Season of Parenting

Season of Parenting

Scripture: Psalms 127:3, Genesis 18:11, Jeremiah 31:25
Date: 05/25/2019  Lesson: 8
"This week we will spend time exploring the season of parenting with its challenges, fears, satisfaction, and joy."

The Only Lifeboat - Paper or Digital PDF

The Only Lifeboat - Paper or Digital PDF
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Doug Batchelor: We're here on the beautiful coast of the island of Puerto Rico. And if you were to travel east about 2,000 miles, of course you'd be out in the middle of the ocean. But you'd also be in the middle of a mystical sea called the Sargasso Sea. It gets its name because of this common brown seaweed that can be found floating in vast mass. The area of the Sargasso Sea is about 700 miles wide and 2,000 miles long. Now, the seaweed itself is fascinating stuff. It was first observed and called gulf weed by Christopher Columbus. It gets the name sargum from the Portuguese. Some people use it as herbal remedies, but out in the middle of the Sargasso Sea, the water is some of the bluest in the world. It's there you can see 200 feet deep in places. It also has a great biodiversity and ecosystem that surrounds the Sargasso Sea. For years, scientists wondered where the American and Atlantic eels were breeding. They knew the adult eel swam down the rivers out into the Atlantic, but they never could find the place where they reproduced. Finally, they discovered it was out in the middle of the Sargasso Sea. So, it's a fascinating place, but if you're an ancient sailor, you did not want to get stuck there. Being caught in the doldrums was extremely difficult for the ancient sailors. Of course, their boats were driven by wind and sail, and they'd be caught in the vast mass of the seaweed that would wrap around their rudder, barnacles would begin to grow. It's an area that is notorious for light and baffling winds, and so they'd make no progress, they'd get stuck. The men would become extremely dispirited. Sometimes violence and even insanity would break out as people were trapped in the doldrums.

Well, friends, perhaps sometimes you felt that you're trapped in the doldrums. You've gone through episodes of depression, you feel like you're going in circles, life seems stifling. You know, the Bible offers good news, there is a way out. The Bible talks about a famous character that was trapped in a cycle of depression. He was low as you could be. Matter of fact, he even had seaweed wrapped around his head. His name was Jonah, but God gave him a way of escape. In Jonah chapter 2, verse 3 through 7, we read, "For you cast me into the depths, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me. All of your billows and your waves passed over me. Then I said, 'I have been cast out of your sight. Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.' The waters surrounded me, even to my soul. The deep closed around me. Weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains. The earth with its bars closed behind me forever. Yet you've brought my life up from the pit. O Lord, my God, when my soul fainted within me, I remember the Lord, and my prayer went up to you, into your holy temple."

You know, friends, the way that Jonah got out of his discouraging circumstances, he turned to God and he prayed. And if God could hear Jonah's prayer, just think about it, he was as far away from God as anybody could be. He was in the belly of a sea monster in the bottom of the ocean in the dark, yet he turned to God and God heard his prayer. You know, these ancient sailors, when they were trapped on the deck of a ship for weeks stuck in the doldrums, discouraged, sometimes they would have a prayer meeting and pray that God would send a breeze that would set them free and get their boats moving. They turned to God in prayer and often miracles would happen, and the wind would flutter in the sails and bring them out of their seaweed prison. Friends, maybe you have been stuck in the doldrums. Maybe you've been caught in a cycle of depression. If God can do it for Jonah, if he can do it for the ancient sailors, he can do it for you. Turn to the Lord in prayer, trust his Spirit to blow through your soul and to set you free.

Jëan Ross: Hello friends, welcome to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. I'd like to welcome our online numbers and our friends who are joining us across the country and around the world, part of our extended Sabbath school class. And also, we'd like to welcome our regular in person Sabbath School members and those who are visiting with us today. We're glad that you are here ready to study once again. Our lesson dealing with the subject of family seasons. Now, I know a number of you are aware that we are actually three weeks ahead than everyone else because we prerecord these for broadcast purpose later on, so today our lesson is actually lesson number eight that is entitled "Seasons of Parenting." And we're going to be getting into that in just a few moments, but we'd like to let our friends know about our free offer for today, a study guide entitled "The Only Lifeboat" that's part of our Amazing Adventure series, a series of Bible studies geared specifically for kids. Of course, adults can also learn from this, and we'll be happy to send this to anyone who calls and asks. If you'd like to receive a copy, the number to call is... and you can ask for offer number 805. And we'll be happy to send this to anyone who calls and asks, or you can get a digital copy of the study "The Only Lifeboat" by simply texting the code SH126 to the number 40544. And you'll get a link and it'll show you a way you can download just a fantastic lesson. This is one in a series of lessons dealing with some important Bible truths especially geared for young people. So, take advantage of that free offer. Well, before we get to our lesson, we're going to begin by lifting our voices in song. We'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward.

We're going to have a song before we begin the lesson study, and it's number 458, "More Love to Thee, O Christ, More Love to Thee," number 458.

More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee ♪ ♪ Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee ♪ ♪ This is my earnest plea, more love, O Christ to thee ♪ ♪ More love to thee, more love to thee ♪ ♪ Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest ♪ ♪ Now thee alone I seek, give what is best ♪ ♪ This all my prayer shall be, more love, O Christ, to thee ♪ ♪ More love to thee, more love to thee ♪ ♪ Let sorrow do its work, send grief or pain ♪ ♪ Sweet are thy messengers, sweet their refrain ♪ ♪ When they can sing with me ♪ ♪ more love, O Christ, to thee ♪ ♪ More love to thee, more love to thee ♪ ♪ Then shall my latest breath whisper thy praise ♪ ♪ This be the parting cry my heart shall raise ♪ ♪ This still its prayer shall be ♪ ♪ more love, O Christ, to thee ♪ ♪ More love to thee, more love to thee ♪♪

Thank you for singing.

Jëan: Let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Father in heaven, we thank you that we have this opportunity together in your house and open up your Word and study an important subject, that of parenting. And we know, Father, you are the great parent, and we can learn so many lessons in the way that you interact with us. We also thank you for the counsel that you've given us in your Word that could help us be even better parents. So, we ask your special blessing upon our study time today in Jesus's name, amen. This morning, I'd like to invite Pastor Doug to come forward. And we got two podiums up here, so we're going to try team teach our lesson today on parenting. We thought it was such an important, big subject, it's going to take two pastors to try to unpack all of the lessons that we find. Good morning, Pastor Doug.

Doug: Good morning, Pastor Ross. Folks, you're going to wonder why that sounded so funny. But you know, we thought it'd be a good idea for us to team up on this, and I didn't give him very much warning because I thought, you know, we're really coming at this lesson on parenting from two different perspectives. Pastor Ross grew up in a Christian home, his parents are still married today after many years. I grew up with parents that were each married four or more times, and my brother and I often lived with my mother, who was a single parent. We thought, well, we'll try to just add more perspective to it that way. So, the lesson today is on "Seasons of Parenting," it's lesson number eight. And we have a memory verse. I hope you can say it with me, you should know it by now. Psalm 127, verse 3, are you ready? Psalm 127, verse 3, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward."

Now, I have often thought, and it talks about this in the lesson, can you imagine what it would be like for Adam and Eve to have their first child? You know, one of the reasons I have a hard time believing in evolution is just the way that humans and most mammals procreate. Through a cooperative act of love, they recreate in their image. Evolutionists say that the early forms of life, cells would simply come to the point where they would divide, and they divide perfectly and evenly, where they keep their own nucleus and DNA. And they just when you want to start a family if you're a single cell, you just split in two. Why don't we do that today? What along the way, what along the way in the process or scheme of evolution would ever call for two people to fall in love to, then through an act of love and cooperation, procreate in their own image? They've never explained that. And that to me is a real mystery.

So, having families, and this is one thing I think made the devil mad is that humans could recreate in their image, and the devil can't create. And he got to focus his wrath on this race made in God's image. Can you imagine Eve, first baby? I don't know that the suffering to be even after the curse-- I know I'm rambling here. When God told Adam and Eve because of their sin in sorrow she would bring forth children, what would it have been like to have children without sorrow? I just picture Eve rolling over in the morning and nudging Adam and say, "You're never going to believe what happened last night. I had a baby." But you know, now it's with, you know, pain and sorrow and a lot of bodily changes. It's just all a miracle, you know—

Jëan: You know, usually when a lady's going to have her first child, I know in the case of my wife when our firstborn was--well, she was pregnant with our oldest one, there was a special bond and relationship that she developed with my mother and with her mother as they kind of walked her through the process of pregnancy, what to expect, how this all works. You think of Eve, she probably, I'd imagine, that there was a special bonding that took place between God and Eve because God was sort of leading her through the process of what to expect and what to do. This is the first pregnancy and the first baby to be born. So, you can just kind of imagine that there was a special relationship I'm sure that Eve experienced with God as he kind of guided her or helped her through this process. He was the only one who would've known what to expect or how all this works.

Doug: Were there fig leaves for pampers back then? Where do you buy them? Anyway, so the early parents, they had-- it must've been a very exciting experience. And I think that Eve even thought that Cain might be the first Messiah. She says, "I have gotten a man from the Lord," and perhaps she thought that. We probably ought to jump into the first section here, and it's talking about childless parenting. Now, this may sound like an oxymoron, childless parenting, but you know, there are quite a few examples in the Bible of people that they wanted families and they couldn't have children. Now today, things are different. In Bible times, nobody said, "Well, shall we have children or shall we not have children?" In Bible times, everybody wanted children.

You don't find an example in the Bible of a couple that got married and said, "Well, maybe we shouldn't have any children," because that was your social security for one thing. If you didn't have children to care for you in your old age and help provide for you and do the work of the family business, it was just unthinkable. But there are several examples of barren women in the Bible. And one thing I noticed, I was just sitting there thinking about it, if you named someone that struggled with barrenness in the Bible, I'll bet you they ended up having children. In other words, all of those who were barren in the Bible ultimately had children that I can think of. So, let's look at some of them.

And while we're talking about this, just keep in mind it can be very difficult, there was a terrible social stigma that went with not having children. It was like you were under a curse 'cause it says children were a blessing. And if you didn't have them, you thought, "What did I do wrong?" And so, there was a lot of suffering that connected with these parents that didn't have children.

Jëan: And of course, probably the one that you're going to start with, Pastor Doug, is that famous story of Sarah, who old age, more than 90 years old, finally--you know, God makes the promise both to Abraham and to Sarah, but their faith was tested, and there were some things that they had to learn through that experience. But I think you mentioned, Pastor Doug, there's seven miracle births that we read about in the Bible, and all of them are somehow connected with revealing or explaining further the plan of redemption, pointing in some way to the coming of the Messiah.

Doug: Yeah, and let me see if I can remember. You realize the three wives of the patriarchs, their primary wives, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were all barren. And it's amazing 'cause you read that, of course, there was a miracle when Sarah gave birth, but just imagine people say to Abraham, "What's your name?" "Abraham." "Oh, father of a multitude. How many children do you have?" "None yet." "How old are you?" "A hundred." I mean, that must've been hard to explain. But ultimately, of course, God fulfilled his promise. Not only was it a miracle with Sarah and it brought great joy, but it was also a miracle with Rebekah. You can read here in Genesis 25:21, "Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord granted his plea." Now, the word "pleaded" there means years went by when they had no children. And finally, she conceived and she had twins. And then you go to Rachel, who was the one that Jacob initially wanted to marry, and it says, "Now Rachel saw that she bore no children to Jacob." Several years probably went by and Rachel envied her sister, and said, "Give me children or I'll die."

Now, I want to pause here for a moment, Pastor Ross, because you know, the church is built around assuming that we're ministering to families, but you know, there are families in the church that they feel a tinge of pain whenever they see the children's story 'cause they wanted to have children. I've got some dear friends and I--you know, they cooperated with the natural methods and they just never had children. And first thing people would ask when they'd say, "Well, so how long have you been married?" "Twenty years." "How many children do you have?" "None." And there's always kind of like an awkward silence. I think we need to be sensitive to that. But when you're in a church family, everybody can be a parent. I think about growing up, you know, when you have divorced parents and you have a single mom and, you know, you didn't have Christianity modeled before you. I am so thankful for grandparents, some adopted uncles, camp counselors that modeled for me what it looks like to be a father or to be a person of integrity. And so all of us, whether you have children or not, you can do some parenting to the children that come under your influence.

Jëan: You know, as a child, I remember I was placed with parents that loved the Lord and they modeled Christianity. But in addition to that, there were a couple of older folks when I was just a kid growing up, going to church every week, I remember there was a song leader in particular, just a great old man. But his way of showing care and concern even to the children is a powerful witness. I remember that. So, even though we might not have kids or we might be older, we could still have a positive influence upon the young people or the kids in the church. And I think we all have a part to play as a church family in encouraging and helping both young parents and the children in setting an example of what it is to be a true Christian.

Doug: Yeah. And kids, when they're young, don't ever underestimate how much they're taking in, they're watching everything. And they note when you make decisions of integrity, and they note when you fail. And they'll bring it back to you. And so they're watching, so best way to teach them is what? Example. What's the second one? Example. Third one? Example. Be a good example for the children. And then there's one other that it gives here in the lesson, and I'll not read the whole passage. You got Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, then you got Hannah. And Hannah especially suffered because she had a sister wife, Peninnah, and it calls her her adversary. And you know, that's the same word for Satan, he's called the adversary. And she provoked her. I mean, that's really cruel. Hannah couldn't have children, Peninnah had many children, and she would say, "Oh, well, I guess you've done something wrong. God's cursing you. Look at all of my children." And Peninnah was resentful because they had to share the love of Elkanah. And you know, that never works out in the Bible. When you got one husband and several wives, there's always some kind of competition for the affection of the husband.

Jëan: Of course, we see the same situation taking place in the wives of Jacob. You have Rachel and Leah, and there's a little bit of jealousy going back and forth. And if you were the one that was able to have kids and you're able to have more kids than the other, you kind of saw yourself as being the first wife. And there was some controversy that developed. Well, we find the same thing taking place with Hannah. Hannah turns to God and just open her heart in prayer, and a very powerful story. We don't have time to read the whole thing, and it's wonderful how God hears and recognizes her heart, and actually grants her request.

Doug: Amen. So, I probably got to tie this off when we talk about single parenting. The seven barren women that had miracle births in the Bible are you've got Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, the Shunammite woman, John the Baptist's mother, and Samson's parents. So, you got these seven miracle births. And each one of those babies--they're all boys, it's interesting. Each one of those boys is a type of Christ in some way. Isaac is the willing sacrifice on the mountain, right? Joseph, he's sold by his brothers, but he forgives them and he feeds the world. And you just go down the line, Samson, he stretches out his arms, lays down his life, he's a type of Christ. And so, you just have some interesting stories here.

Now, one more thing, this is why we're talking about these barren--it's so amazing that the wives of the patriarchs are all barren until Jacob goes to Egypt. God said, "I will multiply you there." They go from being barren to being the most prolific people in the world. It says they multiply, they multiplied exceedingly, they greatly multiplied. So, even the Egyptians said, "What's going on here? They're soon going to outnumber us." And so, God did something finally when they went to Egypt. While they were being persecuted, they grew. And it seems like during times of persecution, the church grows too.

Jëan: Absolutely. And it's mentioned each of those miracle childs-- children played some part in God's plan of redemption. Samson was a deliverer for Israel. You have John the Baptist that prepared the way for Jesus. And so, there's a lesson in each of these experiences. And often those children came, or I think every time those children came as a result of earnest interceding or prayer on behalf of the mother. The mother prayed and God heard and answered the prayer, or the father prayed on behalf of the wife and God heard and answered their prayer. So, it's connected with prayer.

Doug: Amen. Now, just before we leave that section about single or childless parenting, some people choose not to have children. Is there a time in the Bible where God says it may be really difficult for those that have children in the last days? You know, Matthew 24:19, Jesus said, "Woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days," speaking of a time of great tribulation. And on the way to the cross, he was talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that was coming. He said to the women that were weeping, "The days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bear, and the breasts which never nurse.'" With those exceptions, every other time in the Bible, God wanted his children be fruitful, multiply. But there was a time when he said you need to think about time of trouble. During the persecution of the Romans in the early church, Paul said, "It might be better if you're like me and you don't get married and have families now 'cause it can inhibit the spreading of the gospel." So, just keeping balance in the lesson, there were also those occasions.

Jëan: The next place that we look at, the next day, as part of the lesson deals now with single parenting. Not only do you have parents that want children and for some reason they might not have kids, but there are situations where maybe one of the parents pass away and the other parent is left to raise the children. Maybe there's a divorce and the children are with one parent or the other. Sometimes there's a situation where there might be a grandparent that for some reason needs to take over the care or the parenting of their grandchild. So, these different scenarios, does the Bible have anything to say with reference to single parenting?

Doug: Yeah. And I forget what the statistics are. It's somewhere, 25%, 30% of parents in North America, at least part of their parenting, they are single parents. And even married parents, if your spouse travels, you may be a single parent at times. And so, you know, we need to be very sensitive to that when there are family get-togethers and we have couples occasions, we need to be sensitive to the single parents in there and, as a church family, keep them in mind, give them support.

Who are some of the single parents? Well, you read in Genesis 16 that after Sarah gave birth, of course Abraham had already had a child with Hagar, God said, "This is never going to work out." At the encouragement of Sarah, Hagar was put out. And she may have thought, "You know, I never asked to be--" First of all, she was probably given as a slave to Abraham by the Pharaoh during the famine. When he left, Pharaoh gave servants to Abraham, an Egyptian. And then she never said, you know, "I want to be a concubine for Abraham." That was Sarah's idea. So, she cooperates, she has a child, she loves her baby and Abraham says, "Look, this was a mistake. You've got to go." You kind of--your heart goes out to Hagar. And there was a time there when she just thought that she and Ishmael were just going to die of thirst in the wilderness. And God made her some promises. You can look in--well, first He gave a promise when she ran away when she was persecuted, and that's in Genesis 9--16, verse 9 rather. "The angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress and submit yourself to her hand, so I will multiply your descendants exceedingly so they'll not be counted for multitude.'" And so, the angel encouraged her. And then later when she was cast out, the angel said, "I hear you." And God supplied water for the boy when they were dying of thirst out in the wilderness. And he did grow up and become the father of a great clan, and Ishmael had 12 sons of his own. So, God took care of her during those difficult times. Now, there's some others that you may want to mention.

Jëan: Yes, another interesting one that the lesson brings out is during a terrible famine that occurred in Israel, the prophet Elijah was sent to a town, Zarephath by name, and God prepared a place for him to stay with a widow that had two sons. And you remember the miracle story, they had run out of resources, and God performed a miracle to provide the oil. So, we see God providing for a widow in this case that was still raising her children.

Doug: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and the Lord does miracles to sustain. You know, I thought that there's some good promises here that you can find for single parents. Matthew 11:28, he says, "Come to me, you who labor and are heavy laden." Think about all the work in parenting. When one parent has to do it all, it's not always, but it's often the mother that ends up being a single parent, though I've known some fathers that their wife passed away and they had to raise the children on their own. They never remarried and it is very difficult. You got to take care the work that a father might do and a mother might do. It's everything from the yardwork, to the housework, to the laundry, to the cleaning, to the school. And it can be absolutely exhausting. I remember with my mother, you know, she had two boys. One of them was sick, my brother had cystic fibrosis. She's in New York City, she's trying to run a career, she's got us both in school, she's taking care of medical appointments. And I saw her have a few meltdowns, and I know now how much pressure it really is to try and take care of all those things. So, Jesus says, "Come to me. Cast your cares upon the Lord." And then you can remember that promise in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I'm just curious, do you mind my asking? How many of you had single parents? Mind raising your hand? I see. Yeah, quite a few hands went up, that looked like just about 20% right there. So, you understand. You grew up in a home like that, it requires help. Jeremiah 32, God said, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?" And then Jeremiah 29, he promises, "I have a plan and a future for you." So, there's a lot of promises that God gives to single parents to support them. But you know, I think it's great when churches have programs where they say, "We are going to provide some child program so the parents who have no spouse, they can come to these." It's great. It's such a blessing. The people in the church who help with childcare deserve double trophies, especially if you come to programs where you can't sit in the program 'cause you're taking care of children, but you're making it possible for single parents to maybe go to an evangelistic program, or cooking school, or whatever it is. And it's such a relief and a release to them.

Jëan: Because the Bible talks about the importance of the church family helping to, in a special way, encourage and be support for single parents and widows. Matter of fact, we have this counsel given to us in James chapter 1, verse 27, it says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the orphans and the widows in their trouble." So, part of the work of the church is in particular to take special care or be there to help, and I think you can add single parents to this category, the widows, the orphans. Those who don't have immediate family, the church family needs to step in and do what we can as a church to try and encourage and support those who are raising children by themself.

Doug: Absolutely. And the commandment that says honor your father and mother is not just talking about your literal mom and dad. I think children should be taught to honor the people of age and experience that are around them, honor their elders. In our little church we used to have up there in Covelo, we told all the kids that all the parents--I don't know, we never voted on it, we just had it as a practice that the kids always called all the adults either, you know, grandma or grandpa or aunt or uncle. And to this very day, our adult kids call some of our friends up there Uncle Joe, Aunt Roxie. They just learned it as kids, and even though they're adults now, it was just like it made the whole church feel like a family when you do that. Now, there's a quote from the book "Desire of Ages" in page 1 to 45 in your lesson. And you think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Death had separated her from Joseph, who had shared her knowledge of the mystery of the birth of Jesus. Now, there was no one to whom she could confide her hopes and fears. The past two months had been very sorrowful." Mary for a good part of her life was a single mother. And so, you know, God can relate to all of us. Of course, the Lord knows everything anyway.

We probably ought to move along. Next section, we got a lot to say on these next three sections, the joy and responsibility of parenting. Now, we're just going to talk about general parenting, and we'll repeat that verse that we find. Why don't you read that, Pastor Ross? Psalm 127, verse 3 to 5.

Jëan: It says, "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so children of the youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies at the gate." So, here it talks about having families with kids brings joy. And indeed it does bring joy, especially when the kids are at the age where they're beginning to toddle their way around the house, and they're beginning to learn, and they come up with some rather interesting things that they say and the things that they do. And as parents watch and they see their children develop and grow and learn, it is indeed just a very exciting time and a wonderful experience for parents. I remember when my children were born, in a spiritual sense I think you begin to understand even a little bit more the love of our heavenly Father when you have your own children and you think of, you know, how much time it takes to train your kids and how much effort you have to put in. You think of how much time and effort my heavenly Father is putting to try and train me, to help me grow spiritually, to learn to walk spiritually. And so, there are some wonderful lessons--matter of fact, Pastor Doug, the Bible tells us that after Enoch had his son, then it says he began to walk with the Lord. So, perhaps there was some special experience that he as a father experienced that helped him understand even more of the relationship of his heavenly Father towards him.

Doug: Mm-hmm. Yeah, one thing is when you have young children, looking at their sense of trust is humbling. You know, they look up to their mother and their father, and their eyes are full of wonder and the whole world is exciting, and they just trust you every day that you're going to take care of them, you're going to love them, you're going to feed them. And their lives depend on you. And when you're young and you have your first children and you realize, "Here's a human being and they are trusting me with their entire life," it's humbling. And then it helps you think something about how we trust our heavenly Father. And it's also a joy. You know, God did not make his creatures to create stress in the universe. So often, people think about children, the responsibility, the stress. He did it for joy, love, wonder. And you know, one of the most wonderful things, some of the most fun things I can remember with our kids is sitting down on the carpet in the living room wrestling with them, building things with Lego, listening to them squeal with joy, this total abandon of happiness. And you know, when you see that kind of joy with your kids, those are the times that are a real pleasure to be parents. When they're firstborn and they keep you up all night long crying, that's not near as wonderful. But it balances out, amen?

Jëan: You know, one of the things that I think in particular sort of endears children to their parents is when you begin to notice how that your kids are beginning to copy what you do and what you say, even just automatically they start picking it up. And maybe it's a little different for little boys and little girls, but I remember when my boys would start copying the things I did. I'd be driving and I'd be looking in the back seat, and they'd be watching, and they'd be going like this with their hands. And I'd walk a certain way and they'd try to walk a certain way. And I'd say something and they tried to say it the same way. They're just absorbing everything that they see. And when the kids are around about eight, nine years old, I remember that was a great time for my kids 'cause at that point, the kids are not wise enough to realize that mommy and daddy, there are things they can't do. But at that age, they think daddy can do anything. He's the biggest, he's the strongest, and you hear your kids bragging on you to their friends. "Oh, my dad can do this. Oh, my dad can do that." And it really endears the children to the parents when you realize that here is a little being, little human being that is following you, that looks up to you. And it brings a degree of responsibility as well. Are we going to train our children the right way? And their minds are so open to learning around those ages.

Doug: Yeah. And that brings us to that very familiar verse that is true, Proverbs 22, verse 6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." It is so important that just from the very beginning that they're guided with biblical principles. And there's quite a few verses here that talk about the importance of that, but just from the very-- you know, it's mind-boggling. If you ever read about Susanna Wesley, her son John Wesley founded the Methodist church, but you could really say she founded it because through Charles, a great hymn writer, and through John, they were people of incredible discipline. She taught them to read just using the Bible as a textbook. And by the age of five, all of her children read through the Bible. I mean, just this woman was mind-boggling. She taught them to sleep on command, and they said through their lives it'd help them. Whenever they were tired, they can just make themselves go to sleep. And her house, she had like 19 children. But she realized, "Look, it's going to be chaos in the home unless you teach them from an early age some basics." All the kids learned to work from very--they learned to pick up after themselves, they learned not to cry loudly. And she--it'd be interesting if you read some of the things that Susanna Wesley introduced in raising children. It was a wonderful thing.

Jëan: Deuteronomy chapter 6 has two principles that I think as parents would make a world of difference if you keep remembering it. And the principle is teach, talk, and the other one is bind and write. Teach, talk. So, in your life, in your interaction with your children, talk about the Lord. Talk about the principles of right and wrong, and give them an example. Everything you say, if you're not going to follow it up with your own example, isn't going to have half the impact on your children. So, teach, talk in all of the interaction with your kids. The other one is bind and write. Take every opportunity that you can to, by precept and example, show them in what you do. Talks about the law being on your hand and in your forehead, that in all we do and in all we think, God is number one in our marriage, in our home, in our parenting. It's about God and his love for us.

Doug: And it's interesting that Moses would put that instruction right after stating the Ten Commandments. It's like, you know, here you've got God's perfect Word, the holiest thing in the nation was the ark that had the Ten Commandments inside. The Word of God was really the treasure of the nation. Right after giving that, he says, and Pastor Ross is referring to this in Deuteronomy 6:6, "These words that I command you today shall be in your heart," so you have to go after the hearts of the children. "Teach them diligently." The word "diligently" there means almost to the point of aerobic perspiration. Make it just a regular process, faithful, persistent. "Talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lay down," that's evening worship, "when you rise up," that's morning worship. "You shall bind them for a sign on your hand." That means in everything you do, it should be there. Frontlets between your eyes, you've heard of the mark of the beast and the hand in the forehead? It's talking about in your actions and between your eyes. "Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." When you go out, when you come in, let them be reminded with it everywhere. So, they are surrounded with the principles of God's Word, and that guides them as they grow through their lives.

Jëan: Another important point that we want to remember, not only are we wanting our children to first and foremost have a relationship with God, have develop or developed a Christ-like character, we want them in the kingdom. That is our number one goal as parents. But in addition to their own salvation, we also want to teach them the principles of witnessing or sharing with others. So, we want to be disciple makers of our children, not only teaching them how they are to live with reference to Christ, but also teaching them how they can share their faith with others. I had the opportunity of growing up in a pastor's home. And as far as I can remember, the work of ministry wasn't just something that dad did, but it seemed the whole family was involved in ministry in some capacity. We had often moved to different places. But even from a little by, I was remembered--I remembered that this calling to be involved in sharing and witnessing and evangelism was something not just for one member of the family, but the family as a unit needed to make a commitment to saying, "Lord, I want to do what I can to share the gospel." And I think that principle is there whatever our family might be, We want to teach our children how they can share their faith with others.

Doug: Amen. You do it by example, and the Bible also says sometimes you need to exert authority. You read here in Genesis 18:18, speaking of Abraham, "Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him, for I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him that they keep the ways of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring Abraham what he has spoken to him." So, parents and families, you want to lead by example, but sometimes you want to command. And should discipline be part of a Christian home? Is discipline part of God's order? And that should all be done in love. You can read in Ephesians 6:4, "And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath." Everything should be done in love and don't just agitate your children, don't nag. "But bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Admonition, to admonish means to counsel somebody in a decisive way and to guide them in what the right thing is.

Jëan: I think it's important especially for those who might have young children, little children. Start teaching them the principles that are important when they're young. Sometimes parents will be very lenient on their children when they're two, three, four years of age. And then as they get older and they get to those teenage years, then suddenly they try to reel them in, and usually the result is rebellion. But if we can train our children when they are young the principles of right and wrong, and yes, as Pastor Doug says, part of that training is involving some degree of punishment if they don't follow the principles. Now, that's not always, you know, a spanking. There are other ways that we can train, but there's consequences. We need to teach our children consequences. If we can lay that firm foundation when they're young, and as they get older and you go into those teenage years, usually it's a little easier to kind of work with them because they have that firm foundation. If we get it backwards and be very lenient on the early days and we don't lay those principles, then we're probably setting ourselves up for some challenges when they get a little older.

Doug: Yeah, you know, the lesson talks about the children of Eli. And you remember the counsel that God gave, you read in 1 Samuel chapter 3, Samuel has to bring a message to Eli, "Behold, I'll do something in Israel at which the ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day, I will perform against Eli all that I've spoken concerning his house from beginning to end, for I told him that I will judge his house for the iniquity which he knows because his sons made themselves vile and he did not restrain them." A punishment was to come upon the house of Eli 'cause he did not restrain his children and they brought other people down. So, there's not only privilege in having children, there's a big responsibility. And we should do all we can to guide them in the right way. Now, whenever you say this, a lot of parents are going to think, "Oh, my kids, they messed up and it's all my fault." Not necessarily. It might be some of your fault, but what did God do wrong that made Adam go wrong? And what did Adam and Eve do wrong where Seth was so good and Abel was so good and Cain was so bad? Every child must make their own choices. Don't you all know somebody that had several children, and so many of them turned out great and one turned out to be a serial killer or something? And you think, "What? What'd that-- where'd that come from?" Everybody ultimately makes their own choice. And so, do all you can though. When they're young, restrain them. It's a lot easier when they're young.

Jëan: I like the point the lesson brings, that it says, "Being a good parent is our choice. How our children turn out is ultimately their choice." So, we want to do the best we can to train them, but recognize they have freedom of will, they can choose. So, lay those foundations. And then, of course, prayer. As they get older, pray for them, be the best example you can be, and then place them in God's hands. So, it's ultimately what we as parents can do, place them in God's hands saying, "Lord, do the work only you can do in the hearts and the lives of our children."

Doug: Amen: Now, there is a good quote that comes in the lesson, it's from Testimonies volume 1, page 218. "Parents, you should commence your first lessons of discipline when your children are babes in your arms." Now, that does not mean spanking them, it's talking about your guiding them. It might mean you say, "Shh, don't cry," and just so they understand that. "Teach them to yield their will to yours." That's so different from what we're told in society today. Don't tell your children what to believe, let them discover for themself. They should be free. You heard that before? Don't tell them they have to be Christians. I've met Christian parents says, "Well, we're going to let our children decide for themselves." I thought you don't--you're not reading your Bible. "Teach them to yield their will to yours. This can be done by bearing an even hand and manifesting firmness. Parents should have perfect control over their own spirits, and with mindness and firmness bend their will of the child until it should expect nothing except to yield to their wishes. Parents, do not commence in season. The first manifestation of temper, if not subdued and the children grows stubborn, which increases with growth and strengthens with their strength." So yeah, if you don't nip it in the bud, those little angels turn into little monsters.

Any of you ever gone to the supermarket and you see-- you hear this shrieking, and some parent is trying to pull away from the parents, and they're on the floor, and they're having a tantrum and a fit because the parent said, "No, you can't have that, you know, chocolate cereal," or whatever it is that they wanted? And they just--the parents, they just can't control them, they're just out of control. They're screaming, and everybody's looking, and they don't know what to do. And it's really sad if they get older and they start doing that. So, when they're very young, in a loving way you've got to teach them what is appropriate and acceptable behavior.

Jëan: And of course, God does that with us, doesn't He? He also teaches us, as we're all His children. Even as adults, God is patient with us, but he does allow us at times to bear the results of bad choices. And He leads us through that process, and we want to model that to our children. We want to be the best examples that we can be, and then provide some guidance, especially when they're young, in the way that they need to go.

Doug: Amen. Final section here, it's talking about fighting for your prodigal child. And of course, we all know the parable of the prodigal son. How did that-- father had two boys. You know, one stayed at home and one ran off, same father. And how did that father fight for his prodigal child? Unconditional love, prayed the whole time that boy was gone, sometimes it means waiting. Now, what are the three things you can do for a child that's a prodigal? They're actually the same three things you do for anybody if you want to reach them. There's only three things you can do. If they'll listen, you share information, but you've got to be careful not to nag your prodigal. That usually drives them away. But if they're open and they'll listen, give them something, give them books or CDs, or talk to them about the Lord, or Bible study. If they'll listen to information, share information. If that's not working, you pray for them. And sometimes people make that sound like it's, you know, last resort, it's dismissive. "Oh, well, we'll pray." Prayer is actually very powerful. One father came to Jesus and he had a boy that was possessed by a devil, and Christ later told the disciples, "This kind does not come forth except by prayer and fasting." It might mean you fast and pray for that prodigal.

And then finally, be a good example. I said three things, there's really four. Be a good example would be number three, number four is do the above three persistently. Keep at it. God is very patient, sometimes it takes years. Hezekiah prayed for his son Manasseh. Hezekiah was long dead by the time Manasseh repented at age 50. So, it took a long time, but God answered his prayers. And so, be persistent in continuing to pray for them.

Jëan: You know, I think one of the tendencies as parents if you do have a prodigal child is, especially when they're older, we think, "Lord, what did I do wrong?" When you look at the parable of the prodigal son and you see a wonderful demonstration of the love of the father, he was, you know, still reaching out to his son. It's not necessarily that we as parents have failed if we have a prodigal child. Maybe God is--well, he is, he's still working in their hearts and lives, and he'll bring them around. We want to be faithful in doing our part, and just trusting him that God will take care of the situation.

Doug: Amen. You know, technically I was a prodigal. I was the black sheep that ran away and just gave everybody lots of trouble. And God reached me, and he can reach your prodigals. And if you have made a mistake in raising your children, don't just beat yourself up. Paul says, Philippians 3:13, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind." Once you make a mistake, confess it, repent, and believe that God forgives you, and move on. "Forgetting those things that are behind, I reach forward to those things which are ahead. And I press towards the goal of the prize of the upward call in Jesus Christ." Then I'll close with this wonderful promise you find in the book of Joel chapter 2. He says, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." You know, when you pray and you repent, don't give up believing that God can, you know, reach those prodigal children and he can restore. You know, sometimes you might need to--like I said, you'll repent, you admit your mistakes, you might need to write a letter to your children and apologize to them, and say, "You know, I wish I was a better parent." Ask them for forgiveness. And then you do all you can to show them unconditional love, and you pray that God reaches and brings them back to the fold if they're out there wandering.

Jëan: You know, we do have a study guide that we'd like to tell our friends who are joining us online about, and it's part of our Amazing Adventure series. Pastor Doug, this is probably, oh, about 10, 11 years old that we did this series, but we go all over the place. And we will meet now young people that are in college or upper high school and they'll say, "Oh, the first time that I really gave my life to Jesus or began to study or understand the gospel was because of the Amazing Adventure series." And we do have part of that series, a lesson entitled "The Only Lifeboat," it's from the Amazing Adventure series. I'd like to make this available to those who are joining us online. If you would like to receive a free copy of this study guide, all you'll have to do is call the number... and ask for offer number 805. Or you can download for free a copy of our lesson by simply texting the code SH126 to the number 40544.

Doug: Amen. God bless you, friends. We'll look forward to studying his Word with you again next week.

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announcer: Amazing Facts changed lives.

Steve Johnson: I was heading south on Interstate 5. This commercial came on KFBK radio about a Revelation seminar by Amazing Facts. I began--my chest began to tighten up, I began sweating profusely. I had difficulty in breathing. There were this big rest area. And at this time, I pulled into there, I thought, "Well, maybe I'm having a heart attack." I got out of my truck, walked into the men's restroom there, and put cold water on my face, and then finally things subsided. A week later, again I heard this Amazing Facts commercial come on the radio. In fact, the meetings were going to start that very night. And again, immediately I had these same symptoms. I thought, "You know, this isn't my heart. I have to go to that meeting." And as I was going down to Sacramento, I decided to park and go inside. Well, I got in and walked into the furthermost rear seat they had in the pew there. And this particular evangelist, his name was Kim Kjaer. It was like taking one layer off at a time of an onion. He laid it out so perfectly that we could all understand it. And I was really motivated, I couldn't believe it.

Well, I finished, I didn't miss a meeting. In fact, on the fifth night, they had an altar call, and my knees stood right up, and I walked forward, and I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. I've learned throughout this whole thing that when you-- when you leave the devil's territory, he gets pretty active in causing a lot of problems. Well, I had the evangelist come out and they had prayer with me about my business. I would find a sick business and make it well and then market it. I finally ended up with a business that I really enjoyed. It was one that was building equestrian centers. And they said to me, "Steve," he said, "you know, if you're going to really keep the Sabbath, you've got to shut your doors on the Sabbath." Well, I did. And so, I sold the business to my brother. Took me 22 years to build that business, and he lost it in 33 months.

My son, who was my business partner, I'd been giving him 10% of the business every year. He thought I'd just fallen off the bridge. My son didn't talk to me for 5 1/2 years. And then a few other things happened. So, I had an ex-employee living in my guesthouse, he kind of watched after our place. And he said, "Steve," he said, "there's an Allied moving van backed up to your front door in your home." I said, "You're kidding." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "They're moving everything out of your house into this truck, and your wife is out there supervising them." And when I went home and opened the front door, my voice echoed in that house. There wasn't any furniture left anywhere. There was one bed left in the house. I knew my wife was upset because of my coming to this church, but I had no idea that she would move out like this. That was a total shock to me.

It was some time there I locked myself in the bedroom and I began reading the Bible. I spent about a half a year just every night getting home and I would study. It allowed me to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Well, to make a long story short, I met Crystal, and she was a godly woman. That was the Lord's doing, not mine. And he was just there to let me know that, "I'm with you all the way. Even though you're going to have some trials and you're going to have some hardships, I want you to know that I'll be with you." Because no matter what I do now, he is my leader. He's the leader of my marriage, he's the leader of everything in my life today. That one meeting with the Amazing Facts seminar changed my entire life. And to this day, I'm still on fire for God, I'm still witnessing to my neighbors. My name is Steve Johnson, and it's because of you that Amazing Facts has changed my life.

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