Posts tagged ‘Men’

In Praise of Fathers

Father Daughter

Just in time for Father’s Day this Sunday comes a new study detailing the impact fathers have on their daughters’ behavior patterns.  In an online article published in Developmental Psychology, researchers from the Universities of Utah and Albany “compared the outcomes of older and younger full biological sisters who experienced the divorce or separation of their parents while growing up, and thus spent differing amounts of time living with their fathers.”  They found that “when fathering was high quality…older sisters were less likely to affiliate with sexually risky peers during adolescence compared to their younger sisters” because they had more time with their fathers pre-divorce than did their younger siblings post-divorce.

This research is sobering, but it is not particularly surprising.  The profoundly formative effect fathers have on their children has been well-documented.  This study serves as both an encouragement for fathers and a challenge to fathers.  It serves as an encouragement for fathers because it is a yet another reminder that they matter – greatly.  In a culture that has enclaves that can, at times, belittle, disparage, and minimize the roles men play in families and in society, this study reminds us of the blessing of dads.  It reminds us that fathers, by how they treat their daughters when they are little, can shape their daughters’ expectations and views of men as they grow up.  But this study also presents a challenge to fathers.  In an age when far too many men make children but do not raise them, this study is a clarifying indictment of the steep price that a man’s absence can incur on his children.  This must change.

In a society that obsesses over personal autonomy and choice, fatherhood is a countercultural sacrifice and call.  Fatherhood compels men to sacrifice many of their freedoms and hobbies for the sake of loving, providing for, and raising their children.  And whether the call of fatherhood comes expectedly or unexpectedly, it should and must be answered wholeheartedly, regardless of whether or not a man feels he’s ready to be a dad.

Many men I know are quite competitive.  They have a desire to beat those who are strong by being even stronger themselves.  Fatherhood, instead of pushing men to be stronger than the strong, invites men to be tender with the vulnerable – their children.  Fatherhood calls for a strength that does not conquer, but loves.  And this is the highest strength of all.  Which is why fathers are worth celebrating.

June 12, 2017 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Sermon Extra – God’s Call On Men

In 1994, some Swiss researchers conducted a survey on how the worship habits of parents influence their children.  The results were striking.  These researchers found that if both a father and mother attend church regularly, 33% of their children will grow up to attend church regularly, while 41% will grow up to attend irregularly.  Sadly, a quarter of their children will grow up not practicing their Christian faith at all.  These researchers further found that if a father does not attend church while a mother regularly attends church, only 2% of their children will subsequently become regular attenders themselves, while 37% will become irregular attenders.  Over 60% of these children will grow up and not attend church at all.

Now, here comes the shocking statistic.  If a father is a regular churchgoer, but a mother does not attend church, 44% of these children will grow up to attend church regularly.  That’s eleven percentage points higher than if a father and mother attend church regularly together!  All told, between two-thirds and three-fourths of children with faithful fathers will attend church, be that regularly or irregularly.[1]

Clearly, a father’s role as a spiritual leader is vital to the spiritual health of his family.  It is important to note that this does not in any way disparage or diminish the role ladies play in their families.  I know many ladies who, in spite of their husbands’ lack of commitment to things spiritual, labor extensively and faithfully to teach their children about Jesus and His Gospel.  I praise God for such women and trust that the Holy Spirit will use these ladies’ efforts to instill strong and lasting faith in the hearts of their children.  These statistics do, however, reinforce the call and commission of Scripture that a father is called to be a strong, spiritual leader of his family (cf. Ephesians 5:22-6:4).  Sadly, far too many men are derelict in this duty.  And if these statistics are any indication, the results of such dereliction are disastrous.  This blog, then, is meant to be a reminder to men of their God-given role!

As I discussed in my message on Sunday, there are many sirens of sin which entice men away from their role as the spiritual leader of their families.  The apostle Paul discusses some of the temptations that men – and all people, for that matter – struggle against:  “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).  How many men have fallen and failed as leaders because they have given in to temptations like sexual immorality or drunkenness or selfish ambition?  Far too many.

So how does Paul tell men to war against such sinful temptations so they can lead their families faithfully?  Does he tell them to try harder?  Or work longer?  Or fight fiercer?  No.  Instead, fully aware that no man, no matter how macho, is strong enough to resist the allures of the sinful nature, Paul continues:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Ephesians 5:22-23).  Paul calls upon God’s Spirit to produce the fruit of righteousness in and through men.  For men cannot produce this fruit themselves.  Instead, they will fall into sin every time.  It is interesting to note that while Paul speaks of the “acts of the sinful nature” in verse 19, he speaks of the “fruit of the Spirit” in verse 22.  Sinful is how we act.  Righteousness is the fruit the Spirit produces in us and through us.

So to the gentlemen, I would say this:  Remember the call God has given you to be the spiritual leaders of your household.  But do not try to carry out God’s call on you through your own efforts and with your own strength.  You will fall and fail every time.  Instead, implore the Spirit to produce in you and through you His fruit of righteousness.  For this fruit will be a blessing to you…and to your family.  And why would you want anything less for those you love most?

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Zach’s
message or Pastor Krueger’s ABC!


[1] Robbie Low, “The Truth About Men and Church,” Touchstone Magazine (June 2003).

June 13, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

For Women Only (But Men Can – And Probably Should – Read Too)

I have recently taken note of a trend which troubles me.  In many a conversation, I have met with a husband and a wife in crisis.  Their marriage is usually on the rocks, barely hanging by a thread, and steadily heading – if not speeding – down the road to divorce.  Although marriage trouble is almost always the product of both parties sinning against one another, I have noticed that, in these situations, the husband often lacks the fortitude to faithfully lead his marriage and his family according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His interest in the things of God is weak if not non-existent.  Indeed, it is often the woman who seeks biblical answers to important questions while the man is interested only in satisfying his own fleeting desires and infatuations.

To be fair, there are many men out there who are faithful, Godly leaders of their homes.  I praise God for these men.  But I want to speak for a moment to the women, for I know there are many, who are in relationships where the man does not dependably steward his mantle as the head of the household.

Through probably apocryphal, St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words.”  Certainly this maxim cannot be used to excuse us from clearly and cogently proclaiming the gospel, for Holy Scripture mandates just such a proclamation, but sometimes, a quiet witness to the gospel is a faithful one.  Indeed, this is precisely Peter’s argument to wives when he writes:  “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1-2).  As the apostle pens these words, he is addressing a group of women whose beliefs do not match those of their husbands, probably because they have converted to Christianity while their husbands have not.  Peter recommends holy living as a way to witness to these men who refuse to be the spiritual leaders of their households.

It is important to note that Peter’s direction radically contradicts the standard thinking of the first century.  For a woman to defy her husband’s sensibilities was considered an affront to his masculinity.  If the husband lived as a pagan, the wife was to live as a pagan too.  The first century Roman historian Plutarch explains:

A wife ought not to make friends on her own, but to enjoy her husband’s friends in common with him.  The gods are the first and most important friends.  Therefore it is becoming for a wife to worship and know only the gods that her husband believes in, and to shut the front door tight upon all peculiar rituals and outlandish superstitions [such as Christianity].  (Moralia 140D)

According to Plutarch, a wife is to believe only what her husband believes.  Thus, if a husband worships at the altar of football or lust or alcohol or crassness, the wife is to worship there as well.  Put Peter directs ladies differently.  A wife’s first and foremost responsibility is to the Lord, even when her husband refuses to honor and worship the true God.

Ladies, I know it is hard witnesses to men who do not know or care for the Lord.  And yet, there is hope!  For Peter’s guidance concerning a quiet witness to unfaithful husbands actually works!  Perhaps most famously, it worked with the father of St. Augustine.  Augustine writes of his mother:

When she had arrived at a marriageable age, she was given to a husband whom she served as her lord. And she busied herself to gain him to God, preaching God unto him by her behavior…For she waited for God’s mercy upon him, that by believing in Him, he might become chaste…Finally, her own husband, now towards the end of his earthly existence, did she gain over unto the Lord. (Augustine, Confessions, IX:19,22)

This woman’s dear faith proved persuasive to her husband…and to her son as well.  Indeed, her faith proved so persuasive that she raised one of the greatest theologians ever to serve the Christian Church.

Ladies, even in difficult circumstances, continue to serve your Lord faithfully.  Lead by your behavior if your husband will not lead according to his responsibility.  Know that I am praying for you.  Gentlemen, if you have fallen short in spiritually leading your household, repent and ask forgiveness from your family.  Then teach and live the faith.  Know that I am praying for you as well.  For there is nothing more important, heavy, and joyous than to teach and live out than the gospel of Jesus Christ!

July 15, 2010 at 8:39 am Leave a comment


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