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A Challenge to Fathers

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
June 20, 2022 2:00 am

A Challenge to Fathers

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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Well I wanted to take this occasion on Father's Day on the Sunday night to speak to the fathers about their responsibility before God to raise their children and the fear and admonition of the Lord. Christianity is a patriarchal religion. That means it is father-centered.

But I don't need to tell you you're aware that patriarchy is in steep decline. In a recent survey, women outnumbered men two to one in attendance in evangelical churches and the ratio is four to one in the African American Church. Perhaps you aren't surprised when I tell you this that women buy most of the books on parenting. One popular contemporary author pitched to his publisher the idea of writing a book on fatherhood and the publisher discouraged the idea because his sales department said books on fatherhood don't sell. He told him the fact is that 80% of the books on parenting are purchased by mothers. They read them and give them to their husbands but the husbands seldom read them.

Bottom line, the publisher said it is difficult to market fatherhood to a female audience. Doesn't speak well of fathers, does it? We might be surprised, perhaps we've been surprised, as heavy a responsibility and as central of his parenting and raising children is that there are only two verses instructing parents in the New Testament on parenting. Well, one verse and then one passage.

Let me read them to you because they're very short and we might say really? That's it? That's all we have?

Yes? Listen to Ephesians chapter 6 verses 1 to 4. Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with promise that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth and you fathers do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

And then Colossians chapter 3 and verse 21, we have this verse. Fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged. I find it interesting that the instructions to fathers have a do not as well as a to do. Do not provoke your children to wrath.

We might ask the question why? Why is there so little scripture that is conspicuously directed to fathers in their God-given assignment in raising their children? Well, there are numbers of reasons I suppose we could offer but my concern tonight is not to go there but to focus on why it is that God singles out the father. Ultimately the dad is the one who is accountable to God for his family not the mother. Now these texts do not deny the crucial role of mothers but they encourage fathers to assure their God-given responsibility. Parenting is a team endeavor.

It's very hard to do it alone. Fathers fully understand that one of the greatest assets in parenting is their wife and the mother of their children. She is their assistant.

They are in fact crucial assistants. However, although God holds fathers responsible to teach and train their children, he holds children responsible to honor both parents. We saw that in Ephesians chapter 6. Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 16, honor your father and your mother as the Lord your God commands you that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land. Solomon speaks the same warning in Proverbs chapter 1 and verse 8, hear my son your father's instruction and forsake not your mother's teaching. So mothers have a crucial role. Fathers are wise to delegate to them much of the daily grind of practical parenting especially in the early years and that's not a failure on a father.

It's wise of a father to take advantage of that resource that God has given, the mother of your children. But my focus tonight is in Deuteronomy chapter 6. So let's take a look at this passage. Jesus called verse 5 of chapter 6 the greatest commandment. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. In the Gospels he called it the greatest commandment. Well that's sobering isn't it? Sobering, challenging, and often overwhelming. And if that isn't enough what follows here in Deuteronomy 6 adds to the weightiness of it because in addition to obeying the greatest commandment we're commanded to teach it to our children.

Wow. Oh how we need God to be at work. We need God to be at work in us.

We need God to be at work in our children for their everlasting good. So I want to take a bit of a fresh approach to this passage that we're no doubt quite familiar with, Deuteronomy 6. You've heard it probably taught on and preached from, but I want to set six challenges before us tonight from this Deuteronomy 6 passage that will enable us to fulfill our calling as fathers as we endeavor by his grace and help to bring up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Six challenges. Challenge number one. I find it humorous I talked to a man before the service who sat through the parenting class this morning and he said, and a man I think who's doing an admirable job from everything I can detect, but he says I feel like such a failure after listening to that.

He said I told my wife we might as well just sell our home and go live in a cave somewhere. Sometimes it feels like that doesn't it? We feel like I have failed so miserably.

I haven't lived up to this high ideal. Well maybe for that brother and for many of us my first challenge is necessary and helpful and what is it? It is to relax. Relax.

What do I mean by that? Relax that you do not have to follow someone else's formula. You don't have to look and see okay who has done this well? Go find out what's your secret?

What did you do? Write it down and try and duplicate what they've done. That's not what this passage is going to teach us. Teaching our children about Jesus should happen as we sit and as we walk and as we lie down and as we rise up.

That is as we go about life. Notice verse 7. You shall teach them.

Teach them what? Well he just said we're to love the Lord our God with all our heart soul and strength and then he says you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. God's instruction allows a wide variety of times and methods.

That means there is no magic formula. I think that's one of the reasons why there isn't such detail in the New Testament because if there was a formula we'd be latched right on to it and we'd become very legalistic about it and we'd say well I got to do this and this and this and that as if doing those things guarantees a godly child. The best we can do, we can't guarantee a godly child, the best we can do is create an atmosphere of godliness in our home in which God can work in the lives of our children. That's our responsibility. So we have great freedom, when I say relax, we have great freedom to mold our gospel teaching to fit what works best for our family life. Now the key is no one can do this for us. We dare not neglect it but we need not be a slave to any particular method.

And the description here covers the full gamut of life doesn't it? You shall teach them diligently to your children, you shall talk. Talk of them when you sit in your house and what I would just challenge you when you're reading a passage like this bring some just some common sense to it and begin to ask okay when when are we in our house and when are we sitting in the house? Well at least in our home meal times is when we insisted everybody is around the kitchen or around the dining room table. We insisted on that. You're not gonna carry your plate and sit in front of the television.

It's not gonna happen. Nobody eats until everybody's at the table. That was just standard procedure in our home. That's where we connected, that's where we talked. When you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you make your way through life and it changes as we go through seasons of life when you're our children went to alamance Christian school so we carpooled, we drove and dropped our children off. Well driving them to school, bringing them back, time in the car, time to talk. What'd you learn at school?

What happened to school? Be ready to speak into their life. What else does he say? When you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down.

What's that being a reference to? Well in the evening it's time to go to bed and there's more to that if you're a Christian parent than brush your teeth and make sure you went to the potty and get in bed and don't get back up. Get your drink and whatever else you've got to have. Now that's a time for a mom and a dad to come alongside a bed and pray with their child and debrief them a bit about what went on during the day.

If there's something specific that happens, some major issue, it becomes a teaching moment. A time to direct their thoughts toward God. And when you rise up, when's that? In the morning.

In the morning. So challenge number one, relax. You do not have to have a formula to follow. So don't be so frustrated that it's broad and you've got a lot of years to work at it. Most cases 18 years, sometimes even longer.

Boy that's a lot of, it seems the time does fly by there's no question about that, but 18 years is a long time. Challenge number two, I take from verse 7, you shall teach them diligently. You have to be deliberate, you have to be intentional in this business of child rearing.

What does that communicate? You shall teach them diligently. Well we have to establish good habits, we have to be diligent about it. It takes purposeful action to get started and to keep at it.

The times when we sit, meal times, the times when we walk by the way, travel times, when we lie down, bed times, when we rise up in the morning. Be diligent, be purposeful, be using resources. We live in a day that there are incredible, helpful resources to draw upon.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel. And if you're at a loss with what to do, what resources are available, the elders are here, the pastors are here to help you and to guide you and make recommendations to you. You shall teach them diligently. How we need to pray for wisdom, to steward these opportunities, to be diligent and to be deliberate in our teaching and our training.

One of the things I think as I look back, you're sometimes not as fully aware of the impact that some things you do are having until you are further down the road and you can look back. We went to Bible College when Gabriel was six and Abigail was four and they just were able to have adult conversations with people. When our friends would come over and oftentimes they were people preparing for ministry or missionaries on furlough and we'd be around the table or sitting in the living room. We didn't shoo the children away and say go to your room and play or go outside and do this or that. They were eager to sit and listen and just observe and I think that impacted their life. It was part of, it was almost unintentional on our part, but it was something God used in their training, in their rearing, in their growing up years. They saw who our friends were and what we were committed to and what they were committed to and what was important to us in life and what the trajectory of our life was for and why we believe we were on this earth and just all kinds of things like that that they were hearing and common conversation. It burdens me from time to time when I hear parents having battles with their children about attending church and I just, it seems so simple to me that that's just something that's non-negotiable. When our children were in our home, I can't ever remember a discussion whether they were to go to church with us or whether they could stay home or whether they could go somewhere else.

It was just, it was non-negotiable. They understood that we're going to church and they were getting in the car to go with us. I just don't understand why parents aren't more intentional about that. Why fight that battle?

Just settle the matter early on. No, children get sick and whatever, I understand that, but as a rule, it's not up for debate. We don't get up in the morning and go, gee, I wonder if we're gonna go to church today.

I wonder if we're gonna have the children go with us. It's, I don't know, and some of you say, well, you haven't lived in my home and you would understand it better. Well, maybe, but it just seems nonsensical to me. There's certain things that ought to be non-negotiable.

Now, the principle here is to be deliberate and be intentional. You shall teach them diligently, but as we're making effort to create those opportunities and to be diligent and establish good habits and being consistent about that, God many times breaks into our life and the normal routine of our lives and gives incredible teaching moments. Things happen, the car breaks down or this or whatever, and you're stressing out, your wife is stressing out, and how many times does a six-year-old or an eight-year-old or a ten-year-old or a 14-year-old break into the conversation and say something like, but why don't we just pray about it?

Duh, why didn't we think of that? We're the adults here. We're the parents here. We've had that experience, and you're a bit rebuked by that. Out of the mouth of babes, God's reminding you, and you bow and you pray, and you ask God, and you explained it to the situation, and then they see that God does care, that God does answer prayer, and it's a wonderful teaching moment.

I think it's good to gather family together. One of the things that's a good exercise when you go away on vacation, talk about the years that have gone by and the things God has done, and it's so encouraging to everybody around. Remember that time when this happened? Remember that time when that happened, and we didn't know how that was going to get resolved, and God did this, and God did that.

We went to church at the Outer Banks a number of years ago. I parked the car, went in, come out, car wouldn't start. I thought, what?

I mean, there was nothing. Got the hood up, and here the cable from the starter had just corroded off, and there I was, and there was a man in the church like a Ken Elliott, and he saw me with the hood up. He says, can I help you with something? I said, well, yeah.

I said, looks like I need a cable. He says, oh, I think I've got one in my house. Carried me over to his house, and we got the cable, and went back to his house, and had a nice visit with the man. Why didn't that happen some other place where we were coming across Alligator Alley or somewhere where there's nobody around? Why did it happen in the church parking lot, you know, when we talk about the goodness of God, and how he makes provision for us in various ways? We all have stories like that. Sobering stories, really. I remember a dozen years or so ago, I went home at lunchtime and walked in on two men who were burglarizing my house, and lived to tell about it.

When the sheriff's department came out to the house that night, they said, sir, you realize you're a very fortunate man. I said, okay. He said, when homeowners walk in on a burglar or a break and an entering, he says, it usually doesn't end well. I said, why is that?

Well, because they're in your house, and they got to get out. He says, what you said was brilliant. Well, I wasn't thinking I was real brilliant. I was just angry when I encountered these two men in the house, and then one man come out of the master bedroom with a duffel bag, and I said, you need to drop what you've got in your hand and get out of this house. And he characterized that as being brilliant. I said, okay, why was that brilliant? He says, you gave them a way out. You told them to get out of the house, and so they got out of the house. I've thought about that occasion many a time.

The one guy was a two-time felon. He had a nine-millimeter revolver on him. Why didn't he shoot me? Well, because God decided to preserve my life. Those kinds of experiences that you have, it's good to talk about those things and rehearse God's goodness and kindness and protection. Challenge number three.

I better get moving here. Not just relax and not just be intentional and deliberate, but number three, model gospel motivation. Our children must learn to obey God, but the obedience of Deuteronomy 6 flows from gratitude and confidence and hope in the Lord. Notice with me verse 20 of this chapter.

Here's the instructions. When your son asks you in time to come saying, what is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you. When our children ask about God's law, the passage instructs parents to ground their discussion, the reason to give heed to God's law in the gospel salvation that they have known, to speak of God's salvation.

Let me show it to you. The salvation focus and explanation has three dimensions to it. What God has already done, notice verse 12, he says, beware lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage. Here's a past deliverance.

Don't forget that. Don't forget what God has done in the past. It has a present aspect to it. Verse 24 and verse 25, and the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always that he might preserve us alive as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God as he has commanded us.

There's a present aspect, and then there is a future aspect. Notice verses 10 to 11, so it shall be when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things which you did not fill, you not wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, when you have eaten and are full then. So those are the things that God had promised to do for them in the future. So my point here is what a joy to ground our parenting in the gospel of God's grace, to tell our children about the forgiveness that is already ours as parents.

And our children should hear us talk with gratitude about God's forgiving grace in our lives, to rehearse God's past dealings, to speak of God's fatherly care and our confidence to trust him for our present needs as I've already made a couple illustrations to you, and to speak of our future hope of being with him forever. And you see how that kind of motivation, that gospel motivation is so much better than to say we're talking about God's statutes and God's law, well just obey because I said so. Well you can say that, but how much better to ground your appeal to their obedience in the gospel of God's grace, or to say well if you don't obey you're going to get punished. Again it's an inferior motivation.

No, I think being motivated by the gospel of God's grace and the salvation we have in him is a far better motivation. Isn't that why you obey? Isn't that why you are careful about God's statutes? You obey because, not to earn something, but in gratitude for what God has done for you. That's what we want to teach our children. And to use the few passages that we have about parents. Why should they obey?

So that it will go well with them. That's pretty straightforward, right? That's not hard for a child to understand. You want things to go well for you? Just just obey mom and dad, just honor us, just do what the Bible says.

There's not a long list here for you, just a couple of things to focus on and we're going to help you with that. Challenge number four, parent out of your own experience. Parent out of your own experience. Notice verse six. Well verse five he says, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You see you can't teach something that you haven't lived and experienced yourself. You'll find it impossible to keep on telling your children about Jesus if your heart's not in it. And conversely it will be difficult to stop talking about Jesus if it is, if your heart is in it, because he is your life.

He's the most important thing about life and you won't be able to be silent about that. So to the degree that we are in constant communion and fellowship with the Lord it will motivate our teaching, our alertness, our taking these opportunities that God gives to teach our children and to bring them up and teach and instruct them in the things of the Lord. It is the reservoir of our own heart and the communion that we have with the Lord that we draw upon and children see that.

And I fully understand there will be seasons of life that are dry and we feel like we're running on empty and during those times we just need to keep doing the right thing, be diligent, that God will reward us. Challenge number five, be real. Be real. What do I mean by that? Well we must be the same person at home that we are at church, not a double standard, not a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, because children pick up on that hypocrisy, oh, do as I say not as I do, and if that's going on it undermines what you're trying to accomplish. To the degree that there's consistency in how we're living our lives, to that degree it enhances the gospel that we are endeavoring to set before them and trust God to impact their lives with. But to the degree that there is a disparity, there's a distance, there's a gap between our persona publicly and who we are at home, it will diminish our influence and undermine our efforts. So we have to be real and what do I mean by be real?

I mean be honest. Parenting is hard work and it doesn't detract from your effectiveness to go to your children from time to time and say son or daughter, daddy's here to ask you to forgive him for the way he talked to your mother. I'm to love your mother and I should be kind in my words and I wasn't. And somehow people tend to think that if we talk like that it diminishes our effectiveness. No, it shows them that you're real and at the same time you say I'm asking you to forgive me, I've asked God to forgive me and they begin to understand that we have a community in our home of redemption. They understand how the grace of God works. We don't have to be perfect because we're not. Boy, but how sad it is to hear a 17 or 18 year old in anger say I've never heard my dad admit a fault.

He's always right. Well may that not be said of us. Let's just be honest with our children. Let's be real.

And then lastly, challenge number six. A simple word, simply trust. Trust. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus. That's the only way to accept this Deuteronomy challenge without collapsing under the pressure. If you say I'm having a hard enough time just with the first great commandment let alone have to teach this to my children, I understand that. When we fail and we will fail often, we must rest in the fact that Jesus never fails.

And when we are faithless, He remains faithful. So in conclusion, does any of this sound hard? You say, yeah, sounds impossible. I get that.

It's more than hard. But let's be confident that God has ordained these means of grace. He gives us years in the home to labor at this prayerfully and dependently and trustingly. And if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, God didn't make a mistake of putting that child in your home. That child's there for you to nurture and train and influence for Christ. And God strengthens weak people. You don't have to be the perfect parent.

You don't have to have all the answers. You just have to live a life of dependence upon God and trust Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus. That's my message on this Father's Day evening. May God give us help and grace and encouragement in our pursuit of this very noble and yet challenging responsibility as fathers. Shall we pray? Father, thank You for the word that You've given, for the instructions that we have. And Lord, we say, who is sufficient for these things?

And yet, Lord, You have taught us to look to You and depend upon You and that You would do for us what we could never do for ourselves. We thank You for the grace of salvation that has saved moms and dads and for blessing their homes with children and entrusting those children to them. And Lord, we thank You that they are in a community of faith, that we are working at this together.

We're teaching, we're modeling, we're living the gospel before our children. And Lord, we pray that You will, in Your own time, birth them into Your kingdom. Give them life. Make them followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Make them disciples of Yours. Thank You for what You have done in our church, for the many fine examples there are. But Lord, keep us from those who have a sense of success. Keep us from any means of pride, thinking that our children are who they are because of what we've done. Lord, it's all of You. And for any parent that's here tonight who's feeling overwhelmed, feeling that their efforts are not being successful, Lord, encourage them, help them to not give up, but to keep about the business of bringing their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord in trusting, prayerful dependence upon You. Save our children, Father, we pray, for their everlasting good and for Your own honor and glory, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-30 02:24:13 / 2023-03-30 02:35:32 / 11

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