“Helping Our Kids Hold Onto Faith” with Tommy & Amy Hilliker

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(congregation applauding) – Hello, Saddleback,
it’s so great to see you and for all of our
campuses that are watching and for all those watching
online, it’s good to be with you. Amy and I are honored to be
a part of this series talking to your kids about stuff that matters. And this week we’re gonna take a look at what I believe is one of the most significant
important subjects about how do you live out your faith today? How do you live out your
faith online and social media? How do you live out your faith through group texts and Snapchat? How do you live out your
faith when you’re in person with somebody not just in a virtual world but in person at work and at
school, in the classrooms, in your neighborhoods and
with friends and with family? What does that look like? And how do we help ourselves
and our kids hold on to faith in a world is
increasingly becoming more and more difficult and
hostile to the things of God. In which we live in a
world where the lines of biblical truth are blurred and confused where morality is being
defined by individuals and not by God. Now I want you to know that
Amy and I are not apologists, we are not experts in parenting, we are normal average everyday people but we are passionate about
Jesus and we are fully committed to helping ourselves and
our kids finish this race and live out the biblical
faith even amongst the pressure of culture, life, how crazy it
gets, the pain that happens, secularism, what happens
at school and work. When we’re pressed on every
side, we are committed to following Jesus. And so I want you to know that
we’re gonna be sharing things that we’ve been learning ’cause
we’re right in the middle of it and things that we’ve learned because we’re in mid game,
we don’t have all the answers but we are in the thick of it. We’ve got kids that, our first kid he’s, we have one in elementary, we have one that is in junior high and we have one that is in high school. We have them in every age and stage. We’ve done homeschooling,
private school, public school, combinations of all three, we thought about going off
the grid and doing no school. I mean, we’ve kinda done it all and we’ve kinda reached
this stage in our life with preteens and teenagers
where we start now to hide food, if you know what I’m talking about, right? You know what I’m saying, a box of cereal lasts like
5.2 seconds in the house. I thought about starting a GoFundMe page to feed the hungry children, my children. We spend as much time in the
car shuttling our kids around as we do in our house. Amy is like Uber mom
and so we get the crazy, we get it what it’s like to
have especially teenagers and young adults and
we know what it’s like to live in Orange County in this culture where we’re swimming in a soup of increasingly more post
culture Christianity. We get it, we understand
and we wanna help our kids and we wanna help ourselves
hold on to our faith. This week as Amy and I
were writing this message and preparing we took a poll
of 50 Saddleback families, around 75 Kids total. And we asked them just two questions and these kids ranged from
second graders all the way to seniors in high school
and we asked two questions. We said what are the challenges you face to live out a life of faith
and how can we help you? And we got a number of
responses that came in and so I want you to know
that Amy and I as we’re going through our message, we’re
gonna actually be quoting some of the teenagers, things
that they have said because we want you to hear their voice. We want you to hear what
it’s taking for them to stand for God. The Bible talks about
that we’re in a race, that we’re running this race of faith and part of running that race
of faith is taking a stand. Taking a stand for what is
right for, what is just, for what is honorable,
taking a stand for God. Look on your outline on Isaiah 7:9. The Bible says this, if you do
not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. What kind of faith does
it take to stand firm? What kind of faith does it take to believe when no one
else will believe it? And how do you stand firm in
the midst of circumstances? And what is it that you
need to build in your faith? We believe there’s one thing
you need to build in your faith to be able to stand firm
and that is resilience. You and I need to build a resilient faith. The word resiliency means the ability to recover quickly from something. Recover quickly from
difficulties and toughness, to be able to spring back under pressure. To be able to thrive and be
steadfast in the midst of a hard or difficult circumstance or climate. I wanna show you a picture of what I believe is
a great representation of what resiliency looks like. It’s this a little guy right here. Here he is growing in the midst
where there’s no other else but he’s growing, he’s
green, he’s thriving, he’s figured out a way to make it happen in a harsh environment and in a difficult environment. And here he is growing
and he is resilient. There’s a lot of different kinds of resilience in this world but the most important
resilience is a resilient faith that can spring back, that can endure under harsh
times when things get difficult. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about four ways you
can build a resilient faith. Now there’s more than four but we’re just gonna talk about
for you can thank me later, we don’t have 21 villains, all right? But we wanna talk about how
do you have a resilient faith to help ourselves and help
our kids hold on to our faith? What do we need to do? Well, number one, we
first need to get clear on what it means to be a Christian. We need to get clear on what
it means to be a Christian. A Conversation that Amy and
I are having in our home, all the time on a regular
basis with our kids is what does it mean to
be a follower of Jesus? What does it mean to live in
a world that is secularized and how does that work? It’s hard to hold on to
something that isn’t clear. Have you ever tried to move some furniture or move like an awkward chair that didn’t have like
clear edges around it and like how tough that was? Lemme show you a picture of the cutest, most slippery
thing on the planet. Right there, if you’ve
ever held a newborn baby and tried to give it a
bath, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They are slippery, they are
squishy they are awesome but they like pop out of you, right? I mean, you gotta be so careful, I’ll never forget our newborn
Kaylee, our firstborn. I’m taking a shower and also
the shower door flings open that freaked me out a little bit and then here’s this baby
and Amy is like here. Let’s shower with you and I’m
like, no, I can’t hold her so I got like a death grip on her because I don’t wanna lose her. ‘Cause she’s so slippery
and cute and squishy and there’s nothing to hold on to. And so we both probably
didn’t breathe at all and the shower was done, we were out, like we’re out, we’re real quick. (congregation laughs) Undefined beliefs are almost
impossible to hold on to. Without a clear
understanding what it means to be a Christian in
this world it’s slippery, it’s tough to hold on
to, it’s hard to hold on to your faith in the midst of adversity. And if you’re student,
you start getting teased and bullied for your faith and without a really clear understanding of what it is you’re standing for and why it is you’re
standing, it becomes hard to hold on to that faith. Our kids and ourselves
need have clearly defined, meaning around what does
it mean to be a Christian so that we can defend it,
so that we can fight for it so that we can stand for it. We need to do that. So what does it mean not to be a Christian or what does it mean to be a Christian? Well, first, it doesn’t mean
it’s a political conviction. It doesn’t mean that it’s a
good girl or good boy club. It’s not a religious veneer
on the American dream. It’s not church membership, that doesn’t make you a Christian, doesn’t make you a good Christian at all. It’s not a series of boxes
you check or classes you take. It’s not fundamental legalism. It’s not a set of rules
and it’s not self help or a life enhancement ideology. It’s so much more than that but lemme give you a simple definition and you can write this down, it’s gonna come up on the screen. The Christian life. For a Christian is
somebody who has decided to follow Jesus Christ
for all of their life and all the areas of
their life by the power of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is someone who has decided to follow Jesus Christ
for all of their life, every area of their life, there’s nothing hidden in all
the areas for all their life, they’re gonna do it for their entire life by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you the
power to live out this life. Christianity first and
foremost is a choice. It’s a decision to follow Jesus. God never forces himself on anyone. Jesus simply gives us an invitation. Look at this invitation,
Matthew 4:19, here it is. Jesus said this come and follow me. To follow Jesus, some of you might think, well, you know what? I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough. I need to clean myself up. I hear this all the
time, that you know what? I’ll come to Jesus when
I’m just in a better place because I just I don’t feel worthy enough. Well, none of us are worthy
and Jesus says, you don’t have to make a change, he said,
you just need to make a choice and I will make the change. So being a Christian means
that you have to choose, you choose to be a Christian. Number two, being a Christian means that we’re called to be different. We’re called to be set apart and live differently in this world. Look at Romans 12:2 on your outline. Don’t copy the behavior
and customs of this world but let God transform
you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to
know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect. Will you circle the whole phrase at the beginning of this
verse, don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. Here’s the tension. When you try to copy the behaviors and customs of this world,
when you try to fit in and when you try to look and act and talk and be like the world and
you call yourself a believer, you call yourself a follower
of Christ, here’s what happens. It confuses the people around you, It confuses non believers around you. It confuses the Christians who
are around you when you say, I’m a follower of Jesus but
then your life doesn’t show it. It’s confusing to people. We talked to and asked students about what the challenges they face. One student wrote in around this area. This person said, it’s
difficult to walk your own path with Jesus when you see so many other Christians
acting a certain way, whether it’s good or bad. It can be tempting to follow them because they are on your team but it’s always good to
remember that your relationship with Jesus is not predicated
on anyone else’s behaviors. Someone else, another student wrote in, I want you to know I’m not perfect so I’m not saying this out of a place of feeling like I’m perfect but when people are calling
themselves believers but are not truly representing
who Jesus really is. They’re wearing a Christian T-shirt but they’re living a
double life on social media and with friends. It makes it hard for the rest
of us trying to follow Jesus and represent him well. Jesus had some strong
words to say about this. Look at this verse on your screen, Revelation 3:15 through 16. Jesus said, I know your deeds,
you’re neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other so because you are lukewarm,
neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. Vomit, well, dang Jesus, really? That’s harsh, seriously,
what does he mean? Well, I thought, (mumbles)
or Jesus is all about love? Well he is and it’s out of love
that he actually said this. It’s out of love for the lost, It’s out of love for the
person who doesn’t know Jesus and they’ve been hurt or they’ve had a bad taste in their mouth because of another person that calls himself a follower of him but doesn’t live out the life. You hide your flasks, your
T-shirts, your Instagram posts, your tattoos, your bumper stickers, they don’t have to point to
Jesus but your lifestyle does. You can’t slap a label on
your life and call it good. And we do more damage,
listen, we do more damage to the gospel when we advertise our lives, whether it’s in social media or just around town in
things we do or things we say and our life doesn’t match up to it. And I want you to know that if you’re here and you’ve been hurt by
the church, if you’re here and you’ve been hurt
deeply by another believer and you thought about
just giving up on God and giving up on the church,
I want you to know I get it. I get it, I understand I’ve
been hurt by the church. I’ve been hurt by other believers deeply that were my friends and so I understand but I want you to know, God
says don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on me or my church. We’re not perfect people, the church but we’re all trying to live this out and our walk with Christ must
match our witness for Christ. I love what St. Francis
of Assisi says about this. He says, let us always preach the gospel and sometimes use words. You are not called to something greater, we’re called to be set apart and the Bible has a name for this, is actually the name of an ambassador. Look at Second Corinthians 5:20. So we are Christ’s ambassadors. God is making his appeal through us, we speak for Christ when
we plead, come back to God. An ambassador is an
official representative to a foreign country. Rick talked about how he’s an ambassador, well an ambassador takes their country with them wherever they go, wherever they step in a foreign country. Their country is with them and
they represent the president or they represent the
ruler of that country and they take the values
of their country with them. They take the culture of
their country with them and wherever they go as an ambassador, they are representing that culture. And you and I, the Bible says
are Christ’s ambassadors, wherever we go, we are taking
the kingdom of God with us, wherever we step, whether it is in school or at work, we’re in the grocery store or when we’re just out
and about at restaurants or on the sports field
or wherever it may be. When we go on social media, we
are taking the kingdom of God and we are representing
our king every time. And for us, we take on the
flavor of who our king is, we take on the representation of who he is and so when they look
at us as ambassadors, they’re seeing Jesus. And so what do they see
when they look at you? Who are they seeing because
you are an ambassador? If you call yourself a believer,
whether you like it or not, you’re taking the kingdom
with you everywhere you go. So when we’re having these
defining conversations with our kids, we’re talking
them like you know what? To be a Christian means, it’s a choice, they were called to be different. But we can’t talk about what it means to be a Christian without
talking about the fact that there’s a cost to it. There’s just a cost and
the world we live in that’s getting more and more hostile to Christianity there’s
gonna be greater costs. Many of you are already experiencing costs and I’ve experienced costs around it. It’s hard to follow Jesus at times, you can lose friends over it, you can lose relationships over it, you can be made fun of over it. We need to remember it’s gonna be hard, that we should expect opposition. Let’s not sugarcoat this anymore. Living for Jesus is hard,
it can be hard at times. John 15 says this, here’s what Jesus said, said if the world hates you, understand that it hated me first. If you were of the world, it
would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you because you are not of this world. Did you know that? You are not of this world. Your citizenship has changed. When you were born, you
were born into this world and when you became a follower Jesus, you got a new citizenship in heaven and the Bible says you
are not of this world but Jesus says, but I have
chosen you out of this world. I was at Baja Fish just a few weeks back, it’s my second kitchen and I
just love that place, so good. And a guy walked up to me
that had been baptized, handsome guy, built
awesome look just like me. I feel like I’m like looking in a mirror, every time I see this guy, he’s amazing. And so I said to him, I
said, hey, how you doing? He’s like, oh, I’m not doing so great and he starts to sort of get teary eyed. He’s like, my fiance and I broke up and I’m like, oh, no, what happened? I’m so sorry, that’s terrible. He’s like, well, he’s like, you know what? My walk with the Lord just got stronger and stronger since I got baptized. I’ve been following Jesus
and she doesn’t know Jesus and she said to me, she’s
like, you know what? I can’t stay with you if
you keep talking about Jesus and you keep going to church. You gotta stop, if you don’t
stop I’m gonna leave you and they broke up. It’s devastating, he’s like,
I miss her and I love her but I love Jesus more and
he’s worth it, he’s worth it. It’s a choice to follow Jesus, it’s a call to be something different and there’s a cost that comes. So we need to get clear on what
it means to be a Christian. That’s the first thing we need to do it’s the first thing we do for
ourselves and for our kids, we need to train them, we
need to talk to them about it. We need to let them know
when they face adversity, like it’s gonna be okay,
this is what happens, Jesus said this. The second thing we need
to build a resilient faith. Number two is we need to
join the fight of faith. We need to join the fight of faith. As followers of Christ, we
need to continually be aware that we are in a battle. Lemme say that again, we’re in a battle. I know we get so busy
and we forget about it but as followers of
Jesus, we’re in a battle and one day it’ll be over
but it’s not over today. It’s not over today,
the battle war we’re in and we need to understand
who we’re fighting because we’re not going against people, you need to understand
that, we are fighting forces that are unseen, look at
Ephesians six on your outline. It says for we are not
fighting against flesh and blood enemies but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. Against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits
in heavenly places. Our battle is a spiritual battle. It affects every area
of this natural world, it spills over into our lives daily, whether we realize it or not and the conversations that we have and the things that we see
happening in our school district, and the curriculum that comes out and the decisions that are
made from the government, there are forces behind that and you need to understand it’s a battle that we’re in. It’s a battle for your mind,
and your heart and your soul that takes place and we
need to be aware of that. And we need to join the fight
and we need to be willing to take a stand, we need
to stand for what matters. And we need to remember, we’re not battling against these people. We’re not battling against them, we don’t battle against flesh and blood, we battle against the
enemy, the unseen forces and we need to take a stand. We need to take a stand for
our convictions and our values. We need to take a stand
for a biblical worldview and we need to be proud of
it and not ashamed of it. And we need to stand for Christ whenever and wherever we can no
matter what it costs us. There’s so many competing
voices out there, fighting for your attention,
fighting for your heart. And part of joining
the battle is listening to the one voice, there’s
only one voice that matters and it’s God’s. Is there a cost (mumbles)? There is, it’s gonna cost you something. It might be popularity or promotion or invitations to parties,
it might cost you a job. It might cost you even more than that. I mean, you just don’t
know what the cost is. You don’t know where
it’s going in the future but here’s the thing. Here’s what Matthew 5:11
says, this is what Jesus says, blessed are you when people insult you. Guys you’re blessed when people
insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of me. He says, hey, if they talk bad about you, if they lay into you, if you
don’t understand what they do, if they try to steal from
you or falsely accuse you that like you are blessed
because of me, you’re blessed. He says, so rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven. He says it’s not for nothing, understand it’s not for nothing, I’m gonna reward you
for this, for the life that you live here, for the
race that you’re running. You are gonna get a reward, for the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you. Following Jesus been hard and don’t let anybody
tell you any different. When you’re going against culture, when you’re standing for what
is right it’s gonna get hard but you’re not gonna do it alone and we’ve never done
it alone as believers. Look at Philippians
1:29-30 up on the screen, for you have been given
not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege
of suffering for him. We are in the struggle together. The Bible says hey, it is a
privilege to receive Jesus and it’s a privilege to suffer for Jesus and the same privilege to receive Jesus and to have salvation
is the same privilege to suffer and there are
millions of followers of Jesus who have gone before you
and have gone before me that has stood for him. They counted a privilege to suffer in his name
all throughout history and they were opposed and they were mocked and they were beaten and imprisoned. They were hated for their
faith, they did not waver, they stood against the tide. It still happens today. It still happens today where people give their lives for Jesus. They don’t just live for Jesus, they’ll give everything for him. The Vatican reports that there are 100,000
Christians followers of Jesus that profess Jesus that die
of martyrdom every year. Let that sink in for a minute. That is a believer dying for their faith, every five minutes and 25 seconds. Every five minutes and 25 seconds, someone says I believe in Jesus and their life gets ended because of it. People have been taking
a stand for their faith, since the very beginning. From the very beginning after
Jesus rose from the grave, he was standing dying for us. And so people were standing for him. One of the earlier martyrs you
might have heard him before, his name is Polycarp. Polycarp was actually a disciple of John, John is the one who wrote the book of John and first, second, third
John and Revelation. And so Polycarp was a young
boy when he came to know Jesus and he lived his whole life serving Jesus and studying underneath John
and he served the church. And he was a pastor in church and one of the early church fathers and he spread the good
news of who Jesus was. And he served him his whole life and the Roman Empire was tired of it. And so they went and they
got him, they chained him and they drug him into the Coliseum. Because back then they
would use Christians as sport for fun. If you ever saw the movie
“Gladiator”, you kinda know what I’m talking about. This huge Coliseum and they drug him in and they said, you know what? If you don’t denounce Christ, we’re gonna burn you at the stake. And they put him in front
of thousands and thousands of people and the pro
council looked at him, the head leader of the Roman area at the time looked at him
and said, denounce Jesus. And he said, I can’t denounce Jesus. He’s been nothing but good to me and kind to me my entire life, I will never denounce my
savior and my Lord, I love him and they said, fine and they bound him up and they tied him to a pole
and they put wood around him, they threw oil on top of him
and they were gonna burn him at the stake and so they
lit him, they lit that fire. And it went up away above his head and there was thousands of eyewitnesses to what happened next. What happened next was the
fire didn’t consume him. Does that sound familiar? Shadrach, Meshach and
Abednego in the fire. Here he is tied to the pole saying I
will not denounce Jesus, they light the fire, the fire
(mumbles) went all around him. It didn’t consume him and
they all just stood there and they were shocked and the Roman people
didn’t know what to do. They’re crying out, the
officials were freaking out and they just watched it and they said, well,
eventually he’s gonna burn and he didn’t burn and the
fire was all around him, they said he glowed. It’s what all the eyewitnesses said. And so finally the Roman, well, we do we don’t know what to
do, we’re just gonna kill him. And so they went to kill him and as they killed him,
this is a little gross but this is amazing. When they stabbed him, his blood ran out and put out this huge fire all of it. And the Roman officials were so scared that they took his body
they wouldn’t give it to his followers. They said nope, we’re
holding onto the body. We’re holding on the body because if we give it back, we’re afraid another
revolution is gonna happen, like the one with Jesus. Now Polycarp wasn’t the first martyr. The first martyr was
found in the book of Acts. It’s a guy named Stephen. Stephen in Acts chapter
seven was preaching about who Jesus is and the
crowd got so mad at him. The Bible says the crowd got
so mad with him talking about how Jesus came and he died
and how he loves everyone and then he rose again on
third day that they rushed him. They rushed him and they grabbed him and they drugged him on
the outside of the city and they were gonna stone him to death. And as he was about to,
his life was about to go, the Bible says he was so
filled with the Holy Spirit that he looked up in the
air just as he was dying and heaven was opened
and Jesus was standing at the right hand of the Father. You need to understand
the significance of this. All throughout the Bible when
it talks about Jesus being at the right hand of the
Father, Jesus is always sitting. This is the only time in scripture where as Stephen was standing for Jesus and about to die for him that Jesus is standing for
him in honor of the sacrifice. It’s the only time and you need to know when
you’re standing for Jesus, Jesus is gonna stand for you. The historical story of
Christianity is ordinary people of faith empowered by the Holy Spirit, overcoming incredible
odds and we’re still here. We’re still here and we’re going strong and there’s no stopping us. You might hear people talking
about the church is dying. The church is going back, you’ll hear people like,
oh, religion is dead. They’ll say these things to you. There are 2.3 billion followers of Jesus and there is no slowing
down in this world, why? Because we win, you
gotta get this, we win. The world talks about, the
Bible talks about this, the suffering we’re in is temporary. You may never have to die
for your faith in Jesus but you can choose to live for him. You can run the race
that is set before you, you can run it strong and it’s an honor to be included in the countless millions that have gone before us that have stood and they’re cheering you on and you’re not running the race alone. Look at Hebrews 12:1. Therefore, since we are
surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every
weight that slows us down. Especially the sin that
so easily trips us up and let us run with endurance. Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. I picture another Coliseum,
I picture a much bigger one where there are millions of believers that are up there right now. Polycarp is up there, all
the apostles that are up that died of martyrdom as
well, they’re all there. Paul is there and all the
millions of believers and martyrs that have gone before
us, they’re all there and they’re cheering you on. They’re calling out your name
and saying you can do it. You can make it, keep going,
don’t give up on your marriage, you can make it. Don’t give up on standing
for Jesus, you can make it, I know it’s tough right
now but keep going. This isn’t all there is, you’re not gonna believe
this place when you get here. Keep going, keep running,
keep standing, keep standing, don’t give up because we win. We win and they’re roaring
and they’re cheering and they’re cheering for
you as you run this race. And then there’s Jesus,
yeah, so amen to that, right? (congregation applauding) And then there’s Jesus. Jesus is in the midst of all the witnesses and he’s standing for you
when you stand for him and he’s cheering you
on and he’s proud of you and he can’t wait for the day,
you get to be there with him. Amy is gonna come right now and she’s gonna talk about next two ways, we can build a resilient
faith (mumbles) ourselves and also our kids. (congregation applauds) – So after we get clear on
what it means to be a Christian and after we’ve made the choice
to join the fight of faith, the next logical step is
that we need to get trained. And so that is your fill
in there, number three is that we need to get trained. Now in New Testament language
this would be discipleship and in any good military, we understand that we want the most
mentally, physically, emotionally prepared
individuals on the front lines of battle defending us and protecting us. It wouldn’t be fair to the
country or to the soldiers or to us to send anything but highly trained individuals, right? We understand that concept, the detriment of sending
untrained soldiers. And yet that is exactly what
we’re doing to our kids. In the kingdom of God, we
are sending out students and kids unprepared for the advancement that has happened in the kingdom
of darkness in our world. We need to be more prepared, we need to prepare our children, we need to prepare ourselves,
we need to get trained and it’s our job as a church, our job as the next generation
is to pass the baton of faith to the younger generations. It’s our privilege to pass
on what we know to them, to encourage them, to equip them and to prepare them for the battle. We cannot put blinders on,
we can’t close our eyes, we can’t block it out and just hope that, I hope you guys make it. No, it is our job to stay
engaged and it’s our privilege. And my experience is
that most people it’s not that they don’t want to get trained or not that they don’t wanna
help the next generations, we’re just too busy. We’re in the tyranny of the urgent. We’re going fast and we just forget and we’re not paying attention and it’s so easy to get lost in that. And a lot of you, some of
you are in the next stage and preparing for retirement
and I would just ask you that you would not
retire from the kingdom. That you would see yourself as a vital and important part of the bride of Christ. That we need you, we
need your fight of faith, we need your story and
we need you to pass on how you’ve made it this
far and held on to Jesus. A secular Western culture
advances and continues, we need up our training game, we need to seriously beef up our training. Our kids need stronger
preparation to respond to the kind of hostility
and secular mindsets that are just widespread and they’re coming into their phones and coming into their classrooms 24/7. This is just a sample, a small
sample I’m sure if we were to poll and talk to
people in the audience, parents right now in the audience, they could tell similar
stories of the kind of things that kids are facing at school
particularly in high school. But I wanna share with you a couple quotes of some of the students
that we talked to this week. The things that kids
were saying were so sweet but we chose really to kinda focus on what some of the high schoolers have said because they were the most articulate. So this is a 15 year old. This one said, the hardest
part for me is the isolation. You can work as hard as
you can to keep focused on and striving for Jesus but with everyone around
you going in completely, different directions and having no one to keep you accountable, it’s really hard. There’s a hurricane around you and it’s swirling in
1,000 different directions and you can only fight
so hard to stay grounded. You wanna share the hope within you but the fear of rejection and people playing just
ignoring you feels crippling. People are confused, on why you didn’t bring
something up like that up. You’re a kid why do you even care where you’re going when you
die or that some guy saved you? A 17 year old said, sharing
the gospel is hard for me. I’m kind and I act like I love Jesus, but I don’t share the
gospel as much as I should. I think I just have to step up my game and take hold of my faith. I live it out pretty well but
it’s that gospel sharing part. Another 16 year old said I feel (mumbles) by the bias of teachers and
their view of Christianity. Secularism is at the forefront of students and teachers minds so
they have already decided that religion is fake
and not based on fact. It makes me feel like what I believe has no
substance or relevance. No one asks real questions
about what they’re being taught. The ideas and morals teachers
push on their students, are not teaching them how to think, they’re teaching them what to think. Because of this reality, I will always feel an underlying tension, like I’m a super stretched rubber band that if pulled too much I’ll snap. Often I come home angry and
confused and wanting to fight because my rubber band has snapped. And lastly, another 16 year old said, teachers will often make
offhand comments about church or faith and people laugh. Once a teacher began to
talk about Saddleback, making assumptions and
jokes, mocking this building that I call home. How come my believe is
so attacked in society, even when the highlight of
today’s social media feeds, are all about acceptance and tolerance? What kind of acceptance shuts
down the voice of Christians? Right, sobering. So our kids are feeling unprepared and the reality is we are too, right? Our kids need to be able to
answer, why do we believe and how do we believe it
and how do we live it out? This is the basis of a worldview. Look on the screen, this is
a quote by J. Warner Wallace. He says, a worldview is
simply a view of the world that answers three critical questions. One, how did we get here? Which is the origin question. Two, why is everything so messed up? Which is the predicament and three, how can we fix it? The resolution. When we don’t teach our kids, a fully developed understanding of reality and how we believe interacts
with our everyday life that is practically guaranteeing that they will not hold on to their faith in their young adult years. And we’re adding to their ridicule and we’re adding their inability to stand. The Barna Group which
does a tremendous amount of research on faith in America
and around the world reports that in the last decade, two thirds of young adults 18 to 29 who used to be regular church
attenders have now dropped out at one point or another. And that the same research shows that 36% of young adults felt that they couldn’t ask their most, pressing questions about life in church. What in the world? This is where they need
to ask the questions. This has to be the safe
place where we wrestle and ask the hard questions of life. Poorly defined beliefs like Tommy said, it sets our kids up for disillusionment. When all of a sudden their ideas of God hit the reality of life. I can’t tell you the people
that I’ve talked to young and old who have bought into the message that we’ve preached beautifully
and for good reasons that God has good plans for
your life, which is true. But they’ve only heard
that part of the story and when all of a sudden, God’s good plans and their very clearly bad
circumstances, they don’t mesh and I’ve watched people have crisis of faith when those two things collide. We have to be able to teach our kids a well rounded, full bodied biblical worldview. Now if you’re totally overwhelmed and you’re freaking out
internally, I just want you to know that we’re in the same place. We’re in the same boat with you and you live in a really wonderful era where we can leverage all the tech. Tech has a really ugly
side, there’s an underbelly to tech advancement that has, it’s gross, we all are aware of it. But there is a beautiful
part we can leverage and the part we can leverage
is that there is more available to you and I to learn,
grow and defend our faith and understand our
biblical historical faith. And Tommy and I this week, we worked and we to put together a resource list. So last night I said pull the
cards out behind your chairs which just shows I’m
still thinking it’s 1995. They’re actually in your bulletin so in your bulletin
there’s a tear off card and if you write on
that card resource list, we’ll get it to you. And it’s a mix of everything from podcasts and websites and books
and music and literature and just a whole ton of stuff that you can use for, if you
just have babies in the cradle or if you’ve got young adults. And these are things that
we have used as a family, they are things that other families that we really trust have
used and are head of us. There’s enough resources, you could be an armchair
theologian within the next year. Okay, there’s like so much out there. But the point here is that you are your child’s
primary spiritual trainer. God did not intend for you
to outsource this aspect of your parenting. I know that we would love to be able to just like send our kids to church and sign them up for a youth
group or a life group or KSG and hope that we’ve covered
their spiritual basis but it will not be adequate. I don’t wanna burst your bubble but I do, it will not be adequate, it will not be sufficient
in the kind of climate that we live in today. The church just doesn’t
have your kids enough. Like doesn’t matter how
good their training is. They just don’t have your child enough and so you were designed to be
your child’s spiritual leader and trainer and you can
learn along with them, you don’t have to know it all today. So four key areas quickly that we wanna give our families a booster and getting trained and
we are in the same boat. We are doing this ourselves, we are real time learning this. But the first area is that we need to train our kids in the
core teachings of the faith. Like I said, we need to introduce our kids to a full Council of Scripture, not just the comforting passages
that make them feel good. Don’t censor your God,
don’t censor scripture. The world is not censoring themselves so don’t cut out parts of Scripture because you’re afraid
your kids can’t handle it. They are handling way
harder things at school and it doesn’t set your
children up for the longevity of faith that they really need. Second Timothy 3:16 through 17 says, all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God
may be thoroughly equipped, for every good work. As society continues to decimate
the definition of truth, there’s gonna be more and more of these hybridized faith
factions that arise. As truth is defined individually
now, we’re all authorities so people can decide,
well, this is my truth which is essentially the
secularist manifesto today, right? Like it’s my truth. So it could be a group of one, it could be group of thousands
but these people are picking and choosing, well, that works for me but that aspect of
Scripture I don’t love that. I really like Jesus but I don’t really like
that martyrdom stuff or they’re just picking and choosing and they’re decimating our biblical and historical
interpretation of Scripture. We need to read along with
tradition, not get rid of it. Now this is no surprise, the
apostle Paul warned Timothy of this very thing in the
first century of the church. Second Timothy 4:3-4 says, for the time will come
when people will not put up with sound doctrine, instead
to suit their own desires, they’ll gather around them
a great number of teachers to say what their itching
ears want to hear. They will turn their
ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. That sounds like today, right? That’s not far off, that’s where we are. We’ve got to get crystal clear, on our core beliefs and creeds. Now if you’re not familiar
with the word creed, this was the early churches answer to heresy and false teaching
and disunity in the body. They got together and they wrote
these I believe statements. I believe that God is the
Father and that the Son is Jesus and we will be so wise as
the church to train ourselves to teach ourselves and
our kids in these creeds to remind ourselves these kind of like, rock bottom this is the boundary line. This is what it means to follow Jesus, we have to believe in these things. The second area we need to train
our kids in is apologetics. This is both, this is my crew definition. This is both the art and science of answering people’s
questions about Christianity. First Peter 3:15 says, but in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always Be prepared to
give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. The very real struggle is
that the kind of answers that your kids need to
give and that we need to give are just far more
sophisticated than the kind of answers that you or I
had to give as children. The kind of questions about
faith that were running around. My head as a sixth grader,
are a far cry from the kind of questions that my
sixth grader is asking and I’m sure that yours
are on the same boat. Look on the screen this quote, it says the internet is
easily accessed on smartphones and mobile devices, bringing
the most ardent skepticism home to the next generation
at a very young age. For this reason, we should
expect the objections, from young people to
be far more articulated and well researched. Our responses must meet
the challenge offered by internet skeptics and we must start training
our youth earlier, than ever before. We need to prepare our
kids like yesterday. We need to prepare them now for the future that is five minutes away. Waiting till junior high or
high school it’s just too late. It’s just not soon enough and don’t assume that your child really
knows enough of the Bible to be able to answer legitimate questions. Don’t assume it, we’re in that same boat, we’re like wait, do you understand it? We’re asking the same
questions of our children. Don’t freak out, there’s plenty of experts who’ve already done the hard work for us and those resources will help you in that. The third area that we
can train our kids in, is critical thinking and question asking. Following Jesus is not a
blind unthinking faith. In fact we’re called to love God with our minds, one of the aspects. And Christianity is typically referred to as a faith tradition but
it is a knowledge tradition. We have a long tradition of understanding and creed and doctrine and
theology, it is a thinking faith. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the volume of skeptics, whether it’s the hard
mentality on social media, your kids classroom, their teachers, whether it’s the people you’re interacting with on a daily life. Don’t freeze, don’t freeze, teach yourself and your kids to ask questions. We haven’t done like
real strategic creation verses evolution training of our kids. We’ve read a lot of books and
of course we read scripture and like kids books, not like texts. And there’s no not graphs or charts, we never sat our children down and showed older verses new Earth. I mean, like, that’s not where we’ve been but we have really taught our kids and talked a lot about be
curious, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, questions lead to even more
questions and that’s okay. So the point is, there’s really
power in questions, right? Even if you can’t answer the
questions or the rebuke of the, you can’t answer all of the critics and the skeptics, you can ask questions. Because we’re teaching our kids and we have to teach ourselves that most people, they hold
their beliefs really close and tightly but they’re highly unexamined. Very, very few people have
actually done the work to think through what they believe. And if you ask them questions, a lot of times the logical
trajectory of their beliefs, they kinda like dissolve and
don’t make a lot of sense because people don’t
spend the time to examine. And so one of our most powerful stances as followers of Jesus is just to be really good question askers. People will end up discovering
their own fallacies, their own breakdown in logic
if we ask the good questions so don’t be afraid, ask good questions. The fourth area, we need to
train our kids in is listening to the Holy Spirit. Now our faith is not
just a cerebral faith. Yes, we love God with our minds. Yes, we can know him. Yes, he wants us to employ
logic and reason, he made us with the capacity to do that, we don’t have to check that at the door but it’s also supernatural. We’re connected to God
through the Holy Spirit. Now, the secular map of
reality wants to tell you and wants to tell your kids that the only thing that exists is what I can stand on, touch,
feel, see, scientifically test. That’s all that really exists but the biblical worldview
says, yeah, that’s true. What we touch and see
exists but there’s something that is even more true. There’s an unseen world that
has been here before you and it’s gonna be here
after you and it’s real. And there’s a God who
wants to connect to you. He wants to speak to you. He wants to lead you. He wants to train you. And so we have to
continually remind ourselves and our children that we
are in a supernatural faith. John 16:13 says, but when he
the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. You can’t get much more immaterial and supernatural than a spirit of an invisible God inhabiting
us and speaking to us and teaching us, right? That’s pretty supernatural. We have to take time to learn to listen and this takes practice and helping our kids revise
their vision of faith as being this one dimensional
or purely logic-based faith. They will miss out on the
adventure of following Jesus because lemme tell you,
the Holy Spirit is wild and he does incredible things
when we learn to listen and quiet ourselves. And part of this process is
as we get on all the logic that the truth, the
knowledge, the insights and we gain all this, the
Holy Spirit has like a library of resources to draw
from, to remind you of. When you got nothing in there,
I mean, the spirit can work but it’s really helpful
when you’re in the moment that you’ve done the due
diligence to train yourself, the Holy Spirit can pull
that volume off the shelf and remind you in real time. I’m sure many of you
could give a testimony of that experience. Don’t be afraid, mama bears,
papa bears get trained. Grandma bears, grandpa
bears, aunts, uncles we need to get trained and help
ourselves and our kids. Now all the training in the world, all the knowledge in the
world will be nothing, if we don’t move forward in
love and that’s number four. Our next step is to move forward in love. Our mission is love and I believe one of the main
reasons for this youth Exodus as they term it from the church is a lack of radical love in the body of Christ. Yes, there is love all over the world and in fact, the younger
generations are doing, a far better job at love than us older
generations have done. They are a more tolerant,
they are more kind, they are looking for equality,
they advocate for each other, they want to love and they’re
doing a pretty good job. But a lot of their definitions of love are wonky, really wonky. And so since God is the definer of love, we need to ask him what it means. First John 4:7-8 says, dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been
born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not
know God because God is love. The source of all real love
in the universe is God. There is no other source. There’s no other place
where it comes from. He thought of it, he originated
it so he gets to define it. And there’s a tremendous
amount of counterfeit love and part of us with our
kids is helping them see what real love is, what God’s love is, what’s the world’s vision of love, what is God’s vision of love. And we need to know what God’s love looks
like when it responds to hot topics in life like
abortion and immigration and political issues, divorce
and marriage and social media. And we need to know what’s
God’s love in response to the normal things of life like jealousy and friend issues and loneliness. First Corinthians 13:1-8, is like the love manifesto
chapter in the Bible. You’ve most likely heard it at a wedding and I wanna read it to you. If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels but didn’t love others, I
would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had a gift of prophecy
and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and
possessed all knowledge and if I had such faith
that I can move mountains but I didn’t love others, I’d be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body,
I could boast about it but if I didn’t love others,
I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or
boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand it’s own
way, it is not irritable and it keeps no records of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never
loses faith is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless but love will last forever. Just when we think we’re doing
a really good job at loving, we read First Corinthians
and realize, we kinda stuck. We have to move forward
in loving each other. John 13:35 says, your love
for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. Jesus said the marker, the
distinguisher of what it means to be a follower of Jesus
is that we love each other. Now, traditionally, when I
would hear this verse read and maybe you too, you’re kind
of thinking like, oh, as long as I love the world and love all people, then everybody is gonna know I love Jesus. But actually, in the
context of that passage, Jesus is having his final conversation with his disciples in the upper
room before he was arrested. And he’s looking at the believers, his disciples in the room
saying, look, they’re gonna know that you’re my family, you’re my followers when
you love each other. And I can like kinda imagine
Jesus like giving eyes, being like you two, you
two love each other. John, Peter, no more you love each other, looking at the disciples and being like, get
together, love each other. And we can understand this ’cause if you’ve ever been around a family that like is constantly
nitpicking at each other or like taking each other out and they do it in public,
it’s like, awkward. You’re like, oh, must be
rough to be in that family and Jesus does not want
anybody looking at his family and being like, no thanks,
they just bite at each other. They just take each other out, they don’t look out for one another. They can’t even agree on anything, they fight about everything. Jesus wants the world
looking at our family and say, I wish I was
a part of that family. How good would it be to be in that family? We have to love each other radically. We also need to love
each other sacrificially. First John 3:16 says, this
is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ lay down his
life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for
our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material
possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us love
with words, not with words or speech but with actions and in truth. There scripture goes just kinda
up in the bar again on love, just keeps up in the ante. And honestly, this is just
like all over scripture, the more you look and you read
for God’s priority of love and unity within his body, it
is all over the New Testament. Love is kind, love is patient,
it’s gentle, its humble, its sacrificial, it lays itself down. It loves enemies, it prays for
those who who persecute them and on and on and on and on. The bar of love is high but we
can do this, we can do this. We have the Holy Spirit. God is never gonna ask us to do something that he isn’t gonna empower us to do. He’s never gonna require something of us, if he’s not gonna pour into us first. We need to help our kids
learn to introduce the world to God by our love, by our goodness and they don’t have to change the world. Please stop telling your
children to change the world, they can’t but they can
change the environments that they walk into. They can change the places
that God has put in their path and wherever their feet step, they’re gonna bring God’s
goodness and his kingdom. The spiritual tide is
shifting in the West, there’s nothing that we can do about it. This is the reality but
we can choose our response and we can choose what kind
of stance we’re gonna take as families, as individuals, what kind of training
we’re gonna give our kids, we can decide and get
clear on what it means to be a Christian. We can join the fight of
faith, we can get training, we can move forward in love. This is an opportune time
for the church to rise. As the world gets darker,
the church gets brighter. You cannot put out the light
of Christ, it’s impossible so this is our moment to rise up. Dallas Willard said this,
he’s not with us anymore. But he said this, he
said the greatest issue, facing the world today with all it heartbreaking
needs is whether those who by profession or
culture are identified as Christians will become
disciples, students, apprentices, practitioners of Jesus Christ,
steadily learning from him how to live the life of the kingdom of the heavens into every
corner of human existence. Will you pray with me. I wanna pray for two groups today. First, I wanna pray for the
adults in the room, the parents. Those of you who are feeling pressed and squeezed at every side as you try to raise young Christ followers. If you are feeling that today,
would you just raise a hand or look up at me, give me eyes. It’s a lot of us, I’m with you. Father, we need you. We cannot do this without you. We need your power. We need your presence. We need your spirit. We need your insight and your knowledge. We need discernment. God, we are busy people
and we need you to help us to corral our calendars and our time usage because Lord, we wanna
prioritize getting trained. We wanna prioritize following you and we wanna model for
the children below us and around us what it means
to be an ardent follower of Jesus in the 21st century. God would you teach and train
us in every nook and cranny and corner of our lives
God would you help us to redeem the time and
the day for you, Lord. Lead us God to the right
materials, the right people. Lead us in your word God,
we want to hold on to faith. We want to finish the race well. God would you meet these precious parents and adults in their moment of need. God I know that’s who you are and so that’s what you’re gonna do. Father we trust you. We ask for your hand
to move in your church. Students, kiddos. I know most kids are in in Sunday, I still call it Sunday
school, are in Saddleback Kids or in youth group this morning. But if there are kids
or students in the room who want prayer and just
wanna stand for Jesus, would you just give me your eyes? Just look at me. God, thank you for our kids. What a blessing it is. Thank you for the children around us. Lord I pray that you would
raise up a generation who would love you, who would know you and would follow hard after you. God make them strong. Make them bold Jesus
and may they be filled with the love of Christ. God help them to find each other and help them to love each other well. God I pray that they would put
us to shame with their zeal that they would become
the kind of generation that cannot be silenced. Protect our babies Lord,
protect them from the evil one and God make them resilient faith bearers, it’s in Your holy name, we
pray these things Jesus, amen. Thanks Saddleback.

 

5 Responses

  1. DRIFTTANDEMZ101 SIDEWAYZZ

    September 23, 2019 11:03 pm

    I need these for my kids, I don't that they hve been goin to Church since they've been living wit my x-wifey…🤔

    Reply
  2. Hope A

    September 24, 2019 3:38 am

    Christians please search – sun worship – 25th dec- Osiris. Please stop deluding believers in sun and pagan worship. Jesus was only a massenger not a sun god. Wake up

    Reply
  3. Lucas Rangel

    September 24, 2019 9:04 am

    Great word! Children are really our future. Im not a parent but whwn i do have kids this is the type of message i want to teach them. Glory to the Lord!

    Reply

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