The Discipline of Fathering

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 4
Subject: Father's Day; Discipline, Father's; Father, Love of a
Introduction

I wish to introduce this message from a Newsweek article from June 8, 1992, entitled, "Whose Values?"

"This time, though, Dan Quayle - flawed, callow vehicle that he may be - seems to have nudged presidential politics perilously close to something that really matters, something perhaps too precious to be entrusted to mere politicians. The stolid, secure two-parent family Quayle posited as an antidote to urban violence and moral decay is a symbol that cuts very close to the bone. Most Americans, especially those of Quayle's age and younger, have measured themselves (consciously or not) against "Ozzie and Harriet" - or some similar shimmering image of nuclear bliss - and come up short or just different, often for reasons well beyond their control.

Only about a third of American families structurally resemble the Nelsons these days. The divorce rate remains, stubbornly, one out of two. The out-of-wedlock birthrate has tripled since l970; it is among the highest in the "developed" world. A nauseating buffet of dysfunctions has attended those trends - an explosion in child abuse, crime, learning disabilities, welfare dependency, name your pathology.

Logic dictates that changes in family structure alone can't have caused this mess. Economics plays a role; Harriet now has to work in most two-parent families. And then there are the things Dan Quayle doesn't talk about: the allure of excess, the deluge of crass propaganda-buying is more important than giving, having is more important than being part of. It often seems that the sterile ceremonies of consumerism are the most profound rituals Americans share as a people. These values questions - about how we've chosen to live our lives and how that's affected our children, about the nagging sense that unlimited personal freedom and rampaging materialism yield only greater hungers and lonelier nights - have been quiet American obsessions for some time now, the source of a deep, vexing national anxiety."

We certainly have a choice. Should we attempt to be the fathers we need to be and desire to base our behavior merely on logic (human speculation). Is there still a voice of authority (divine revelation)? Clearly there is! It is God's revelation.

Has modern psychology and its recommendations helped the family or does time alone prove that the Judeo-Christian principles of God's precious Word still bring lasting results? Certainly time has proven that God's way is the right way, and the modern idea of family without God is failing - miserably. It is increasingly apparent that my most treasured possessions, next to life in Christ, are the members of my family. Someday, when all is gone, when I can no longer see or hear or talk, when I may no longer know their names, the faces of my loved ones will be on my soul. Now, I can still remember the day they were born. It is important for me to mention that parents often take too much blame for their children's problems and too much credit when they turn out well. I realize that my children are what they are by the grace of God and that for me and them the road has not ended.

Now, let me personalize this message. Men, the mere fact of fatherhood has endowed you with terrifying power in the lives of your sons and daughters, because they have an innate, God-given passion for you. I want us to look at fathering from three aspects:

I. My Heavenly Father

How He treats me:

A. With Sacrificial Love

Cross: Rom. 5:8: Unconditional Love

B. With Sanctifying Love

He sets me apart and treats me special.

1. He Nourishes Me feeds and cares.

2. He Cherishes me speaks to His children with gentleness and friendliness; word means to warm or heat.

C. With Satisfying Love - Ephesians 5:3

He treats me as truly one of the family; part of "the body, of his flesh, and of his bones."

Question: What is my response to His fathering? Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

II. My Earthly Father

My father left when I was seven years of age. He was an alcoholic and abusive to Mom and children. I saw little of him for years. Several years after my conversion dad prayed to receive Christ. For 33 years there had been no real bonding as father and son. I prayed Joel 2:25 for Dad. And then, a couple of weeks before Father's Day God answered that prayer.

Ephesians 6:2-3, "Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."

My second dad was Wilton Kermit Allen. His attitude toward me when I told him I was going to marry his daughter blessed me.

III. My Personal Fathering Ephesians 6:4

What we read in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 stands out. Lots of times the meanest children in the church and most rebellious, are the Pastor's children. What I have attempted to give to my girls by the grace of God is several things I believe God wants all children of Christian fathers to have.

A. A Fond Affection

"being affectionately desirous of you" - to feel oneself drawn to something or someone. It is a picture of a father who holds and treats a child tenderly, feeling himself affectionately drawn to that little one.

Prodigal Son - left home rather rapidly and stormily. Never called or wrote, didn't stay in touch. He began to sink, wound up humiliated, bankrupt, and depressed. In Luke 15:17-19 we read, "And when he came to himself, he said, How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants."

Father's Response:

Luke 15:20, "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."

B. A Transparent Life

"Not the gospel of God only but also our own souls"

"impart" - carries with it the idea of making a contribution, sharing fully. What would that include?

Our children want to learn a proper scale of values from us. They want to know how to handle finances. They also need our approval. The assurance that you value them. They need to know that Daddy is Real!

C. An Unselfish Diligence

"laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable" (a burden) It is an obvious picture of hard work, responsible diligence. Help your children discover what it means to be diligent and devoted and dedicated to a job. Help him know what motivates you. When the Chaplain of the Senate, Richard Halverson, wrote his book, Perspective, he dedicated it "to faithful Christian laymen who with silent heroism under relentless secular pressure fight the economic battle as stewards of the living God."

It is easy to let things you buy for your family take the place of giving yourself.

D. A Spiritual Authenticity 9 - 11

"we preached" - v.9 "we behaved" - v.10

When it comes to being a father, few things are more significant than authenticity. How rare are those families where the father is truly the spiritual leader! Isn't it about time we changed that, men? It is refreshing when the dad is the one who sets the pace, who takes the lead, who, more than anyone in the family, "hungers and thirsts after righteousness."

Wednesday night on 11 pm news, there was a story on drugs in Cherokee County. 900 hits of LSD were found packaged for distribution in public school. Youth interviewed said mostly used by kids under 16.

Problem: LSD is not most abused drug; alcohol is. Dad has cocktail in one hand, a Winston or Camel in the other, telling his son the danger of drugs. We need spiritual authenticity.

E. A Positive Influence 11-12

"as a father" When the apostle searched for an example of someone who brought a positive influence, "a father" came to mind. We have too many strong men who give their best leadership to the marketplace, but utterly fail at home. Men, there are few places where sanctified sweat will show greater dividends then in fathering.