On Being a Spiritual Father

Introduction:

This is my final sermon as your pastor. It has been a wonderful joy to preach and teach the Word of God to you, His people. In Acts 20:17-30 Paul gives his farewell message to the Ephesian church.  In Acts 20:27 Paul shares: For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. The ESV translates this as I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole council of God. I hope and pray this has been true of me with you. I love teaching the Bible and I hope that has been made evident. I hope you have learned more Bible over the last six years. The church does have a pulpit, figuratively, not literally. The pulpit represents the preaching of the Word of God at the local church. Each of us pastors are accountable to God for this responsibility. I have carried this responsibility for just over six years. Pastor Gordon carried this ministry for seventeen years. The responsibility is heavy. It has been compared to a woman having a baby. It is heavy because there are spiritual dimensions, spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12). It is a 24×7 job. We preach and sit down and then wait for the pressures from Sunday sermon to kick-in. A lot of pastors talk about how hard Mondays are because they are hit from the Sunday morning pressure and reflection. There are articles written to tell pastors how to manage this post pulpit day. I prefer to simply eat chocolate and then I feel better.

God will lead you an interim and then another pastor to handle this pulpit ministry and I pray they also follow God’s instructions to declare the whole council of God. I appreciate and have been greatly honored to serve as your pastor these last six years. It has been a privilege to serve under the Lord in this pulpit ministry. Now, I preach my last sermon to you. Later, we eat chocolate.  

The church needs boys, the church needs men, the church needs dads.

John Fuller of Focus on the Family writes the following:

The United States is the leader in fatherless homes. The impact is breathtaking: 63 percent of youth suicides come from fatherless homes, and 75 percent of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from homes without a dad. In his book It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men, Truett Cathy offers these startling statistics:

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in state-operated institution.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison[1]

Wow! Those statistics are quite startling. So, obviously fathers are important, we have an important role in the development of children.

But the reality is there are many children without a father. There are many children without a spiritual father. In the Bible Timothy was one of those children. He needed a spiritual father and Paul took care of that job.

Theme: I want us to look at Paul serving as a spiritual father to Timothy. I encourage you to take seriously your role as a spiritual parent. Make disciples of young people.

Let’s read Acts 16:1-3:

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

  1. Let’s talk about Paul and Timothy.
    1. We just read Acts 16:1-3 and in that passage we see that Paul met Timothy and was obviously impressed. From this passage we see that Timothy’s mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. Paul wanted to take him along. From all indications Timothy’s father was not a believer in Jesus. After this Timothy goes with Paul. We see Timothy show up much in Paul’s letters.
    2. In 1 Tim. 1:2 Paul writes To Timothy my true son in the faith… Paul compares Timothy to a spiritual son.
    3. Then in 2 Timothy 1:2 Paul again writes: To Timothy, my dear son… Again, we see Paul and Timothy’s relationship.
      1. They had likely traveled together for 10 years.[2]
      2. They obviously had a special bond. 1 and 2 Timothy are written to Timothy from the Apostle Paul while Timothy was serving as the interim pastor in Ephesus.
    4. Then, one more passage I will show you. In Phil. 2:22: Paul writes: But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
  2. Let’s talk about serving as a spiritual parent.
    1. What is this like?
    2. It is not meaning simply going fishing together, though spiritual advise can be passed on during a fishing trip.
    3. It is not meaning simply activities. I am not talking about simply hanging out with someone younger than you.
    4. This is talking about discipleship.
    5. This is about mentoring someone younger than you in the faith and in the ministry. The Gospel is at the center of serving as a spiritual parent. However, understand the Gospel must be at the center of being a parent. Look at Deut. 6:1-9: These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
    6. Serving as a spiritual parent does begin with a relationship with someone younger than you, but it continues as you study the Bible together. As you model what it means to be a man or woman of God. Serving as a spiritual parent continues as you are going fishing or hunting or cooking together, but in doing so you are modeling and teaching how to be a man or woman of God. You are modeling service to the church. You are modeling and teaching evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. Being a spiritual parent means that the Gospel is everything.
    7. If we do not teach our biological children the Gospel we have taught them nothing worthwhile. If we have relationships with others younger than us but we do not teach them the Gospel we have taught them absolutely nothing worthwhile. They die and it is the end of anything good.
    8. My youth pastor was my spiritual father. He was older than my father and he was living for Jesus and my father was not. He discipled me as he taught me the Bible but he also discipled me as we served the church together, we had lunch together, we worked together. He modeled integrity and Christian values. I remember going with him to pick up an old truck he was restoring. The man was signing the title over and said, “How much do you want me to put down that you bought this for?” This was because you have to pay taxes on every dollar so the seller was willing to just put down a dollar. My youth pastor had him put down the correct price. He modeled integrity. He modeled service. He modeled being a Christian father and grandfather.
  • Application: Serve as a paternal influence to others.
    1. Who has God places in your life for you to serve in that paternal influence role?
    2. Right down a name in your bulletin and take it home and pray about it.
    3. This may be your children and grandchildren.
    4. I know of someone who speaks at the men’s fellowship breakfasts. He talked about having a Bible study with his grandsons. He would buy donuts and meet them on Saturday mornings to study the Bible. Could that be what God is calling you to do?

Close:

I read the following:

Truett Cathy is probably best known for his Chick-Fil-A restaurants, and while I like the food he helped make popular, I’m most appreciative of the work he does to help boys who face the prospect of growing up without a father.

Mr. Cathy has been mentoring youngsters for more than sixty years. He runs a camp and a foster- care program designed to help give children of broken homes a second chance at life. It’s an inspiring program. Boys are matched with mentors and father figures, and some are even placed in full-time Christian foster homes. Many are given the opportunity to work side by side with Mr. Cathy on a beautiful farm in the rolling hills of Rome, Georgia.

Truett Cathy is a well-seasoned Southern gentleman. But he’s more than a nice guy with business savvy. He knows how boys think. Most important, he knows what they need: a father or— at the very least— a strong male role model. Mr. Cathy travels the country with a simple but strong message: you can make a difference! It’s better to build boys than to have to mend men.[3]

So, next time you complain about the next generation, pray. Pray that God would send you a young person to serve as a spiritual parent.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011. Page 22

 

[2] See George W. Murray, “Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians,” Bibliotheca Sacra 155:619 (JulySeptember 1998):316-26. Seen in Dr. Constable’s notes on Phil. 2:22: http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/philippians.pdf

[3] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011.

Dazzle Camouflage and leadership

I heard this on a fuel cell podcast of Equis Financial. During WWI German U-boats were sinking as many as 50 ships a week. So, something had to be done. You could not camouflage a ship because the background is always changing. So instead, they tried to make the ship stand out in a confusing way. They would make it so you could not tell which side was the bow vs the stern. They call this Dazzle Camouflage. This is the Zebra idea. The torpedoes took as long as 3 minutes to get to their target and this messed up their aim as much as 60 degrees.
The point is some times you just have to think creatively out of a problem.

You are not a failure, God loves you

Introduction:

There is a new show on Netflix it is called “Anne with an ‘E.'” The show is about “Anne of Green Gables.” It is a wonderful, cute show about an orphan girl who mistakenly ends up at Green Gables. They were expecting a boy. Here an older brother and sister are to take her in. Many of you may know of the book. The first episode is sad. Then she is sent away, back to the orphanage, as they think she stole from them. In reality she did not. When they find the piece of jewelry which they thought she stole they try to track her down. Finally, the brother finds her and tries to persuade her to come back. She ignores him, UNTIL he calls her his daughter. Then she comes back. Later they ask her to take their name. It was so exciting for her.

How special it is to have the rights and privileges of being part of a family?

 

Today, I plan to encourage you with the truth of God’s love. God loves us so much that He adopted us. We are part of his family.

 

Sometimes we feel like failures. You are not. This is a lie we believe. The world may make you think you are a failure. You are not. God loves you.

 

My theme is: You are Not a Failure God does love you no matter what. He loves you so much He calls you His children.

 

Let’s read: 1 John 3:1: We are only going to read and focus on the beginning of the passage.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

 

  1. See what great love!
    1. I like the translation.
    2. It begins with “See.” It is as if this is saying, “Take notice”!
    3. Some translation would say, “Behold.” This is a really important statement.
    4. What are we noticing. What is of significance?
    5. We are noticing God’s love. This is God’s “great” love.
    6. Think about how you love people. Do you know people that you will love no matter what?
    7. Do you know people that you will always love?
    8. Do you have a love for people that is hard to modify? It is hard to find the adjective to describe the love. Maybe the love is a verb, it is action, and it is hard to find an adverb to describe the love.
    9. God loves us with a great love. It is hard to find adjectives to describe God’s love for us. It is hard to find adverbs to describe God’s love. God’s love has been portrayed in action. His love has been portrayed in the action of dying for us.
    10. In this case God lavished love on us.
  2. God Lavished on Us.
    1. This is important.
    2. This has the idea of a rich gift.
    3. Think about it, who is God?
    4. What belongs to God?
    5. What power does God have?
    6. What rights does God have?
    7. What authority does God have?
    8. Just think about it. If we are to believe in God, which I do, then we have to believe He has all power, all authority, all rights and everything belongs to Him.
    9. And He notices me.
    10. You are not a failure. God loves you no matter what. He lavishes you with His love.
  • We are God’s Children.
    1. We are called God’s children. I like what the Archaeological Study Bible says: The underlying word of “sonship” is “adoption.” Adoption was common among the Greeks and Romans, who granted the adopted son all the privileges of a natural son, including inheritance rights (see “Adoption in the Roman World”).
    2. We have the privileges of being a daughter or son of God.
    3. What are these privileges?
      1. This can be quite a theological topic, but to just think of a few. We have eternal life with Him.
      2. We have a constant contact with God.
  • God will not give up on us.
  1. I remember hearing my dad talk to my barber once and my dad was comparing his love for us to God’s love. My dad said, “I could never stop loving my children.”
  2. It is, maybe, easy to give up on some stranger, some employee, some neighbor, but it ought to be that you never give up on your child. You never stop loving your child.
  3. God loves us that much.
  1. In the Greco-Roman world there was an actual adoption process for your own children. You were considered a slave of your own parents, until at a certain age your parent chooses to adopt you and consider you their own child. Then you have the rights of the family.
  2. To some extent this includes rewards in Heaven. It includes authority in Heaven.
  3. That is the idea the Bible has in mind. God went through the process of adopting you.
  4. The Life Application Study Bible: 3:1   As believers, our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us his children. We are his children now, not just sometime in the distant future. Knowing that we are his children should encourage us to live as Jesus did.[1]
  5. Graduates:
    1. You will face challenges in your careers, but God loves you and supports you no matter what. God is in your corner. God has your back.
    2. You will face difficulties in college, but God has your back. You are His child. Give Him a call on the prayer line.
    3. You will face family trials, but God includes you part of His family.
    4. God loves you.
    5. God will never stop loving you.
    6. Your parents may stop holding your hand, but God does not (Isa. 41:10 and 13).
  6. For everyone, we get holder and our parents go to Heaven, remember that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us.
  7. God is there to hold our hand.
  8. God cares, He always cares.
  9. Regardless of your age, God loves you.
  10. Regardless of your mistakes, God loves you.
  11. Get rid of the idea that you are a failure, You are not. God is in your corner.

 

Closing:

See what manner of love the Father has given unto us.

He lavished love on you.

Stop tuning your mind into these ideas that He doesn’t love you.

Stop tuning your mind into these ideas that you are a failure.

God loves you!

Remember the Joel Osteen illustration about the TV of the mind? Sometimes we are thinking about the wrong things. We need to use the remote control of our mind and change the channel. You are God’s child, tune into that channel.

There was a Little House on the Prairie episode about the Ingalls family adopting Albert. He was so happy to be adopted. It means to much.

You are adopted by God.

You are His child.

 

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Tyndale House Publishers (2011-08-01). Life Application Study Bible NLT (LASB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 161133-161142). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.