.
Handling money and debt, warnings against becoming arrogant and full of pride, the snare of the seductive woman, a lying tongue, deceit, laziness, and, of course, the warning in Proverbs of falling into the trap of walking with fools—those who are evil.
Solomon said that there are snares being set. There are traps being set for young people today, and over and over again, he exhorts young people to listen to their mother, listen to the teachings of the father, and not neglect them, but obey them and embrace them and live for them. The problem today, guys, when it comes to this subject of child rearing, many of us are approaching parenting as though it was a mousetrap.
(Snap of a mousetrap closing) Yes, that would sting. Yes, that would hurt for a little while. But, they’ll get over it. They’ll get over it.
Gentlemen, I submit to you today that we have millions of Christian youth in America today who aren’t getting over it. Our sin is being visited on this generation of young people. It’s not a rat trap, guys. It’s serious stuff. I believe more than ever that there are traps being set for your son or your daughter that are life-threatening traps. I brought some visual illustrations here on the platform to show you what I’m talking about.
This is what’s called a small varmint trap. This one right here–-drugs, alcohol. This trap is being set for our youth today. It’s killing them. It’s numbing their minds, and they’re wasting away as a generation.
This right here, gentlemen, is the trap of peer pressure. This is a “con a bear” trap, guys. You lower this into the den of a rodent or a beaver, and it crushes it instantly. Breaks its back. Instantly dead.
This is a bear trap. I used this in my sixth grade Sunday school class that I teach. I’ve got 75 sixth graders in my church that I teach, and I pull out these traps, and I use this one, guys, to symbolize sexual immorality. Guys, this is just an illustration. The real traps that this book warns about are far more dangerous.
Dad, your children need you. They need you to prepare them for the dangers they are about to face. They need you to guide them around these traps. They need you and me, guys, to protect them from these traps. Dad, you’re powerful. The media wants to tell you that you’re a dummy. But, I’m here to tell you that based on the authority of the Bible, you are powerful. You are important to the next generation.
Harold Davis, an African American from Champaign, Illinois, who has established a ministry of mentoring, told me this the other day. He said this, and I quote. “A society falls apart when the mature men do not reach back and pull the next generation up with them.” What we are seeing today, guys, is a battle not merely for our generation that is taking place, we are seeing a battle for your children’s generation taking place. The future families that are in the church. The future families of our country. We are in an all out battle over real family values.
The thing that angers me over all the discussion about family values is everybody’s talking about it, but who’s defining it? I say to us as Christian men, we must seize the moment. This book defines family values. It talks about respect for authority. It talks about working hard and having a strong work ethic. It talks about treating women with respect and dignity and honor and giving up our lives for them. This book is our family values, guys. It’s the inspired word of God.
This is a heavy load, guys. How do we do it? The first mark of a godly father is that he submits to his heavenly father. Malachi 4:6. Guys this is the last verse in the Old Testament. God is about to be silent for 400 years, and in this passage he talks about the coming of Elijah. It talks about the forerunner, the one that would come before Christ. It says, “When he comes,” verse 6 of chapter 4, “he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
If you want to restore family relationships, where do you begin? Well, it’s interesting, in the Bible, Malachi 4:6 said it starts with us, guys. It starts with the fathers. You are the leader of your family, not a lording leader, not a dictator; you are a sacrificial leader of your family. It begins with a message that John the Baptist gave us. It begins with the message of repentance. It is not a feel-good message because God through Malachi is calling us from selfishness to Christ-likeness.
I have found, guys, that to raise six kids and to do it successfully, I cannot be selfish at the same time. I can identify with the bumper sticker that reads “My children saved me from toxic self absorption.” You can’t do it God’s way and be selfish.
Some time ago when my son was seven or eight, we were out in the woods. We live on the edge of a hill that our property goes down, and we had a beautiful view of the lake. The trees on the other side of the property line were growing up and getting our view. There were a few trees on my side of the property line, so I decided to go down there with my son and cut them down. So, we cut down some trees. We go back up on our deck and look at our view, and then we go back down and cut down another tree or two.
We got back up on that deck, guys, and looked back over that view, and did you know there was this one oak tree. It just was smack dab in the middle of our view. I went back down there, and there you could see the orange markers going through the woods, separating our property from the city property. It’s a green belt. I was down there with my son, and I was looking at those things. I was going, you know, the property lines are not all that exact out here in the woods. Besides, there are millions of trees on this city property here. Who will know?
So, with my son watching and that tree only being about 18 inches across the line, I got in there. When that tree fell, guys, God stabbed me in my heart. He said, “Rainey, you just compromised.” Guys, so bad was how I felt that when I got back up on that beautiful deck, and I looked out at the view, I couldn’t see the view. All I could see was the monument to my compromise horizontally laying in the woods. And I did it in front of my son.
For two months I dealt with it. Every time I’d have a quiet time and read the Bible, there were trees. Everywhere in the Bible, there were trees. I was miserable. I began to argue with God. I said, “God, you don’t want me to call the city and confess sin, do you? They’ll never know. They’ve got thousands of trees.” The Lord said, “Yeah. I want you to call.”
So, I called the city with my son there in the kitchen with me. I called up the city and talked to the guy. I said, “I just chopped down one of your trees, and I want to pay for it. I want to make restitution, and I need to ask your forgiveness.” The guy wouldn’t take any money for the tree, which I’m grateful, but he did accept my apology.
Then I got down on one knee with my son, Benjamin, and I looked him in the eye. I said, “Son, I want you to know something about your dad. You may not remember me as being perfect, but what I hope you’ll remember me as is a man that when he made a mistake, he repented. He was big enough to humble himself and to fall on his face and ask God to forgive him.”
I’ve got a question for you who just applauded. Will your son or your daughter remember you as a man who repented, as a man who humbled himself? You see, guys, your life and my life can be the doorway through which either life gains entrance into our family or through which sin and death gains entrance. Which will it be? Life to a thousand generations the Bible promises, or death that will be visited on four generations? As the Scriptures tell us that your sin and my sin will be visited on not one, not two, not three, but four generations. That’s a scary thought, guys.
Bob: That is a scary thought, it’s a sobering thought. We’ve been listening to the first part of a message from more than a decade ago. Dennis Rainey speaking at Jaguar Stadium to tens of thousands of men. In fact, it would be interesting, I don’t know if we’ve got any guys listening today who were there that day. But, at FamilyLifeToday.com, as you look at the transcript of today’s program, as you look at the end, there’s a place where you can add a note.
If you were there, it would be great for you to go online and just say, “I was there, I remember.” We’d love to hear how God has used that message in your life as a dad. Do you think men today understand clearly what the call of God is on their lives or are they confused?
Dennis: I don’t think men fully understand what God expects of them. If they did, I think they’d be terrified. I really do. I see the—I’m going to call it—the “office” of manhood as being a high noble privilege and calling as well as a mantle; a responsibility that God places on us. I think it’s upon us, honestly. I don’t want to put too much emphasis here, and I’m not diminishing the importance of a woman, a wife or a mom, because I would fight to the end to say their calling is a noble one as well.
But I’m going to tell you, I don’t think any nation can outlive the loss of true biblical manhood. When men fail to be men, what nation can survive that? What church can survive that? What family can survive that? I remember someone saying a number of years ago, “All roads that lead back home, ultimately lead to the responsibility of the man, husband and father who leads that home.” That’s a sober responsibility, it’s a weighty responsibility. But, you know what, it’s one we have to own and grasp. Even in our failures and in our disappointments and how far we fall short, we’ve got to keep stepping up, and keep manning up, in what God expects of us as men.
Bob: I think when guys hear you calling us to that, I think something resonates in their soul. I think there’s something in their heart that goes, “He’s right. That’s what God made me to be.” This month for those of you who can help the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we’d like to send you as a thank you gift, a copy of a book by Truett Cathy, called It’s Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men. Truett Cathy is the founder of Chick-fil-A, and for a number of years has taught a Sunday school class, much like you taught a Sunday school class with sixth graders for years.
Bob: In this book he offers suggestions on how to build character in the lives of boys. The book is our way of saying thank you to you when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. We’re listener supported so we depend on those donations to continue this ministry on this station and on our entire network of stations.
Candidly, we have seen a decline over the last couple of months. It’s been fairly significant; a decline in response to the ministry. We haven’t been hearing from as many listeners. It has us a little bit concerned. So, if you can help with a donation this month, again of any amount, just go online at FamilyLifeToday.com make your donation online and type the word “BOYS” in the key code box on the online donation form. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and you can make a donation over the phone. Just ask for a copy of the book by Truett Cathy called It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, and we’ll make arrangements to get that out to you.
Let me also mention really quickly that we have created a resource that thousands of dads have used with their sons and, moms have used it with daughters as well. It’s called Passport to Purity® and it’s designed to help you and your preadolescent son or daughter identify some of the traps that are ahead in the adolescent years and get a dialogue going about those issues. It also gives you a way to have that talk you need to have with a young man or young woman just before adolescence. It makes it easy to do that. More information online about the Passport to Purity® resource, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY, for more information about that resource as well.
Well, tomorrow we’re going to hear part two of Dennis’s message to men on helping their children stay out of the traps of adolescence. That comes up tomorrow. I hope you can be 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’ll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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