Sunday, June 24, 2012

All that it Entails

If you're like me, you've come to realize that being a husband and a father is different than you thought beforehand. Being married is much more than dating, and fatherhood more than babysitting. Whatever I thought I knew about family before having a family of my own, has been replaced by the experiences I now have every day. And you know what? It is much greater than what I imagined it was. My wife is the greatest joy and blessing I have received - apart from the free grace given to me by God. My 11 month old daughter has only added to that joy. Truly, God has made me a blessed man.

My pastor preached a sermon on Father's Day that was directed to the husbands and fathers. I will spend some time here relaying some of the sermon's key points that have impacted me. Pastor Fry's primary text was Psalm 112, and from that I will focus on verse 1:

Praise the Lord!
How blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.

Pastor Fry's first point was that father's should be the worship leader of the family. While this doesn't sit well in our egalitarian day and age, the Bible is very clear that men and women are equal in nature and value but have different roles. One of the father's roles is to be the spiritual leader of the household. The father's role includes leading in the reading and discussion of the Scriptures, of prayer, and the reinforcement of godliness in the home. Joshua 24:14-15 reads:

14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The father needs to be concerned about idols in the household - this includes in your own life. Even though it is rare for most Westerners to actually worship a man-made statue or some-such creation, anything that receives worship and adoration other than the one true God should be considered an idol. We are commanded by God to worship only Him, so we must diligently fight the human tendency to prioritize anything before Him. Knowing myself, I have a tendency to love a little too much legitimate things: books, video games, or spending time with friends. It isn't that there is anything immoral with reading books, or playing video games, but these activities in excess or given too high a priority can lead to idol worship. A key question to ask when determining precisely what you worship is this: "When you have time to allow your mind to wander, what is it you spend most of your time thinking about?"

Husbands and fathers, talk about the faith with your wife and your children. Take some time away from the television and explain why the faith is important to you, and how it pertains to them. Let your children know that as long as they live under your roof, they will serve the Lord.

The godly father receives all of his given responsibilities, even ones that present their own unique challenges. One such challenge is to teach your children the value of obedience to you and other given authorities. First hand, I have had to apply the Biblical instruction to not spare the rod with my sweet daughter. After the command to do something (or not do something), and sometimes following a warning or two, we do lightly slap her hand or flick her wrist. Why do we do this? Because we are teaching her the value and importance of obeying Daddy and Mommy. There is no meaningful discussion with an 11 month old, and sometimes there isn't time for one. The only thing she understands is that if she willfully disobeys there are consequences.

Immediately after an administered punishment, there is a brief sentence or two, usually along the lines of: "You were punished because you didn't listen to Daddy [or Mommy]. You need to always listen to Daddy and Mommy. I love you." This routine is always followed by hugs and kisses. As you can imagine, this kind of discipline will become more in-depth as she gets older. The punishments will change, and the conservation and explanation will as well.

Fathers should pray for his children's salvation. In fact, Emily and I pray that the Lord delivers Molly from her sins at a young age.We should not be naive enough to believe that because she and I are believers in Christ that our daughter will be as well. The Lord saves whom He wills, and so I always want to proclaim the gospel to her and pray for her repentance unto life.

The godly man looks to the future. Think about your retirement and what inheritance you might leave to your children and your grandchildren. For Americans, when Social Security likely won't be there to supplement your income, make preparations for that ahead of time so you don't outlive your retirement savings. Also think about the legacy you hope to leave behind. When your children and your grandchildren talk about you after you're gone, hopefully it will be about your consistent godly example.

Finally, the father needs to be patient and forgiving. Your children will let you down and they will sin. You need to set an example of what it means to forgive and to be patient toward them. Pastor Fry gave an example that sometimes, it's a good idea to cut them some slack. When you've been on their case all day give them a break. Does not our heavenly Father act patiently toward us many many times? We ought to always look to our God's example toward us, and seek His help, without which we would accomplish nothing.

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