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1 Thes. 2:11
"just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring
each one of you as a father would his own children" NASB
What if I could tell you that there was a way to guarantee that your
children will be:
Would you be interested in finding out the secret? Here it is-THE PRESENCE
OF A FATHER IN THE HOME. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
5 times less likely to commit suicide;
32 times less likely to run away;
20 times less likely to have behavioral disorders;
14 times less likely to commit rape;
9 times less likely to drop out of high school;
10 times less likely to abuse chemical substances;
and 9 times less likely to end up in state-operated institutions?
The presence of a Father in the home makes a tremendous difference
in a child's future. According to a recent Gallup Father's Day Poll, 40%
of men between the ages of 18-49 feel that their father was their greatest
parental influence as compared to just 23% of men over 50.(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
I don't know if the difference is because of the people's age or the
times they've been living in. I tend to believe it is the times. My gut
tells me that fathers are spending more time with their children and are
more actively involved in their upbringing than they used to be. And that
involvement is paying off.
The message is clear-the presence of a father in the home makes a positive
difference in a child's life. That is also the tone set in scripture. The
Bible assumes the positive influence of the father. Jesus taught us to
refer to God as "Our Father who are in heaven . . ." By Jesus' question
in Matthew 7:9 we see that he assumed that a Father will always have a
child's best interest at heart. He asked: "Or what man is there among you,
when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?" In our text
today, Paul was looking for an analogy to compare his work to and the analogy
he chose was the father/child relationship. He used three words to describe
the father's role, "exhorting (advise earnestly) and encouraging (give
hope or confidence, to stimulate) and imploring (request earnestly)." All
three of those words imply an intensity. We advise, we motivate and we
give instruction, and we do all those things with intensity, because we
know their importance.
Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead
bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." There are two
commands in this text, one is negative, the other positive. On the negative
side, we are not to exasperate our children. In other words, our discipline
cannot crush their spirit or demean them. It is a thin line, that most
of us have crossed. It is the difference between encouragement and discouragement.
Sometimes, I believe it is OK to take some time off from instructing
our children and simply enjoy them. In his book, Being a Good Dad When
You Didn't Have One, Tim Wesemann gives his readers a two-word piece of
advice: "Lighten up!" He says that adults laugh an average of 15 times
a day while children laugh 400 times. "Somewhere between childhood and
adulthood, we lose 385 laughs a day! That's a great loss!" Wesemann says,
"Maybe we need not only the faith of a child but the funny bone of one
as well." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Eccles. 3:4 does say that there is "A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance." (NASB) Our relationship doesn't
have to be intense all the time, sometimes it can be an opportunity just
to enjoy the people our children are.
There is also a positive command here. Something fathers are to do.
It is God's will for Fathers to train and instruct their children in the
ways of the Lord.
When David Brannon looked back on the 22 years of preparing his daughter
for her wedding day, a couple of things stood out. David found it hard
to imagine that the little girl, who once had ringlets in her hair, was
now a high school music teacher about to become the wife of a Youth Pastor.
David says the second thing that stood out was the thrill of knowing
that his daughter had come so far by God's instruction. He says, "Only
God could have touched her heart to receive salvation. Only the Holy Spirit
could direct her in the right paths. Only God's teaching was flawless."
David knew his daughter had learned to listen to the wise instruction of
David discovered what many parents realize. No matter how much they
work to get their child ready for the challenges of life, none of it matters
without the "training and admonition of the Lord." God's training, augmented
by the example of a loving parent, is the basis for training that lasts
The things that my father taught me as a child, in many ways, define
who I am today. I learned to honor the Lord and serve Him by the words
and the actions of my father. I learned the value and the rewards of hard
work from my father. I learned that the most important thing a man has
in life is his integrity from my father. Even the little things, like my
love for Baseball came from my Dad. His instruction continues to this day.
Sometimes I ask his opinion about something, but most of the time I don't
have to. I already know what he'd say.
Don't get me wrong, my Dad isn't perfect. He has his faults like everyone
else. During my late adolescent years I had some anger toward my Dad. I
don't remember what the issues were and I couldn't tell you whether they
were legitimate or not. You know how when you are ten your Dad can do no
wrong and when you're eighteen he can do no right? Well, that's where I
was at the time. I talked to my oldest brother about it and he gave me
some of the best advice I've ever received. He reminded me about the sacrifices
Dad had made for me and the things he'd done for me over the years-things
I'd taken for granted, then he told me to write Dad a letter and thank
him for what he'd done. At first, I was upset with Tim, because I didn't
think he'd really listened to my complaints, but then I decided to do what
he said, and I wrote the letter. Funny thing, I can still remember what
I wrote in the letter that day, but I can't remember why I was mad at him.
At this stage of my life, it doesn't really matter. On the whole, I've
got to say that my Dad did right by me. He taught me well, and I owe him
more than I could ever repay. I hope you heard me say, it wasn't just what
he said that made the difference, but also the way he's lived.
That's what impressed Pastor Mark about his Dad-the way he lived, and
the way he died. Pastor Mark (Yu Chao) watched his father die for his faith
during China's Cultural Revolution. The Red Guard arrested his father for
preaching the gospel and beat him within an inch of his life. The guards
made Mark and his son watch as they tortured him, breaking several of his
bones, and covering him in his own blood.
At a cemetery, they had a mock trial where they accused Mark's Dad of
being an "enemy of the state," but gave him the opportunity to live if
he would recant his faith. "We offer you this precious chance for life,"
they said. "Choose wisely."
Mark's father responded, "You can cut my head off and you can spill
my blood, but I will never forsake Jesus Christ! He has been faithful to
me and has blessed me for many years and nothing you do can ever make me
renounce my loving Friend and Savior!"
The guards rushed him and beat him to death to the dismay of the crowd.
Looking back on the event, Mark said, "Because of the example of my father,
who was willing to endure to the very end, great fruit has resulted. In
Shandong province today I, his son, still follow Christ, as do my own son
and my grandson. Three generations have followed the Lord, and we hope
many more generations to come will, also!" (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
When all is said and done, we children must forgive our fathers where
they fail us and if we are wise, we will learn from their mistakes. We
must also be grateful for where they succeeded. And learn the lessons they
taught us in word and in deed.