Leonard Ravenhill (11) De ce atâta nepăsare? America nu poate sa cada… fiindca deja e jos

Citeste

  1. Leonard Ravenhill (1) Cu orice preţ, căutaţi să aveţi ungerea
  2. Leonard Ravenhill (2) Rugăciunea atinge veşnicia
  3. Leonard Ravenhill (3) La amvoane, ungerea! În popor, strângerea!
  4. Leonard Ravenhill (4) Unde este acum Dumnezeul lui Ilie?
  5. Leonard Ravenhill (5) O trezire într-un cimitir plin cu oase
  6. Leonard Ravenhill (6) Trezirea întârzie… fiindcă…
  7. Leonard Ravenhill (7) Unde sunt predicile acelea înflăcărate?
  8. Leonard Ravenhill (8) Credincioşii necredincioşi
  9. Leonard Ravenhill (9) Se caută: Proroci pentru vremuri de restrişte
  10. Leonard Ravenhill (10) Focul naşte foc!

De ce atâta nepăsare?

America nu poate să cadă… fiindcă deja e jos. Lucrul acesta e adevărat şi despre Anglia. Nici ea nu poate fi înrobită… fiindcă deja poporul ei e încătuşat în lanţurile anarhiei morale pe care însăşi ea şi le-a forjat şi le-a ales. Aici sunt milioane de oameni cuprinşi de boala imoralităţii, şi nu au pic de dorinţă să se vindece. Aici sunt oameni care îşi vând sufletul pentru umbre, în timp ce nu numai că resping lucrurile reale, dar îşi şi bat joc de ele.

Un val imens, fără precedent, de nelegiuire în călcarea poruncilor, în batjocorirea lui Dumnezeu, în distrugerea sufletelor, face ravagii în oceanul orânduirilor omeneşti. Niciodată până acum n-au fost mase atât de masive de oameni care să-şi vândă sufletul la preţuri de nimic diavolului. „Nu este nimeni…. care să se trezească şi să se alipească de Tine” (Isaia 64:7). Ce vrajă diavolească îi ţine sub control? Cum i-a legat aşa de tare? Cine le-a luat minţile? Cum de nu se trezesc ca să-şi vină în fire?

Sub directivele diavolului, lumea a mai dat o injecţie firii păcătoase. Unul din semnele „zilelor din urmă” este şi faptul că „oamenii vor fi iubitori de plăceri” (Observaţi pluralul). Şi unde se fierbe zeama aceasta a iadului? În berăriile şi cârciumile lumii. E nevrednic de luat în seamă argumentul că subvenţiile guvernamentale date ca ajutor companiilor de bere şi lichioruri crează servicii pentru oamenii muncii. Distilăriile sunt creşe în care se nasc ucigaşii ce operează traficul de arme, produc crimele de pe şosele, provocate de şoferii în stare de ebrietate. Judecătoriile au de-a face cu roadele lichiorului. O trezire spirituală va scoate acest pom din rădăcini.

Apoi, milioane de oameni îşi aşteaptă rândul ca să fie iniţiaţi în nebunia căluşeilor din carnavalul sexualităţii. Când răul are gustul atât de dulce, care dintre tinerii îmbibaţi deja în păcate şi pofte ar mai dori să facă binele? Un singur ceas de „viaţă” în tensiunea plăcerii – argumentează ei – face mai mult decât să dai cu zarul în jocul de noroc al speculaţiilor teologilor de azi cu privire la „veşnicie.”

Uitaţi-vă o singură clipă, şi vi se umple sufletul de amărăciune. Poate fi ceva mai prostesc şi inuman ca o seară de băutură. Eroul serii e cel care ultimul se mai ţine pe picioare, în timp ce toţi ceilalţi, grohăind ca porcii, stau culcaţi pe podea, pe sub mese, amorţiţi de băutură. Acesta nu e sportul unor oameni primitivi ieşiţi din peşterile din valea Baliemului, ci e sportul sinistru al noilor intelectuali, sătui la refuz în trup, dar murdari la suflet, dedaţi fără ruşine oricărei nelegiuiri!

Plini cu desfrâu, avizi după jocurile de noroc, înrobiţi de băutură, aşa oameni (adulţi la trup, dar imbecili la minte) îşi cântă jelania cu lordul Byron:

Acolo unde era foc acum e cenuşă, delir.
E mort sufletul, dragostea, dorul.
Ce ’nainte iubeam, acum nu mai admir,
Iar inima-i rece, căruntă ca părul!

Dacă Biserica ar avea ceva vital să dea şi ceva victorios să fluture, oamenii aceştia care aleg ziua cluburile de golf şi noaptea cluburile de noapte, ar mai fi încă speranţă, s-ar putea să fie atraşi de la cloaca murdăriilor lor.

Din moment ce în liberatea lor oamenii nu-L aleg pe Dumnezeu, oare nu e normal ca Dumnezeu să-i lase pradă unor pedepse şi urgii, ca astfel ei să-şi aducă aminte de ziua Domnului, de calea Domnului şi de Fiul Lui? Să nu ne mirăm când auzim despre nenororcirile care vin peste lume. Şi atunci, nu e mai bine să mori legat în trup dar cu sufletul liber, decât să mori liber cu trupul şi cu sufletul înrobit?

Rămânem cu gura căscată când vedem oameni străluciţi, aprinşi de entuziasm pentru ştiinţă, dar speriaţi de religie. Când aceştia resping credinţa adevărată, îşi umplu golul spiritual cu gunoaie, se hrănesc din filme şi meciuri de fotbal. În lumina „miilor de ani ca o zi”, i-a trebuit ştiinţei doar câteva secunde să ne ducă de la carul cu boi la automobil, şi de la automobil la Sputnik.

Dar dacă admitem că ştiinţa are o atracţie deosebită şi e de admirat atunci când forează în sol o sondă de 3 km adâncime căutând zăcăminte de petrol, şi dacă nu găseşte, se apucă şi face acelaşi lucru pe fundul mării, totuşi e necesar să luăm în seamă că ştiinţa poate avea şi un aspect diabolic, ucigător. De exemplu, lobotomizarea.

Lobotomizarea e o operaţie chirurgicală inumană, inspirată de Satana, promovată de ştiinţă. De ani de zile operaţia aceasta asupra creierului uman a fost o armă în mâna dictatorilor. Hitler a folosit-o asupra a milioane de compatrioţi. Stalin se zice că ar fi avut zece mii din sclavii lui schimbaţi în zombii prin această operaţie ce ia doar cinci minute. După operaţie victima se zice că e în mod ireversibil nebună.

Pacientul e legat de masa de operaţie, legăturile fiind strânse şi tari. Electrozii sunt ataşaţi la tâmple, şi trei încărcături de curent sunt dozate în creierul pacientului, destul ca să provoace convulsii violente care până la urmă se sfârşesc cu o comă anestetică. Apoi medicii iau leucotomi (nişte instrumente mici ca târnăcoapele) şi le implantează sub pleoapele pacientului. Cu un ciocănaş le împinge prin golul ochiului în partea din faţă a creierului, separând lobii frontali de restul creierului. Rezultatul? Un zombi (alt cuvânt nu găsesc acum).

Cincisprezece zombi din aceştia pot fi făcuţi de ştiinţă în nouăzeci de minute… Când oameni luminaţi îi dezumanizează pe alţii în felul acesta, e timpul să ne oprim şi să ne gândim, să ne întrebăm dacă nu cumva zeiţa Ştiinţei primeşte prea mari onoruri din partea oamenilor.

Având în gând aceste milioane de lobotomizaţi, meditaţi puţin la cuvintele lui Bertrand Russell, a cărui lucrare, „Principiile Logicii” l-a încoronat ca regele filosofilor moderni: „Ca să se salveze, omul are nevoie azi de un singur lucru: să-şi deschidă ochii să accepte bucuria, şi să lase ca frica să rămână un lucru de domeniul trecutului întunecos. Omul trebuie să-şi ridice ochii în sus şi să spună: „Nu, nu sunt un păcătos mizerabil. Sunt o fiinţă care, după o cale lungă şi anevoioasă, am descoperit cum să stăpânesc… obstacolele naturale, cum să trăiesc în libertate şi bucurie, în pace cu mine însumi, în pace cu întreaga omenire.”

Ar fi greu să vă conving că acest fals profet al păcii s-a dedicat înşelăciunii? Acelaşi Bertrand Russell nu poate accepta întruparea Domnului Isus Cristos. Dar, vă întreb, cât mesaj de nădejde are el pentru nenorociţii vremii în care trăim?

Ceasul acesta are nevoie de inimi arzătoare, de buze aprinse, de ochi ca para focului. Dacă am fi doar zece la sută pe cât de credincioşi ne credem, străzile ar fi pline în fiecare duminică de oameni care ar mărşălui spre Sion. Ar trebui să ne îmbrăcăm în sac şi cenuşă văzând starea bisericii de azi, fără dragoste, fără viaţă, fără lucrare.

Dacă am fi plâns atât cât au plâns evreii la Zidul Plângerii în Ierusalim, am trăi azi o trezire energică şi curăţitoare. Dacă ne-am întoarce la traiul şi practica apostolică – să aşteptăm de la Domnul puterea apostolică – am fi în stare să pornim în lucrarea apostolică. E ceasul când oamenii mereu se întreabă: „Sunt cu toţii fericiţi?” Scopul lui Dumnezeu cu noi nu e fericirea, ci sfinţirea! Dacă e cineva azi cumpătat, ferindu-se să se atingă de băuturi, e luat în râs. Dar apostolul Pavel îi scrie lui Tit că aceasta e una din cele mai alese virtuţii creştine!

Ar trebui să mai urcăm odată dealul Căpăţânii pe genunchi, ca să privim crucea într-o atitudine de smerenie şi adoraţie. Biserica trebuie întâi să se pocăiască; apoi lumea va ceda! Biserica trebuie întâi să plângă; apoi vor fi bisericile pline cu păcătoşi copleşiţi de plânsul pocăinţei.

În culmea puterii sale, William James, un profesor de medicină de la Universitatea Harvard, a fost lovit de o boală misterioasă. I-au fost afectaţi şi deranjaţi nervii. Suferea de insomnie şi depresiune, dar nu găsea nici o vindecare. A fugit în Europa. Poate va găsi răspunsul la Berlin. Nici o uşă de nădejde însă. Poate la Viena. Acelaşi răspuns. Poate la Paris se ascunde răspunsul. Dar nu l-a găsit nici acolo.

Disperarea i-a cuprins fiinţa. Londra era aproape, dar apelul său a sunat în gol. Scoţia avea medici eminenţi în domeniul acesta. Dar n-a găsit balsam nici în Galaad. S-a întors în America, în mintea lui dansa gândul sinuciderii. A auzit de un bărbat al rugăciunii, un om cu o credinţă mare. Dar William James avea oroare pentru vindecările prin credinţă. El era un bărbat cu renume, un folozof distins, un psihiatru de marcă. Mintea lui ascuţită şi pregătirea sa intelectuală nu-l lăsau să încerce aşa ceva. Dar n-a avut ce face. S-a dus să-l viziteze. Omul acela simplu, fără şcoală, om al lui Dumnezeu, şi-a pus mâinile smerite pe capul lui James. Şi acesta spunea mai târziu: „Am simţit în corpul meu cum pătrunde o putere, o energie, şi am fost cuprins de un sentiment de pace; am ştiut atunci că eram vindcat!”

Pentru vindecarea boliilor îngrozitoare ale acestei lumi nebune, „Abana Ştiinţei” şi „Parparul Politicii” sunt mai atrăgătoare decât Crucea; aşa socoteşte voinţa noastră îndărătnică şi mintea noastră deformată. Dar ca să căpătăm vindecarea, trebuie să ne umilim ca William James, să ne întoarcem iar la Cruce şi la râul vieţii care curge din ea.

„Sunt bogat, m-am îmbogăţit şi nu duc lipsă de nimic…”
Biserica din Laodicea

„Era îngâmfată, trăia în belşug şi într-o linişte nepăsătoare.”
Ezechiel 16:49

„Este Domnul atât de grabnic la mânie, casa lui Iacov? Acesta este felul Lui de a lucra?”
Mica 2:7

„Biserica în care lucrarea e administrată omeneşte, în loc să fie guvernată dumnezeieşte, e sortită pierzării. Lucrarea celor ce sunt pregătiţi de universităţi dar nu sunt umpluţi de Duhul Sfânt nu produce minuni”.
Samuel Chadwick

„Omul a cărui predică scurtă e „Pocăiţi-vă!” se pune împotriva vremii sale, şi urmează să fie lovit fără milă de veacul a cărui păcate le vestejeşte. Pentru un aşa om nu rămâne decât un singur sfârşit: „Să i se taie capul!” Nu îndrăzni să predici pocăinţa dacă nu ţi-ai încredinţat capul în mâinile cerului”.
Joseph Parker

Father’s Day Poem – What Makes a Dad

Fathers who give hope by John Piper

Proverbs 23:24

 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

You can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Our text is straightforward and simple this morning: „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” It divides naturally into three parts:

  1. First, there is the address, „Fathers.”
  2. Second, there is the command, „Do not provoke your children.”
  3. Third, there is the purpose of the command, „Lest they become discouraged.”

We will look at these three parts of the text one at a time in reverse order. First, we will direct our attention to the goal of Christian fathers, namely, rearing children who are not discouraged. Second, we will look at the duty of Christian fathers, namely, not to do those things that discourage children. And finally, we will focus on the leader in Christian parenthood, namely, fathers.

But first a word about the fatherhood of God.

The Fatherhood of God

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught his disciples to call God Father: „Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” He taught that God is not everyone’s Father. In John 8:42, 44 he said to those who refused to follow him, „If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God . . . You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

God is the Father only of those who are led by the Spirit of his Son. In Romans 8:9, 14–15 Paul says,

Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him . . . All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry, „Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Not every one can lay claim to the privilege of knowing God as Father. Only those who are born of God (John 1:13), who receive Christ (John 1:12), and who are led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) have the right to receive the inheritance of the children—promises like Matthew 7:11, „If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” The privilege of prayer and the promise that God will work all things together for your good is part of the inheritance of sonship. That is what it means to have God as your Father.

There are two reasons I begin with this word about the fatherhood of God. One is that I believe all human fatherhood should be patterned on the divine fatherhood. The overarching guide for every father should be to live in such a way that his children can see what God the Father is like. They ought to see in their human father a reflection—albeit imperfect—of the heavenly Father in his strength and tenderness, in his wrath and mercy, in his exaltation and condescension, in his surpassing wisdom and patient guidance. The task of every human father is to be for his children an image the Father in heaven.

The other reason I begin with the fatherhood of God is to give this message relevance for everyone in this room whether you are a father or not; and whether you had a Christian father or not. I want to make clear from the outset that the sadness many may feel at never having had a father like the father I will describe, and the sadness others may feel at never having been a father like the father I will describe—that sadness can be swallowed up and overcome with joy this morning because God offers his fatherhood to anyone who will accept the gift of adoption by trusting Christ and yielding to be led by the Holy Spirit.

There are two ways to listen to this message this morning. One is to take it as a straightforward exhortation from the Word of God to fathers on how to rear their children. The other is to take it as a parable pointing to the way the Father in heaven loves those who believe and follow his Son. Frankly, I hope all of you hear it in both senses.

1. „Lest They Become Discouraged”

Let’s go to the text and begin with the last phrase of Colossians 3:21, „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

The goal of a good father is to rear children who are not discouraged. The word implies losing heart, being listless, spiritless, disinterested, moody, sullen, with a kind of blank resignation toward life. Don’t be the kind of father who rears that kind of person. Instead develop a style of fatherhood that produces the opposite of discouragement.

The Opposite of Discouragement

Now what is that? I would sum it up in three characteristics.

  1. The opposite of being discouraged is being hopeful.
  2. The opposite of being discouraged is being happy.
  3. The opposite of being discouraged is being confident and courageous.

So I would say that the negative form of verse 21 really implies a positive command as well. It says, „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” But it means not only avoid one kind of fatherhood; it also means pursue another kind, namely, the kind of fatherhood which gives hope instead of discouragement; and gives happiness instead of discouragement; and gives confidence and courage.

Distinctly Christian Teaching

If we stopped right here, we would not have said anything distinctly Christian. There is not one parent in ten thousand who thinks that the aim of parenthood should be to discourage children. But the apostle Paul would be distressed if all I did were to use his words here simply to express some everyday common sense, or some natural wisdom. He was not inspired by the Holy Spirit to confirm the insights of Dr. Spock. He was inspired to teach parents things that no natural eye has seen and no natural ear has heard (1 Corinthians 2:9–13).

Here is what I mean. Paul’s teaching makes it clear that when he says we should be fathers who give hope instead of discouragement, he means hope in GOD, not hope in money or hope in popularity or hope in education or hope in a spouse or hope in professional success. If you had asked Paul, or Jesus, „What kind of freedom from discouragement do you want our children to have?” he would not have said, „I want your children to be freed from discouragement by being filled with hope that they will become wealthy . . . or well-known, or intellectual, or married, or successful.” We know that is not what he means. He means, be the kind of fathers who do not discourage your children but rather fill them with hope in God.

Happiness That Kills and Happiness in God

And when we consider happiness as the opposite of discouragement, Paul would not be content if a father simply made his child feel good by giving him whatever he wanted. There is a happiness that kills. To some kinds of happiness the Scripture says, „Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection” (James 4:9). There is a happiness that has nothing to do with God, and therefore has no value in the sight of God. It comes from the creation alone and not from the Creator. That isn’t what Paul wants fathers to put in the place of discouragement.

But there is another joy that comes to expression, for example, in Psalm 4:7–8,

Thou hast put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for thou alone, O lord, makest me dwell in safety.

Fathers, don’t discourage your children, but fill them with joy in God! Teach them early on—and show them earlier yet—that through many sufferings they must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22), but that they can rejoice in sufferings, knowing that „suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”—IN GOD (Romans 5:3–4). Don’t discourage them. Make them happy in God by helping them to hope in God.

Self-Confidence and God-Confidence

And when we consider confidence as the opposite of discouragement, the message of Scripture takes a dramatic turn away from the common sense natural wisdom of the world.

The world says: Don’t discourage a child; build up his self-confidence. The Scripture says: Don’t discourage a child; build up his God-confidence. In fact the Scripture is more precise than that; it teaches: Don’t discourage a child, but do your best to root out his self-confidence and replace it with a confidence in God. And when it teaches us to root out self-confidence, it means root out the desire to be and to appear self-confident.

The Scripture knows that most people don’t succeed in being self-confident. Most people are quite unhappy about their inability to appear self-reliant and self-assured and cool and in control. So when the Scripture teaches us to root out self-confidence, it means go for the root, not the half-withered branches. Go for the DESIRE to be self-confident, not the meager manifestations of it that make their way into peoples’ actions.

Self-Confidence Being Rooted Out of Paul

One vivid illustration of how Paul’s heavenly Father was patiently working to root out Paul’s self-confidence is given in 2 Corinthians 1:8–9. Here is a description of how God the Father was working on Paul twenty years after his conversion, which means this is a very deeply rooted sin in all of us. He writes,

We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely [or: be confident] not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

In other words, the divine purpose of Paul’s affliction was (as it is the purpose of all good fatherly discipline) to root out the remaining self-confidence of Paul’s heart and to cast him on God alone. Why? Because God didn’t want him to be confident? Because he wanted him to be listless, spiritless, moody, sullen, weak, fearful? No! It was God who came to Paul in Corinth and said, „Do NOT be afraid, but speak and do NOT be silent; for I am with you.” So the confidence that we are to build into our children is not self-confidence, but confidence in the grace and power of God. „Do not be afraid . . . I AM WITH YOU.”

The Goal of Biblical Fathers

Andrew Bonar, the 19th century Scottish pastor, said concerning the teaching of children, „We tell them, ‘You are sinners, exposed to God’s wrath and curse, and you cannot save yourselves; but God’s own Son can save you, by Himself bearing that wrath and curse.'” In other words you teach a child to despair of all self-confidence and direct his desire for confidence to the grace of God. The goal of biblical fathers is to have children who say (with Psalm 60:11–12):

O grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the help of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

A good father will ponder: How can I be like my own heavenly Father? How can I banish self-reliance from the heart of my children and fill them with confidence and courage and zeal and boldness that are rooted in the grace and power of God and not in themselves? How can I be the kind of father whose children do not lose heart or become spiritless or listless or sullen or discouraged, but are filled with hope in God and happiness in God and confidence in God and courage to attempt great things for the glory of God?

That question leads us to turn now to the second part of our text, namely, the duty of Christian parents not to provoke their children.

2. „Do Not Provoke Your Children”

„Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Again we notice that the commandment is negative—something to be avoided. It is a warning against the misuse of legitimate authority. Paul has just said in verse 20, „Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” That gives to parents tremendous authority and responsibility under God. Children are to do what parents say.

Ruining a Child’s Confidence in God

Now in verse 21 he cautions fathers against a misuse of this God-given authority. The misuse he has in mind is that fathers might treat their children in such a way that their spirit is broken and they become hopelessly discouraged. Paul calls this misuse „provoking” them: „Do not provoke your children.”

In Ephesians 6:4 a different word is used that specifically means, „Do not provoke to anger.” But this is a very general word here in Colossians 3:21. It can even be used positively in 2 Corinthians 9:2 where it says that the Christians in Achaia provoked the Christians in Macedonia to be more generous. In other words, they „stirred them up,” or „motivated” them.

In choosing the broad and general word I think Paul would have us teach that parents should avoid everything that ruins a child’s confidence in God and leaves him hopeless and discouraged. This requires tremendous wisdom from fathers, because not all short term discouragements result in long term hopelessness. On the contrary, our heavenly Father clearly brings short term frustrations and discouragements into our lives precisely to put us on a new footing of faith. Great wisdom is needed here.

So let’s ask, then, What do fathers do that provoke children to long-term discouragement and hopelessness? I’ll mention two things.

Failing to Be Happy and Hopeful in God

First, some fathers fail to BE happy and hopeful and confident in God. Fathers, what you ARE in relation to God is far more important than any particular parenting technique you try to employ. Will your children hope in God if you hope in money? Will your children be happy in God if they see that fishing is a happier experience for you than worship? Will your children be confident in God if your whole demeanor communicates the desire to be seen as a self-confident?

The most important work that a father can do for the sake of his children is to be converted. The most important strategy for rearing children is to become a new man in Christ—whose hope and happiness and confidence are in God and not in himself.

We know this is true from Scripture because there we are taught to imitate our heavenly Father. We are told to be holy as he IS holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are told to be merciful as he IS merciful (Luke 6:36). To be a good child is to copy daddy. It honors a father to be imitated, and we are commanded to honor our fathers. And so the most important question a father can ask is not what shall I teach my children, but rather who am I before the living God and before my children?

That is the first thing that fathers can do to provoke their children to long-term discouragement and hopelessness—they can fail to BE hopeful, happy, and confident in God.

Disciplining in an Impulsive, Erratic, and Inconsistent Way

The second thing that fathers do which provokes children to long term discouragement and hopelessness is to discipline them in an impulsive, erratic and inconsistent way.

Unpredictable, impulsive, hostile discipline makes children fearful, bitter, deceitful, and discouraged. They don’t know where or why the explosion will come next. They say to themselves, „What’s the use! How can I hope that being good is any better than being bad?” And so the spirit of moral hope is broken, and in its place comes calculated, deceitful, discouraged maneuvering.

On the other hand, when discipline is controlled and appropriate and consistent and based on clear rules and principles of justice in the home, an atmosphere is created where children flourish in freedom. They know the limits and they feel secure and free to dream and play and plan and work inside those limits of righteousness.

They gain confidence that this is the way God is. He is not a capricious God. He is not impulsive or erratic or inconsistent. There is order. There is justice tempered with mercy. There is hope and encouragement. Why, I might even be able to accomplish something of value or even greatness if I fit into this order and depend on the goodness of the Father who loves me like this.

So fathers, don’t provoke your children by being impulsive, erratic, or inconsistent in your discipline. Be like your Father in heaven, so that your children can know him and become hopeful and happy and confident in him.

Much more could be said about the kinds of things that provoke long-term, discouragement and hopelessness in children. But time is out.

3. „Fathers . . . „

We can only briefly refer to the third part of the text, namely, the address: „Fathers . . . ” Verse 20 said, „Children, obey your parents.” This clearly teaches that mothers as well as fathers are to be obeyed. Mothers and fathers have a shared authority over the children. But in verse 21 fathers are addressed in particular.

Why this is so is the issue we will take up tonight. There is a peculiar role that the Scripture gives to husbands and fathers. Fathers bear a special responsibility for the moral life of the family. So I urge you to take that responsibility, fathers, and that you be the kind of man who gives hope and happiness and confidence to your children because you yourself have found your hope and your happiness and your confidence in God.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Father’s Day with N T Wright – More of Jesus

What would you tell your kids on your dying bed?

Question : N.T. Wright, forward your life 40 years and your’e 100 years old and your grandkids are at your bed and what do you want them to know about Jesus?

Wright: It’s funny, having only recently lost my own father, I haven’t actually thought much about what it would be like when my children lose me, bless them. I think I want to tell them, „Just read the Gospels more”.

Many Christians in our day treat the Gospels, as a friend of mine said, as the optional chips and dips of the beginning of the meal, which people just take it or leave it, it’s nice stuff to crunch there and then you go to sit at the table and you have the red meat of Pauline theology and that’s where we’re all headed. And I want to say, „Hey, I love Paul. Paul is fantastic. He’s been the stuff of my life. But, the dynamism of the Gospels and the person who walks out of those pages to meet us is just central and irreplaceable and He’s always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He’s always coming at us from a new angle.

I would like to say to them, try reading the Gospels in different ways. Read them as a run, but then try taking them into the stories and do what some traditions have done. Ponder that story and imagine yourself a character in that story, and wait and watch in the story while Jesus heals this man or talks to this old lady, or whatever. Then wait and watch and pray and watch until Jesus turns around and says to you , now, actually, „Can we have a chat with you about this? Where are you with this?”  That is a way that many Christians have meditated on the Scriptures and with the Gospels, particularly. It’s a wonderful way and I would recommend that to anyone.

I think, the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus is perhaps the one which does this most, for most people because there, you have a sense which so many people are walking around without any idea of what’s happened, feeling sorrowful, feeling sad, puzzled. Jesus, Himself will come near and will be with them and open the Scriptures with them and then they recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.

So, I hope my children would know that I would say this anyway, but to say: Jesus is absolutely in the middle and if you want to know who God is; look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what grief is, look at Jesus. And, go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but you are actually part of the drama which has Him as the central character.

The importance of Fathers by James Buchanan

via http://www.sermoncentral.com from  Judges 2:6-2:12  Romans 1:28-1:32 

The father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which of them should have the present. „Who is the most obedient?” he asked. „Who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?” Five small voices answered in unison. „Okay, dad, you get the toy.”

Today is the day that we honor fathers. That’s me! Honor me! Yea!

In all seriousness, we are to honor our fathers, and our mothers, and this day in June is set aside for us to honor the fathers in this country. But we are to honor our fathers, not because it’s a holiday, not because it’s a tradition, not because there are sales going on all over the country, but because God said so.

In fact, he said so very specifically. The bible tells us in Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Notice that it doesn’t say, honor only good moms and dads. It doesn’t say, honor them if you like them. It doesn’t say, honor only the right ones. It says, “honor your father and mother.” And so, today, we ought to honor all fathers.

But I want to speak directly to the dads here today. And if you’re not a dad, don’t check out, because we all need to hear this. You see, we are involved in a war today, and the battleground is not in Iraq or Afghanistan. The battleground is in our homes. And what’s at stake is not our land, our property, our freedoms. It’s more important that than. What’s at stake are our children.

And believe me—it’s a war, it’s an important war, and in this country, we are losing the battle. Children are turning from the faith in record numbers. It’s as if as soon as they leave home and go to college they leave the church. And if you don’t believe me, look here this morning. And lest you think that its only a problem here, it is true all over this country. Children in record numbers are turning from God.

But it’s nothing new. It’s the same as been happening over the course of time. I want to tell you a brief Biblical story this morning that’s going to be our guide for the remaining time we have today—and I’ll be brief. It’s found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. Genesis, exodus, Leviticus, numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges. In the pew bible it’s found on page _______________. Judges 2: 6 -12

Let me give you a little background here today. The nation of Israel had just marched into the promised land, and they were settling into the land. Now, it wasn’t a complete victory, because when they went in, they didn’t always follow what God desired, and instead of conquering all of it, they instead settled into some of it. And just before what we’re going to look at, they were instructed that they didn’t do what God desired, and they repented of it. With that in mind, let’s read this important passage this morning. Judges 2:6-12.

After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heresa in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.

Once Joshua and his generation passed away, the next generation turned their back on God and worshiped the gods of the peoples around them. Today, in 2004, they don’t wait for mom and dad to pass on. They turn away immediately, and worship the god of television. They worship the god of fashion. They worship the god of convenience. They worship the god of this world. They worship the world. What is the world, 1 John 2:16 tells us. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. (NLT)

In your notes is a passage from Romans 1:28-32 that closely parallels what is going on today in America. Let’s look at that together.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Do you realize we live in a culture that approves of turning its back on God? From court cases to tv to popular movies, it’s okay to make fun of religion, because it’s not important, it’s not relevant. It worked for mom and dad, but it’s not for me.

Well, can I tell you this morning, moms and dads, you are at the front lines. This is a war, and we are called to be a part. This morning, I want to give you your marching orders to tackle this important task of saving the children, and we are going to look briefly at a few steps that will help us to do so.

How can we win the war? Three suggestions this morning.

1. With our words.

Deuteronomy 6: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children.

You need to talk to you children. Be involved in their lives. Tell them about God, and tell them about the Bible. Remember last week we talked about your story. What God has done for you, so that you can share it with others. Are you sharing it with your children, what God has done for you? You need to, you ought to.

A study was done recently to determine the amount of interaction between fathers and their small children. First, the fathers were asked to estimate the amount of time they spent each day communicating with their child. The average answer was about fifteen to twenty minutes. Next, microphones were attached to the father so that each interaction could be recorded. The results of this study were shocking: The average amount of time spent by these middle-class fathers with their small children was thirty-seven seconds per day. Their direct interaction was limited to 2.7 encounters daily, lasting ten to fifteen seconds each!

Look back at Deuteronomy 6 again with me. Can that be accomplished in 37 seconds a day? Do you want to know how much time the culture has with your children? 37 seconds does not come close to meeting the job. Communicate with your children; tell them about God and about the Bible.

Proverbs 1: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Don’t let the schools be the only thing that instruct the children. Don’t even let this church be the only thing that instructs your children. And that’s not an indictment on the teaching ministry of this church, but mom and dad, we are not responsible for raising your kids. We will help you, but when the bible tells us to Trainu a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it—that’s not to the church, that’s to parents.

Dad’s, how are you doing with your words? Are you fighting?

2. With our time.

Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, once said that he chose to fail so he could succeed. He said, „I chose to fail at golf, because I wanted to succeed as a father.” Though he loved golf immensely, he knew that he could never devote adequate time to his job, his hobby, and his family . . . so he gave up his hobby.

How are you doing with your time? We looked at Deuteronomy 6, but let’s look again at verses 7 and following: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Dad’s, do you want to know what is important in your life today? Look at your daytimer, your palm pilot, your schedule, and where your time is devoted to, that’s what is important. Unfortunately, many dads say that by their time they love their jobs. They love their hobbies. They love their entertainment, their comfort. If you asked them if they loved their children, they would swear to you that they do. But their time doesn’t match up.

And some of you have bought into the thinking of this world. I’ve got to keep working and working and working so I can provide for them the finer things of this world, and providing for family is important and biblical,

8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. But I think that we sometimes go beyond what is necessary.

There’s a story told of a man asking his daughter if she would want quality time with her dad or quantity time with her dad. She replied, “Quality time, Dad, and lots of it!”

I read about a little girl who drew a pretty picture. She went in her dad’s office. Crawled on his lap. And said, „Daddy, come and see my picture.”

And the dad said, „Not now, honey. Dad’s busy.”

About 10 minutes later, she came back again. Crawled on his lap. And said,”Daddy, will you come see my picture now?”

And the dad got frustrated. And said, „Can’t you see I’m busy? Don’t bother me right now. I’ll come and look at your picture later. When I’m ready.”

A couple of hours later, the dad came out. And he said to the daughter, „Can I see the picture now?” And the girl said, „Sure.” And it was a picture of her and her brother and her mom standing on the lawn. With the family dog. With big smiles. On a sunny day. But the dad noticed that he wasn’t in the picture. And so the dad said, „That’s a nice picture, sweetheart. But how
come I’m not in the picture?”

And the girl said, „Because you’re working in your office, daddy.”

Time is a gift you give that you can never get back. You can give money, and always make more. You can give gifts, because you can always get new things anyway. But once time is given, it never comes back. Time reveals the priorities in your life. And if you want to win the war with for your children, you’ve got to invest time.

3. With your lives.

Genesis 18:18-19 is a revealing passage—we even looked at it last year as our prime text for father’s day. And I want to remind you of what it says to us today. Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just.

The way you live your life will be a direct reflection of how your children will grow up. There’s a song, I even sang it last year, called, “I want to be just like you.” It goes like this—I want to be just like you, cause he wants to be just like me. I want to be a holy example for his innocent eyes to see. Help me be a living Bible, Lord, that my little boy can read. I want to be just like you, cause he wants to be like me.”

I can see that now, in my son. 17 months old, and he desires to be like me. He’ll repeat words I say, he’ll repeat things I do—he loves me, and at this point, he wants to be just like me. I’d better be the right kind of dad, because he will mirror me.

It’s kind of like this situation—A little boy was caught swearing like a sailor. „Young man, where did you learn to talk that way?” said the boy’s mother. The boy looked at his father and said, „Well, Dad, should I tell her?”

2 Kings 14:3 speaks of a king of Israel named Amaziah. “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD…. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash.”

What kind of example are you setting for your kids? You words may say some things about you, but your life declares who you really are. Are you fighting the war with your lives?

As we wrap up, let me speak to the kids here today. Life isn’t always what we want, and it isn’t always what’s best, and it isn’t always pleasing to God. There are some of you here this morning who have fathers who aren’t all that great, or maybe not even there?

How can you honor your father, even when it’s difficult? How can you go through life without a good father?

Let me suggest to you something this morning. God calls the church his family. And here this morning, there are lots of good, godly dads. I would suggest to you that you go and adopt a dad. Not literally (Can you be my dad, and move in with us), but you know, go up to him and say, “I need a dad, someone I can look up to for advice and help, and I think you’d be a good dad.” And dads, if someone comes up to you and asks that, you know how you are to respond.

Well, it was a typical scenario of young boys debating whose father was the best. This discussion highlighted who their fathers knew. The first boy started the debate by claiming his father knew the mayor. He was soon topped by the second boy who said, „That’s nothing. My dad knows the governor.” The stakes were getting pretty high, and the eavesdropping father wondered what his young son would say about him. The little boy shot back, „So what! My dad knows God!” Would your son say the same thing? May our children always be able to say, „My dad knows God!”

How are you fighting the battle? Maybe you need to start today, by apologizing to your kids, and starting anew. Let’s pray.

Happy Father’s Day 2012 – Songs, Poems, Messages Honoring Fathers

via Zondervan

Proverbs 23:24

 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Malachi 4:6
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers

Proverbs 23:22
Listen to your father, who gave you life,

Proverbs 23:24
The father of a righteous man has great joy;
he who has a wise son delights in him

My Earthly Dad

With these three words,
„Dear Heavenly Father,”
I begin my every prayer,
But the man I see
While on bended knee
Is always my earthly dad.

He is the image
Of the Father divine
Reflecting the nature of God,
For his love and care
And strong faith laid bare
Pointed me to my Father above.

–Mary Fairchild

 

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