eing a father and mother is a part of our Christian stewardship. Human parenthood is a gift that God shares with us, and it is both a privilege and a responsibility. However, our children continue to belong to Him. Parenting is our highest calling. Our jobs are a means through which we are enabled to support our family. No matter how important our vocational calling, our main responsibility is to provide nurture and guidance to the children that God has given us trusteeship over. Parents should never decide to have children as a way to find fulfillment. The focus should not be on us but upon them.
Indeed, parenting is an extension of the fatherhood of God (Eph. 3:15). Fathers and mothers must mirror the manner in which our Heavenly Father treats us as sons and daughters. As pictured in Jesus' story of the forgiving father and his rebellious son, the father's love allows us freedom of choice that includes the right to run away and do our own thing. However, the Heavenly Father never gives up on us, and when we return home he welcomes us with open arms. "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet... For this my son was lost and is found." (Luke 15:22-24).
It is a daunting challenge that we are called to be agents of God in child rearing. However, don't despair for with the calling comes grace. As in all we do in Jesus' name, we are given Divine power to accomplish the task. I would not be able to step to the pulpit if I were not assured of His enabling power. In Christian parenting the Spirit takes our consecrated efforts and raises them to a Divine level. Giving the care, love and guidance necessary in creating and maintaining a Christian home is beyond our abilities, but with God all things are possible. We become a "Righteous Parent" as we follow His lead.
We know very little about Joseph from biblical records, but we know a great deal about him from the boy Jesus he reared. Jesus was fortunate to have two loving parents who were concerned about his welfare. Jesus grew up to be a man with a clear identity and understanding of his special place in history. He was nurtured in both his humanity and Divinity. It was Jesus who gave God a new name, Abba Father, or Daddy Papa, a name that is personal and makes our Heavenly Father seem so much more approachable.
The greatest joys of my life have come as a Husband and Father. Parenting has been a pure joy for Marilyn and me. I was in the delivery room when both Lyn and Candi were born (Marilyn was too). We saw them take their first steps, sent them off to Kindergarten, and to the University of Georgia. I cried in the night when the girls left home, but they came back and continue to come back home. As you know, I walked Lyn down the aisle and received Gerald into our family as a son in August of 1999. On September 8 we will welcome Brian Garrison into our family. In fact, when Brian surprised me at the office with that visit to ask for our Candi's hand in marriage he started off his spiel with the wonderful expression, "I have come to love your family and I want to become a part of it." Candi feels the same way about the Garrisons. Parents love their children with all their hearts; but better still, children love their parents in return.
As Barbara Pate said about her longtime employer at her recent retirement party, "I tend to judge a man by his family and this man has a wonderful family." That sounds a lot like how we are evaluated by the Divine. However, it is a frightening judgment for us because none of us on our own are capable of being a truly Righteous Parent. We are made able through grace as we submit in childlike innocence to God's plan.
Is this not what King David was asking for in our Psalm? Was he not praying for righteousness not only for himself but for his wicked enemies? Perhaps this is why God loved David so much. He recognized that his gifts and graces were from God and wanted others, even those who opposed him, to also share in God's righteousness. "Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies, make Your way straight before my face." (v.8) He was praying that he might be a Righteous King and that others might see God at work within his life. Our prayer as parents is that our children might develop positive self-images through living in our homes and that they might have open hearts to God.
Just as our Heavenly Father allows us freedom we know that we cannot bully children into loving us, or Him. When we sing the song, "You made me love you," we must remember that the making is not in force but in tenderness and love. Children will love their parents if they first feel their love. God has encouraged us to love him by first loving us and by showing that great love in giving His Son. Harsh discipline would have never won us to God, and neither will it win our children.
Men especially sometimes
tend to think that strength comes from force. Years ago a man came to
me upset because his wife had left him. Since I was their Pastor he
thought that I would command her to return home. I suggested that the
two of them drop my Study for a talk. What bothered her most about her
husband was his domineering spirit and lack of consideration. He often
had made important decisions without even mentioning them to her. He
wanted to know what he could do to make her come home. I suggested that
he might show her a little tenderness by respecting her need to leave,
and that he might eventually win her back through kindness and gentleness.
This new insight was met with the same aggressive insensitivity that
had driven her away in the first place and I could see her looking toward
the door. I was led to tell the story of how God has attempted to win
our affection by showing His tenderness in allowing His Son to be born
in a stable, laid in a manger and rejected by humanity. The young wife
began to weep and soon the repentant husband knelt before her crying
for her forgiveness. Every story does not have a happy ending but this
one did. This forgiven young husband soon became a "Righteous Father"
and I know that he is having a happy
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor