Bob's Sermon for Sunday, June 17, 2018

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 “Where are you most at home?”

 

        2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NIV

     (2 Corinthians 5:6) “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (7) We live by faith, not by sight.

   (8) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (9) So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

  (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

 

      Happy Father’s Day!

 

      “Small boy’s definition of Father’s Day: It’s just like Mother’s Day only you don’t spend so much.”[1]

 

      The topics of “father’s” and “homes” are deeply bonded, aren’t they? Our text mentions home three times:

Someone wrote:

·    A fugitive is one who is running away from home.

·    A vagabond is one who has no home.

·    A stranger is one who is away from home.

·    A pilgrim is one who is on the way home.            

Where are you in relation to home? Where do you feel most at home? What factors are necessary to good homes?

 

     A debate regarding fathers and home is: “In order to have a successful home, must a father be present?”

 

     Many prominent voices argue that fathers are not necessary to rearing children. Fathers are crucial to conception, but males are otherwise unneeded and disgusting, some insist. A father’s role has long been controversial.

 

     Some men see only two options for fathers-husbands:

1.      Act like juveniles fixated on freedom, guzzling, and sports.

2.      Or meekly submit to the wife’s wishes. 

They see no alternative to this pair of choices.

 

      What influences should guide fathers? For decades I have prayed about and pondered that question. Numerous factors led me to ask: “Is there a dependable source of advice for fathers?” “What standards should dads follow?”

·         I observed the marriages of church folks, family, and friends.

·         I took college psychology courses.

·         I considered how Norma and I related to each other and the kids; and to our own parents.  

·         Read countless books and articles on the subject.

·         Counseled scores of couples before and during their marriages.

 

Most important and impressive is the Bible’s advice to fathers, mothers, and children. What the Word of God says is a class by itself. Two Scripture facts are significant:

 

1.      The Bible gives no examples of perfect human fathers; none is alive now.

Despite how gushingly some Father’s Day cards read, there never has been a perfect human dad. Some of the Bible’s outstanding men made poor choices as dads and husbands. 

 

      Abraham is notable for his faith and his trust in dealing with Isaac. But Abe made dismal, cowardly decisions in respect to Hagar and his first son Ishmael.[2] The Lawgiver Moses evidently left his wife by herself to make important family choices.[3] David, the warrior and man after God’s own heart, let awkward family matters churn and fester rarely correcting his children.[4] Joseph was a good man, but probably should have taken a headcount before the group left Jerusalem and not let Jesus stay there by himself at 12 years of age.[5] God Himself is the Bible’s only perfect father.

 

      When I look back at my efforts as a father, I give myself a very poor grade. Our kids turned out well due to a good mother, their initiative, and many church people who cared, but mostly by God’s grace. Perfect human fathers do not exist. We see examples of good fathering, but all thoughtful dads would agree that perfect fathers do not exist.

 

     The second Bible fact is: God’s Word expertly counsels families, but few Christians follow what the Bible says. We tend to listen to educators, pediatricians, and pop psychologists, but not God, who created us. As children grow into preteens, they need strong, supportive, fathers, who love God.

    

      There is more than anecdotal evidence for this. I have mentioned before that for many years, I taught a Bible class for unwed mothers at St. Anne’s Home in Los Angeles. In the 70s and 80s, the home regularly housed about 80 girls in various stages of pregnancy. The girls ranged between the ages of 12-19.

   

     To determine the girl’s needs, I once surveyed several in residence. One question was: “With whom would you like to have a better relationship?” Possible answers included: boyfriend, mother, father, teacher. I suspected that the typical girl in those circumstances would want a better relationship with her boyfriend. I guessed wrongly.  The majority of those girls wanted better loving bonds with their fathers.

 

     During my preteen years, I longed to have a strong male role model and failed to find one. I was not taking polls at the time, but numerous frank conversations with both high school male and female friends revealed that most of them yearned to have better relationships with their dads. That was the 1950s, but evidence shows that nothing has changed--and present trends are not moving in a favorable direction. As one website noted: “We have become a fatherless nation. 33%5 of the 72 million children in America will go to bed tonight without their biological father in the home.”[6]

 

     Is there a solution? Absolutely. But the answer is not blaming the women’s  movement, educators, or pop psychology. Fathers must see how vital they, their actions, and their attitudes are to their families. Our text warns: “(10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” God will judge us fathers-husbands, wives-mothers on how we follow His word. 

 

     A Baltimore, MD, police psychologist wrote an 11 page scholarly, sobering analysis of factors concerning troubled youth: “The whole socialization process of teaching a child how to be human is very complex and really should be done in an environment of two loving, involved parents.”[7]

 

     Both mom and dad are vital; kids need both mature male and female images.  Bob weren’t you deriding psychologists moments ago? I cautioned about pop psychology, but James McGee’s research substantiates what the Bible said thousands of years ago. This from the Old Testament: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

(6) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (7) 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.”[8]

 

     God holds you and me, dads and moms, responsible for teaching our kids about God and daily showing our children His way. God gave parents, not schools or even churches the task of teaching their kids about Him.  

 

     New Testament teaching is radically at odds with present society. No one on “The View” would read the following Scripture from the Book of Ephesians. Neither will you hear it on any major news network, cable or otherwise.

 

     You will not hear it in many churches.

     If you follow the Revised Common Lectionary as provided by the Vanderbilt Divinity School, you will not hear or read this scripture: (21) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (22) Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

     (24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  (27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

     (28) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

     (29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— (30) for we are members of his body. . .” (33) Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5: 21-30, 33

 

     “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) ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

(4) Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” This reading from Ephesians 6:1-4 echoes the principles in Deuteronomy, doesn’t it?

 

      We fathers-husbands cannot run, shirk like juveniles, hide, or try to excuse ourselves.  The Lord expects fathers to be in the home loving their wives as if they were their own flesh, patiently training and instructing their families in the Lord. It is not easy to stand up to society, peers, the media or a wife, who does not take seriously what the Bible says. 

 

     “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (14) Do everything in love.”[9]

 

     We shall never be at home unless we trust God follow His will, and live to please Him. We must trust God that he knows what is best.

 

      In 1946, my dad foresaw that the railroad shops where he worked would be closing in our small Kansas town. He decided to move our family to Oregon.  In December of 1946, my dad, my mother, my elder sister Marge, elder brother Don, younger brother Gary and I crowded into a 1940 Oldsmobile with the family possessions.

     An elder sister, Carol, and her sailor husband Lamar lived in a San Diego trailer park where many married military couples resided. It was conveniently located, not far from the Naval Base. The folks decided to visit Carol and Lamar on the way and spend Christmas with them.

     Their small trailer for two was crowded with the addition of six guests. Don and I spent much of our time in the car playing Monopoly, our favorite game and the only toy we could take on our move.       

      One day as we played, a boy about our age peered sadly through the car window at us. He wanted to play with us, but we were told that someone in his family was seriously ill with a communicable disease. We were not to touch him or even have the car window down.

     He stood outside the car wanting to be a part of our game, lonely eyes staring through the window. When it became clear that we could not come in contact with him or let him join us in Monopoly, he asked to borrow our set.                       

     Don and I reluctantly decide to let him borrow our game so he could play with it. Dad worried, though, that if the boy borrowed the set and returned it, we might come in contact with the communicable disease in his family.

     Dad urged us to give our Monopoly set to the boy. “When we get to Oregon, I’ll buy you a new one,” he said.  We grudgingly gave that boy our treasured toy.

     I do not recall whether dad kept his Monopoly promise. When we got to Oregon, I do not remember missing it. Compared to our situation in Kansas, and especially that dismal war-time San Diego trailer park, Oregon was a beautiful, abundant, exciting place. Rivers and tree-covered mountains beckoned us. We boys roamed them, experiencing sights and wonders we could not have imagined in our small Kansas town. We found new friends our age who loved football and basketball as we did.

 

     Right now God our Father want us to live and walk by faith in his promises, not by the sight of values the world considers important. He has never disappointed me. He won’t disappoint anyone who trusts Him and obey Him. I only regret that my faith and my trust in Him have been so puny. He is the perfect father.

 

     We shall never be at home until we follow Him every step he leads us.  

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (7) We live (literally “walk”) by faith, not by sight.(8) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (9) So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

 As much as we love and appreciate our earthly fathers, we must graduate to our heavenly Father, whom we shall honor forever.

 

     All: fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters will all bow to honor Him. 

  

     Happy Father’s Day!   “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (14) Do everything in love.”

 


[1] Australasian Manufacturer

[2] See Acts 16 & 21

[3] See Exodus 4:18-31

[4] 2 Samuel 13, 14

[5] Luke 2:41-51

[6] www.buildingbrothers.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Men_Statistics.pdf

[7] Scripps Howard News Service, by Thomas Hargrove, printed in Sioux City Journal, May 28, 2000. Title of 11 page article is “The Classroom Avenger.”   

[8] Deuteronomy 6:5-8 NIV

[9]1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV; See also 2 Sam 10: 12; Psalm 27:14; Ephesians 3:16; 2Sam 22:33; “It is God who arms me with strength...” Psalm 31: 24

 

 

Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014

 

 

 

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