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Summary: Parenting is probably the most rewarding and yet most difficult responsibility that God has given us. The sermon explores ways that God has modeled effective parenting for us.

How to be the parent God wants me to be.

Luke 15:11-32 9/15/02

Remember the story of the little boy that went into the store and told the grocer that he needed a box of tide. What do you need a box of tide for, and the little boy said I’m gonna wash my cat. Son, he said, I think tide is a little strong for a cat. But the boy was insistent so he sold it to him. A week later the boy was back in the store. The grocer saw him and said, "Son, how’s your cat doing." My cat’s dead, he said. Well, the grocer replied, I told you tide was too strong for him." Oh I don’t think it was the tide, said the little boy, I think it was the spin cycle that did him in.

Well, kids can put you through the spin cycle sometimes and we want to talk this morning about the greatest challenge in the world - and that’s effective parenting. And we need the help. I mean think about it. The Perfect God of the Universe had two children, Adam and Eve and they couldn’t obey? So I don’t think I can’t expect an easy job of it either.

I remember a couple years ago putting my daughter Kelsey to bed. She was five year old at the time and Kelsey hadn’t had the greatest day obedience wise, and I loved her prayer that night. She said, dear God thank you for helping me be good today. and then she paused and said, “Except that naughty part”

Well, if it wasn’t for that naughty part, parenting would be a breeze. But the naughty part is there isn’t it and I’ve seen it in all three of my children.

A couple years ago my three year old Bubby was absolutely adamant that he did not want to sleep in his crib…every night he ended up in our bed. And I was getting tired. I finally had enough of it and I told Lara, we’ve got to get tough with this kid. No matter what he does, he is not coming in our bed tonight.

I put him in his crib and go back to my bed. A few seconds later I hear,

“Daddy, hold you” Go to sleep Bubby.

“Bubby sleep daddy’s bed” Go to sleep Bubby

Bubby sleep daddy’s pillow. Go to sleep Bubby

Daddy, my diaper’s wet. (I’m not falling for it)

Silent for a minute and then I hear, “Daddy I’m chokin’” –I got up and got him….

But I love my children. And when I think of my kids, I think of kids that believe their daddy can take away all the hurts and scrapes and scares and difficulties life will bring, Kids who think more of their daddy than he’ll ever be able to be. And parenting is one of those responsibilities and privileges we never can quite live up to, but we never stop trying.

John Wilmot said, “Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories. And buddy it can change you. But the good news is that the Bible offers real and practical help for all of us as we deal with our children or grandchildren or kids in the church and community.

Now our text was in Luke 15:11-31 and I’m not going to take the time to read all of that this morning. You can reference that and read the story later, but it’s a very well known parable about the prodigal son. (RECAP)

Now that’s a beautiful story with dual applications. The main lesson in that story is that the Father is God, we are the prodigals that have wandered, but we have a heavenly Father that will always receive us back if we are only willing to return to him.

But that’s not the only lesson in the story, and while the emphasis is usually placed on the son I want us to think about the dad for a minute and find what his story tells us about parenting.

One of the first things we see is that he was a loving father and wanted the best for his son. And that means that he had to make some difficult decisions.

And I think we see this in two areas – first he obviously had set down some rules. Why did the boy want to leave home in the first place? And it had to be because he felt restricted in what he was allowed to do. That means there were ground rules. This is something you can or can’t do. And the boy didn’t like that.

But an essential to a Godly home is that there be order and guidelines so as to produce Godly and disciplines children.

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