Now, I’ve been to a few professional football games in my life. You know, people get angry at those things. It’s usually aimed at the other team or their own players who messed up. But, you know, there was a time when the words that made us blush were reserved for the referees; the replacement referees, that is.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Replacement Ref Ruckus.”

Well, the regular National Football League officials were locked out by the owners over a salary dispute. So the guys making the calls were like rookies in the NFL universe. And the accusations were flying that they were missing all kinds of penalties and making bad calls on key plays.

And it reached a boiling point because of a highly disputed call at the end of a nationally televised game. In essence, their judgment on a last-minute touchdown play decided the outcome, and most people believe that it gave the game to the wrong team. Well, boy, the cries started getting louder and louder, “Fire those guys! Bring back the real refs!” That’s the only stuff I can quote.

Look, I guess you can’t expect substitute officials to run the game as well as the people who are supposed to be in charge, which is something that’s important for parents to remember. See, there’s a tendency in our culture to delegate an awful lot of “officiating” in our kids’ lives to other people. When, from the beginning, God’s expecting parents to be the ones supervising the game of life for our children.

But, hey, we’ve got teachers, and coaches, and pastors, and youth workers, and counselors. Hey, we can let them do a lot of life for our children, right? Well, they can help, but God doesn’t think they’re the ones out front.

In our word for today from the Word of God, Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and 11:21, He says this to parents, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Why? The Bible says, “So the days of your children may be many in the land.”

Now, where’s a child supposed to learn the ways of his Creator? Where’s he or she supposed to learn about love and decision-making, the meaning of sex, how to handle money? The answer is at home. Anything other coaches or refs can do is a bonus and potentially helpful, but it’s supplemental in developing a child’s life – not fundamental.

See, they’re just not the Heavenly Father’s game plan for shaping a young life. Children are supposed to learn how to do life from the people who gave them life. Oh, I’m grateful for the people who back that up and help fill in some of the empty spaces. But primarily it’s up to Mom and Dad.

And thankfully, in a world where it’s so dangerous to be a kid and so challenging to be a parent, God says, “You’re not in this alone.” My wife and I often embraced this promise from Isaiah 40:11: “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms” – listen, you could insert the names of your “lambs” there – “and He carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young” (you can put your name there).

See, we have found in Jesus – the One the Bible calls the “Good Shepherd” – a Savior who forgives our failures and supplies the power to change our dark side. I’ll tell you, there’s nothing like having a life to shape to make you realize how much you need Him.

So, being the Mom or Dad they need isn’t Mission Impossible. There simply is no athletic coach, no school, no church, no community program that can replace or do the job of a Mom or Dad. Yes, it’s tempting to hand off a child to other “life-refs” when our own lives are so overheated. But ultimately, we’re not going to like how the game turns out. The high-stakes game of life-building is no place for replacement refs.

Jesus has proven, for so many, to be the life-changing, family-saving Savior that a Mom or Dad needs. So, if you’d like Him in your life and your home, you’ll find a lot more about a relationship with Him at ANewStory.com, because it’s with Jesus that a new story begins.