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      This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Nurturing the Christian Faith
      2 Timothy 1:1–14
      Oct. 2, 2016

       T IMOTHY’S FAMILY HELPED FORM HIM into the leader he became. Paul’s affirmation of young Timothy’s spiritual nurturing by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois.

      The home is a root and sanctuary of Gospel ministry. Because mom and grandmom are mentioned, this might lead you to think that this is woman’s work. Sometimes that becomes the reality. There are times when moms are the ones who make sure the children are in church. Dads are doing whatever they, misguidingly, think is more important on Sunday morning.

      Timothy’s dad, it appears, is not a Christian. So, it’s left up to grandmother Lois and mother Eunice to help him to know Christ and grow in faith.

       † † † 

      THANK YOU, GRANDPARENTS AND PARENTS who prioritize faith:

      ● Your sincere faith passed to your children and grandchildren.
      ● Your example that nurtures a budding faith in little ones.
      ● Your faithful perseverance lived in ways that influence your offspring.

      Mom, dad, grandparents, extended family are essential in nurturing the Christian faith in children. Timothy’s exposure to the faith within his family is what eventually brings him to be the leader of the church in Ephesus. You are the foundation of a child’s faith. You are responsible to see that prayer and devotions and Christian practice are lived at home. You are responsible for insuring that children are brought to church.

      The most important factor by far in the lives of teens who develop a faith that sticks is a parent who walks with them through their faith journey.

      Studies conducted as to why children and youth leave the church show there’s no one answer. There are deep reasons — more than music or lack of friends — why some young adults walk away.

       † † † 

      Shallow belief system
      IN HER BOOK Almost Christian, Kenda Creasy Dean explains that many times, children and youth learn what’s called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Several years ago I preached a sermon using this book as the resource. If you’re interested, I have it in my office. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is this:

      1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
      2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
      3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
      4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
      5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

      Conduct replaces relationship with Christ.

       † † † 

      No room for doubt
      THEY HAVE QUESTIONS and the church and parents don’t help answer them. and the church and parents don’t help answer them. Questions are ignored. Doubt is considered a sin. They ask and we shush them.

      ● “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
      ● “If God cared about me, then I wouldn’t feel so (depressed, sad, lonely.)”
      ● “How can/do Christians believe in evolution?”
      ● “Why didn’t God answer my prayer for my parents not to divorce?”

      Many times they either get poor answers or no from us. They then turn to places outside the Christian faith where they get bad answers.

       † † † 

      STUDENTS WITH AN ENDURING FAITH are raised in a church and family that emphasizes a relationship with Christ as opposed to an adherence to a set of rules. They develop a clear understanding of the Gospel and biblical faith:

      ● What it means to be saved by grace.
      ● What it means for the Holy Spirit to live in and transform our lives.
      ● What it means to walk with God.

      On the other hand, these same studies show youth with sticky faith are surrounded by a multi-generational faith community. When teens are involved with other age groups the more likely they are keep their faith. And not surprisingly, teens with few or little significant caring adults didn’t stick with their faith.

       † † † 

      THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR by far in each of the faith lives of teens is a parent who is willing to walk with them through their faith journey. Somehow I don’t think Lois and Eunice dropped Timothy off at the church and say “fix him” or “teach him.” I don’t think they used the church as a babysitting service while they did something else. No, Lois and Eunice took seriously the charge of being the primary spiritual developers of Timothy.

      What does that look like?

      ● Have faith conversations on a regular basis. May be difficult at first.
      ● Create an atmosphere where questions are welcomed and dialogue is a part of everyday life.
      ● Talk about the sermon on the way home. (What did you like? What did you disagree with?)
      ● Share times when you struggled with your own doubts.
      ● Make your home a place where your teen can explore all aspects of his/her faith.

      I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandparents and in your mother and father and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. What a great testament when spoken to our children.

      Keith Cardwell    



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      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367


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