How To Nurture A Child

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Parenting; Mother's Day; Fathers; Family; Home

Psalm 127:3-5, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Proverbs 22:6,-“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’-which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I think I may have mentioned the fact that there was a time when for several months Sue and I would end our day by tuning into old re-runs of Leave It To Beaver. During those months the TV LAND channel ran the show every night about the time we would turn in-and we found it to be a great way to calm down and relax after an often stressful day. And it was indeed a great de-stresser because-because in that half hour we were transported back in time to the good old days-when the institution of the family was relatively healthy-those days when the most stressful thing a moms and dads had to deal with was disciplining their youngest son for keeping a pet frog in the bathtub-or helping his older brother find the right sport coat for the spring dance. But those days are long gone, aren’t they?

Every one give out a sad sigh because things have definitely changed in the last fifty years when it comes to the American family-and not for the good. For example, back when Beaver was on the air, our culture defined a traditional family as one mom, one dad, one marriage, and children from that marriage only. Families like that made up the majority. Today only one family in six would meet this definition. This is due to several factors. For example, in the decades since the show aired there has been a 400% increase in the divorce rate…and a 200% increase in the number of children raised in single-parent homes. Plus, during this time, cohabitation has increased by a thousand percent. More and more couples don’t even bother to get married.

And-here’s some more depressing stats that show how much things have changed. These days 33% of all babies born are born to unmarried women, compared to only 3.8% in 1940. Today 80% of school-age kids come home each day to an empty house because both parents work full-time jobs. One consequence of these changes is the sad fact that the majority of children these days get most of their parenting-not from mom and dad-but rather from the public SCHOOL SYSTEM. And that’s not a good thing because today’s SCHOOLS aren’t what they were in the “Beaver Cleaver good old days.”

No-in today’s classrooms morals are hazy at best. For example, the gay lifestyle is taught as acceptable-it’s even advocated and honored as being equal to “traditional” marriage. Plus shootings like the ones at Colombine High School have now become almost common place. This is not to mention the fact that-due to an ever-increasing pressure for them to learn more and to do it faster-our kids have much more stressful lives than kids did fifty years ago. I mean they don’t have time to even stop to look at a frog, much less keep one in the bathtub because they are literally loaded down with homework. They lug backpacks weighing 40lbs to school-where they are urged to take college level courses-I mean, no longer do they just enjoy being kids-now they are hurried to adulthood. This week I read the true story of a first-grade teacher trying to deal with the irate mother of one of her little students. This mom screamed at the teacher because she had given her son a “satisfactory” on his 1st grade report card saying, “How is he ever going to get into M.I.T. if you give him a ‘Satisfactory.'” As Bill Hybels says,”It’s a ‘toddler-eat-toddler’ world out there, as a new generation of children called ‘Yuppie Puppies’ compete for the honor roll in preschool classes. One child-development expert sees many eight-year-olds suffering from acute anxiety, and nine and ten-year-olds having lost all sense of what it means to be a child.”

I point to all these grim facts to help you see that the family is having a hard time of it in our culture. It’s no wonder that when one individual reviewed these statistics he said, “The nuclear family has EXPLODED.” Well, for the next month-beginning on this Mothers’ Day-I want us to try and help DEFUSE this problem for the families that make up this church by looking to God’s Word for guidance when it comes to marriage and family. Our series is called, Growing Great Families and here’s a preview:

Next Sunday our Minister of Youth, Steve Holt, will take the sermon time to talk about how to nurture TEENS.
On May 22, I’ll talk about how to nurture the FAMILY unit as a whole.
Then, on May 29, we’ll study how to nurture a MARRIAGE.
And today we begin by looking at how to nurture CHILDREN.

Now nurturing children-raising them from infant to young adult-is an very rewarding job-full of years of incredible, joyous experiences. Do I get an AMEN on that, parents? The verse from our text in Psalms says it well, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. BLESSED is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-4) Having kids is indeed a wonderful blessing-but it is also a very tiring, demanding job-a job that at times can feel overwhelming. Any new parent knows what I’m talking about.

James Dobson referred to this by saying,”Since Adam and Eve 77 BILLION people have lived on the face of this earth and yet we are still NERVOUS about bringing up the baby.” And you know, the fact is, today’s parents have a lot to be nervous about. I mean, as I alluded to a moment ago, this is no longer a Leave It To Beaver world. It’s a scary place-a potentially dangerous place-to bring up a child. And not only is raising children in our culture a SCARY thing-it is also a huge RESPONSIBILITY. It’s a task that we really can’t afford to take lightly. I mean we need to do our best to get this job right-not only because we love our kids, but also because the kind of job we do when it comes to nurturing our kids has an enormous affect-for good or ill-on our fallen culture. Charles Swindoll writes,”How we raise our youngsters will have a greater impact on society than the way we vote, the art we create, the books we read, the technological problems we solve, or the planets we visit in space.” And he’s right. I mean, depending on how we nurture these precious little ones that God has entrusted to us we will either become a part of the answer or just another part of the problem.

So, what do we need to know to properly nurture our kids? What do our children need?

I. They Need Parents Ready for Parenthood

Well, the first thing kids need is moms and dads who are READY for parenthood. And if you’re wondering, when that is, then listen as I mention two basic factors that I think indicate readiness for parenting.

A. Strong, Stable, Mature Relationship as Husband and Wife

First, moms and dads are ready when they have a strong, stable, mature RELATIONSHIP as husband and wife. I point this out because many young couples buy into the conventional wisdom that says, “Finish high school, go to college, get married, and start a family. Don’t ask questions. Just use this standard operating procedure.” And, the problem with this way of thinking is that it underestimates the stress and struggle of the EARLY years of marriage. I mean, no matter how well you are matched, marriage is tough-especially at the beginning. In fact, this “conventional WISDOM” is actually not all that WISE because it ignores the fact that nearly 34% of divorces occur within four years of the wedding. And I don’t want to sound graceless but no matter how we rationalize it-divorce ALWAYS hurts children. Time magazine reported the findings of a study done back in the 90’s that measured the long-term effects of growing up in a fragmented family. The article concluded that close to half of the children from families broken by divorce go into adulthood as men and women who worry, are underachievers, have poor self-images, and are very angry. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “Two-thirds of the girls, many of whom had seemingly sailed through the crisis of divorce, suddenly became deeply anxious as young adults, unable to make lasting commitments, and fearful of betrayal in intimate relationships. Many boys, who were more overtly troubled in the post divorce years, failed to develop a sense of independence confidence or purpose. They drifted in and out of college and from job to job.”

All this shows that before a couple even considers parenthood, they do in fact need a stable marriage. They need to take the time to develop communication skills and the ability to solve conflicts and build the security that leads to intimacy. And they also need to get their household in order and their finances ready because kids are incredibly expensive. Don’t get me wrong-they are worth every penny! But it takes tons of pennies to provide for a child’s needs. In fact the federal government estimates that it costs nearly $200,000 to raise a child and put them through college. Now, this may all sound a little over the top-it may seem like I’m advocating unnecessary groundwork. It may sound unromantic and overly logical and too planned but with fragmented families killing our society and our children can we afford to do less? The fact is, young couples need to take ALL the steps necessary to build stable, MATURE marriages before they think about having kids because as Susan Peters has put it, “Children have a better chance of growing up if their parents have done so first.”

Sue and I waited four years before starting our family and during those four years we had a lot of growing up to do when it came to relating to one another. We needed that time to get to know each other and learn our individual strengths and weaknesses so we could work together as a team. We needed those years to build a strong relationship-one we could each lean on as we weathered the inevitable storms and strains of parenthood.

By the way-couples need to realize that the Bible teaches us that parenting works best with BOTH a mom and dad there to nurture their kids to maturity. Parenting was designed as a team process. This means that before the stork arrives moms and dads need to get their careers situated such that they can both be an active team member. I point this out because these days many couples seem to think they can sort of raise kids “on the side.” They want to have children but still both maintain a high profile career that saps their time and energy. They apparently want to HAVE kids but are unwilling to RAISE them. Hybels writes, “There’s little mystery about how children are conceived and delivered. But many two-career couples seem to be remarkably naive about what it takes to parent them. They seem to think kids raise themselves.” And as any parent will tell you-they DON’T!

I’m not saying both parents can’t work-but I AM saying it’s VERY difficult to nurture healthy children if both parents do. And even if only one parent works-there still needs to be an understanding that parenting is a SHARED responsibility. Remember, moms and dads-Nannies, baby-sitters, relatives, and day-care workers will never give an ultimate account to God for how they raised your children. You will do that.

Let me just say a quick word to single parents, especially single moms. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to literally do the job of two adults all by yourself. We’ll talk more about how a church family can help you in a moment-but right now I want to encourage you to rely on the LORD as your team-member in the parenting process. As it says in Isaiah 54:5-6, “…your Maker is your husband-the LORD Almighty is His name-the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit-a wife who married young, only to be rejected…” Rely on God as you seek to raise your kids!

Okay-in order for kids to get the nurture they need-they need moms and dads who are READY for this job. One way they are ready is when they have a stable, mature relationship.

B. Must Understand the Primary Reason for Parenthood

And then in order to be ready for children couples must ALSO understand the primary REASON for parenthood. The Genesis account tells us that Adam and Eve were made in God’s IMAGE-but also that God gave them the responsibility of REPRODUCING His image through procreation. So the purpose of bringing children into the world is not to have a cute little guy or gal to play with and relate to. It’s not so we can have an excuse to visit Toys’ ‘R’ Us. It’s not to pass on property and the family name or to avoid loneliness in later years. It’s not to get a tax deduction.

No, the primary purpose of parenting is to produce shining, active, young image-bearers who are motivated and trained to carry the torch of authentic Christianity into the next generation. In other words a parent’s responsibility is to use every opportunity to tell them of God’s love. As Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 6, we are to talk to our kids about the things of God, “when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, and when we lie down…” (Deuteronomy 6).We do this in the hopes that our little guys and gals will someday respond to our careful instruction, and decide to become Christians themselves and then strive to become irresistible manifestations of God’s grace, growing up to make a difference in this fallen world by exercising their unique God-given talents and gifts. Moms and dads, that’s our primary motivation for bearing and raising kids! Remember, children are given to us by God! They are His property given to us to carry on the process that He began the moment they were conceived! Hybels writes, “Christian parents see the ‘season of parenting’ as the ultimate spiritual challenge, worthy of their best efforts, most fervent prayers, and largest investments of time. They search for ways to improve their skills through books, tapes, seminars, and interacting with other parents. They look to the church for assistance, and they support with their time, money, and prayer, the ministries that enhance their children’s spiritual training. In short, they do ANYTHING they can to encourage authentic Christian growth in their children.” I don’t want to put you on the spot, but are you doing that parents? Are you leaving no stone unturned in your effort to help your kids grow spiritually?

Okay-in order to be properly nurtured-all children need parents with a stable relationship who are committed to their spiritual growth. These two factors indicate they are ready for parenthood.

II. They Need to be Loved

 And then a second thing children need in order to be properly nurtured is this. They need to be LOVED. This may seem like a given-like your kids will just automatically know you love them but that isn’t so. Parents have to be intentional in this and here’s three ways they can…

A.  First, we can communicate love by KNOWING them.

You see, each child is different-unique! Any parent of more than one will attest to this. Some kids sleep through the night the first day home from the hospital. But just when this particular mom and dad are rejoicing, they have a second child who never sleeps more than two hours straight. Some kids do great in school-others have to work at it. Some are naturals at math-others have a tough time with arithmetic but are geniuses at languages-and so on. Each child is different. They’re all little “God-given” mysteries waiting to be solved. As you may have heard, an accurate translation of our text from Proverbs is this, “Train up a child-ACCORDING TO HIS BENT-HIS UNIQUENESS-and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Well, one of the best ways to make our kids know they are loved is for us to take the time and effort to get to know them by making it our goal early on to discover their unique “bent.” In short, to love our kids we need to become students of our kids. We need to engage in the great adventure of becoming very familiar with the unique individual God made them to be. Remember, a good woodworker works WITH the grain not AGAINST it-and we need to KNOW our kids’ “grain” before we can do our part in shaping them-growing them.

John Trent tells the story of his mother who raised three sons all by herself and she must have done a good job nurturing them because they all three became good at what they do. John is of course a noted Christian writer, specializing in Christian counseling. His brother Jeff is a medical doctor specializing in genetic research. At one time he lived in Rockville and worked at NIH. He may still do so. John’s other brother, Joe, worked for several years as a heavy equipment operator. Well, this single mom devoted herself to studying her three boys. To show her love for John she read several books on theology and counseling. To show her love to Jeff she took a course on genetics and read books on the subject. To show her love for Joe she subscribed to Heavy Equipment Digest so she could converse meaningfully to him about the load capacity of bulldozers and earth movers. Well, what about you moms and dads? Would you be rated as an expert on your children? Here’s a little test to help you decide:

What do they most dream about?
What do enjoy doing more than anything else?
Of all the people they have studied in the Bible, who is the person they would most like to be like and why?
What do they believe God wants them to do for humankind?
What kind of girlfriend or boyfriend are they attracted to and why?
What is the best part of their school day, what is their worst?

Make up your own questions, but remember-one way to communicate love to your child is to know about them. Strive to become the world’s greatest expert when it comes to your kids.

B.  Another way we can make them feel loved is by spending TIME with them.

Now, time is a precious thing in our fast-paced society isn’t it?! I guess this is the reason we talk about “spending” it as if it were some form of currency. Well, our kids know our time is precious. We communicate that fact all too clearly-so when we “spend” our time on them, they instinctively conclude that they are precious to us-loved by us! Several years ago the University of California tested fifth and sixth graders to determine what caused them the highest degree of sadness, anxiety, and depression. The top answer had to do with what I talked about a moment ago-need to have moms and dads who had a stable, loving, committed relationship and their worry that this might go away. But the second thing that caused them the most worry was parents who didn’t spend enough time with them. They feared that special DEEP loneliness that we feel when mom and dad aren’t around. I mean, the single most factor when it came to helping them deal with life was TIME with mom and dad. So if you want to make your child feel loved and secure-give them your time! And, in our time with them, whether it’s taking them to breakfast or playing a video game with them or taking them shopping or reading to them or helping them build a tree-fort or whatever, in these times, we are building a relationship with them through which we get to see their uniqueness and then can AFFIRM them for who they are. So time is kind of a “two-for” when it comes to making your kids feel loved!

C.  A third way to make our children feel loved is through meaningful TOUCH.

You may not realize this but the skin is the largest organ of our body and has a built-in need to be touched. In fact, physiologists contend that the nerve endings of the skin are actually associated with certain vital glands centered in the brain. These glands regulate growth and many other important functions of the body. Research suggests that some children, because of a lack of touching, have their growth stunted to some degree. Well, touching doesn’t only affect our kids’ physical growth-it also affects their emotional growth. It tells them they are valuable. So if you want them to feel loved squeeze their hands in a knowing way-tuck them in at night-let them sit in your lap while they’re small-touch them!

As many of you know, my son, Daniel graduates from college this weekend. I can’t believe these four years have passed so quickly. I still remember that fall day when, after helping him move into the freshman dorm, I said good-bye. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a parent and I have to do it two more times! But the last thing I did before leaving that day was give Daniel a hug-and you know, in these four years since, the first thing he does when he gets home is find me and hug me and the last thing he does when he leaves is find me and hug me. He’s grown now-but for him physical touch is still a powerful way to communicate love. It is for me too!

D.  A fourth way to express love for our children is by DISCIPLINING them.

You know one of the hottest reality shows on TV these days is Super-Nanny. I’ve watched a couple episodes-and do you know what makes this British lady so super? It’s not some superior wisdom-it’s not powers above those of mortal men. She doesn’t leap buildings in a single bound and is not faster than a speeding bullet. No, she just knows how to discipline kids. This super-nanny swoops down on a house where the kids are running things because parents have been too lazy to say NO and she sets up rules and lovingly enforces them and do you know what? Kids actually pick up their toys and go to bed when told to and do their homework and treat their parents respectfully. That’s the power-and importance of discipline. And part of the problem with families these days is that as I said many parents have either forgotten this or they are just too lazy.

A couple weeks ago I was listening to WTOP and heard a story about a parent who called 911 and said, “My daughter won’t behave…send a patrol car.” The 911 operator responded, “What do you want us to do? Come over and shoot her?” The operator was disciplined but I understand his frustration. Too many parents just don’t discipline their kids. They expect someone else to do it. Chip Ingram hits the nail on the head when he says,”Many parents focus too much on self-esteem and not enough on the esteem of others. Kids don’t have values because parents have been buddies instead of parents.”

You know, many people seem to believe that love FOR the child and discipline OF the child are at odds with each other-that they are mutually exclusive, even enemies. Some teach if you really love your child, you won’t need to discipline them or if you discipline your child he will have every reason to doubt your love. But this is just not true. The best way to make your child feel loved and secure is to discipline them when they need it-and all children need it!

Now, it’s important to understand the difference between punishment and discipline. The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty. The purpose of discipline is to promote growth. The focus of punishment is on the past. The focus of discipline is on the future. The motivation behind punishment is usually anger. And as I inferred, the motivation for discipline is love.

It’s all right here in the parental handbook that God provided. Proverbs 13:24 says,”If you refuse to discipline your son it proves you don’t love him.” Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t you’re helping them destroy themselves.”

Ruben Hill is a psychologist who has studied the effects of discipline in the home and he has discovered that there are basically four types of parents-producing four different types of children. Now as I describe it, I want you to ask yourselves two questions: Which type of parents were my mom and dad? And second, which type am I?

Type One is the parent who has HIGH LOVE but LOW DISCIPLINE and is referred to as the PERMISSIVE parent.

This kind of parent might say things like this, “You’re tired aren’t you. A paper route is a tough job. I’ll do it for you. You stay and watch TV.” Or “Please don’t get angry with me. You’re making a scene.” Hill found that this type of parent produces children with low self-image and inferiority complexes. These children feel very loved but are insecure because there are no boundaries.

Type Two is the parent who has LOW LOVE and LOW DISCIPLINE. It’s referred to as the NEGLECTFUL parent-and is the worst of the four types.

The child of this parent has little or no relationship with their mom or dad. They feel abandoned and forsaken. They think their parents don’t care what happens to them. Neglectful parents are not only absent when they are away from home. They also rob their children of one of the most important factors in their lives-emotional accessibility. When they are home, they usually are not listening or paying attention to their kids. The neglectful parent might say things like, “Work it out for yourself. Can’t you see I’m busy?” or “That’s your problem. I’ve got to get to work.”

Type Three is the parent who has LOW LOVE but HIGH DISCIPLINE and is referred to as the DOMINANT parent.

Children from these homes are provoked to rebellion because the parent has rule after rule after rule but no love whatsoever. The dominant parent might say things like this: “Rules are rules. You’re late-so go to bed with no dinner.” The children of these homes have little or no ability to conform to rules or authority and often turn into aggressive violent adults because as Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”

Type Four is the parent with HIGH LOVE and HIGH DISCIPLINE and this parent is referred to as the LOVING BUT FIRM parent.

This kind of mom or dad balances these two factors. They realize that genuine love and discipline go hand in hand and children from these homes usually turn out great. They have high self-image and excellent self-coping skills.

Now I think the main reason this last kind of parent is so rare is not because most parents don’t love their kids. They do-it’s just that as I said a moment ago, discipline is hard. It stinks when you’re going through it-but the product is wonderful. Reminds me of potty-training. The process is miserable but we all want the product! I still remember the joy I felt that day I purchased my last box of Pampers! Well loving but firm parents-moms and dads who love their kids enough to discipline them believe the product is worth the process no matter how difficult it may be. They cling to the promise that we find in Hebrews 12:11 where it says,”No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So, children need to be loved and they feel loved when we spend time with them, getting to know their uniqueness, expressing our love through meaningful tough and loving discipline

III. They Need a Church Family

And then a third thing children need to be properly nurtured is this. They need a church FAMILY to augment their parent’s nurturing.

As I said, this is a tough world for a child to grow up in. They need all the adult help they can get. These days parenting is often too much for just a mom and dad. They need help-and this is especially true of single parents. Well this is where a church family comes in. You see other adults who have already parented can share the things they have learned. They can also reinforce our parenting, saying the same things we say to our kids. This reminds me of a “Dear Ann Landers” column I came across.

Dear Ann Landers: I’m a 16-year old girls who is a nervous wreck from getting yelled at. All I hear from morning till night is,

“Stop smoking, get off the phone, hang up your clothes, do your homework, clean up your room.” How can I get them off my case? Signed, Sick of Parents.

Dear Sick: Stop smoking, get off the phone, hang up your clothes, do your homework and clean up your room.”

Well kids need other adults like Ms. Landers to echo our parenting…other adults to live the same morals, and sort of back up what their parents say and do. This helps the child to realize that their moms and dads aren’t disciplining this just to make them miserable-that all adults have the same basic standards.

Another thing-one of the benefits of a church family is the fact that they provide a support group for parents when our kids reject our teaching. And we need to understand that no matter how hard we try to do a good job as moms and dads, there are times when our kids will break our hearts and use their free-will to reject our parenting. I mean, you can use all these nuturing tips and still have kids that rebel. And, in times like these a loving, grace-driven church family is invaluable as they join hurting parents in praying for kids who have followed in the path of the prodigal son.

IV. They Need Parents who Partner with God

And then fourth, children need parents who PARTNER with God. You know, nurturing kids is very similar to nurturing the young plants in a garden. And as any green thumb worth his fertilizer will tell you, it is impossible to grow a garden without Divine help. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare the soil and weed and prune if you have no sunshine or rain. Gardens need God’s help to succeed. Well in a similar way, we can’t nurture kids-we can’t successfully raise our children without the aid of our Heavenly Father-our Creator and Redeemer. As Dr. Henry Brant has said, “A parent is a partner with God in making disciples of their children.”

So parents who want to nurture their kids must also nurture a relationship with God-in which they study His word for guidance and spend time on their knees asking for His help. During the school prayer debate, one U.S. senator was asked to address the annual men’s dinner at a local church. About 450 were present. The issue of school prayer was a very hot topic at the time. Well, in his speech the senator asked two questions. First, he said, “How many of you would like to see prayer restored in the public schools?” As far as he could tell, every hand was raised, with many “AMENS!” Then he asked, “How many of you pray with and for your children every morning at home?” The silence was embarrassing. Finally, a few raise their hands-but seemed to do so reluctantly. I wonder what would happen if I asked the same two questions this morning? Would our honest voting reveal our dependence on God as parents? Probably not. Well, why is it that we demand of the public school system and Congress that which so many of us are not doing in our own churches and homes? We need God’s help-especially these days-in order to nurture our kids on to adulthood.

You know, ALL of us need a parent. No matter how old we are, we need Someone wiser to nurture us…to guide us…to correct us when we do wrong. We need Someone to love us…Someone Who knows us better than we know ourselves. And the only being in the universe qualified to parent us in this way is God….and the Bible repeatedly tell us that He loving offers to fulfill that need. In Galatians 4 it says, “When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

The good news of the Gospel then, is that God wants to be our parent and that’s great because He is the perfect parent. He knows about our inherent sin nature and loves us enough to provide us with necessary discipline: In Revelation 3:19 He says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” If you are not a Christian I urge you to allow Him to adopt you this morning. Admit to Him your sin…your need for His forgiveness and guidance. Put your faith in Jesus Christ. Give Him your life to use as He sees fit.

If you are here today and are already a Christian but don’t have a church home perhaps our Heavenly Father is guiding you to join this church family. Or, you may want to respond to this message by coming forward and praying at the altar, asking God to help you be a better parent.

If you have a decision that you wish to make public I encourage you to do so now, as we stand and sing, by walking forward and sharing it with me as we stand and sing.