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A Father's Long Shadow – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 4, 2024 1:00 am

A Father's Long Shadow – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 4, 2024 1:00 am

Our fathers can bless us, encourage us, diminish us, or curse us. Much of the anguish in today’s families can be traced to fractured relationships between fathers and their children. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We all know that fathers are normally the family breadwinners, but in the Bible, fathers are also responsible for the spiritual well-being of their wives and children. Today, we explore the power of a dad's example for good or ill. Stay with us.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, is it true that we feel the impact of our fathers long after they have passed away? Dave, not only is that true, but we must understand that a father has an impact upon his children, even if the children have never met their father. Absentee fathers, of course, that is one of our great problems here in America and around the world. Children need guardrails.

They need examples. And in the scripture, that responsibility rests upon fathers. Now, there are many people who are listening today and they may say that I never had a father whom I knew, or perhaps the father has died, there's divorce, there's the tearing of families. We all understand that. And that's why it's so necessary for us to understand the scriptures and the fact that God becomes our father.

That's important. I've written a book entitled A Practical Guide for Praying Parents. And at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be giving you some info as to how this book can be yours. But I need to tell you that no matter who you are as a parent or as a grandparent, in today's world, we desperately need to intercede for our children.

We have to determine that Satan will not have them. That's why I wrote the book. So even as we talk about the family, let's keep in mind the importance of prayer, devotion, and intercession. Today I want you to hear the cry of 20 million children who are living without a father in the home. These are lyrics by David Meese about his own fatherless home. Sometimes at night I lie awake longing inside for my father's embrace. Sometimes at night I wander downstairs pray he'll return but no one was there.

Oh how I cried. A child all alone waiting for him to come home. My father's chair sat in an empty room. My father's chair covered with sheets of gloom. My father's chair through all the years and all the tears I cried in vain.

No one was there in my father's chair. Today I'm going to preach a message which I wish were heard throughout the world. A father's long shadow. You and I are impacted by our father much more than we realize. Fathers can bless us. Fathers can encourage us. Fathers can diminish us and fathers can curse us.

They have it all within their power. Today my text is taken from the book of Malachi. Malachi, an old testament prophet, the last book of the old testament.

Find the place where the old and the new testament meet and it is pronounced Malachi not Malachi like an Italian friend of mine but it was. Because this message is so serious and so necessary and so life transforming before we read the text I would like to pray one more time asking God to do what no man can. Would you join me as we pray? Our father we ask in Jesus' name that this for many will be a transforming moment. For fathers who are listening we ask that you will open their hearts go where no man can deep within their souls. For all of the children and that's all of us of fathers we pray that we might be reconciled to our fathers to break the impasse the curses of fathers who have done us harm and not good. We pray today that as we speak about reclaiming the family that this will be a powerful step in that direction for everyone who is listening.

We ask in Jesus' name, amen. Malachi chapter 4 verse 5. Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

Or as some translations put it unless I come and strike the land with a curse. When God ends the Old Testament he ends with a warning and the warning is that if the hearts of fathers are not turned toward the children and the children toward the fathers if there is not reconciliation then there is no as some translations put it unless I come and strike the land with a curse. When God ends the Old Testament he ends with a warning and the warning is that if the hearts of fathers are not turned toward the children and the children toward the fathers if there is not reconciliation within the home judgment is coming.

That's God's last word to fathers in the Old Testament. You open up the New Testament and you find in Luke chapter 1 that when John the Baptist is born the prophecy says he will go forth in the power and the spirit of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward the children. The Old Testament opens with an emphasis on reconciliation within the home.

The New Testament opens with an emphasis in the same direction. God says it is important for restoration and reconciliation within the home. Why is the role of the father so critical?

Yes of course mothers have a great influence but God holds the father accountable for his wife and for his children. First of all because the father is the mirror of the home. As children try to find out who in the world they really are and find out their identity. Try to find out whether they are valuable or valueless.

Find out whether they are worth anything. They look to the father to find out how valuable they are. That's why fathers can diminish their children by belittling them, by criticizing them, by telling them things that that they should never be told, by striking at their hearts. Like the father who told his adopted son in a moment of anger, you are nothing but the product of a one-night stand. The father knew that to kill the boy would mean that the father would go to jail so he wouldn't do that.

What he wanted to do is to destroy the boy's soul and he did it through terrible terrifying words. So who are you? You're growing up you're trying to figure that out. It's dad who reflects back to you who you are because you see yourself through his eyes. He's not only the mirror in the home he's also the thermostat in the home.

He's the one who's going to set the temperature. Are we going to have a home with harmony and with respect among the siblings? Is that what we're going to have or are we going to have a home where everyone can say whatever they like they can swear they can cut others down and they can do practically anything in disrespect to one another. The father determines that. This past week my wife and I were talking to a couple and they were telling us about a a home that they were acquainted with where they said every disagreement ended in an argument and every argument ended in a fight.

We're going to duke it out. The father determines whether it's going to be that kind of a home or a home where there is optimism, encouragement, strength, belief, and joy. Dad it's up to you. He's also the compass in the home determines what direction the home is going to go.

Are we just going to keep going year after year the way things are and never better ourselves never try to improve ourselves sit around watch television maybe read a newspaper live from paycheck to paycheck with no goals no initiative. It's the dad who sets that tone and that direction. Well what happens when there isn't a dad in the home? Well the power of the father extends over the family whether he is there or not and when he's not there his power is limitless. Girls growing up without a dad don't know whether they are sexually attractive they don't know whether whether or not they have value they don't they need the affirmation of a man and dad isn't there so they begin to test the waters begin to find others with whom they can have a relationship and pretty soon fall into the arms of young men who abuse them and use them and then toss them away and tell them they're worthless and the cycle begins all over again. Young boys wrestling in their spirits between being aggressive as young men are and also needing self-restraint they don't know where the boundaries are.

So what they're going to do is to look to other men to try to affirm them to try to find out about masculinity and almost inevitably they will choose those who will use them who will mistreat them and who will do them harm at the latter end and that's what happens. Mike Singletary whose name is known here in Chicago because of the fame that he achieved playing on the Chicago Bears said that he grew up without a father and when he goes to prisons he always asks the men as he speaks to them how many of you have had a good relationship with your father raise your hand. Singletary says that up until now not a single hand has ever been raised the curse of fatherlessness. My outline today is rather simple we're going to learn first of all how a father can turn his heart toward his child to win his child's heart and then we're going to talk about making peace with our fathers whether they are dead or alive that's the agenda. First of all how does a father take a child who is turned off a child whose heart is closed how does he get the child to open his heart? The child has a clenched fist as it were and and the question is you can pry his fingers open but they will always go back or you can win the child's heart so that he will open his hand on his own. How do you win a child's heart? Four requirements fathers you know that you are god to your child that's why so many people who struggle with fatherlessness or their relationship with their father end up having so many problems with god as their father because you represent him like it or not good father bad father indifferent father you represent god and god will hold you personally individually accountable. First we as fathers need to initiate communication we need to initiate communication we need to connect and we can only do that by making sure that the lines of communication are open for some that means that you have to go to your children and ask their forgiveness you have to say please please forgive me for my harshness for my indifference for my inconsistent discipline. I love to tell the story of that man who attended a church service came in in a Saturday morning after playing golf and there were 200 men in the church on their knees repenting of their sins and he sat at the back of the auditorium and took his fist and put it into his hand and said god you will never get me you'll never get me but I always like to point out that god got him god got him why was he so stubborn well it's because he had five children and a hot temper and he had rules in his house we've got rules here and if you violate the rules you know how that goes and he had turned his children off and he knew he had to humble himself and go and to ask their forgiveness if communication is to be restored but if you're a young father and your children are young and they're still in the home how do you establish that communication by the questions that you ask find out what is going on in their lives enter into their world into their world so you don't like the music that they listen to what parent has ever liked the music that his teenagers have listened to try to find out why he likes it ask him questions about school because at the end what you and I must do is to make sure that our children know one thing and that is that they are highly prized they are highly prized jesus prizes you and says of such kingdom of heaven and i prize you as a gift from jesus to me so you establish communication dad talk say something something good something helpful that's the first thing we as fathers need to do something we're not very good at actually start it second be the law giver yes that's what god is going to hold you accountable for is being the law giver but also the grace giver the grace giver so you make the rules in the home and you put down the law but your home just isn't a place of laws it's also a place of grace it's a place where you model forgiveness personally by your attitude and then what you can do is you can begin to see that kind of an attitude develop on the part of your children children will misbehave you need proof jog your memory as to what you did when you were a child why are you holding your children to a higher standard than you lived up to may i ask well i hope that you hold them up to a higher standard than you lived up to but do so with a sense of humility knowing that you know evil is bound up in a child but you administer grace according to josh mcdowell in a survey that was taken and teenagers were asked who can you go to when you have a crisis in your life dad was number 48 on the list i can't talk to my dad he isn't going to listen to me i wish i could take time to tell you the stories of kids who have written the completion of this sentence if i could change my mom and dad i would so many of them say i wish that he would listen to me i might have something important to say i wish that he would spend time with me yes there is law but there is also grace dads hear it your children will never be kept from sins and crimes because of your rules they do not have the power to do that they do not have the power to transform and to keep a child the rules are necessary yes but it isn't rules that will do it it is relationships that will do it that's what is transforming for your children is the relationship third be the protector be the protector be the protector the bible says regarding god lord you are my refuge and my fortress and that's what children need in today's world a refuge and a fortress so you protect them from the enemies of the family namely drugs immorality pornography crime sexual predators you talk to them about these things and you discuss them let them express their opinions even if their opinion is different from yours hear them out hear them out but stand in for them a father in this church a very good father talked to me the other day about movies that are being shown in the school that show marriage as diverse two men two women that also is a marriage that also is a quote family how old do you think his daughter is who's supposed to look at these movies six years old and there's a father who's standing in for his daughter keeping tabs on what she sees in school and discussing it with the principal involved in her life involved so you're the protector be the mentor in humility in patience in servant love be a mentor you don't have to know a lot about the bible that's what i'm not talking about though the more you know the better but but it's the modeling of it my parents could have taught us faith and i'm sure they did but to me the greatest lesson of faith was when hail consumed every blade of wheat on our farm and they got on their knees in the old farmhouse and thanked god for his mercies and for all that he meant to them in the midst of their devastation children don't forget that you say well there's something in my life there's a reason why i can't be a mentor i can't be a mentor i have unconquered sin in my life if that's the case with you my dear father would you join a small group would you go for help would you seek god would you do whatever needs to be done to get rid of what it is that stands in the way of you entering into your child's world that's the way we can fulfill this admonition behold i will send you alijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the lord and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children father today turn your heart to your needy crying children at great personal cost it was seneca who said years ago seneca said no man can consider himself a success if his children are a failure now that's the first part of verse six he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children but now i want to speak about the second part of this verse and the heart of the children of the children to their fathers yes of course it's very important that children honor their fathers if they have fathers who are worthy of honor and your relationship to your father does affect you but it doesn't have to destroy you even if it was a bad relationship because the bible admonishes us that we should think of god as our father our father who art in heaven that being said to all the fathers who are listening and the mothers i've written a book entitled a practical guide for praying parents now i did this because i have discovered in my own life early on that i was praying the same prayers in the same old way every day for my children and then someone introduced me to praying scripture so in this book the first chapter is entitled lord change me in other words before we begin to pray for our children we have to ask god to change us and this is a longer story that i explain in the book but sometimes the rebellion of a child is used in the parents lives more than that i give examples of praying on monday tuesday wednesday now for a gift of any amount this book can be yours here's what you do go to that's or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337 i want to emphasize that the reason we are making resources like this available to you is that you are a blessing to us and we in turn want to bless you we want to provide resources that help you make it all the way to the finish line and that's why we've called this program running to win so here's what you do to receive this resource a practical guide for praying parents go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337 become a parent that prays scripture according to the will of god you can write to us at running to win 1635 north lacelle boulevard chicago illinois 60614 running to win comes to you from the moody church in chicago next time more on how dads can and must protect their families from the onslaughts of a pagan culture running to win is sponsored by the moody church
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-04 02:10:50 / 2024-06-04 02:18:45 / 8

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