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God’s Good Gift of Fatherhood

June 17, 2018

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Pentecost 4                                              Trinity Lutheran Church

17 June 2018                                            Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”


Equal time. Today a sermon regarding fatherhood. To give God thanks for our father. For the good God gift has given us through our father. To repent of our neglect, abuse or even rejection of God’s good gift of fatherhood, to use Jesus properly for forgiveness, and for a desire to honor our father and to be better fathers for the sake of helping and caring for our family.


God expects men to be fathers. God uses a husband to have children with his wife in the estate of holy marriage. God insists on Dad to be the head of the family. God’s will is that fatherhood be about order. Discipline. Structure. Headship. God sets Dad at the head of the family. It is how He matrixes life from the very good beginning in Genesis. A headless family is a family in deep trouble and headed for disaster.


Gentlemen, being the head of the family certainly doesn’t mean being the boss or ruthless dictator. It doesn’t mean you are to bully, intimidate or torment your children. That’s a complete and total perversion of true manhood and fatherhood. If you act like a tyrant, I guarantee you will “exasperate” them. Frustrate them. Infuriate them. They’ll come to me and tell me, like I’ve heard many times over the years as a pastor: “I couldn’t do anything right in my father’s eyes! Everything I did was wrong! I can’t stand my father!”


Consequently, headship in the family doesn’t mean always getting your way. Brothers, being the head of the family as father means being the source of life. When I say source of life I don’t mean just getting your wife or some other woman pregnant. Good grief! Donating sperm is real easy! Any man can do that! Lots of deadbeats and doofuses have perfected it! A father, however, is most especially a man that provides for, cares for and protects the life of his family. He lives not to be served but to serve and to give his life in many demanding and sacrificial ways for the sake of the well being of his family. Sometimes he’ll take a second job to pay the bills. Stay up late to help with homework. Pick up the sick child from school. Help coach his son’s basketball team.


He also exercises headship by taking care of his family’s spiritual life. Making sure his children and wife are baptized and taught in the way the Lord Jesus mandates in Matthew 28 so that they believe only in Jesus for salvation. Seeing to it that they regularly receive the Lord’s Supper and that they believe that Jesus gives what He says: body – blood – for their forgiveness, life and salvation. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells you to impress God’s Word “on your children.” Proverbs 22:6 promises that if you, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”


Gentlemen, today’s text categorically tells you: “Fathers, bring your children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” That’s God’s will and Word for you FATHERS, not mothers! Did you hear that? Dad is the pastor or bishop of his house. His pulpit can be the dining room table or the living room chair. His ordination papers are his marriage certificate and birth certificates of his children. Dad’s household is his congregation!


Gentlemen, I want you to listen very carefully. I have more high pastoral care for you, if you have ears to hear. I hope you’ll take it to heart and thank God that I said it today. It’s this. Do not delegate or farm out the duties of your call as father to your wife, to the grandparents, to the Sunday School or parochial school teachers or to Pastor Kuhlman! Seriously! For God’s sake and for your family’s sake stop it! Your wife, parents and others will help and support you. You know they will. Nevertheless, the spiritual care of your family is your responsibility! It’s time for all the men in our congregation to start doing it! Your family’s salvation and spiritual wellness are at stake! This has to be your utmost priority.


There is a time and a place for everything. Being a father means setting the family’s life in order. Prioritizing. Arranging. Ranking what’s most important and what really isn’t. What is most important for a Christian father is that he provide the spiritual discipline needed in the family for the life of repentance, faith, and holy living. Brothers, as your pastor I do not give you permission to do otherwise. On Judgment Day you’ll never be able to say: “Pastor Kuhlman gave me permission to disobey God’s Word,” BECAUSE I HAVEN’T and I won’t! It’s time to step up and be fathers who are men! Which means exercising your headship by taking care of and providing for your family’s spiritual health in all the ways available to you. Don’t you dare pit parochial school against Sunday School or the divine service. Don’t you dare pit devotions at home against worship at church. It all goes together.


For those of you fathers who are faithful in your vocation, thanks be to God! You’re doing holy and God-pleasing work! I want to encourage you to continue and to remain faithful in doing it. If you’re not, then I beg you to repent, use Jesus for forgiveness and then intend to do better. You know better. It’s time to do better! God requires it and expects it from you. For your family’s sake! You want to take care of your children, don’t you? Of course you do! Your children crave it. So does your wife. Do it then relying on God’s help and in obedience to the text: “Fathers, bring your children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”


Experience and the soft social studies all reveal that when Dad takes the lead and exercises proper headship by bringing his family to church on a regular basis 80% of the kids stick with it. When Mom has to take the lead because Dad is spiritually MIA only 40% of the children stick with going to church. The kids get it loud and clear. They can be like Dad for better or for worse. “When I grow up I’ll be like Dad.” So, brothers, I beg and exhort you. By word and example bring your children up in the training and instruction of the Lord – the Ephesians 6 way. And kids honor your father for doing this. Thank God for him.


I want to make a few more points today if you’ll let me. Will you? Ok. Hang on tight. Here goes.


True fatherhood is defined by God Himself. As our Father in heaven, He is the source, generator and sustainer of life. Through your earthly father your heavenly Father daily and richly provides you with all that you need to support your body and life – Levis, Converse high tops, cowboy boots, a side of beef in the freezer, a bed to sleep in, a car to drive, some spending money at ball games, etc., etc., etc. Through your earthly father your heavenly Father defends you from all kinds of danger. He guards and protects you from all sorts of evil. Why? Only out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy. Not because you deserve it but only because God is your heavenly Father.


God gives us many kinds of fathers. Men that have inspired us, shaped us, disciplined us and taught us. Teachers. Coaches. Bosses. Uncles. Grandfathers. Men who taught Sunday School like Wayne Kupke, Bible classes or who helped with the church youth group. I remember Mr. Fred Witt at Our Redeemer, Glenrock, WY where I grew up. He always took a keen interest in me. Always talked theology and baseball with me. Then there is my father. He took us to church. He owned and operated his own business. However, he never used work as an excuse to stay away from hearing God’s Word and eating and drinking the Lord’s body and blood. Nothing, including youth practices or youth sports, kept us from going to church. Attending the divine service was just a given. It’s what Christians do! It’s what Christians want to do. They worship Jesus! In the way He mandates: third commandment and His words of Matthew 26 to eat and drink. My Dad’s example, along with Mr. Witt’s had a tremendous impact on me going to the seminary and becoming a pastor. You have them to thank … or to blame.


Other men who shape our lives like fathers are pastors. St. Paul called Timothy “my true son in the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:2)  The Large Catechism teaches us that a pastor is a father for his congregation. That’s just a family way of talking about the church. In 1 Corinthians 4:15 St. Paul told the Christian church at Corinth that, “even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many father, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”  Think of how much we lose when we only view the pastor as a hire or fire employee, coach, equipper, CEO, or CFO instead of a spiritual father of a family. It’s one of the reasons why hardly anyone boy wants to be a pastor anymore and why most pastors are vocationally muddled and don’t know what it means to be a pastor.


Finally, as I have noted over the years with Father’s Day sermons, some of our fathers have been broken men. Some lived only for themselves. Perhaps your father was a deadbeat loser. Perhaps he was unfaithful to your mother. Possibly he hurt you deeply with harmful words or deeds for years or decades. Maybe your father abandoned you. Abused you. Neglected you. Drank way too much. Got hooked on drugs. Never at home, school events, balls games, graduations or other life events when it mattered most. Perhaps your father didn’t even bother to attend your confirmation, wedding or your child’s baptism.


So today, for many, is a bittersweet day. In whatever way or ways your father sinned against you I am here to tell you that the “blood of Jesus,” God’s own Good Friday Son “cleanses / purifies you from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Yes, that’s right! The divine crucified and risen blood of Jesus cleanses and purifies you not only from the sin that you have committed against others – including your father — but also the sins that people have committed against you – including your father!


So, if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down today is a day for reconciliation and healing. It is time for you to let Jesus get between you and your father. Jesus died FOR YOU. Jesus forgives you! Of everything! There’s no sin or sinner He didn’t die for! That includes your father. For those of you that have been deeply hurt by your father I tell you that Good Friday Jesus bore your pain, your suffering, your abandonment — your abuse.


Tell me – the cursing, anger, bitterness, grudge holding and hatred toward Dad – how’s all that been working for you? How does all that edify your life or anyone’s life? It doesn’t. It doesn’t help or heal any relationship. Cursing your father also brings curses on you. Curse your Dad and you are committing social and emotional suicide. Those that curse or damn their father not only destroy their own family, they also have difficulty in making their own marriage work properly and most of the time the marriage ends in divorce. In addition, father cursers have an extremely hard time having a normal family. Usually the family is quite dysfunctional among Dad cursers. You’ve all seen this or experienced this, haven’t you?


Well, the Lord Jesus has sent me to give you good news. It’s this: THE GOOD FRIDAY WOUNDS OF JESUS bring healing and reconciliation! Bury the wounds of the past in the healing wounds of Jesus. Forgive your father as God the Father has forgiven you through His Son Jesus Christ. Father’s Day, then, is a day to forgive, to receive the gift of fatherhood with thanksgiving and to use this gift for the physical and spiritual wellness of our families.


Happy Father’s Day.


In the Name of Jesus.

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