Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Family's Long-Lasting Influence

Leslie Basham: Do you know how much each family matters? Here’s Bill Elliff. 

Bill Elliff: If you said, “What can one family do to really change the world? You can raise up a family with a red hot faith, that understands their gifts, that knows the truth, that has a sense of calling, that realizes they can make a difference in this world.

Then you can train them, "Children, we want you to have children—physical children and spiritual children— that you disciple and develop." Teach them to do the same, who will do the same, who will do the same. In a future generations, our one family is going to send out millions of disciples who will help advance the Kingdom of God.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 17.

Nancy: So much of being a mom is wrapped up in relatively mundane, thankless tasks. It’s easy for moms to get discouraged and wonder if they’re really making any kind of difference.

Well for the last couple days, Bill and Holly Elliff have shared their experience as parents of eight children. They have trying to encourage parents to believe that all the investment we make in the next generation really does matters.

We’re about to get to the final installment of this message that was recorded at the True Woman '12 conference.

Before we hear from Bill and Holly, let me remind you that True Woman '14 will be here before you know it. It’s coming to Indianapolis this coming October 9–11.

Janet Parshall will be one of the speakers this year. Here she is on the value of coming to True Woman.

Janet Parshall: I would say if you want to consider coming to a True Woman conference, don't come, don't you dare come if you don't plan on being changed. Because if you come to a True Woman Conference, Jesus is lifted up; His Word is taught—line upon line, precept upon precept.

No woman I know who goes to a True Woman Conference doesn't come away impacted and potentially changed for the rest of her life.

Nancy: Along with my friend Janet Parshall, we’ll also be joined by Pastor Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, Angie Smith, Lauren Chandler, and Blair Linne who is a spoken word artist, along with several others that I know will be a great encouragement to your walk with the Lord.

True Woman '14 will be in Indianapolis October 9–11. Early registration is going on right now. You can get a special discounted rate between now and May 1. Let me encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com where you can get all the details. You can register yourself, or if you want to bring a group with you, you can register them as well.

Now let’s hear from Pastor Bill Elliff along with his wife,Holly, reminding you why your investment in the next generation is so important. 

Bill: So we're, very quickly this afternoon, kind of stirring up this mix and we're putting all these things in there that have to, and need to, be in a home to create this white-hot center that's really going to shake the world. It begins with this sincere faith, right? This real faith. It's cultivated by stirring up spiritual gifts in your life and your children, your family, your husband—helping your family really reach its full potential.

And then instilling a sense of courage and a sense of calling, so that we know, "Hey, we're going to do this. We're unashamed. We'll even suffer for this, but we're not going to back off of what God has called us to do." He's put this grace deposit in us, and now He wants to give that to other people.

And then we want you to see in the last few minutes two other really important ingredients that need to be in this mix to create this home. One of those is what we'd call "sound words." He says this in verses 13 and 14: "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, and the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you."

That word standard is an interesting word. It means kind of a skeleton idea. It's like an architect who's about to build something, but he draws out a sketch. So what he's saying here is that we need to have a kind of a sketch of sound words—the skeleton of biblical doctrine and biblical truth.

And then he says, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me." In other words, "I've invested this in you." I think it's really critical to pause right here and say that the training of our family is not somebody else's responsibility primarily—it's yours, it's mine. So often as a pastor, people come and drop their kids off at church, and they say, "You've got an hour-and-a-half—now train my child and correct all the influences that have come all week long." It's impossible to do that.

At our church we say, "We are not responsible for the ultimate training of your children. You are, and we're going to come alongside and help you." So it means, ladies, that we have got to be investing the skeleton of biblical truth into the hearts of our family, into the hearts of our children.

He says we do that in faith in love. We bring them to the point where they believe those things, they know those things, they're depending upon those things, and they know how to communicate those things and live them out in love. It's not just sterile doctrine—"I know all these doctrines and all these truths. I know how to love people, and I have the balance of truth and grace in my life."

And then he says, "You need to guard these truths." That indicates that there's going to be an attack, that somebody's going to come after my children to try to take those truths away.

Listen carefully: Timothy was a third-generation Christian, and he owed his sincere faith to the groundwork done in his life by his mother and grandmother, who taught him in the Scriptures from infancy. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:15 says that, "From childhood you have known the holy Scriptures that have brought you salvation."

So here's the issue: Timothy lived in a home where he got the spiritual and biblical basics. He got them from his family, he learned how to trust those truths, he learned how to handle those truths in love, and he knew how to guard what had been entrusted to him, so it would be his and he would have it the rest of his life.

I want to ask you two very important questions: What are the essential truths that are vital to your family? You've got a child for eighteen years. Do you know what are the ten truths, that are the critical truths, that if those truths don't get into the heart of your kids, the heart of your family, they're going to go out and be really swayed by the lies of the world?>

What are those truths, and—here's the second question—how am I going to invest those in the life of my child? How am I going to get those truths—with all the other things coming at them—how are we possibly going to get those inculcated in the heart, the life, the spirit, the practice of my children and of my family? Because that's the only way we're going to change the world. Because the truth is what really sets people free.

Can I make a couple of suggestions in just a brief moment? One of the ways we do that is through planned teaching. In other words, I think we ought to have some kind of systematic way—it's in concert with other people and other things, but we know that over the course of my child's life, we're going to be taking the truth, and we're going to be walking through it, and we're going to be pouring it into the heart of our child.

It would be fascinating to go home and sit down with your husband, if you have a husband—a believing husband—and say, "Can we write down the ten things that really need to be in our child's life, so they can really change the world, that they need to really know about God and how to access Him?"

But then, not only planned teaching, but teachable moments. Life is a constant classroom, isn't it? People say to us all the time, "Bill and Holly, how do you . . . ?" Our kids, by the grace of God, are walking with Christ, they're serving Him in ministry—all four of our boys have headed into ministry and our girls, too, in different ways.

You say, "How did that happen?" Well, it happened along the way. I mean, it happened in the car; it happened at three o'clock in the morning when somebody's had a big problem and we're saying, "Okay, Bethany, what's going on right now is about faith. What's God saying to you right now?"

It happened in the neonatal intensive care unit when our daughter had a son who had a stroke in the womb, and they told us, "He'll never walk; he'll never talk." (He does, by the way, by the grace of God.) And we're saying, "What's the Lord saying here? And we know that God's sovereign, don't we, because we've learned that truth together. We know that He'll work all things together for good, because we've learned that truth together."

So I watched my oldest daughter, who had this pattern of sound words in her heart, navigate life in a beautiful way that brought glory to God, because, along the way, all through those years of her life, it had been poured into her life by her family.

Not only teachable moments, but then finally, biblical streams. In other words, I need to be open to what are the influences my child has? The friends they have, the books that they read, the groups they spend time with, being in a great biblical church that's really teaching the truth and challenging them. We can make a difference if we pour this deeply into their hearts and into their lives.

How can we possibly change the world if we don't have a family that's filled with the life of God, filled with the love of God, and filled with the truth of God? We've got to pour in sound words, and then once we stir in these elements through the years—we stir in the elements of a sincere faith and spiritual gifts. We're stirring that up in our kids and giving them a sense of destiny and a sense of calling and the courage to carry out that calling.

They're grounded in the sound words of the faith. Then what do we do? Where does that go from there? How is that ever going to affect the world? And, finally, we need to stir in also what we would call a strategic plan. This is so important.

You have to have an understanding of God's plan if you're going to pass on something to somebody else. In this passage of Scripture we see this illustrated by three generations. We see Lois, who somehow knew, "I need to give this to my daughter, Eunice." And Eunice, who probably didn't even have a believing husband, who said, "Somehow, I need to get this into my son, Timothy." And then we hear her saying, probably, along the way, "Now, Timothy, you've got to share this with other people."

So we see it illustrated in this family, and then we see it encouraged by Paul. Paul comes here, really Timothy's true spiritual father, in 2 Timothy 2:1–2, and he talks about four generations. He says, "I've had this truth, I've passed it on to you; I want you to give that to faithful men who will give that to others also."

So there was in this plan this idea of multiplication. And, of course, we know this is Jesus' plan, isn't it? Go and make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples. The way that you create a tsunami is you understand the incredible power of multiplication.

You know how a tsunami works. There's an eruption at a white-hot core, and then waves begin to go out across the ocean—in fact, they're long waves. Sometimes you can go for hundreds of miles and not even see that wave, but it's a strong current underneath that's just building and building and building and building. And when it comes in contact with something, it makes a phenomenal impact.

And so, God is building our family. You know on certain days we think, Man, I don't know if this family is ever going to get built; I don't know if we're ever going to have all these things. But you're just faithful, doing the best you can, crying out to the Lord in prayer. "Oh, God, let our family help change the world." And you're going along, and you're building this sense in your children: "We live to disciple others, who will disciple others, who will disciple others."

I was thinking this week about my grandfather and grandmother, Thomas Alvis Alvarene Carter, and his wife—listen to this—Molly Missouri Mosely Carter. They were born in the 1870s, and Molly and Thomas had fourteen children. Ten of them lived to adulthood, and the last of those children was my mother.

Now an interesting thing—if you have two children, who have two children, who have two children, who have two children, in the tenth generation you will produce, through your line, 1,024 children. That's a lot of kids to impact the world. But Molly and Thomas had ten children that lived to adulthood—they all averaged four kids—and they were all believers who walked with the Lord.

My mother only went to church once a month, out in the country, because that's the only time the church was open. But every Sunday her father and mother sat out on the porch, and they taught the Word of God to their kids. And all of those children came out to be great men and women of God.

If you have ten kids, who have four kids, who have four kids, who have four kids, in the tenth generation, do you know how many kids are going to be produced? There will be 2.6 million kids. Now I want you to think about that in terms of the purpose of God, because the devil's thought about it and he's copied that plan. In fact, do you know what he's doing all over the world right now? He's telling people of his faith and his religions, "Have a lot of kids, fill them with their beliefs, even willing to die for them. Just keep having those kids with those beliefs, and it will change the world."

Do you know that in France, right now, who has such a low birth rate that they can't even maintain the population of their nation, Muslim families have moved in with their strong faith, and in two generations France has virtually become a Muslim nation? They're changing the world. You know why? It's the power, the physical power of multiplication.

Now just think what would happen if you said, "What could my one family do to really change the world?" Where you can raise up a family with a red-hot faith, that understands their gifts and knows the truth and has a sense of calling and realizes they can make a difference in this world.

And then you can train them. "Children, we want you to have children—physical children and spiritual children—that you disciple and develop and teach them to do the same, who will do the same, who will do the same, and in a few generations our one family is going to send out millions of disciples who will help advance the kingdom of God."

I'll tell you one final story before Holly comes. My great-grandmother on my father's side—her name was Mary Elliff. I don't know much about Mary, except she was a strong believer. They moved from Tennessee, she and her husband, J.T. (James), they moved to Oklahoma when it was just Indian territory.

And she got sick and was dying, and she said—we have it in a diary—she said to her husband, "Please don't let me die in this wild Indian country." So they sold their farm, got on a train in Fort Smith, changed trains at Little Rock, and they laid her out on the train because she was dying.

And James knelt down beside Mary, and she said, "I'm going to die, but you've got to promise me two things. One, you've got to promise that you'll give your life to Christ, and number two, you have to promise me that you'll raise our daughter for Christ." And she died.

James's testimony was that he stayed on his knees a long time and got up a Christian. He went back home, he buried his wife, he began to raise that daughter for Christ. God gave him a second wife who was a wonderful believing woman; they had several children. One of those was my grandfather, who became a pastor.

My grandfather had two children, a son and a daughter. One of those was my dad, who became a pastor. Then my dad had four children, three boys and a girl. Three of those who became pastors and one of those married a pastor. And now in the next generation, there are eighteen grandchildren, and all eighteen are walking with Christ, and fourteen of them, by the way, either are pastors or missionaries or have married pastors or missionaries. Now we're in the next generation that is filled with young men and women who are also following Christ.

All from one woman, who when she drew her last breath, who probably had no idea "I'm making an impact on my family for the cause of Christ." But her sincere faith has changed at least a part of the world, and that's our calling, amen? That's what God wants us to do. Honey . . .

Holly: You know, this is not something God expects us to accomplish. This is something He desires to accomplish in us. He's already given us everything we need for life and godliness. So, gals, I want you to think for a minute today about what your "epicenter quotient" would be, if we could measure your home today on a Richter Scale—what would your measurement be? Are you a negative ten? Are you a five? Are you a nine?

God knows that today; I don't know that about your home. I know what God has called me to in my home, and I know that no home is ever going to be perfect. But gals, we need to be pursuing the call of Christ. It matters, it really matters—it doesn't just matter to us, but it matters to the generations who will come after us far more than we will ever know.

What we do, the choice we make, matters. Let me just close with this thought:

Lord, give us a home that has Christ at the core,
So the longer we live we may picture You more.

A home where Your truth is proclaimed without fear,
And the children who live there grow year after year
To look more like Jesus.

'Til one day Your Name will resound from each tongue,
And the world You created will praise You as one.
Lord, give us a home that has Christ at the core.

Is that your desire today? It's our Father's desire for us. Let's pray.

Father, we thank You today that You don't expect us to create anything. Father, we fully acknowledge that this can only happen in and through You as we access what You have already done. Father, I pray that we would leave this place as women with a calling on our heart—whether we have a husband who is a believer, or we're single, or we're widowed, Lord, Your calling does not change.

Lord, if we have a husband who is a believer, I pray that You would lead us to follow our husbands, so that Your work can be accomplished in Your way. And Father, that would we surrender our homes to You, so that someday the impact You intend for us to have would be made real in this world for the cause of Christ.

To God be the glory, amen.

Nancy: That’s Holly Elliff, reminding parents that all their investment, their sacrifice and hard work for their families really does matter. Holly and her husband, Pastor Bill Elliff, have been showing you how each family can make such a difference in our world and for future generations.

I have a lot of friends who are young moms with a lot of little kids. I had dinner with one of those moms last night. I know they need all the encouragement they can get. Maybe you know a mom who would be blessed by this program. You can send her a link to the audio or the transcript by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Or you can order the series on CD. It’s called, “Epicenter: The World-Changing Impact of a Christ-Centered Home.” That series is available at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Each day we’re able to bring practical, biblical encouragement not to just moms but to women in all seasons of life thanks to listeners, friends like you, who support the ministry financially. 

If you appreciate hearing Revive Our Hearts each weekday, would you help continue making it possible?

When you give a gift of any size this month, we want to say thank you by sending my new piano CD, called Be Still. 

Recording these songs has been such a sweet reminder to keep running to the Lord, even when my world seems chaotic, and to find peace in Him. 

I’m praying He’ll use this CD to help many of our listeners to "be still and know that He is God," and to experience the peace of Christ in a fresh way.

We’ll send you that CD when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Be Still when you call 1–800–569–5959.  

Next week we observe the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade. We’ll hear from two women and one man who have been affect by the pain of abortion. And now they’re actively promoting and encouraging life. You can hear their stories starting Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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