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RAISING A DISCIPLE
Pastor Dave Strem
WANTED: A SUPER MOM?
I came across a want ad this week that says,
"Wanted. Lady for a long-term position. Degree or diploma not necessary. Knowledge of the following is helpful: Cooking and baking, especially cookies and chocolate cake. Washing, doctoring cuts and bruises, measles, small broken hearts and bloody noses. Sewing buttons, costumes and party dresses. Be able to referee fights and games, play ball, drive a car, and know long division, how to blow up balloons, give birthday parties, go camping, sailing, fishing, pick up worms, plant a garden and attend PTA. Must tolerate dirty little boys, giggling little girls, puppies that track up floors, and tired, grumpy husbands. Should be a financial wizard, able to manage a household with pennies, dimes, and dollars and save for college along the way. Should be able to patch broken dolls and trucks, be Santa's helper, color eggs, make potato salad for Boy Scouts, attend Little League baseball, listen to rock music in the car and tell bedtime stories. Should have a twinkle in her eye, laugh easily, have a shoulder to cry on, arms to cuddle and be able to sing and hum a tune for lullaby time, grand opera not necessary. Must have the stamina of a plow horse. Know about electric cords, mud pies, kindergarten drawing, finger painting, pillow fights, and 'Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.' Color of hair and eyes not important, but must be available 24 hours a day to create the island of a home. No overtime pay. No days off. Must absolutely have a heart that will chase after rainbows and kittens, butterflies and mittens. Must be able to forgive over and over and over and over and love forever."
Sounds like a superwoman, but it is just a mother. A mom. A ma.
DEVALUING MOTHERHOOD IN OUR SOCIETY
You do not have to look very far in our society or listen too keenly to
know that motherhood is being devalued as a role in our society. That its
joy and purpose are being demeaned and its noble task is seen as second
best. The Bible says "where there is no vision, the people perish." And
without a God-given vision from a mom to a child of who that child is, who
God is, and how God wants to bring them together, the child may grow and
may be very busy and successful in the world, but his heart and soul will
be as dry and dead as a grave.
TWO WOMEN WITH VISION FOR A LITTLE BOY, TIMOTHY
We are going to look at two women who had a vision for a little boy, his
mother and grandmother, to make him a disciple. What does it mean to be
a disciple? How does one grow a disciple? We have talked before about not
just raising kids but raising adults. Raising adults who are responsible,
who are self-controlled, who are gracious and bear the fruit of the spirit
in their lives. All week long you will see grown-up kids, kids that are
30, 40, 50 years old still blaming everyone else for their problems, not
taking responsibility for their lives. They have little self-control, too
often doing whatever feels good to them at the time, with no grace or graciousness,
always just out for themselves. I was challenged when we first started having
children, Katie and I, to raise adults not just kids. I want to go beyond
that, I want to focus on raising a disciple. We are going to look at three
ways we can be involved in the lives of our children to encourage them to
be disciples of Jesus.
How did Timothy become a disciple? Timothy is introduced for us in Acts when Paul met him in Lystra during his missionary journeys. He was the son of a Jewess and his father was a Greek. He was known throughout Iconium and Lystra as a man of good reputation and Paul invited him to go with him and share the good news. It is especially interesting that Luke, the one who penned Acts, calls Timothy a "disciple." Not a believer, not a Christian, not a man, but a disciple and he uses that term sparingly because a disciple is a devoted, dedicated follower of Jesus.
This 18-year old, or so, young man had a reputation as a dedicated disciple or faithful follower of Jesus. In fact, in my opinion, I feel that Timothy is the most faithful of all the disciples, the most full of faith. The twelve disciples got to walk with Jesus. They got to live with Him. Timothy never saw Jesus. He heard the truth and in faith he believed. Paul was a faithful disciple, but Jesus appeared to him in a vision. This was an extraordinary circumstance. Timothy heard the message and believed and it changed and controlled his life for the next 20 years until the very day he died as a martyr proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
WHAT MADE TIMOTHY A FAITHFUL DISCIPLE?
Timothy was a faithful disciple. What made him a faithful disciple? We
know the end of the story. How did the story start? What is the rest of
the story? Open your Bibles to 2 Timothy 3:14. Paul writes to Timothy after
15 years of faithful service and acknowledged the spiritual and moral heritage
he received from two women. Look at what he says. "Timothy, continue following
Jesus. Continue following the teachings you learned. You know they are true
because you trust those who taught you." Who are the "those?" Who taught
him? His mother, a lady named Eunice, and his grandmother, a lady named
Do you know Timothy's home life? Poor Timothy grew up in the middle of Turkey, in a no-name place called Lystra. His father and grandfather are not mentioned except that his father was a Greek. I want you to notice it says "his father was a Greek." It does not even say that Eunice's husband was a Greek. We do not even know if they were married. There are all kinds of things that happen in young families. We do not know if that baby was planned or if they got married or anything about it. But we do know that the father is gone from the household very soon afterward. Whether he deserts the family or dies we do not know. But we do know that family is based upon a grandmother, a mother, and a son. And that grandmother and that mother grow a disciple of great faith.
WHAT DID TIMOTHY'S GRANDMA AND MOM DO TO MAKE HIM A DISCIPLE?
What did they do? What did they do right to help this young child, this
child that may not have even been wanted, an accident, to grow to be such
a great man of faith before God. There are three things they did and you
can do those same three things in your home as a mother. But guys, you are
not off the hook either because you can do it as a father. You can do it
as a grandmother. You can do it as a grandfather. You can even do it as
a friend to another friend. This is not just for mothers. But how do you
help someone else grow to be a disciple? Growing a disciple takes heart,
passion, and above all, dedication.
2 Timothy 1:5 says, "Timothy, I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded that now it lives in you also." A disciple has sincere faith. A sincere faith is not hypocritical, but is unfeigned or real. It is not something you put on, it is really who you are. You live by an active faith that influences your daily decisions and activities.
"You have a young, single mom living with her mother."
That is a hard situation in this day and age. Imagine what it was like
2,000 years ago. There were no welfare or social security checks. They probably
lived day-to-day. Timothy would see Lois and Eunice praying, praying to
Jehovah-Jireh, the provider God, the God who sustained Elijah in the wilderness.
They saw God as their provider and Timothy saw them rely upon God to take
care of them. Are they at risk by being alone? Their faith moved them to
pray, "Elohim, the mighty one, the protector, will you protect us? Protect
us this night. Keep us safe." The same way the protector protected baby
Moses in a crocodile-infested Nile River. The provider, the protector, protected
them every day. Paul saw their faith. It stood out. And it ended up in the
life and heart of Timothy.
GROWING A DISCIPLE
How can you grow a disciple? How can you engrain a heart of faith in your
children? You do what Lois and Eunice did. The first thing you do is pray
with your kids. Pray with each one. Not simply pray for them, but pray with
them so they can hear your faith, your conversation with God. They can see
God as real and alive, not something that you think about, talk to quietly
on your own, but somebody that is involved and invested in your life and
in your family. Teach them how to pray. Remember, there are two major times
when your children are young that you can teach them to pray--mealtime and
First of all, mealtime. It is almost a habit for most
of us. "Who is going to pray this time?" "Oh, me!" for a while and then
eventually everybody looks around hoping somebody else will do it. Most
of you have a rote prayer. "God is good, God is great. Now we thank you
for this food." Stop it! Stop it! When your kids are two-years old that
is helpful and that is a good formula for them to follow. But when they
are five or six or ten or fifteen "God is good, God is great. Now I thank
you for this food," is inadequate. Teach them how to have a conversation
with God. Talk with God like you talk with another person you respect and
have a personal relationship with. Teach them how to pray. I do not know
how many times I pray over a meal and I forget to pray for the food. Invest
yourself in that time. Make us of that time. Do not sacrifice it to a rote
memory prayer. You, as parents, start having conversations at the table
about God. Not big long drawn out affairs so the food gets cold, but real
prayers. Real talk with God.
The other time is at bedtime. Bedtime is a real popular
time for kids to pray. And we think, first of all, it is probably because
they want to put off bedtime as long as possible. But I will tell you, it
is not the bedtime the kids are putting off. No, they do not want to go
to bed anyway, but I will tell you that what they crave is your one-on-one
attention. They want your one-on-one love, your attention, your personal
interest without a TV going on, without mixing up something else on the
side, without trying to fix the car or something else going on. They want
to know they are the focus of your life for five minutes. Make them that
focus. Pray with them. Pray a blessing upon your kids. Say,
Lord, you have given ______ such a smart brain. Lord, help him
to learn things easily. Help him to learn as he goes on day by day. You
have given him arms that are strong. Help him to use those arms to lift
up others, not to hurt others. Lord, you have given him legs that are
fast and can run. Lord, use those legs to take him to places where he
can make a difference in other's lives. Keep him from sin. Keep him from
problems that are going to cause distress in his life. Help him turn away
from fear. Lord, help him to grow up straight and tall and stand for you.
When you are done, that son has a little different view of himself than when you first started to pray. He sees his body, his life as something that God is interested in, something that you care about.
YOUR KIDS ARE TOO OLD FOR THIS?
Now, some of you are wondering, "Pastor, my kids are a little bit too old
to pray with them. They will not let me tuck them in anymore. They are 36."
Well, for one, God gives you grandkids and that can be a great blessing.
But if your kids are too old to pray with, recognize they are looking at
your life. And they are considering how you live. Are you letting your faith
come out? Are you praying with them over decisions they are making? Your
kids are facing major challenges. Do not just say "I am praying for you,"
but stop right then and pray for them. Let them know you care about what
happens to them, that you want God operating in their lives. Do not restrain
Him from working in your child's life because you are too shy to pray in
front of your own child.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO PRESERVE! A SECOND WAY TO RAISE A DISCIPLE!
What is the next thing you can do to encourage a sincere faith in your
child? Look at 2 Timothy 3:14. Paul is urging Timothy, who is going to be
facing tough times and big challenges in Ephesus, to persevere: "But as
for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of because
you know those from whom you learned it and how from infancy you have known
the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through
faith in Jesus Christ."
The second way to raise a disciple is to engrain in them a relevance
for Scripture. When Paul came to Timothy, Paul asked Timothy to
leave his grandma and mother and walk with him across Turkey, through Greece,
into Italy, sail on boats with leaks in them, to risk his life day in and
day out, to not know where his next meal is going to come from, to not know
where he is going to sleep that night. How could Timothy say, "That sounds
like a good deal. That is what I want to do. I want to be a vagabond roaming
all around?" He did it knowing that his God was going to go with him because
he had learned from the very beginning how God took care of little Moses
in the reeds in the Nile River. That God was the provider. He saw it happen
in his home that God is the protector. He had heard the stories as a child.
God was there with him in his home and God was big enough to be with him
in Greece, in Turkey, in Rome, wherever he was to go. God would take care
ESTABLISH THE RELEVANCE OF GOD'S WORD IN CHILDREN'S LIVES!
How can you establish in your children's lives the relevance of God's Word?
When I first started thinking about this, I wanted to say "respect God's
word!" But I want you to know that I do not want your kids to simply respect
God's Word. Respect is something you do for honor. You set it out there
on the shelf and say, "This is true and this is right." And yes, we should
respect God's word but that is not where I want to leave it. You want God's
word not to be on a shelf, not put away, but right in your heart influencing
your behaviors. That is what Lois and Eunice did. They showed him how God's
word related to him. That he could trust God because God had been faithful
for thousands of years toward those who walked with Him. And how did they
teach him that? They taught him these things by reading God's Word to him,
by sharing God's Word with him, by letting him know that God was with Samuel
and Moses and Joseph and David and God wants to be with him, too. And then
they showed him how it all related to his life.
For the first 10-12 years, folks, you get to control many of the important
things in your child's life. You get to control who they see and who they
hang around with, what they read, what they watch on TV, what movies they
go to. During their teen years they are becoming more independent and your
influence is shared with others. And then they become adults and begin to
live their own lives.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO LET INTO THEIR LIVES?
While you still have influence in their lives, what are you going to let
into their lives? Sometimes you just want to get them out of your hair and
you set them in front of the TV and let them turn whatever channel keeps
them quiet and out of your way. What is it pouring into them? What values
is it teaching? Are these really the values you want engrained into your
child? Just because it is on Disney or some other children's station does
not mean it will teach discipleship values. Children imitate what they see
and hear. If they see disrespectful and brash kids on TV for the sake of
a laugh, they will take on many of the same traits and mannerisms. Is that
really what you want? Are those discipleship values? Supervise what your
kids see on TV and do with their lives. Take advantage of the opportunities
you still have to influence them to be more like Timothy-a disciple of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
And what is the third thing you can do? Look at 2 Timothy 3:15. It says,
... and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ
Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for rebuking,
for correcting, for training in righteousness.
MOM AND GRANDMA
Mom and grandma put those words into his life and trained him how to live
rightly. Is your child's life simply about getting an education so he or
she can get a job, work 40 years, retire, and die? Life shouldn't be about
simply going around and around and around until you fall off. But while
you are going around this world, God has a plan, a direction, a calling
for your life, personally. You can be a difference-maker in this world.
How do you do it? How can you engrain a desire to minister to others in
your child? Simply and primarily by ministering with them. Minister with
them! Teach them to minister. You can let them get involved in cutting things
out, making copies or do whatever they are able to do. Teach them how to
do it so that they can be ministers, too. Teach them that giving of yourself,
of your time, of your effort, of your money is worthwhile. Encourage them
to get involved with others who also minister. As they see you and others
minister to those who need help, they will learn that giving of oneself
to others is a worthwhile way to live one's life.
THE STORY OF SOLOMON ROSENBERG
Sixty years ago in a small little backwoods town in Germany there was a
concentration camp. Solomon Rosenberg was there with his wife and two kids.
And they knew the rules of that concentration camp were very simple. As
long as you were strong enough to work, you got to live. And when you did
not, they marched you off to extermination.
Solomon saw his mom and dad, too old and too weak to be of any labor value, marched down a muddy path to their deaths. And every day Solomon, after a day of work, would gather with his two sons and his wife and thank God for another day of life. But Solomon knew that their youngest son David was probably going to be next because he was always frail. He was in bad health. Conditions were not good and they did not get good nutrition and one day when he came back he saw his son Jacob crying in the corner of the dormitory where they lived with a hundred other people. Solomon knew what had happened. Without anyone saying a word, he knew what had happened. David was gone. As he held onto Jacob and rocked him, he said "Where is Rachel? Where is your mom?" Jacob looked up and said, "When the soldiers came and grabbed hold of David, he was scared. He started to cry. So mom came over and took his hand and said, 'It's ok. I will go with you.'"
MOMS, THE REAL CHALLENGE IS TO LIVE FOR YOUR KIDS. NO KIDDING!
Moms, you will do anything for your kids. You will die for your kids. The
real challenge is, will you live for your kids? Raise disciples! Be a disciple
and pass it on to your children. And who knows what God will do with them?
Did Lois and Eunice ever think that Timothy would become as influencial
for God's kingdom as he did? Give your kids to God and see what he will
do with them. And the first step in that process is your own discipleship.
Cultivate it and then pass it on to your children by praying with them,
teaching them God's word, and ministering to others with them.
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Pastor Dave Strem
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