Things My Father Taught Me
Text: Luke 8: 41-56
Proposition: Fatherhood is knowing, doing and being God’s man, a process that enables families to receive God’s truth in a world of smoke and mirrors.
Introduction: There are countless things I’ve learned from my father, I say countless because I’m still seeing them show up in my own attitudes and actions. My father valued the importance of a tucked in shirt, of a clean room, of integrity and honesty and a good deal at garage sales. He taught me the joy that comes from obedience and the fear of being disciplined. He was the one who took the pictures, drove the car, cut the turkey, painted the fence and taught us to swim. From him I learned about how to hold a shot gun tightly into your shoulder and what happened if you didn’t, how not to let the clutch slip and how to shape the pocket in a ball glove. I learned about love in subtle ways, that he loved us deeply and that he loved my Mom dearly. Likely there are hundreds of images that come to mind as you consider your Dad, the man who is, or perhaps was, your father. The images may be good or they may be flawed for some knew Christ and others did not. Let me suggest to you that the essence of what fatherhood is all about is this… It is knowing, doing and being God’s man, a process that enables families to receive God’s truth in a world of smoke and mirrors. Let’s take a look at a passage of Scripture that details one particular father as he sought to be God’s man for the moment. Turn with me to Luke 9:41,42
I. Fathers Who Know Competence Well, Also Must Learn Humility.
Not every father is going to be the ruler of a synagogue but everyone should aspire to rule his family well, to lead them and guide them and care for them as the spiritual head of their home. For Jairus this was also his career and the need of men for the recognition of competence in their careers is well known. The scientific definition of competence is the ability of a cell to take up DNA, the essence of order and life. Fathers seek to take up the competence of those who have gone before them. Competence is what generates trust, it creates opportunity and for men it is rapidly translated into worth. Competence in all areas… from career to relationship to finances to sexuality, even to how their children behave… competence is one of the main currencies of being a father. And there’s the ‘rub’ so to speak, for a father also has to learn humility. Humility recognizes the insufficiency of self, it moves to place dependence not on my abilities but rather on God’s abilities. In the words of Neil Anderson, humility is confidence properly placed. Jairus reminds us of that as he falls to the feet of Jesus and cries out for the life of his daughter. All his credentials as leader of the synagogue were of no use in this situation. Humility is to fall at the feet of Jesus, only here is there any hope of rescue. It is here that confidence needs to be properly placed, not just for the times of crisis but always. It is here that humility balances competence. The ultimate belief that only God can give life is what brought Jairus to Jesus, how about you?
II. Fathers Who Know Emotions Well Must Also Learn Belief. (vs 49-50)
At a conference I heard the amazing statistic that people today base 80% of their decision making on their emotions. How you feel greatly determines what you will do. When I began to test that in terms of my own life I recognized that a great range of emotions from fear and despair to anger to empathy to pride to love and joy are great determinants to what I want to do. Emotions are prevalent in all of us and they do have a massive sway on our thinking. Fathers, on the other hand, have this great reputation of being stoics, of being the rock that never cries (Simon and Garfunkle), the level head in the midst of upheaval, the cool voice of reason. I know I’m not supposed to say this but most fathers are a bucket full of emotions and occasionally the lid on the bucket slips to the side revealing the contents. I like that counseling adage that says, “You can tell what’s inside something by what comes out when it’s bumped.” Look at Jairus, death bumped into him and out spilled fear. Fathers know a lot of fear, especially as it relates to their wives and family. They know how much is way beyond their control, the emotion of fear can be a huge controller in all our lives. Jesus calls this father to move his emotion into a subservient role and to let his decision making be controlled by something called ‘belief’. When Jesus says to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well.”, the Greek word ‘believe’ is in the present, active, imperative, tense. Present tense means ‘now’, active tense means ‘you’ and imperative tense means this is an authoritative command, ‘do it’. So to believe is not an invitation, it’s an act of obedience. Belief recognizes that the authority of God is at work over me, it is His action that will bring rescue, it is His power that accomplishes life, it is His person that wills it to be. Belief is therefore a submission to the authority of God and is greater than emotion as a cause of decision making. Now, You , Do it! When it comes to belief, to being a servant of Christ, that’s the directive. For Jairus look at what is on the table…
1. The life of his daughter ...no pressure here fathers, but the life, the resurrection life, of your family is connected to your belief.
2. The glory of Who God is… by your obedience of belief God reveals Who He is and what He will do.
3. The transformation of family, community and work… speculate briefly on some of the possible consequences of this fathers’ belief … on his wife, his daughter, the professional mourners outside, the synagogue, the town.
Learn the importance of obedience in the act of belief as the chief cause to your decision making.
III. Fathers Who Say Yes To So Much, Must Learn to Say No. (vs 51-56 )
All that I want to point out here is that Jesus reduces the influence and proximity of what comes into the home. First He stops the crowds who followed right to the door, then He goes into the house and pushes out those who ridiculed Him and were there on the pretense of being a comfort to the family. It was just the father, mother and three disciples that Jesus brought with Him into the home. With just this principle in mind, fathers, in light of your obedience and belief in Jesus, who or what is it that needs to be put outside your home? Likely there are many competing voices in your home, a good number who do ridicule Jesus, a good number who profess to be there to comfort your family and many are voices of unbelief. Put them all outside. The professional mourners only knew that the little girl was dead and their belief stopped there. How far does the belief of the many influences in your home go, the belief of what lies behind video games, television, music, books, friends, money? Fathers who say ‘Yes’ to so much must learn to say ‘No’. Jesus put them out because they affected the belief of those inside. He put them out because what He was about to do was meant to build faith and bring life.
There’s another principle that’s also evident here. Jesus calls the little girl to life but He commands her parents to feed her. The cultivation of belief is action, belief that is not cultivated will not move past astonishment. The obedience of belief calls forth the action to nurture and love. What is it that Jesus commanded these parents… it was the same thing that He commanded a restored Peter to do… feed my sheep! The obedience of belief is followed by the command to bring food, sometimes physical food, sometimes spiritual food. Fathers feed your families. Just as Jesus was led of His heavenly Father and by it learned obedience, saw the timing and effectiveness of His Father, saw the shadow of the cross in Gethsemane, heard His Father say, ‘No’, no other way, no I have not forsaken You, no I will not leave your body to decay, no, death cannot hold you. Our heavenly Father will lead you as He led Jesus and there will be times He will say, ‘No’. Fathers there will be times you must say ‘No’, to your pride, to your self glory, to that which would be part of the Broad Way that leads to death.
These are the things that your Father taught your father to teach you!