Topical: Fatherhood Forum
June 21, 2009
· Warren (to prep for others as well)
· Sermons: 30, 70, 72
Main Point(s) of sermon:
· Fatherhood is undervalued.
· Fathers teach what God is like.
· Cecil: The importance of discipline.
· Micah: Being a father taught me about God’s unconditional love.
· Josh: Treating our kids as adults in training – with respect and enjoying them.
Objectives of sermon:
· Encourage us all to be better fathers.
Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:1-4 (bring title screen up)
Intro – the importance of fatherhood
Fathers are just not given as much respect as mothers (Johny Carino’s coupon, phone calls, custody, and TV).
But fathers play a vital role in children’s lives. I really appreciated what President Obama said about the importance of fathers (especially as he grew up without his father).
Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. [Echoes “training and instruction of the Lord”] They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it....
We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. (6/15/2008)
Additionally, fathers will have major impact on how children view God. How many people have rejected God because they were rejected by their father?
Matthew 18:5-6 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
As a church we want to celebrate and encourage fathers as well as mothers. So this morning, the three elders will each talk about some of our thoughts on being fathers.
· We’re all pretty new at this, hardly experts, but we each have a unique perspective and hope it will be helpful to everyone.
The format: Each of us will speak, then the others interact with them. Afterwards, we will take questions (via voice or text).
You identify yourself as a father, demonstrating how important it is. Speak to and through us, beyond our years. Be with those to whom Father’s Day is painful.
Micah: Becoming a father helped me understand God’s love.
First off, for me having children is one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever known, surpassed only by my salvation and my marriage. That said, I believe being a Father is one of the most fearful tasks a man can be called to. When Kaitlyn was born two things sunk in at almost the same moment; I have just been given a gift beyond compare, and holy crap, am I going to be able to do this? I believe that we as Fathers need to take very seriously our roles, to fail at this task is to something we cannot afford to do.
But enough of that, I want to talk about what God has taught me through Fatherhood. There is so much, but I’m going to focus on what he has taught me as it relates to his own character. There are so many things that we hear over and over, and that officially know. But sometimes God blesses us with understanding, that point where we don’t just know, we get it.
The first lesson that I learned was learned the day that I was sitting in the doctor’s office holding Kaitlyn as she got her first shot. I will always remember the look on her face as she looked at me. You see, I made her a promise right when she first came, I told her that, as much as it is in my control, I will never let harm come to her. And I swear, as she looked up at me she was saying, “but you promised”.
As I looked at my life and I looked at all the hard times present and passed, I understood something that I had never understood before. I understood that I could never again say to God, there is no way that any good can come from this. Kaitlyn could only understand that what was happening hurt her, there was no way that I could explain to her that this was to give her immunity so as to keep her safe from dangers that could harm her or even kill her.
Jeremiah 29:11For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
As great as the disconnect in understanding is between me and either of my children, the disconnect between God and I is infinitely greater. And I believe that as God sees the pain that at times we have to go through, just like when I was holding Kaitlyn, his heart breaks, but he loves us to much to take it from us.
As the time has continued only more understanding has come. One thing that I learned that was new to me is how God could love us so deeply. Growing up in the church I remember Gods love always being described as something that was foreign in concept, something far too great for us to ever understand. I always thought that it was so incomprehensible that God could forgive us over and over and never love us less. But then, just like the first lesson, Gods love and patience started to make more sense to me as I watched Kailtyn grow. As you hit the “terrible twos” when a child will do the things you tell them not to do over and over, you get frustrated beyond belief and you want to pull your hair out, but the love never fades. And while I still see that Gods love is much greater than we could ever accomplish, I think we were made to understand it. And then I look at this verse.
John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I look at this, the Father, who gives his own son, not just to have to be apart from him as he left heaven, not just to be denied the royal rights that he is due, not just to be mocked, beaten, and spat upon, but to die one of the most horrific deaths possible. And as I ponder this I find that, the death of the Son, something that I have become so familiar with, takes on a greater depth of meaning that I had ever understood. I could never imagine giving my child for anything or anyone. I love each of you in this room, but my kids? Sorry, there is no way I could watch them go through such pain, let alone submit them to that pain.
So as I look at the years to come, I’m anxiously curious as to what my Father in Heaven is going to teach me through the calling that he has placed on my life as a father.
Cecil: The importance of discipline (Proverbs 13:24)
Introduction: Discipline is frequently misapplied.
Have you ever sat down and thought about why we discipline children. Children are disciplined for a lot of reasons. Here are some of the uglier reasons.
· They are irritating to adults.
· They are embarrassing to adults.
· They make mistakes.
Why do we discipline -and for that matter why does the Bible tell us to discipline?
Main point: the goal of discipline is self-control for the child.
God has one main goal for each of us. Everything that he does is part of the process that is conforming us to Christ's likeness. As God is the father model that we should look to when trying to figure out how to be a good father, our goal for our children should be that they are conformed to Christ's likeness. All discipline should be considered through this lens.
It is interesting to note that the words disciple and discipline come from the same root. And this is truly the calling we have as fathers and mothers for our children -disciplin'. Here is how Proverbs says it:
Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to his death. Proverbs 19:18 (NIV)
My father is not a believer, so I am going to share a story of how my surrogate spiritual father once disciplined me. We were on a mission trip in Mexico with the youth group and I was behaving inappropriately toward one of the girls in our group. Kurt told me that he wanted me to stay away from her for the rest of the trip. A few days later he caught us together alone. He was angry! He didn't get mad very often so I remember it clearly. He repeated that I was to stay away from her for the remainder of the trip. I remember thinking how strange that his anger did not feel like rejection, but more like a warning. It was like he had caught me sneaking into a 10,000 volt electric transformer vault to play. Any parent would be mad if they caught their child doing this after they had warned them.
This is how discipline should play out. You should strive to help your children have self control that will ultimately save them from spiritual and physical suffering. Ideally they will know that:
1. You discipline them because you love them.
2. You are trying to help them make good choices so that they won't suffer.
3. They need God's help. We are all born with a sin nature. Our righteousness comes from God when we ask for it. If you are having some behavioral issues with your children, it may be because they are trying to do it on their own. Point them toward the only one who can truly help them.
Josh: tenderness and respect
Our parenting is shaped by at least two things: 1) how we were raised (either in agreement with it or reaction to it) and 2) our own personality.
· We were raised with tenderness and respect.
This means love, gentleness, grace over judgment. I grew up secure in the fact I was loved by my family, so it was easy to believe the God loved me. Tenderness demonstrates acceptance.
· My dad didn’t have this growing up, so I think he intentionally gave us.
Obviously, this can be out of balance. I am very much a “grace-based” personality, which is good, but can have a downside, so it becomes vital for me to observe other couples.
· I don’t just mean in terms of discipline, but also raising the bar for my kids.
We know what is meant by respect, but don’t always think of it in terms of being respectful toward children, yet for me the respect I was shown, first by my parent, then other adults.
My parents wanted to raise us to become adults, so they treated us like adults as much as possible, as early as possible.
· We were allowed to reason with our parents – “because I said so” was not commonly heard.
This is the attitude we were encouraged to have:
1 Timothy 4:12 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
There are a three ways to show respect that I want to touch on:
1. Show respect by valuing them:
Notice them, treat them as worthwhile. Put down the paper, turn off the TV, and stop checking your e-mail. Treat them with us much attention and respect as a boss or friend.
2. Respect their individuality
Raise each one differently, respecting how they represent the image of God in a unique way, not like you or their other siblings.
3. Trust them with responsibility
By giving them real responsibilities with real consequences, we are showing them respect, and preparing them to become adults. But it is so much more instinctual to protect them.
Like tenderness, respect can also be taken too far. We are their parents, not their buddies. They have to show us respect.
But hopefully they won’t see respect as something demanded and not given, but something mutually given as fellow children of God (“submit to one another”), yet according to our roles.
Finally, a quick plug for fathers of daughters. Guys are supposed to want sons, but I adore all three of my girls. The love, tenderness, and respect that we show them will be perhaps the most impacting human relationship they ever have.
· John Mayer’s “Daughters.”
I encourage you to read “Strong Father’s, Strong Daughters.”
· Response and interaction
Q & A
It is easy to be discouraged by our own failures, but it’s good to remember our parent were just as clueless, if not more so. We take hope in the fact we are improving on what we were given.
· By God’s grace and hard work, we’ll improve on our parents.
At the same time, we can’t do this – we are out of our league, which should send us into God’s arms. We can give good gifts, but we are still wicked, to paraphrase Jesus.
Good parenting begins with salvation, living in submission to Jesus. We cannot give our kids more than what we have, and the thing they need most is a redeeming relationship with Christ.
· Demonstrate a life devoted to God through these things we have talked about, but also through prayer and your personal walk.