Fight for the Family

Christian parenting will lead to a stronger family.

Linn Winters
Apr 15, 2018    38m
In this sermon Pastor Linn Winters talks about fighting for your family. He compares it to having a gym membership. Meaning you get out of the experience what you put into the experience. Just as working out makes our bodies stronger, christian parenting makes our families stronger. He highlights this by using the story of Eli from the first book of Samuel. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn Winters: 00:30 Hey cornerstone. How are you guys doing?

Linn Winters: 00:36 Man, I'm really, really glad you're here today. I think you know, we're starting a brand new series on family. And guys, this is a pivotal conversation. This is a conversation that changes lives. It changes everything and for the better. And so my encouragement to you is just this. Look, I can promise you right now, I can promise you that somewhere in the next five weeks you're going to go, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's not what my parents did. Good, okay, it's not what my neighbors did. No, no, no, you're right, it's not what you see on TV. But I'm just telling you guys, if we can figure this out, if we can kind of reel in our lives and say, look, look, look, the standard from now on is not going to be what everybody else is doing with their family. The standard's going to be what God created and intended this to be. And I'm just going to invest, I'm going to put in the time to have an exceptional, remarkable family. If I get, ready for this, if I get nothing else right in my life, if I never get the career path I wanted to get, if I never buy that second vacation home, I don't care if I get family right. This is probably the second most important thing in your entire life. Do I know Jesus? Am I following Jesus? Did I get my family right? I'm just telling you that's how critical is.

Linn Winters: 01:46 So here's my challenge, lean in, lean. And as you hear those things, that may be a confusion, maybe even upset you. Lean in and then have the courage to say, you know what, I'm just going to try it. I mean, I've already screwed my kids up so bad anyways, what could it hurt, right? So I'm going to try it for a couple of weeks. I'm just going to see what would happen if I do this. And then let's just watch the wonder as God takes your and my families to absolutely new places. Places where we didn't even think our kids could go. Right? And have a awful lot of fun doing it. Hey, as we get ready to start this, I just want to do a quick shout out to San Tan, and to our Scottsdale campus. And I don't need to tell you guys to lean in, you guys are already leaning in. Okay, but man, just so proud you guys are part of this journey and part of the conversation we're going to have the next five weeks. And my encouragement to all of us, all of us, is this...make every week, for the next five weeks. Because the week you miss is the week you need, right? So let's make it then. Your family is worth the next five weeks and the conversation that we're going to have together.

Linn Winters: 02:58 All right. Today's a tough day, because I'm going to try to sell a gym membership. And maybe, maybe, maybe even harder than that, I'm going to try to convince you to use it. Not an actual gym membership, but here's the deal, what you and I've got to do in this process of fighting for the family is an awful lot like being a member of a gym. Because here's the deal. There's a whole bunch of us who are members of the gym, we're just not participants at the gym. Right? And you can have a gym membership, but if you don't participate, you get none of the benefit. And some of us in our families, we're members of a family, we're just not high level participants. And here's the thing you are going to need to know, you're going to get out of your family what you put into your family. In the same way you get out of your gym, what you put into your gym. Isn't it true you can be standing in line at the grocery store and someone's standing in front of you, and if they are serious gym rats and you don't even have to ask. The tee shirt fits just right, her thighs are just rock solid, right? And you go well, that's pretty obvious, they're serious about the gym.

Linn Winters: 04:06 How cool would it be? Ready for this? How cool would it be when you and I get done with this conversation that we'd be standing in line at the store, people see our kids in preschool, and they would say boy those people are serious about their family. It's obvious by the love, and the behavior, and just the sense of belonging, it's obvious. Those people, have put some serious investment into their family. How cool would that conversation be? And guys, here's why this is critical. Because your family, at some point it's going to end up in the cage. At some point your family is going to end up in a fight. And if you don't train ahead of time, if you don't put in the preparation work before you get in the cage, your family's going to get knocked out in the first round.

Linn Winters: 04:58 But how powerful is it when you watch MMA, I don't know if you watch MMA, but to watch and there's that go man this is the fifth round, he looks like it's the first round. You know he spent time on conditioning, you know she prepared for that fight. And that's what you and I are going to do. Because there's going to be a moment when your family is going to be in the middle of fight. And I don't know what it is, I don't know if it's when your 16 year old daughter is in the backseat with her boyfriend and he says, "Hey, if you love me." I don't know if it's going to be when someone in your family gets cancer, and now all of a sudden people are saying, "well wait, where's God? Where's God when you need him? And if God really loved us how come?" And your family is going to be a fight for their faith. I don't know if it's going to be when one of your kids just goes crazy. And you go, "Hey, how can this happen? How can this happen in a good Christian home?" See I I don't. I don't when the fights happening. I don't even know what type of fight it is. But you know this and I know this. Your family will not go without a fight. The fight is coming. The question is, have you and I prepared for the fight? Have we fought for and prepared for the moment when our family is in the fight. So that they go through the fight, and win instead of getting knocked out in the first round. And that's the conversation we're going to have.

Linn Winters: 06:24 Here's the interesting thing. You ready for this? And this is going to be at the seat of everything we talk about. It's got to push us in a new direction. You realize God is the creator of family. You got that right. Roseanne Barr did not come up with the idea of family, God did. So I don't care how many people are watching her new show. She doesn't have the right answer. God came up with this idea of family. And literally think about this, made it the bedrock, made it the cornerstone of all society. The family. Which means it's super important that you and I get this right, and it also means he's probably the one you want to ask your questions to.

Linn Winters: 07:05 So here we go. Grab your bibles, and we're going to go to first Samuel, and we're going to walk through the process of a guy and unfortunately he doesn't do well with family. So we're going to learn from his mistakes. We're going to literally see what he does, and we're going to turn and go exactly the opposite direction from him. It's first Samuel, if you're not familiar, if you go to the front of your Bible and start working to the right you're going to find this book of First Samuel. If you get to second Samuel, you've gone too far. Some of you will get that tonight.

Linn Winters: 07:37 First Samuel, chapter two, and let me set this up for a second. The story is the story of a high priest in Israel. His name is Eli, and at the point that we jumped into the conversation, he's older. He's up in years and he's semi-retired. He's still high priest, but he's allowing his sons to do most of the priestly duties. The problem is, his sons are a mess, his family is a mess. And you and I are going to peek into the story to see how did we get there, what could he and should he have done to make things just a little bit different? So here we go. It's first Samuel, chapter two, starting in verse 12. Here's what it says about Eli's sons, Eli sons, the ones that were serving as the priest, were scoundrels. That's Bible for they were really messed up. They were scoundrels and they had no regard for God. So think about this, they're serving as high priests, and they have no regard for God. Matter of fact, the next few verses go on to describe, that how when people will bringing their sacrifice to the temple, the sons of Eli were stealing the meat. They were stealing the temple sacrifice meat, no regard for God, let alone the people they were stealing from. And then they're eating it themselves, they're selling it in the market.

Linn Winters: 09:17 Now skip down, go with me to verse 22. Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything that his sons were doing to all Israel. And chapter two, are you ready? How they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent meeting. So not only are they stealing, they're serving as priest in the temple, they're stealing. But now they're using their position, their authority, to manipulate the young ladies who are working at the temple to sleep with them. And you go, wow they're just a huge, huge mess. Clearly a dysfunctional, screwed up family. And here's the thing that's interesting, Eli, dad is a good guy. Matter of fact the book of Samuel, you ready for this, was written by a guy named Samuel. Who actually was an apprentice to Eli. And Eli is literally the most significant man, the most significant influence, in the life of Samuel. Who goes on to be a remarkable prophet of God, and yet you ready for this, that doesn't show up in Eli sons. I'm convinced, you ready for this, Eli, while he was serving as high priest saw working with his intern Samuel as part of his job. He's fully invested in his job, but when he comes home, he's checked out. And although Eli is a good man, his sons don't experience that, because he Eli's tired by the time he comes home. Now let's talk about this, because again guys, family is big. This becomes Eli's biggest regret, that he was a great priest and a lousy dad.

Linn Winters: 11:18 Okay and I'm just going to tell you guys, if you get nothing else right. I don't care how bright and shiny the little badges on your door, I don't care what emblem you've got on the hood of your car, I don't care if you get the second vacation home. If your family doesn't land, it won't matter. Because family is a big, big, big, big, big deal, maybe the most second most important thing. It's why we are to fight for it. Okay, let's talk about this, let's talk about why families are a big deal. There are some benefits to family that we all know. I mean If I said to you, hey, what are families good for? And you would say, oh, well, families are good because they provide a safe place to kind of figure out life. Families are a place of acceptance. I mean you're always accepted in your family. No matter how messed up, screwed up, you're always accepted in your family. Family is where we learn to deal with conflict. That's why God gives us stupid brothers and sisters, so we can learn to deal with conflict, right? Some of the best stuff we learn in life, we learn in family. Basically, ready for this, family is there to help you and I from becoming a pack of wolves. That is what it does. Matter of fact, so yesterday, I drive to McDonald's. I drive to McDonald's to get some sandwiches. So most of you I think know, that my granddaughter Catalina lives with us. So I come back from McDonald's. I bought everybody breakfast and as soon as I walked in the room.

Linn Winters: 12:46 Catalina looks at me and says, "Give me mine. "

Linn Winters: 12:46 To which I responded with, "What?"

Linn Winters: 12:46 She said, "Give me mine."

Linn Winters: 13:02 I said, "Catalina, who got up, took their time to go to Old McDonald's." She heard the song before she discovered McDonald's. So she's pretty sure Old McDonald owns McDonald's. "Who took the time to go to Old McDonald's, who paid for your sandwich, who remembered how to order it the way you like it and then brought the sandwich home?"

Linn Winters: 13:28 To which her response was, "Oh."

Linn Winters: 13:33 Okay, well we get it right. Family is what keeps us from being a pack of wolves. It's what helps us learn the things we have to learn in life. There's something that family was intended for, you ready for this, to reflect the very person of God. And it's this part of the family that we most misunderstand. But when we don't get this part of family right, it's what becomes the most destructive within our family.

Linn Winters: 13:58 Let me if I can unpack this for you for a minute. And here's what I need you to say out loud. So what I'm about to kind of walk through you're going to find portions of it in scripture, and then what I've done is I filled in. I said, "Okay here's the job description that God gives, here's what God says we're supposed to do, and then I have filled in some of the consequences that I've seen. How did I fill them in? Seventeen years of being a youth pastor, twenty two years of counseling people in the church. And going, hey, what shows up, what shows up when we don't do this very well? So what happens? What's the difference when someone who comes either from a broken family? Or from a family that's passive and just says hey, we're not going to get involved, we're not going to do family right, we're just going to survive family. We're not going to engage, we're going to have membership, but we're not going to participate. And I'm just telling you that when you look at these two people. People who come from a that was good, and solid, and active, and healthy and people who come either from a broken family or come from a family where the parents just said, hey, we're just going to put in our time. You can predict with huge accuracy, the struggles that are going to go on in that person's life. It just immediately takes everything that's hard and makes it harder.

Linn Winters: 15:18 Here's why, you ready for this, because you and I were intended to get our image of God from our family. When you have a mom and dad both together. Okay, you've got dad, you've got mom, there is a balancing effect there. There's something wonderful about that blending that becomes the primary conduit through which our children learn how to view God. They're going to get their idea, their understanding of who God is, by the reflection of their parents and their parents behavior in the context of family. On the dad's side they're going to get justice. Hey, you just sassed your mom? You get a spanking, you get timeout, whatever that is. Justice and the idea of truth. Hey, that's true, and that's a lie. That's right, that's wrong. That comes from Dad's side. From Mom's side they're going to get compassion. Hey, you need to understand the heart. You need to get where they were coming from. What you're doing is harsh, and it will break a spirit. Compassion and restoration. Hey, they may have blown it, but they're still part of the family. How do we do this? And think about this, aren't those absolutely the image of God that you and I serve. A God who is just and true, who does not overlook wrongs or sins that we commit. Who says, "Hey, there's a consequence to that." And yet in that moment acts with absolute compassion and says, "Hey, we don't throw anyone away." We're talking about restoration here. We're talking about putting our arms around. Okay? And so out of that, we learn to respect God, and we learned to love God.

Linn Winters: 17:35 OK, you ready? Primary source for our understanding of who God is, comes from this interaction within the family. Now, also in the midst of that, on mom's side...Mom as a standalone, is the primary source for helping us understand unconditional love. I mean, isn't that true? I mean how many times as dads have we said, "If we would just kill them, it would solve everything. He's five years old, he can make it on his own." And mom's going no, no, no, no, no, no. Right? Unconditional love. And it's where we get that, she's the primary conduit in which we begin to contextualize God and understand his unconditional love for us. And you ready, second chances. Hey, you may have blown it, but we're not giving up on you second chances.

Linn Winters: 19:16 Dads, dads are the primary conduit, anybody want to guess? How to be a jerk. No. Primary, ready, primary conduit Dads, for sexuality. Hey, you doubt this, you doubt this. Be a dad who looks at images on the internet you have no business looking at, be a dad that when that little gal comes walking by and her daisy duke shorts and you lock in and let your kids see it. And here's what I'm going to tell you, I don't even have to guess, I can tell you how your daughters are going to dress. I can tell you how your sons are not going to respect women. Because the primary conduit, the primary context in which they get this, Dads. Second, morals. Look ladies, here's what you're going to hear me say. I'm not saying that you're not a contributing. I'm not saying that. I'm simply saying there's something in the way that God has tuned us and wired us. That the loudest voice in the room about, hey, that's right, that's wrong, you should, you shouldn't, is dad. He is the deepest, brightest reflection of that. And this is why, you ready for this, this is why families are huge. Think about this, and I guarantee you there's some in the room you're going to go, "Lynn, no, no, no, this makes a ton of sense for me. Some of us have come from hemorrhaged home's. You've come from homes where mom and dad split up. And I guarantee you if you have, you have struggled with a portion of this in your life. And seeing God as a loving father who also affirms justice. I guarantee you have. You struggled with your sexuality, and whether that's porn or whatever, you struggled. And, or families in which either mom or dad checked out. They didn't participate, so you didn't get to see that image and you've struggled. It's just how God built it. One of the most core things that we don't understand and yet is so essential to the very purpose and fiber of a family is that it's from the family, is from that relationship between mom and dad, that literally demonstrates to us the character and the person of God. It changes how we navigate the rest of our lives.

Linn Winters: 21:24 So let's go back now. Remember Eli? Remember the conversation? And we're saying, hey, wait a minute, here's a guy who missed out. Didn't get it right. How does Eli miss this in his family? What goes wrong in Eli's family, that they ended up so off track? So go back to the passage first Samuel Chapter two, starting in verse 23. So we're just going keep reading where we were, first Samuel Chapter two, verse 23. Here is what I want you to do. Read between the lines, because what we're about to read is not obvious until you stop and think about. Okay, read between the lines. Verse Twenty Three. So he, Eli, finds out what his sons are doing and now he's confronting them. Okay, he sits them down and he says to him, so he said to them, "Why do you do such things?" Why are you stealing the temple food? Why are you messing around with the young ladies who serve at the temple? Why, how would you even think about doing this? "I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of years. No, my son's. The report I hear spreading among the Lord's people is not good. If one person sins against another God may mediate for the offender." God may stand in the middle and try to solve this. But if anyone sins against the Lord, I mean if you're just flat out going against God, who will intercede for them? Guys, this is crazy. Why would you do this? What does Eli miss? He's all talk and no go. Eli is still high priest. He could fire those boys in an instant. He can say, "Nope, you do not have that job anymore." He's still their dad. And especially, even though they're older, within oriental culture, he has every ability to bring consequences in their lives even though they're full grown men. And Eli stops at talking, even though he has the ability to go further. Because at the end of the day Eli's passive.

Linn Winters: 23:44 This is like the husband says to his kids, "Hey, don't talk to your mom like that.", and then stops. What's that kid going to do the next time they're frustrated with their mom, they're going to talk to their mom like that. Because you didn't follow through, he's passive. This is why you don't even have to read it. Chances are, here's Eli, Eli was working in the temple when he was a young man. He'd come home late at night because he was working really hard to put his career up and really, really serve the community well. And so after doing long hours, he'd come home and watch sports center. He'd check out the scores from the gladiatorial games. Right? And then, you know, so he can do his father part, you know, at the end of the night he'd tuck his kids in bed and say, "Hey, I love you." And he thought he was being a parent. But the reality is he's been passive. So he's, ready for this, he's going to the gym. He's just not picking up any of the heavyweights. You know he's doing the five pounders. Right? And I'm just telling you, you're never going to see results that way. If you're just mailing it in. If you're just saying, "Hey, all right. I'm going to do a couple of things to kind of you know show up every once in a while with it." Guys, you are not preparing your family. You are not going to have them ready for the fight. You're going to have to dial up some weights on this thing, and you're going to start doing some major working out; right, if you're actually going to prepare your family.

Linn Winters: 25:34 Here's the interesting thing, ready for this, being passive is just as disruptive has leaving. Let me say that again. Staying in your family and choosing to be passive, although I want to encourage you to stay right, but being passive is just as destructive as not being there. Think about your gym membership. You say, "Hey, at least I didn't cancel my gym membership. I just don't go." You're going to get the same result as the person who canceled their membership. It's why you and I got to fight for our families. It's why there's a power when you and I step in and say, I'm going to start lifting the heavy weights. Watch this okay? Through his passivity Eli does not contribute that to his family.

Linn Winters: 26:30 Guess what his sons struggle with? They struggle to respect God, they struggle with their sexuality. They're taking advantage of the young ladies at the temple. Their morals were all screwed up. They're stealing temple meat. Isn't that interesting?

Linn Winters: 26:51 Moms if you check out. See if you think being a mom is simply taking kids to soccer practice so you can do Facebook while they play. If you check out, that's what your kids don't get. They never understand God is a loving God who has compassion, and who restores the unconditional love of God in their lives. This is maybe the most critical thing in our families, and it's the least understood thing and our families. And you and I cannot afford to do what Eli did, and be passive or check out.

Linn Winters: 27:28 So interesting, every once and awhile I'll have someone comes to me and says, "You know we're getting a divorce."

Linn Winters: 27:28 I go "What?"

Linn Winters: 27:28 "We're getting a divorce."

Linn Winters: 27:35 "Why are you going to divorce?"

Linn Winters: 27:36 "Well, me and my spouse, all we do is fight. We fight. So the whole home is toxic. All our kids are seeing is us fighting with each other. And we just came to the conclusion that it's better for our kids to live in an environment that's peaceful with one parent, than it is for them to live in a place that's toxic with two.

Linn Winters: 27:58 "You know what, that is not the right decision. You know what the right decision is? Stop fighting. Grow up, go to a counselor, learn how to disagree without saying angry, mean hurtful things. Learn how to be grownups. But don't hemorrhage your family and take out part. Which side would you choose for your kids to grow up without? Because that's what you're doing when you either divorce or you go passive. Which of those sides would you say hey, my kids don't need that?

Linn Winters: 28:46 Here's what's interesting about Eli. He's a good guy. He's a good guy. He ends up being the mentor for Samuel. He is the most significant man in Samuel's life. And Samuel goes on to be remarkable. So here's what you just need to know. Eli has the capacity. He simply has checked out. Which here's the fun part of that. If you would check in. If you would just say, hey look, if I don't get anything else right, I am checking in. I'm going to begin to show up at the gym, I'm going to begin to lift the heavyweights, I'm going to start bodybuilding my family. You realize the capacity to literally just move, to just change everything about your home. You have it. You just haven't been showing up at the gym yet.

Linn Winters: 29:50 What should Eli have done? What should have been his response? And it's just this simple, if you don't get anything else from the conversation that we've had today than take this home, Eli should have decided to fight. To fight for his family, to say, "Look I'm going to prepare my sons for when they're tempted to steal, I'm going to prepare my sons when they've got power in their lives not to manipulate young women, and I'm going to prepare my family for when they're in the thick of it to come out winners. So I'm going to do the heavy lifting. I'm going to the gym.

Linn Winters: 30:28 And as you and I continue this conversation over the next few weeks, you're going to feel us push into your life in two areas, two ways. And I'm just going to encourage you to go with us on it. Number one is this, engage, engage, engage at a level that you've never engaged before. Engage on a level that says, "Hey, this is where I've been in my commitment, this is how often I've showed up to the gym, this is how often I've checked into my family; and I'm going to move my engagement to a whole new place. I'm going to work to take my family to a whole new level of preparation for the fight that they're going to see." When you go to the gym, you get from the gym, what you put into the gym. When it comes to the family, you get out of the family, what you put in to the family, so engage.

Linn Winters: 31:22 Second thing, I'm going to ask us to begin to change our direction and to choose to become Christ centered homes. To say, "Look here's the deal, I don't care what they're showing on TV. I don't care what my neighbors do. I don't even care if this makes my family weird. I don't care. I'm choosing to have a Christ centered family. I'm ready. I'm not going to take my cues from culture, I'm not going to take my cues from the Kardashians, I'm not going do that, right? I'm going to turn and I'm going to take my cues for how my family should be from Christ. I'm going to be a Christ centered family." You know what my fear is? That all too often, here's what we do, we watch all sorts of reality TV shows. We watch Modern Family and we go, "Hey, my family is not near as screwed up as that, so it must be pretty healthy." And so here we are about an arm's length away from chaos and we think we're doing okay. You know why? Because we've been watching everybody else's messed up home and we're better than that. And the truth is, what we should've done is turned and said, "Jesus, what did you build us to be?" Because if you got to this end of the site your family would be so much different, and so remarkably strong and healthy. If Jesus was the focus and not Roseanne Barr.

Linn Winters: 33:04 So let me just ask you some questions. If you were a Christ centered family, if you did this turn, and went this way. Would it change how you talk to each other in your family? Would it change how you talk to your spouse? Would it change how you talk to your kids? If you were a Christ centered family? If you're a Christ centered family, would it change the time you spend being a family? Driving kids to dance practice is not family time. If you were a Christ centered home, how often would you go to church? I'm just asking if you were a Christ centered home, would waking up on Sunday, would church be an option? A maybe? If you we're a Christ centered home?

Linn Winters: 34:05 And I'm just going to ask you to go on the journey that says, if I were to change my perspective, if I were to change my mind. Because guys, there's a power, there's a power when the family is the family. And when we do this the way God says to do it. And how fun, think about this, how fun would it be that there comes the day that your neighbors are saying, 'What in the heck? What's going on in your home? Why do you and your spouse love each other so much? Why are your kids so well behaved? How come when struggles come, your kids just float on through? What is that? And I'm jealous, and I'm intrigued, and I'm curious to know why your home is so different from my home."

Linn Winters: 35:01 Let's bow our heads.

Linn Winters: 35:11 An interesting part of the story. Eli never invests, he never reengages. The story ends like this. His sons go off with the armies of Israel to battle. And because they have not honored God, God chooses not to protect them, and so they both die on the same day. And when the messenger comes back to Eli and says, "Hey, both of your sons have died." The scripture says he was sitting on a chair. He stiffened up his body. The chair rocked backwards he began to fall. And the Bible says, because he was so heavy, when his head hit the wall it snapped his neck and the family of Eli parishes in a day. How much better would the story have been had Eli engaged. Had Eli decided to go after his sons, to model God in front of them, and they changed.

Linn Winters: 36:30 You guys, I just want to say to you in this room, because I know some of us are going, "Hey, my kids were already teenagers and I can already see the effects of not going to the gym." Some of us say, "Hey, I'm grandparents." And I mean, I'm just telling you, until your kids are dead, you've got a shot. Until that final bell rings, go to the gym, go after your family. Fight for your family.

Linn Winters: 37:03 Dear Lord Jesus, we simply come to the moment. And God, it suddenly washes over us, this may be the second most important conversation of our lives apart from knowing you as savior and following you as Lord. This is probably the second most important thing we ever do in our lives is get family right. And God this is hard enough anyways because even if we do what we're supposed to do, there aren't any guarantees. We could still have kids who struggle. We could still have marriages that have hard times. But if we don't go to the gym, if we don't invest, we know the answer. So God, rally or hearts, move us to fight for our families. Because we know our families will end up in a fight. And this we pray, in Jesus name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286