Sunday Sermon: ‘Dad, Mr. Fix-it!’

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Having raised two daughters, I know a little bit about the title – “Mr. Fix-it.” Down through the years I’ve been a skill surgeon that could put an arm back on a doll and an expert jeweler who untangled some of the world’s toughest of knots in a necklace. I’ve also been a master craftsman who at times got the nail in the right place to hang something on the wall. There have been some things I couldn’t do, but I have always tried. Why? To borrow a line from a TV commercial – “Seeing the joy on your child’s face after you’ve helped them – PRICELESS.”

Most dads aren’t Superman, but for many children, he’s as close as anyone can come during this lifetime. Even now that I am in my fifties and my dad is at home with the Lord, I still look up to him. As many of you know, my dad’s influence upon my life has been PRICELESS.

Leave and Cleave

There’s a verse in the Bible that I have quoted a million times but never fully understood. Well, ‘a million times’ is a bit of an exaggeration, but I have used this verse with almost every couple with whom I have performed pre-marital counseling. It’s Genesis 2:24, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

I understand the last part of the verse concerning the need for closeness in a marriage relationship. Scripture teaches us that Eve was made from a rib that came from Adam’s side. When Adam and Eve first looked upon each other they must have thought – “the two of us are one.”

But I have never fully understood the first part of that verse; the part that says “a man shall leave his father and mother…”. The part that confuses me was why this command was given to the man and not the woman. Was Moses trying to say that men are mamma’s boys and have a hard time cutting the apron strings? Perhaps this is a bit of a struggle for some men more than others, but almost every young man I have ever known who was ready for marriage was also ready to fly the coop. In addition, it seems to me that often the one who struggles the most in leaving and cleaving is the woman, especially if she has had a good home life. So why did Moses say this to the man and not the woman, or at least not to both of them?

This past week I was reading something about fatherhood and found a bit of information that helped to shed some light on my confusion. The writer said something that I’ve read numerous times – it’s the man’s responsibility to help build the family and then he made reference to this verse. Suddenly I understood a bit more of what Moses was saying. The primary responsibility for establishing a new home falls upon the shoulders of the man. Traditionally it has been the man who went courting for his mate. Oh I know that many times, behind the scenes, the woman may have somehow actually been the one to initiate the relationship; but traditionally it has been the man who has proposed to the woman and asked her to become his bride. Traditionally a new home is established under the man’s last name.

Consider this also – in many of Jesus’ parables concerning the kingdom, it was the groom who came calling for his bride. Scripture also teaches us that Jesus is the groom and His bride is the church, which is made up of those who know Him as their personal Savior. Before Jesus went back to heaven He said – “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn 14:2-3)

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that men have all the answers. Dad’s aren’t Supermen and neither are husbands. But if you will take just a moment and consider God’s design of the home, you will see that the duties and responsibilities of a husband and wife are pretty clear. Scripture teaches us that God created the man first and gave him the responsibility of taking care of creation. But then God revealed something to man that was extremely important for him to know. “It’s not good for man to be alone.” I’ve often kidded with many young couples and asked the, “Did God make a mistake?” They always respond, “No” and as they are saying that, I can see the wheels turning in their heads. God already knew that man would need a mate and that was a part of His original plan. What God had to do was to help man realize that he needed a mate and to do that, God first had him to name all the animals. I’m sure that by the end of that day the man was thinking, Hey! Something is wrong here!” The Bible teaches us that God then created for man –  ‘a suitable helper.’ The helper that God created for man did not come from another lump of clay, but from man’s side indicating that she was forever to be by his side.

The Honeymoon is Over

For a while it was paradise in the first home. But then something happened to Adam and Eve and their relationship. In Genesis 3, we read about how sin entered the first home. Suddenly the man was no longer concerned about protecting his bride, but rather blaming her for all of his problems. And, according to scripture, the woman from that point was no longer content to remain by the man’s side. Instead, scripture teaches us that they became engaged in a ‘power-struggle.’ Consider what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16, “Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” No longer was Eve, Adam’s completer. Now she was his competitor.

Sin and strife entered the home and since that time it has been a battle. As I was preparing for this message, I read this from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary concerning the family – “In Paul’s day, the father had supreme authority over the family. When a baby was born into a Roman family, for example, it was brought out and laid before the father. If he picked it up, it meant he was accepting it into the home. But if he did not pick it up, it meant the child was rejected. It could be sold, given away, or even killed by exposure.” Now you may think that sounds pretty barbaric and it is. That’s just a sample of what sin can do to the home. On a side note, what was happening in first-century Rome is something very similar to what is happening today. Today call it ‘Pro- Choice’. The only difference is now the choice of whether or not to keep a baby has been given to the woman and not the man.

Paul’s duty was to change the mindset of his culture and to help husbands and wives, moms and dads, children and parents return to God’s original design for the family.

God’s Plan For Rebuilding the Home

What does it take to establish a Christian home? First and foremost it takes salvation. The Bible teaches us that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23) According to Hebrews 3:13, sin is deceitful and it hardens our heart. Sin turns husbands and wives against each other. Sin turns parents and children against teach other. But listen to what Malachi 4:6 says, “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” How can this happen? Salvation through Jesus Christ brings a freedom from the penalty of sin. It also brings a freedom from the power of sin. The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17) What our homes need today is Jesus Christ.

Once Jesus enters the home, things can change. One of the first things to change is that bitterness and strife is replaced by love and compassion. Consider what Paul writes in Ephesians 5-

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21)

The thought of ‘submission’ is foreign to our natural thinking. Everything today is about ourselves and our rights. Yet the concept of submission should be a primary principle in every believer’s life. What does it mean to submit? In the Bible, the word submission means –

  • {To arrange under, or to establish order}
  • {A voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden}

According to the Bible, we don’t command people to submit; people choose to submit. You don’t submit to me as your pastor because I am better than you or more important than you. I know that I’m not and I will be the first to admit it. You as the body of Christ choose to submit to my leadership because you understand that this is God’s will for the church. And that’s why Paul writes, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Biblical submission is not about you and the other person. It’s about you and Christ.

  • Wives

Based upon that, Paul writes –

For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. (Eph 5:22-24 NLT)

Notice that Paul says – ‘wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.’  Yeah, your husband might sometimes act like a jerk, but you are not to assume this responsibility because your husband is worthy, but because your Lord is worthy. You are choosing to do this because you love the Lord.  In addition, the Lord needs you to help your husband. Don’t forget, you were created from his side to remain by his side.

  • Husbands

Then Paul speaks to the husbands –

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. (Eph 5:25-30 NLT)

Husbands, you have been give the responsibility to be the leader. However, keep in mind Who your supreme example is and how He demonstrated leadership. Instead of promoting Himself over those whom He was responsible for, Jesus took a towel and basin of water and washed His followers’ feet.

This reminds me of a story I once read about a husband and wife who were watching Little House on the Prairie. During the show the man looked over at his wife and said, “Boy you’re no Caroline Ingalls when it comes to submission!” Without even looking at her husband the wife said, “That’s because you’re no Michael Landon!”

Notice something else that Paul writes that is very important –

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”(Eph 5:31 NLT)

Where have we heard that before? This is what Moses said about the home in the very beginning. This was God’s original plan. As an act of worship before the Lord, the woman stood by her husband’s side and helped him fulfill his God-given duties. As an act of worship before the Lord, the man loved his wife and nourished her as his divinely created helper. By the way, I wonder if Eve was the first one to sing – “Lean on me when you’re not strong…”?

  • Children

But that’s not all. There is the relationship between the parents and children. Malachi said the gospel of Jesus Christ would turn the hearts of the fathers toward their children and the hearts of the children toward their fathers. Paul writes –

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth. (Eph 6:13 NLT)

Can children be saved? Of course they can and Paul addresses them here from a spiritual standpoint. Sin brought rebellion to the first home. Cain rose up and slew his younger brother Abel. But salvation brings a restoration to the relationships in the home. Husbands and wives, moms and dads, sons and daughters – all need to be saved and living a Spirit-controlled life. Look back at how Paul begins this lesson on the home –

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:15-21 NLT)

A Christian home is one whose foundation is Jesus Christ, whose framework is the Bible and who furnishing is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

  • Parents (Especially Dads!)

But moms and dads, children have to be ‘raised in the way they should go.’ (Pr 22:6) Children have to be taught how to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Dads, the Bible says that’s our duty.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Eph 6:4 NLT)

Paul points out two very important principles in regards to dads raising their children –

1. Danger of Discouraging Children

Perhaps the “provoking children to anger” links back to what Warren Wiersbe wrote about how many Roman fathers treated their families. It’s not hard to imagine what it must have been like in the Philippian Jailer’s home before his salvation. Here was a man who made his living by being rough and tough. The harshness and cruelty of fathers like him drove many of their children to rebellion and anger. I once read that “Rules without reason breeds rebellion.”

How important is the father to the family? Several years ago I heard something one day on the Focus on the Family broadcast that I have never forgotten. It appears that a greeting card company came up with the idea of offering Mother’s Day cards to inmates who might want to send one to mom. They delivered several boxes of cards to the prison and in a matter of moments, all the cards were gone. ‘Wow!’ the company and prison officials thought. ‘We’ve stumbled upon something major here.’ To prepare for Father’s Day, the card company got a count of all the inmates and made sure that they had at least one card for every inmate to send. Do you know how many cards were taken? None. Not a single inmate wanted to send a card to their dad.

Men, that’s not a put-down on the importance of fatherhood. That’s an exclamation point! By rejecting the Father’s Day cards, the inmates were actually saying, “I am here because my father was never an important part of my life.”

Over the years I have gathered information and tried to form a list of things that can exasperate a child:

  • Withholding praise
  • Inconsistency in actions and especially discipline
  • Favoritism between siblings
  • Failing to keep promises that have been made
  • Unreasonableness in rules and requirements
  • Hypocrisy in the lifestyle of the parents
  • Failing to demonstrate a genuine love for each individual child

2. Duty of Developing Children

The phrase “bring them up” means to nourish them to maturity. Sustain them with the food and nutriments that are necessary in order for them to develop and grow. Most every man in this room will do all he can to make sure there’s physical food on the table. That’s great men. But what about the spiritual food? Who is in charge of seeing that the children receive proper spiritual nourishment? “That’s their mother’s duty” some men will say. Not according to the Bible. Guys, that’s our duty also.

The King James Version uses the phrase -“in the admonition of the Lord.” That refers to fixing or establishing something in the mind. It’s our duty to see that God’s Timeless Truths are established in our children’s hearts and minds. I’m not saying that this is completely up to the man. Ladies, it was not good for the man to be alone. He needed someone who was suitable to help him and often times, especially in the early years, moms are better equipped for nurturing the child than the dads. However dads, we can’t abandon ship and leave it all up to mom. We’re a team. We’re all in this together.

There’s a great article in June’s issue of HomeLife Magazine that comes from the Southern Baptists. The article is about the two sons who produced the movies Facing the Giants and Fireproof. Much of the movie Facing the Giant was formed around lessons these two young men’s father taught them. By the way, their dad was confined to a wheelchair, but was always there to cheer them on. They list 8 Lessons Dad Taught Us. Do you know what the number one lesson was that their dad taught them? – LOVE GOD PASSIONATELY.

Conclusion

Let me give you a verse of scripture from the Bible that fits well on this Father’s Day –

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John, vs. 4)

Recently I read this concerning the importance of the father to the family –

  • One study showed that if both parents regularly go to church with their kids, there’s an 80% chance that those kids will worship God on a regular basis when they become adults.
  • But if only the mother does so, the probability goes down to only 30%.
  • Yet, if only the father does so, it will go up to 70%! Just imagine, a father is almost as influential as both parents combined.

Even if that statistic is anywhere near being right, it’s enormous!

Men – we’re not Supermen and our families soon find that out. They don’t expect us to be Supermen, but they do expect and need us to be there giving it 100%. Perhaps our primary way of influencing our family is by who we are. We’re their role-model, or as many kids have said – “My dad is my hero.”

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