A Childish Sermon 8/13/00



Jesus Christ loves children. That is why He loves each of us. Chronologically we may be way past adolescence but there still lives in each of us a bit of the child we once were. Therefore, try to interpret this message from a child’s vantage point. Let the child in you enjoy it.

Jesus loved children while on His earth voyage.

Once while teaching some persons brought some little children for Him to pray over. The dignified disciples thought them to be intruding and held them back. Jesus seeing this said, “Don’t hinder them. Let the little children come to me.”

That historical moment is a living and abiding invitation.

The Bible posts an order: “Train up a child in the way it should go.”

In the Old Testament God gave His people specific instructions regarding training children. All of us: single adults, college students, empty nesters, couples without children, youth, children, grandparents and parents alike need to be attentive to today’s message. There is a Godly way to relate to children. Indications are many aren’t doing it properly.

In America each year there are 2.7 million reports of child abuse. As a result of child abuse approximately four children die every day. We are training children to be violent. Violence among children is growing at an epidemic rate. There is a brat attack going on in our country because children have been improperly taught. Many parents in a guilt ridden generation are raising spoiled kids. Parent your child don’t pamper it. Children who are coddled, indulged, and endlessly forgiven without repentance are developing a paralyzing sense of entitlement.

Having forfeited their role many parents have less influence over their children’s values than TV, movies, and music. Before the age of 18 the average American youth has seen enacted on TV over 10,000 murders. For many who now populate and will populate our prisons this is the acceptable norm. Societal norms and social stigmas have been so laughed at that a generation of morally confused youth have been spawned.

British statesman, Edmund Burk, said, “men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites.”

These coddled kids are to live in a world that can never be as good to them as their pampering parents. Therefore, they are destined to become disappointed adults rather than fulfilled ones.

Worse still they will never be able to properly relate to the less fortunate and disadvantaged of the world.
Josh McDowel reports the results of his survey of 3,795 youth from evangelical churches. These are not street kids. 57% could not affirm there are moral absolutes; that is that an objective standard of right and wrong exists.
66% have lied to their parents in the last six months.
36% cheated in the last three months of school.
23% tried deliberately to hurt someone in the last three months.

Adequate fences can’t be built to control unbridled appetites. The story is told of a kangaroo that kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing he could hop pretty high the zoo keeper put up a ten foot fence. The next morning he was out again wandering around the zoo. The keepers put up a 15 foot fence. Again the next morning he was out. This continued until the fence reached 50 feet. Finally, the camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, “How high do you think they will go?” The kangaroo replied, “Probably 100 feet, unless somebody starts locking the gate at night.”

Unless we start locking the gate to the heart we can’t build high enough fences called laws. It is estimated that approximately 80 billion people have lived on earth and still we feel inadequate to rear a child.

Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9 tells us. The passage begins with the word “hear.” It is a translation of the Hebrew word SHEMA, meaning to hear. Be attentive to what is said. First, teach them there is one God and He loves them. He is to be loved and obeyed for our own good. Instantly cynics step in and question the “one God” concept in light of the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. No problem. In the Old Testament the regions of Judah and Ephram were one. In America many states are one nation. As with each of these there is one unit with several parts. We might have A bunch of grapes consisting of many grapes. So God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one unit consisting of three entities.

Teach your children about this God and that He is to be lovingly obeyed. He is to be loved with the totality of our being: our heart, soul, and bodily strength. They were given a visual aid for their era to remind them of this. They were to write the SHEMA on pieces of paper and put then in a little leather pouch called a phylactery. One was to be strapped to the forehead reminding them to use their mind in the loving obedience to God. One was to be strapped to their wrist as a reminder to use their strength, their body, in acts of loving obedience. They were to make evidence of this truth in their home by putting it on their door. If a person were to enter your home what physical evidence would there be of your faith. What visuals do your children see of your faith.

My dear friend Pete Marivich, whom I discipled for a year, had carved in his front door the text of John 3:16 because he wanted anyone who came to his door when he wasn’t home to know what he believed.

Deuteronomy 6: 7 is an appeal to use the teachable moments to share profound truths.

Teach them by example. Bickering, belittling, and battling have no place in interpersonal relationships.
Conversations such as this have no place in the family:
You’re dumber than a box of hair.
You’re few clowns short of a circus.
You’re as dumb as bait.
You’re antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels.
You’re missing a few buttons on the remote control.
You’re a few peas short of a casserole.
You’re an experiment in virtual stupidity.
You’re surfing in Nebraska.
You’re a few yards shy between the goal posts.
You’re 24 cents short of a quarter.
Even Barney knows what to do. “Nip it, just nip it.”

Teach by precept and example how to get along.

A teacher was talking with a group of little children about the Ten Commandments. Having dealt with “Honor thy father and thy mother,” the teacher asked if there was a Commandment that teaches how to treat brothers and sisters?” Without a moments hesitation one child responded, “Yes, thou shalt not kill.”

Use the teachable moments. Create teachable moments that you might teach better. Parents covered a table with plastic and gave each of their children a tube of toothpaste and told to see how much they could squeeze out. You can just imagine the thrill of their efforts and the laughing that went on. Major efforts were made to get out the optimum. When all efforts were exhausted dad put a $20.00 bill on the table and said, “The one who gets all the toothpaste back in the tube first gets the twenty.” Even knowing the impossibility it was worth a try for $20.00. “We can’t do it” protested the youngest child.” Then the teachable moment was seized. “That is just like what the Bible teaches about our tongue. Once words come out, it is impossible to get them back in. You need to be careful what you say because it is impossible to take them back.”

I had a dear young man who is now away in school call me the other night and say, “Pastor I want to thank you for being my pastor and staying true to the word of God. However, before I can do that I need to ask you to forgive me for being so critical of you.” I appreciated his efforts at getting the toothpaste back in the tube. When you discredit the messenger you discount his message.

– Use the teachable moment. Seize the moment of the opportunity if you are to seize the opportunity of the moment.

Two excited children were running all over the house carefully following the complex instructions of the “Truth Map” just given them. They were looking for the treasure.

They had been given a very simple map earlier that was much easier. It led to a false treasure box that was empty. Now with greater treasure in prospect the new map was being followed more closely. It read:
STEP ONE: Walk 16 paces into the front family room.
STEP TWO: Spin around seven times, now walk down stairs.
STEP THREE: Run backwards to the other side of the room.
STEP FOUR: Try to get around Dad to climb under the table.
Can’t you see it. The children are running around like crazy, laughing, and having a ball. After some time they find the “truth treasure box.” Opening it they found in it their favorite candy
“Which map was easier to follow?” ask Dad.
“The first one,” came the reply in chorus.
“Which one was better?”
“The second, it led to the treasure.”
“That’s just like life,” Dad said, “Sometimes it is easier to follow what is false. But it is always better to seek and to follow what is true.”

Then they read from Proverbs 2:3, 4: “If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures; Then you will understand … and find the knowledge of God.” Lesson over!

– Use the teachable moment. You must seize the moment of the opportunity if you are to seize the opportunity of
the moment.

Dad stood at the top of the stairs and the children at the bottom. Dad gave the instructions. “I’ll take you to Baskin Robbins for ice cream if you can figure out how to get up here. But,” he said, “there are a few rules. First, you can’t touch the stairs. Second, you can’t touch the railing. Now start.” After exhausting their thoughts the youngest said, “That’s impossible, Dad! How can we get where you are without touching the stairs or railing.” After a bit of bickering one child said, “Dad, please come down here.” Dad did. “Now bend over while I get on your back.” That done the child said, “OK, now you climb the stairs.” Dad then drew the parallel of how it is impossible to get to God on our own. When we trust Christ’s work on our behalf then we can get to heaven. All the family piled in the van and were off for a double-scoop of chocolate-chip ice cream.

Scripture says we must “Unless you are converted and become as a little child, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 3).

That means there is no means to get up the stairs other than by Christ.