Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Godly Manhood: Desperately Needed Today

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, June 19, 2011

Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

Today is a special day, a unique day for me, because this time, for the first time in my 50 years of life, I don't have my father with me on Father's Day. 50 Father's Days ago - June 18, 1961 was the date – my Dad used to like to tell me, was an extra special Father's Day for my Dad, for it was on that Father's Day that God gave him and my mother a son. I was that son.

Father's Day. As I look at Scripture in order to find nourishment and guidance for my role as a father, and in order to uncover truths about fatherhood with you, there is probably no more familiar, and no more important texts on the subject of fatherhood than these two texts. The outline, the structure of these two brief instructions to fathers is simply, and clear. But, believe me, the meaning and message, when diligently applied in a father's life, is profound. Would you look at these passages with me, please?

In Ephesians 6, verse 4, the apostle Paul writes, “And you fathers do not provoke your children to wrath,” part one of the structure: fathers, here is something you must avoid doing. Fathers, if you are doing this, if you are in the habit of provoking your children to wrath, then stop it! Stop it! “And you fathers, do not provoke,” literally, “don't keep on provoking,” “don't make it a habit to provoke your children to wrath.” That's what fathers must not do. “But bring them up” - Father's here's what you are to do, “bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord.” And, then, from Colossians 3:21, Paul writes, “Fathers, do no provoke” stop provoking, “your children” - again, Paul sets forth the prohibition as to what fathers are NOT to do. “Don't make it a habit to provoke your children.” And, then, second half of the verse, and the third component to the structure of these two verses. “Do not provoke your children...” Why? “Lest they become discouraged.” “So that they do not lose heart...”

As I said, the structure, the outline, if you will, of these two texts, is rather clear and simple: don't do this, instead, do this, and here's why.

The structure is simple and clear, but the meaning and message is profound, maybe even painful. Would you look at with me, Men, and listen, as the Spirit of God speaks to you through these verses.

Men, we live in a day and time when real men, not the fake variety, who think they are men because they've got a beer in hand, or a beautiful girl flirting with them, or a flashy car or oversized, mud-caked truck to drive or a wad of dough to blow at the casino – but real men, men, who by God's grace are seeking to pattern their lives after the things found in this Book, real men are few and far between. And it shows! It shows in the work-place. How many bosses and employers do we know are frustrated, not because they have TOO MANY good hands available to them, but TOO FEW? The lack of real men, it shows in the work force, and it shows in the workmanship. Both are too often inferior in quality.

Secondly, it shows, the lack of real men shows, in the church, and even in the government. Scandals brought about by the ungodly actions of some of those 'fake men' I mentioned, any more they are way too common. Common to the point that folks like us often respond with words like, “What's new?” and “So what?” Worse yet, is the scandalous weakness and ineffectiveness of church and government because of this lack of real men leading and serving in those places. And, then there's the home and the family. Illegitimate births, divorce, child abuse and neglect, runaway children and even suicides and violent attacks against family members, the definition and nature of family and marriage being over-hauled and re-worked, none of these is on the decline, is it? None of these is showing signs of letting up, is it? Neither is any of the pain, heartache and despair that goes with it, why? Because the men, at best they are fake, and at worst they are absent!

Why? Why? Underneath the 'symptoms' of fake manhood and absent fathers, is a wholesale abandonment of this Book, and what it says about the God Who has made Himself known in this Book as wholehearted acceptance, a full-throttle, pursuit of a pack of lies from the pit of hell.

You see, men, this Book, and its revelation of the God made known in this Book, declares from cover to cover that this Word is true, that this Word is right and righteous and all together pure, and that it is for all people, at all times and in all places. Yes, this Book, the God who gave us this Book, instructs us with this foundational fact; this is meant to impact every aspect of who and what we are as men. This foundational fact: “I am God, your Maker, your Owner, and I have the sovereign right, as your Maker and Owner, to rule in your life, to have authority over you!”

Men, that's the foundational fact to REAL manhood! But, when was the last time you heard or read it or saw that fact in action? It's been a long time - maybe never - right? That's because in too many, way too many men's lives, in their minds, and in their hearts and souls, this pack of lies guides them: there is no God. This Book is nothing more than man-made stories, fairy-tales and legends. I'm the center of the universe, so life is all about me!

Is it any wonder, when men live according to those lies that their children, if they even know who they are and where they are, are provoked to wrath by men who live according to those lies? Let me step down off my soap box for a minute and bring you back to these verses.

Where do they begin, both of them? Did you notice? They don't begin with the prohibit, “do not provoke your children to wrath...” They don't begin with the command, “bring them up” or with the reason “lest they be discouraged...” Rather, both passages - both – begin with the word, “Fathers!” “Fathers!”

You see where I'm going with this, don't you, Men! The task, the eternally-significant task bound up in the words of that single command, “bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord...” The task, not of raising children – ask the farmers, the gardeners in our midst, “what are you raising in your garden?” They'll tell you: “I'm raising tomato plants, I'm raising cucumber plants, I'm raising zucchini PLANTS..” No! That's not what they will tell you, because every bit their intention and goal is “I'm raising tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.” Men, the eternity-altering task of fatherhood is NOT to raise children, “yep, my son's 45 and he still spends all his time in front of the play station. Man-sized body, but still a child in every other way!” Men, our task is not to raise perpetual children, but look, do you see the goal, “bring them up”, the goal of fatherhood is the rearing of future adults.

And, listen – that's just the beginning, because the rest of the verse, what does it say? It says, fathers bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord!

Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21, notice men, please notice with me, where BOTH of these passages begin, whose task, whose responsibility is it to raise future adults? Whose job is it to instruct your children, to train and admonish them, in the ways of the Lord?

Lots of answers floating around to those questions, aren't there? The government, the daycare, the boys and girls clubs, the preacher, the elders, the Sunday School teachers, the woman who bore these children. Lots of answers out there being advertised, offered and accepted. But, listen, men, the buck stops with you! IN God's amazing design for families, for marriage, for children, and yes, for manhood, REAL manhood, He intends to use you! And, because that is what God's 'blueprint' calls for - nothing - hear me now, nothing else will do! Nothing! You're the man!

But how? I know, like me, you're wondering HOW can I? Man, you don't realize what kind of man I am or have been! How can I? And, how? I mean, “How do you do it? I don't know how!” This part of this message, listen, my brothers, this part is the most important part! The 'how' question, two parts to the how question: number one – 'how?' Does the word impossible seem appropriate about now? Here's the answer to the first part, the first aspect to the 'how' question: Ephesians 5:18, and Colossians 3:16, two verses expressing basically the same thought, the same answer to the IM-possible 'how' question.

Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with
the Spirit.

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace
in your hearts to the Lord.

How are you going to be THE MAN, fulfilling your role and responsibility to bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord? Listen, brothers, with you on your own, it is impossible! But, with God, all things are possible! “Let His Spirit fill you! Let His Word indwell you richly” and you will be able to do what you thought was impossible.

Second, how? I don't know how? One quick nugget I discovered in tracing out the idea of provoking our children to wrath! Time and time again, over in the Old Testament we read of the Israelites, God's covenant children, provoking Him to wrath, because they loved and worshiped and pursued idols, false gods. In other words, Israel provoked God's wrath, when they valued their idols and put Him in the trash.

Now, turn that around with me, men, and apply to us, the fathers and to our children: you want to know HOW to bring up your children in the ways of the Lord? You want to know how to avoid provoking your sons and daughters to wrath? Value them! Treasure them! Let not your thought, your attitude be one that says, “look how much these kids are costing me!”, but rather, let your mindset be on that says, “Look at how RICH I am because God has given these children to me...”

Here the Word of the Lord one more time with me, will you?

Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up
in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with
the Spirit.

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .”

Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we praise You and thank You that in Christ You are our Father and we are Your children. We thank You, also, that You have been gracious to touch our lives through earthly fathers and other godly men who have been Your servants in bringing us up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Where would we be if You had not used them in our lives? And, those of us who are fathers, this day we ask again for Your mighty power and tender grace to help us and to enable us to be the godly men – the faithful husbands, the patient fathers, the humble and joyful servants of Your people that You have called us to be. We look forward to how You will use us to raise up another generation of godly seed to work in Your kingdom until Jesus comes again. Please strengthen us and give us wisdom for the task. In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

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