FATHER'S DAY AT ODELL
Two little boys were standing around after church had let out one Sunday morning talking about the Sunday School lesson. It seems that their teacher had mentioned the devil and that got one of the little boys to thinking. He asked his friend, “do you believe that the devil is real like Mrs. Gray said?” The friend answered, “No, I believe he's like Santa Claus, he's your father.”
Being a father or mother has never been easy. We're sinful imperfect people living in a dark and fallen world. Because of our sinful natures, we don't always have our childrens' best interest in mind when we discipline them even when we think we do. Sometimes we discipline our children out of embarrassment rather than wanting what is best and right for them. That is always a bad reason.
*1 Cor. 6:9-11 Here we are, dad, mom, before by the grace of God we trusted in Jesus Christ.
*Gals. 5:19-21 and here, but by the grace of God.
*Eph. 4:17-24 and here is where we want to be, dad, mom.
ILLUS: Have you ever seen a child in the store raising cain because his mom or dad told him or her he couldn't have something he saw on the shelf? Sometimes kids will fall to the floor screaming and pitching a hissy fit because he has been told “No, you can't have that.” James Dobson suggested one time that parents should just leave their little one on the floor screaming and go out of sight into the next aisle. He reasoned that when other customers walked by they would look down at the brat on the floor and embarrass him into straightening up.
Too often the discipline that is actually applied is more like a quick act of violence against the child.
I was shopping in Bloom near my home this past week and there was a toddler screaming his lungs out while riding in the grocery cart being pushed by a woman I assumed to be his mom. He never quit screaming the whole time they were in the store. That may have been the best way to respond to that child.
When my girls did this at the grocery store, and each of them did it, I took them out to the car in the parking lot and spanked them soundly. From then on all I had to do was say “do you want to go out to the car?”
But that sinful nature that is born into every child can't figure out why they can't have everything they want. And it is up to us, moms and dads, to inform them.
But most parents will give in to the tantrum thinking that it would be better to just go ahead and buy junior what he wants rather than have him acting up in public. That decision is strongly influenced by our fallen nature, not good parenting skills.
There have never been perfect parents and there never will be.
We're born spiritually dead, separated from our Creator no less and no more than Adam and Eve were after they disobeyed God in the garden. And look at how their kids turned out. If only Eve had listened to God and not the serpent, the devil. Sometimes its hard for parents to know to whom they're listening when it comes to parenting. I'm amazed that any of our kids grow up to be even close to being normal.
But being a child these days is no walk in the park either. The violence and crime our children are often exposed to first hand at school or in the neighborhood coupled with the garbage they are bombarded with through video games and tv and movies is mind-blowing. Our children need all the guidance they can get from us parents. And until our little ones by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, we have our work cut out for us. And really, after that is when our responsibilities really take on a deeper significance.
And, by the way, *television, videos games, and movies are the worst baby sitters in the world.
There has been an increase in the number of hours our children are spending on the internet, tv, videos games and cell phones. It is estimated that they spend 8 hrs. a day on these so-called “multi-media devices.”
And, dads, this is where we come in.
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Fathers can be jerks when it comes to their children. I guess that's why we find the little joke at the beginning of my sermon this morning so funny; humor has a lot of truth in it.
That may or may not have anything to do with why Paul singles out the Christian father in this passage. But there is one reason we can be sure Paul had in mind,
*“EVERY CHRISTIAN FATHER IS THE HEAD OF HIS HOME.”
In giving instructions on the qualifications for an elder or deacon, Paul says that that man should “rule his house well.” And earlier in Ephesians he says clearly that the man is the head of his wife. There's no room for argument or option, unless, of course, one wants to take it up with God.
The primary responsibility for discipline fell to the father in Paul's day; it still falls to the Christian father in our day. We parents may relegate it to others such as day care teachers or school teachers, but it is ours. Christian dads may not like it, but it is God's plan and not ours; we are not given an option. Did your mom ever say, “Wait till your daddy gets home.”?
ILLUS: Beginning in the 1960's, the American male came under attack by radical feminists who made many men feel that they needed to “get in touch with their feminine side.” And the result of that has been that the role model of the masculine, strong male morphed into wimpy spineless “girlie men,” as Schwarzenegger called them. And stemming from the new man, if you will, we have witnessed a drastic change in several areas of American life. Divorce rates have shot up; law enforcement officers were forced to be emotionally aware of the criminal's environment (that notion is what gave birth to the “Dirty Harry” movies and why the radical feminists hated them so much); Hollywood and Wall Street began promoting deviant lifestyles where men were encouraged to be homosexual or to be a wimp when it comes to managing their households; and children as a result of the feminization of the American male, have to a great extent gotten out of control at home, at school, and in public because they have little to no respect for their dads. Feminists are at this moment in our history trying to convince us that men just aren't needed.
It's time for the men of the church to take this advice, “man up.” Reclaim any territory this topsy turvy world has taken from us. We are instructed to imitate Christ, the manliest man ever to walk the face of this earth.
Without strong Christian dads lovingly and Biblically guiding their children and taking their right place as head of the home, we can be sure that discipline will not be the only aspect of our children's lives that will go south, we can be sure that the gospel will as well.
Now, lets examine this word *“provoke,” “to anger, to provoke to anger. This involves avoiding attitudes, words, and actions which would drive a child to angry exasperation or resentment and thus rules out excessively severe discipline, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, unfairness, constant nagging and condemnation, subjecting a child to humiliation, and all forms of gross insensitivity to a child's needs and sensibilities. The words “do not” in the original text address the above behaviors as habitual.
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, BUT bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
The conjunction “but” is emphatic and tells us that raising a child up in the nurture, training and admonition of the Lord” is not only a better way to raise our children but will also will bring about the opposite result of wrath. And how are father's to raise their children? I'll close with this.
*FIRST, “IN BIBLICALLY SOUND CHRISTIAN EDUCATION AND DISCIPLINE THAT VALUES THE CHILD AND HONORS CHRIST.”
“in the training and admonition OF THE LORD.”
As unpopular as spanking is these days, it is a great tool of discipline when administered in love and not out of selfish anger. That idea is included in this word “training,” or “nurture.”
Did anyone see the news yesterday, Sat., June 18, where a mother in Texas was arrested for spanking her child? She received 5 years probation. The only sign of the spanking was red marks on the child's bottom. The grandmother turned the mom in.
SECOND, “IN ADDRESSING THE MIND AS THE RECPTOR OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND CORRECTION.”
The second word, “admonition,” comes from a word that points the parent toward the child's forming mind.
I don't like to use the word “precious,” but that seems to be a good term for describing the mind of a little child. Fragile also comes to mind. Our children are precious and fragile.
THIRD, and finally, “EVERY ASPECT OF OUR CHILDREN'S GROWTH IS TO BE 'OF THE LORD.'”
“Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” They're raising is to be an “of-the-Lord-kind-of-raising.” In the nurture, training and admonition of the Lord. And if you want a picture of that, turn back to ch. 5, beginning with 25-33. This is talking about the relationship between husband and wife, but going deeper than that it addresses the Lord's love for us. Listen.
Christian fathers, I challenge you to “man up” and raise up your children according to the word of God and not the world.