Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sermon-- 6-17-07--Father's Day

This message has more outline than usual--with things that I filled in. I hope you can keep up.

Bill Cosby tells a great story in his book, Fatherhood. He writes: Now that my father is a grandfather, he just can’t wait to give money to my kids. But when I was his kid and I asked him for fifty cents, he would tell me the story of his life. How he got up at 5 A.M. when he was seven years old and walked twenty-three miles to milk ninety cows. And the farmer for whom he worked had no bucket, so he had to squirt the milk into his little hand and then walk eight miles to the nearest can. All for 5 cents a month. The result was that I never got my 50 cents.

But now he tells my children every time he comes into the house: “Well, lets see how much money old Granddad has got for his wonderful kids.” And the minute they take money out of his hands I call them over to me and I snatch it away from them. Because that is MY money.

Paul mentions the commandment concerning parents in EPH 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

As much as this is a charge to children, it is a responsibility to parents. In order for this to be a greater blessing instead of a greater burden, parents need to be sure they are of the character themselves that makes it easier for their kids to honor. If you want to be honored... be honorable.

I found this a strange notation in the announcement of John the Baptist's ministry.

Luke 1:16-17--Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Why would this need to be such a part of John's ministry? Why do father's need their hearts turned to their children? Shouldn't that be happening automatically? Sadly, I believe it isn't as natural as it may seem. Too many men put other things before their families--our hearts need to be turned back to our kids. And since I also believe that John successfully fulfilled his ministry mandate--that hearts were prepared, that hearts were turned back to their children.

Society tells us to “Be the man” and “You’re the man,” but it fails to give men an accurate picture of what that is. Biblically, several things must be the priority for your life. You must be a...

Devoted Disciple--we are called to Earnestly Contend for the faith—Jude 1:3—I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”-- agonizomai--agonize--a

to suffer extreme pain or anguish; be in agony.

to put forth great effort of any kind.

Men/Father’s you must contend for your faith—make it real and vibrant. Not just protect it from attack from the outside, but contend and strive for your own faith. You are called to be a Devoted Disciple. Because as a man and a disciple of Christ you are called to a special place of Leadership, but also of Service. There are great things that God wants to accomplish in you and great things through you. And most of them will go unnoticed by the world—most won’t be written up in the paper, most won’t get you a promotion or get you more money or more popularity. In fact, being a devoted disciple may cost you some of those things. It is God’s approval that matters most. “Good work on that project” will never compare to hearing “Well done, my good and faithful servant.

If you are not developing spiritually—if you’re more interested in sports than church, if you’re more interested in the newspaper than the Bible—then not only your faith is suffering, but so is that of your family, so is that of your church. Your family and your church need you to exercise the gifts God has given you.

a. A report by Warren Mueller revealed that where both parents attend church regularly, 72% of their children continue in the faith. Where only the father attends, that percentage drops to 55 percent, but where only the mother attends, just 15 percent of the children remain involved in the church.

your influence can be great--to fully be that influence, you must be a devoted disciple.

2. Devoted Husband--m/f’s— The number one way to leave a great legacy for your children is very simple.

Love your wife. EPH 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

a. you must spiritually lead your family—you must serve your wife--support her, encourage her, build her up. That also means guard your relationship with her--guard your mind and thoughts, guard what you put before your eyes. Nothing should come between you.

Whoever said "blood is thicker than water" was wrong. You don't get to pick your family, but you do pick your wife. Your vow of marriage is your word and your "yes" must be "yes", in all things.

3. Devoted Dad—don’t fall for the lie that says Quality Time is enough. Quality Time cannot be manufactured and it will never be more important than Quantity Time. Your relationship with your kids gets some special attention in the New Testament. EPH 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

COL 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

COL 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

a. Son’s-- Ken Druck and James Simmons in The Secrets Men Keep discuss six major secrets men have. At the top of the list is that "men secretly yearn for their father's love and approval." This is often without their conscious knowledge that this yearning manifests itself in the drive that many males have to prove themselves. The authors say:

It may surprise us to know that the most powerful common denominator influencing men's lives today is the relationship we had with our fathers .... Of the hundreds of men I have surveyed over the years, perhaps 90 percent admitted they still had strings leading back to their fathers. In other words, they are still looking to their fathers, even though their fathers may have been dead for years, for approval, acceptance, affection, and understanding.

b. There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

c. Daughter’s—father’s—if your daughters are not getting love and affection from you—then they will run into the arms of the first boy, the first man that will give it to them. If you really care about her purity—then you won’t just build your gun & knife collection for when the boy shows up at your house—you will surround her with love and affirmation.

d. If you want her to be attracted to a decent guy, one who doesn’t treat her like dirt—then realize that if she sees you treating your wife that way—not respecting her, not supporting her—then she’ll think that’s normal. Would you want your daughter to be treated the way you are treating your wife?

e. m/f’s you must deliberately lead and exemplify the Christian life for your children’s eyes to see.

f. if you have neglected this aspect of being the husband or father and as a result they have ignored, lost interest or walked away from faith in Christ, I don’t care how successful your child is in the world—they may have a great job, make great money, have the best education. Whatever they are that the world says, “you must be so proud”—be careful that you don’t put stock in it—you can still be a failure as a father and spiritual leader regardless of how successful they turn out to be. On the flip side—you may be one of those that made every attempt to raise you child right and they still rejected faith in Christ. This is not meant to you if you were faithful—the result was up to God, the result may indicate the hardness of hearts and the reality of sin that so easily entangles, even those we love

4. You Are a Devoted Disciple First, a Devoted Husband Second, a Devoted Dad Third—all of these things must be in a higher priority in your life than work—work serves you and your family—you do not serve it. Higher priority than leisure—if you find yourself finding ways to escape your family—leaving them to fend for themselves--then you are not being their servant, but are serving only yourself.

There is hope in that first verse talking about John the Baptist—that one of his roles in ministry is to help turn the hearts of fathers back to their children. Your heart being turned back to your children is a sign of the coming of Christ—of His power revealing itself in your life—and as certain as is the coming of Christ—so there is great blessing when your heart is turned toward your children. There is great blessing that comes from them—and you have great blessing to give to them.

LK 11:11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Eric Ribbens has expressed on several occasions that one of the hardest parts of adopting kids was the reality that for every kid you accept, there are hundreds more that you have to say “no” to. that’s how it works in human terms—you cannot take all those precious kids home with you. But God’s economy doesn’t work that way. He can walk into the orphanage and say I want all of you to come home with me. The only kids that stay in the orphanage are those who reject God’s invitation—maybe it’s a lack of trust, maybe they’ve been hurt before, maybe they actually think they prefer the life of an orphan. But God desires to give good things to His children. He is the only perfect Father out there. I’m proud to say that I’m adopted—adopted into the Family of God. He has called me home. And He is calling you home right now.

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