Turning Your Heart Toward Your Children, Part 2
About the Guest
Like cheese in a mousetrap, those things which sometimes appear very appealing at first glance can often bring us harm. Dennis Rainey talks about a few of the traps that often catch teens off guard if they're not prepared.
Turning Your Heart Toward Your Children, Part 2
Bob: How would you complete this sentence: “The future of a civilization is in the hands of… blank.” Dennis Rainey says one important way to answer that question is to fill in the blank with “dad.”
Dennis: Gentlemen if you and I are going to lead the next generation, we have got to step into the battle and protect our kids. Do you want to be a godly father? Then you have got to pursue and protect your children from the snares that are being set for them this day.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday June 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. Today we’ll hear from Dennis Rainey about the critical role that fathers play in protecting the next generation.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I’m here with the old trapper himself…
Dennis: With an oldie and a goldie. We’re dusting off the archive material here and going back to a Promise Keepers event.
Bob: This was a classic message that you shared with guys at Jaguar Stadium back at a Promise Keepers event. You said there were 50 thousand guys there right?
Dennis: Yes, and frankly Bob, if 50,000 men don’t light your fire, then your wood is wet.
Bob: You used the metaphor of an animal trap that day.
Dennis: Right. Because I think a lot of guys are slipping off into traps today, and you can’t lead your kids through the traps if you’ve got a couple of them hanging on your legs.
Bob: Let’s dive right in, because this is part two of your message from that Promise Keepers event where you challenge guys to steer clear of the traps and to lead their kids through the adolescent years in a way that keeps them steered clear of the traps as well. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: (In a stadium) Guys, if you’re going to be a man who submits to his heavenly father, that means if you’re going to lead your kids through the traps, that means your feet can’t be in any of them. That means you can’t be stepping off in any of them. That means you’ve got to know where they are. There are traps being set for you, guys: pornography.
Two nights ago, I sat in a hotel room. You weren’t there. But, God was there. As I held that channel surfer that was made for men in my hands, I had a choice. But I kept going because I live my life in the fear of the Lord knowing it is to Him and to Him alone I will ultimately be accountable for every act done in secret. The question for us, guys, are you compromising at any point in what you look at as a man?
A second trap for you guys is adultery. There are traps being set for you daily at your workplace. Some of you in this auditorium are in wrong relationships emotionally and physically. You need to repent. Divorce is a trap that’s crippling the next generation of young people. It’s being set for us. Easy commitment. Go ahead and bail out; who’ll care. I’ll tell you who cares. God cares, and the next generation cares. We have become a culture of divorce within the Christian community, when we ought to be the salt and light for the world.
A fourth trap that is a little less visible but is one that I think impacts perhaps more men in this stadium this morning than any other; it’s the trap of passivity—being passive—not leading your family spiritually, not praying with your wife, not reading the Bible to your kids and to your wife, but just being flat lazy. Now, I want to tell you something, guys, I fight this with the best of you. There is something within the male psyche that wants to unplug and unload when he comes home.
But, you know what? If you’re going to be God’s men, you can’t do it. You’ve got to fight through the pain, you’ve got to die to yourself and turn off the boob tube and start implanting real family values and do it purposefully. To become like Christ, you’ve got to turn from your selfishness.
I want to ask you a series of questions that may hit you. Have you been looking at pornography? Repent. Have you lied? Repent. Have you deceived another? Repent. Are you cheating on your spouse? Repent. Are you cheating on your income tax or business expenses? Repent. Has anything or anyone taken God’s rightful place as Lord and master? Repent. Is there someone you’ve refused to forgive? Repent. Have you robbed God by not giving as you should have given? Repent.
Have you failed to pray daily with your wife and lead her spiritually? Repent. Have you failed to pray with your children? Repent. Have you ignored the reading of the Bible in your home? Repent. Have you been lazy around the house, failing to help your spouse with household chores and duties? Repent. Have you failed to provide for your family? Repent.
This is not an easy message to give, guys. It’s not an easy one to hear. But, the fix we’re in, the traps that cling to us now in this culture demand radical reformation. It demands radical repentance.
The first mark of a godly father is he submits himself to his heavenly Father. The second mark of a godly father is he honors his earthly father as well as his mother. Exodus 20:12 commands us as one of the Ten Commandments to “honor our mother and father that it may go well with you.” Plato wrote, “What is honored in a land will be cultivated there.” Gentlemen, today, we do not honor parents. Our parents, looking back. We honor youth. We honor materialism. We honor gain. We talk about business success, athletic success. When do we honor our mother and father? We have become a nation of dishonor when it comes to our parents, and I stand before you as one who is chief of all sinners.
In 1976 I got the phone call that said my dad had died. I went back to that funeral… And here was a man, guys that had been used in my life in enormous ways. He was a left-handed baseball pitcher who had such a good curve ball that they nicknamed him Hook. Hook Rainey. Hook Rainey pitched a game against Dizzy Dean. He never could conveniently remember who won that game. (laughter) Hook Rainey was a great man. His integrity was bedrock solid. He lived his whole life within a few miles of where he was born.
When I went back to the funeral, the whole town came out. Person after person told me what an awesome dad I had and what a phenomenal man he had been. I looked at his gravestone, and in the words of my friend, Crawford Loritts, my dad’s life, guys, was summed up by a dash between two dates.
As I went through that funeral and looked at that gravestone, I go this isn’t right that we would summarize a man’s life by a dash between two dates. So, I determined I would not let it be so with my mother, and I wrote her a tribute—a written tribute of honor thanking her for everything she’d done right.
Why? Because in our old age, guys, we wonder if we have mattered. God in His wisdom has challenged us as the children of our fathers to go back to the previous generation and return honor. Guys, I do not believe there will be a revival and a reformation in America until this generation of adults go back home to their parents with honor. As you do this, you’re going to find something very difficult occurs. You’re going to have to forgive your parents. You’re going to have to ask them to forgive you perhaps.
In the process, you’re going to see your hearts merged as one as there’s healing and forgiveness between you and your parents. There are relationships in this stadium that are estranged. You’ve offended one another, and you’re both waiting for each other to come to the other. You take the first step. Go back and honor them. Humble yourself and ask for forgiveness. For some here, you will never be free to be the father your children need you to be until you return back to your home with honor.
The first mark of a godly man who wants to lead the next generation, he submits to God. The second one is he honors his earthly father. The third mark of a godly man is that he pursues and protects his children. Malachi 4:6, “And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children.” God wants you to pursue your children. That means when they start pushing you out as teenagers can, that you refuse to allow them to push you out. The whole idea of leading them around these traps, guys, demands that you have a relationship with your children.
For you who have young kids, let me tell you what I did when my kids were younger. I dated them. I called my little girl, Ashley, up on the phone one time. She was three or four years old. I’d worked it out with my wife, Barbara, and said I was going to call her from work and ask her to go out on a date. I pulled up in front of the house at 5:30, walked up to the front door, knocked on the door, is your daughter home, ma’am? Barbara said, “Yes.” Little Ashley was around the corner with little pigtails, little ribbons in her hair, grinning and beaming.
She came around. Her mother introduced her to me. I took her by the arm. We walked down the steps. I got in there and opened the door for her, went around to the other side of our old Rambler station wagon. She got in there, she came over by me, put her arm around me, and we’re driving down the road. We go out and we go to a smorgasbord, and we have chocolate pie, and chocolate cake and chocolate milk, and we laugh about what Mom would be saying if she knew what we were doing. We go see Bambi, and Bambi was boring. We spilled Cokes and popcorn. We’re driving home, the little green light of the dashboard beaming in our faces.
I asked Ashley, “What’s your favorite part of the evening, Ashley?” You know what she said, guys? It wasn’t the chocolate war that we had. It was “just being with you, Dad. Just being with you.”
The issue for you is will you build? Will you pursue a relationship with your children? They need you now more than ever. The snares and the dangers and the traps are out there. If you build that relationship, then when they get older, you’ll be able to interview their dates and protect them.
You see, one of the things I did for Ashley for her first date was I told her when she was eleven or twelve that when she got old enough to date, I wanted to interview the young man who took her out. She kind of thought that was a great idea as she grew up. So the day came when she had her first date. It was a double date. She was sixteen or seventeen. The young man had to come by my office, and we got a Coke and went outside and leaned up against his motorcycle.
I looked Kevin in the eye, and I said, “Kevin, you are about to take out one of the things that is most prized to me that God has entrusted to me as a steward for a few years, my daughter. And, Kevin, I want you to know that I was a teenage boy one time, and I know how teenage boys think. Kevin, I’ve done research, and I know that teenage boys think about sex every seven seconds. You and I both know they were lying about the other six seconds.” Kevin’s eyes began to dilate at this point.
I said, “And, Kevin, I want you to know whether you go out one time or fifty times, I want you to know what I mean when I say to you, ‘Kevin, keep your hands and your lips off my daughter.’ Are we communicating, Kevin?” “Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.”
Do you know what my daughter did when I got back home? She beamed that her daddy cared enough about her to protect her. I don’t want to control her life; I want to protect her from the snares and the traps.
Gentlemen, if you and I are going to lead the next generation, we have got to step into the battle and protect our kids. Do you want to be a godly father? Then, you have got to submit to your heavenly Father. That involves repentance. You want to be a godly father? Then, you have to return home with honor to your father. Third, you need to pursue and protect your children from the snares that are being set for them this day.
Guys, America is ripe for a family reformation, and it must start in the Christian community. There has to be a difference in your home and in the neighbor’s home. You and I must be distinctively Christian. We need to restore the soul of America, and the way we’re going to do that is one family at a time. Amy Carmichael said this. “We will have all of eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.” The question is, guys, will you and I pay the price so that we can celebrate for eternity?
David and Jonathan Short are here, David works for the Chevrolet company there in Tampa, he’s a body shop repairman. He heads that up as the manager. His son Jonathan is 13 years old, and they have agreed to help me in a little illustration here as we conclude this message.
What the guys are setting up right now on the platform, gentlemen, are traps. The bear trap is right here, in case you can’t see it. They are about to set up some additional traps between where Jonathan is going to stand and where David, his dad, and I are going to stand at the other end of the stage.
So, Jonathan, in a moment, I’m going to turn and address you as a young man, and your dad and I, as the older generation, are going to turn to you and we’re going to beckon you to come to maturity. We’re going to call you to come to adulthood. We’re going to call you as a young man to come to being a real man—to manhood. When we do that, what I want you to do is I want you to come. Okay?
Now, to illustrate what’s taking place in our culture with the youth of today, guys, I felt like it would be appropriate to blindfold Jonathan. Okay, Jonathan can’t see. Jonathan, you stand right there. Your dad and I are going to go over here.
There are traps all over the stage up here, guys that you can’t see, representing peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, pornography, pride, sexual immorality. About five steps in front of Jonathan is the bear trap. Guys, that’s real, and it’s loaded.
Jonathan, as a young man, you’re vulnerable at this age. You know, the blindfold is a picture of adolescence, but it doesn’t quite capture how vulnerable you really are. So, Jonathan, I want you to take your shoes off. Okay, Jonathan, on the count of three, I want you to come to your dad and me on this side of the stage, representing maturity, adulthood, and manhood. One, two, three—
David: --Jonathan, stop! This is your dad.
Bob: At this point, Dennis, our listeners, who have been listening to this message, I wish they could see what was going on in that stadium.
Dennis: Yes, because at this point, David, the father, weaved his way through the traps, got over to his son, and took Jonathan’s hands and put them on the father’s shoulders–David’s shoulders. He began to weave his way through those traps, and I’m telling you, Bob, those men began to stand over that stadium. I’m getting chill bumps even now, as they weave their way through those traps. Then, at the other end of the stage, they embraced as father and son and were weeping just at the symbolism of what had taken place. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Barbara told me that the men who were seated around her in the stadium were sobbing. They were crying at the visual picture of what had taken place on that stage of a father guiding his son through those traps and protecting him from evil. It was a phenomenal picture of what fatherhood’s all about.
Bob: That’s the metaphor for what our assignment from God as fathers is.
Dennis: It really is. And, you know, as men, to be able to do this, we have got to be free of those traps in our own lives. That’s why at the end of this message there in the stadium, I began to call the men to repent; and to repent specifically of pornography, of lying, of cheating, of alcohol, of drugs, of adultery. On and on the list goes that contain, that snare men, that entrap them, that destroy their legacy. And, you know, I’ve got to believe right now there’s a man who’s been listening to us, or for that matter, perhaps a woman, who has been on the edge or perhaps stepped over into a trap, and they need to repent.
They need to turn from that sin–turn away from it, admit what it is, and say what God says about it—that it’s evil, it’s wrong, it will destroy you, it will ruin your legacy, it will give sin entrance into your family, and to turn from it and to repent of it, and to ask God to heal you and heal your children of that sin and to deliver you from evil.
At this point, I’d just like to challenge you as a man, is there something that you need to confess before your heavenly Father? Maybe the most important thing you could do if you’re on your way to go to work or you’re on your way home, or you’re at home, is you need to just get alone right now with God, and you need to just pour out your heart to Him and give it up.
Bob, I’ve spoken at these events, and you can sense it at a point. There are those guys who get very close right now. But sin is so powerful. It snares us, entraps us, and it’s attached. At that point, we have got to be tough. We have got to act like men and give it up. Be God’s man, turn from it.
Bob: I can imagine there are some men who heard today’s message who would like to be able to share it with other men. We have the message available online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download it as an MP3 file or you can contact us to get a copy of the CD. Just go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and the information is available there about how you can get a copy of this message.
We also have a resource that a lot of dads have used over the years to help guide and direct their sons and daughters, especially as they head toward the teen years. It’s a resource called Passport To Purity®. It’s designed to give you everything you need so that you can have a getaway time with a son or a mom can have it with a daughter and help your child get prepared for the traps that are laid for them during the adolescent years.
You can find out more about Passport To Purity® when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY. 1-800-358-6329, that’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY. We’ll let you know how you can get Passport To Purity® sent out to you, or how you can get a copy of the CD of today’s message sent to you.
You know, as I listened to your message again today, I was reminded of the book that we’ve been offering this month to folks who can help the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount: a book by Truett Cathy who’s the founder of Chick-fil-A restaurants. He titled his book, It’s Better to Build Boys, Than Mend Men.
I was thinking about all of those guys in that stadium and, frankly what you were doing with some of those guys was mending. You were calling them to step up and to live as men to let go of some of the hurts and some of the sins of the past and to be the men God has called them to be and then, to build boys in the process. To help their sons grow up to be godly men.
I mention that we’ve been offering this book to those of you who can help the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. We are listener supported, and honestly over the last several weeks, we have seen a fairly significant decline in response from FamilyLife Today listeners. There’s been a drop off in donations, and it’s been unusual. I just wanted to let you know if you are able to help with a donation of any amount right now, it would be especially helpful, and again you can request a copy of the book when you make your donation.
If you donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, just type the word “BOYS” in the key-code box on the online donation form. If you donate by calling 1-800-FLTODAY, just ask for a copy of the book on building boys and we’ll send it out to you. Again if you’re able to help, we very much appreciate your support of the ministry. Thanks for helping us keep FamilyLife Today on this station.
I 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. Barbara Wilson is going to be with us. We’re going to talk about how a husband and wife can rebuild their relationship after there has been sexual sin. Even if it’s been hidden away in the corner for years, once it comes to the surface, how do you move forward? We’re going to talk about that Monday. 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 back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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