Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aim Higher!

Aim Higher
Preached by David Kautt
Community Christian Church, Durant, Oklahoma
Sunday morning, June15, 2014

Psalm 127:1 – 5, “Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Father’s Day is one of the most important days of the year for me. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you why.

First off, it was on Father’s Day – 53 years ago – that my dad announced to the congregation of the First Christian Church of Murfreesboro, Arkansas that my mother had given to him a son, born at 2:02 AM, June 18, 1961. I was that son.

Secondly, for 15 years or more, during our ministry in McKinney, Texas, every Father’s Day, I could count on my dad walking into the church building with my mom in order to hear his son preach. Four Father’s Days ago that all changed. My mother came through the church door for the service, but not my dad. Furthermore, it was the week of that very first Father’s Day without my dad – June 2011 – that God began invading my heart and my emotions – in ways I had never experienced before. Fifty years almost to the day AFTER my FIRST Father’s Day – the day of my birth – God began a huge work of re-birth in me that I’m grateful and humbled to say continues to this very day.
Yes, Father’s Day has very special meaning for me. But not because I’ve been the best of fathers. You can ask any of our six children and Julia, and they’ll set you straight on that one. Nor is Father’s Day important and cherished because my dad was perfect. He wasn’t. I knew that and I think he did as well. Rather, Father’s Day is precious to me because through my father, and through being a father, I am learning just how patient, gracious, gentle and faithful God is towards me.

Yes, for my children’s father, and for my father, there’s an amazing mix of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – things to aspire to, imitate and improve upon.  And other things to avoid, turn away from and even overcome!  All of which – I’m learning, 50 years down the road of my own life – all of which are saying to me, “Aim higher!”  “Your dad – in his imperfect and incomplete way – was a father to you. And now you, David Paul Kautt, in your own imperfect and incomplete way, have that very same opportunity with your children.  Aim Higher!  All and all, your dad was a good father. But, don’t settle for just ‘good’ – for ‘good enough.’  No! Aim higher!”

Before we go any further, can I briefly state for you what this Book says about the proper context for fatherhood?  The old adage goes something like this:  “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Normally, that adage makes us think of the incredible impact of a mother.  And for good reason, right?

But listen.  In keeping with our Creator’s grand design – not only are mothers intended to by God to be influential, but so are fathers! And yet, in accordance with His plan, that impact, that influence flows out of or is meant by our Creator to flow out of a certain relationship context He set up, He designed.

That relationship context, rooted in God’s amazing creation design, is monogamous, heterosexual marriage, the union of one man and one woman before God in Biblical marriage.  Without sounding too harsh and trying not to demean anyone, especially knowing my own failures, let me just say it this way:  every other relationship context where the term “father” might be used is merely an imitation, a cheap substitute offered up by Satan himself to try to replace the good and perfect plan God set forth for fatherhood back in the Garden of Eden.

With all of that being said, let me invite you to take a look at Psalm 127 and the words of Solomon regarding fatherhood.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.  Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain,” Solomon continues, “for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows – for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

Almost 28 years ago, with the help of God and my wife, I became a father for the very first time. On Saturday, July 19, 1986 at 10:40 AM, Joel Gregory Kautt made his grand entrance into this world.  And all of a sudden, the stunning reality hit home – that Julia and I had just brought into this world a little person who will spend eternity in either heaven or hell! I’d never set foot on this path before, never walked this road previous to that day. How was I to navigate a proper direction for our little fellow, when I didn’t know how?

My brothers, those of you that are dads like I am – do you recognize, have you come to grips with the fact that the task of being a father is bigger than you are?! “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…” were Solomon’s wise words regarding the subject. Do you understand what he’s talking about here? And, do you agree?

“Oh! I’m man enough to handle it!  I’ve got what it takes to be the father my children need me to be.”  Do you?!  Are you?!
Listen, my Brothers, if you haven’t stopped to admit it before, now is the time to do so!  Fatherhood is not a man-sized job.  No!  It is a God-sized job! This task – this monumental, eternity-impacting task – is bigger than you are! 

Gut-check Number One: Have you ever stopped and humbly confessed, “I don’t know how?”
Like my father showed me, your children need you to show them what faith is all about.  Do you have ay to show them?  Do I? “God, I don’t know how!”  That’s the first step in accessing God-sized assistance, my brothers!

But, listen.  Admitting there’s a problem isn’t enough, doesn’t go far enough!

You and I must also ask for help!  Like the desperate father described in Mark chapter 9, we must not only take the initial step - the ‘I don’t know how’ step.  We must take the ‘I need your help!’ step also.

“Unless the LORD builds the house . . . Unless the LORD watches over the city…”
The task of being a father is bigger than WE are!  It is!  But God is bigger than that!  He is!  And the help He is more than willing to give us is more than enough.  It is!

There’s a second key truth related to fathering wrapped up in the Holy Spirit’s words to us here in Psalm 127.  And I invite you to zero in on it with me, please.

Here’s what that second key truth is:  Children are a Gift, not an Experiment!  Children are a Gift, not an Experiment!

As Julia and I were attending childbirth classes in preparation for the arrival of baby number 2 – our eldest daughter, Abigail – I remember what a fellow in the class said about children to the rest of us.  Half-joking and half-serious – he stated, ‘Children are kind of like frying pancakes.  The first one or two you throw away because they didn’t turn out so well.”

Throw away children – if ever there was a truer statement made about the status and importance of children in this day and age – that’s it.  Children are an EXPERIMENT – at least, the first one or two are – so, if they don’t turn out so well – just chunk them!
Take a look, my Brothers, at what our Maker – your children’s Maker – has to say instead of that:  (READ:  Psalm 127:3 – 5).

Children are not just an experiment – that – if it fails – you just put them in the garbage!  No!  Children are – not they might eventually become – But God says that children – ARE a gift – a heritage – an inheritance from the LORD.  And the fruit of the womb is His reward.

So, what’s the message – the implication of the message of that important truth about children?

Fatherhood is a God-made opportunity!  Don’t miss out on it!  Fatherhood is a God-made opportunity – Don’t miss out on it!  That’s the implication of the message.

So, how am I to make good on this God-made opportunity?

Let me give you 3 suggestions before we close.  Number one – ask God – remember what we mentioned earlier?  Ask God – to give you a change of mind -= a change of heart attitude regarding your children.  They ARE a blessing!  I didn’t say that!  God did!

They ARE a blessing – not, they might – one day – BECOME a blessing.  No! God says, “They are My gift – My reward – to you!”

Second, ask God to work in you to change your approach to fatherhood.  A lot of men – when it comes to fathering – have this one-sided, and not fully, Biblical viewpoint on the subject:  “I’ll just love my wife – as much as possible and as good as possible – and, then let her – let her love and lead the children!”  I mean, after all, SHE’S the homemaker – she’s the one with the built in sense of nurturing.

Listen, fellows – I understand that mindset.  For way too long, I lived that mindset!  But, then I read Psalm 127, verse 4 – “Like arrows in the hand of a WARRIOR – so are the children of one’s youth”.  And I realized that – those words were the description of a HE-man – a warrior - not a homemaker! 
Because children are a gift, not an experiment – I need to ask God to alter my approach to fathering.  Oh – sure, love your wife well – certainly!  And, praise God for her innate nurturing qualities.  But, listen fellows – you are the one instructed by God to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  You are!  I am!

Then, finally, because Children are a blessing – a precious gift from God – and not simply some trial and error-type of experiment – listen, fellows – we must ask God to make clear to us a change in our aim – as fathers.

My Brothers – you’ve heard the conversations – haven’t you – around the water cooler at work – or across the back fence in your neighborhood – the interchange between fathers that goes something like this:  Yeah – yeah – I am pointing my children toward their best career choice – the one where they can make the most money.  Or, I am directing my children toward their highest academic achievement – top rated SAT scores and scholarships from first rank universities – Or, I am guiding my children toward realizing their full athletic potential – and maybe even the fame that goes with it.
Now, all of those aims may sound fine and good – for the here and now.  Big money, a position with big influence – big stardom – these may be o.k., if all you and I are thinking about is the here and the now.

But, remember?  In giving us children – God has given to us a gift – not an experiment and with that gift – those gifts – He has also given to us the huge opportunity to aim them – like arrows in a mighty warrior’s hands – to aim them – with only this life in mind?  No!  He has given them to us to aim them with ETERNITY in mind – to launch them toward Jesus and against the enemy and his kingdom of darkness.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . “  Do those words sound familiar?

They are the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 – “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth” – Why?  Because moths and rust destroy and thieves break through and steal.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven – treasures in heaven”.

My Brothers – take a look – gut check number two – in what direction are you aiming your children?  Treasure on earth?  Or, treasure in heaven?

Where your treasure is – there will your heart be also!

The richest man on earth is not the one who makes it big investing in Wall Street.  No!  The richest man on earth is the man who lays up treasure in heaven by investing in what is eternal – his children’s souls – by pointing them to Jesus!

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