Calvary Road Baptist Church

“BEING THERE IS CRUCIAL, BUT IT IS NOT ENOUGH”

 

When my wife and I were married, we were twenty-five years old, a bit older than most Boomer generation people to marry. And when I married I took it for granted that children would soon follow. Only children didn’t soon follow. While still living in Brawley we went through the paperwork to file for adoption, but we were declared unfit to be adoptive parents. That hurt. So we continued life as a childless couple until the Lord moved us to Monrovia. It was shortly after moving to Monrovia that I was introduced to Danny Jaich, who became a fast friend and suggested we look into open adoption, where the birth mother decides where she will place her child. It was two years after arriving here in Monrovia that God brought Sarah into our family, making me a father. As a boy, I had always wanted to be a man and was impatient for the arrival of manhood. As a young man, I was graciously saved by my wonderful Savior. While still a young man I met and married my wife. Of course, each of those experiences was different, and wonderful, and uniquely life-changing.

However, the experience that turned me into a cry baby was becoming that child’s father. I had always imagined myself becoming a father. But twelve years of marriage without a child was so strangely unfulfilling to me that the day the attorney called us, which was the same day we met him with the birth mother and her newborn at a Denny’s, which was the same day I later picked up Sarah and brought her home, which was the same day Pam brought her to Church just as our Wednesday night prayer meeting and Bible study was wrapping up, was utterly gratifying to my soul. Becoming her father was unlike becoming a man. Becoming her father was unlike becoming a Christian. Becoming her father was unlike becoming a husband. Nothing is more important than becoming a Christian since it is the fulfillment of one’s eternal destiny and the creation of one’s existence in Christ. That said, becoming her father was unusual in that until I became her dad I never truly saw children as they are seen through the eyes of a parent.

I was not exposed to good parenting while growing up, at least not parenting that I recognized as good parenting. That motivated me to crave insights from the Bible about fatherhood and motherhood after my conversion to Christ. Along the way, I began to notice one great father, and then another, and then another. The first great dad I took notice of at a distance was a guy named J. B. Long. The second great dad I took notice of at a distance was Mr. Hilty, the man I made mention of last week. There was also Mr. Reinhardt, our missionary Dustin Reinhardt’s grandfather. These men were all members of Bethany Baptist Church in Whittier. Upon reflection, there was a wonderful father at Torrance Baptist Temple, an Air Force veteran from Tennessee by the name of Chuck Smith. Chuck had a lovely wife and three great daughters. It was Chuck who worked at Hughes Aircraft Company in El Segundo, where he was an electronics technician. He was the guy who asked me if I was a new Christian and who then invited me to Church for the very first time.

As I look back on those admirable men, and as I consider the admirable fathers I have been privileged to know in my two pastorates, I have noticed two things about those wonderful fathers. Have you noticed what young people usually say when they are publicly thanking family members and loved ones at their high school graduations, or on some occasion when a milestone in their young lives has been achieved? Predictably, and wonderfully, they express their gratitude to their mother, father; a loved one, or some other important person for, to use their words, “being there for me.” As much as what is said and done by people, it is important to every one of us that a loved one or a mentor was quite simply there. And the tragedy in so many lives today is that when being there is so important that father is simply not there. Oh, he may say he will be there for you. However, too often such words are sadly unaccompanied by actions. Or if the sad sack of a dad is there he is wrongly there, misdirecting while there, paying no attention while there, or with no real there-there.

Because today is Fathers Day I want to speak to you men about fathers and a culture that is in crisis. Are you ready to do some serious business? Then listen up. “Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more likely to end up in prison”[1] than kids with a live-in father. “The Journal Of Research On Adolescence confirms that ‘Even after controlling for varying levels of household income, kids in father-absent homes are more likely to end up in jail. Kids who never had a father in the house are the most likely to wind up behind bars.’”[2]

Why is that the case?[3] Why is it that kids are so adversely affected by the absence of their father, or by their father abandoning them, or by the father who lives in the house with his family without really being there because he is always occupied doing something other than interacting with his children? Reminds me of a widow I was talking to right after I led her dying husband to Christ and then buried him. She confided in me that she simply did not understand her daughter and son-in-law, who seemed like such wonderful Christians, except that every day he would come home from work, eat supper, and go to his garage until it was time to take a shower and go to bed. The old woman said, “Pastor, they never talk. He is never in the house.” No surprise to me, then, that her grandchildren turned out to be such a mess. That was a father who was there, only he wasn’t there.

To get back on track, why are fathers so important? Why are kids so adversely affected by fathers who were never there, by fathers who were there but then left, or by fathers who were there without really being there because their kids were not in any way influenced or affected by them? It’s almost like some guys are the invisible man. What is the answer? To be extremely blunt, and to avoid altogether the reactions of moms when such tragedies befall them, children are born with the propensity to do stupid things,[4] and they need to be coerced, cajoled, and occasionally cuffed a bit so they will fall in line and not behave so stupidly. You may not appreciate the word stupid, but it is the closest approximation to the Hebrew concept of foolishness we have. Someone who is foolish is very typically someone who is also difficult to reason with, difficult to explain things to, and someone who has difficulty dealing with nuances and fine points. For that reason such a child needs a physical presence to respond to, an authoritative voice to resonate in his hearing, and the implied threat of physical pain in the form of spanking to keep him within the boundaries. Indeed, the Bible teaches that if you do not spank your child, you do not love your child.[5]

Though some mothers are capable of performing such functions when their children are young, fathers are typically capable of performing those behavior management functions up to and including their children reaching adulthood, when the part of the brain that governs risk assessment and danger, but which develops more slowly with boys, begins to catch up to their physical size and strength.[6] I am truly sorry, moms, but in my humble opinion boys and girls desperately need actively involved dads in the house, but for different reasons. Not mom’s boyfriend, not what is called a nearby guy that repeatedly dashes the hopes of kids wishing for a dad. Not that kind of guy at all. Boys need fathers not only as a model to emulate, but they also need the mostly unspoken threat of retaliation from their dad should they misbehave and act disrespectfully toward their mother. They need that arm around the shoulder or the neck that squeezes hard enough to remind the son, “I can still handle you, boy.” Don’t think we here at Calvary Road Baptist Church were the first people Archie ever squeezed firmly when he shook a hand. Those big boys of his knew how powerful their dad was all the while they were growing up. And knowing that was very good for them.

As for daughters, their daddy needs are different than a son’s. While fathers become the template for manhood that sons will imitate if all goes well, fathers are the comparison their daughters will use when evaluating a suitor. “How does that guy measure up to my dad?” You can usually tell what a daughter thinks of her dad by her conduct with young men, and especially by the kind of guy she chooses to marry. People who think that who you marry has nothing to do with your parents don’t know much about the way children develop into adults. So, yes, I am one of many who thinks that just being there is crucial for a child’s father. That said, it is not enough. Wise and godly single moms, and wise and godly women whose husbands are there but not there do everything they can to make sure their children are at Church whenever the doors are open. They know the importance of men modeling the kind of behavior in front of their children that their kids will not see at home. It is imperative that boys and girls see godly and consistent men, godly husbands, and godly fathers as many times during the week as is humanly possible. They need to see it all when Christian men are at their best and when Christian men are at less than their best. And make no mistake about it, the Christian man who is not related is far more important for a boy to spend time with than an unsaved grandfather or uncle or cousin.

That boy and girl need to see the tired Christian man, husband, and dad in Church on Wednesday night and Saturday, even when he is running late and in his work clothes. That is where boys learn how Christian men discharge their responsibilities, not on Sunday morning or Sunday evening. That is where a girl observes the kind of man she should some day marry, not the guy who only attends on Sunday mornings. How manly is that? These things understood that being there and being there when you are there is so very important. Sadly, when a dad is not there, or when a dad is there but not there, that man’s children will typically illustrate their foolishness by selecting as a role model a guy who is not at all qualified, perhaps some nice fellow in the neighborhood, or a relative. Why is that guy not qualified? He is not qualified because he is lost. He is not qualified because far more important than being there for a boy, or a girl is that the guy who is there be a Christian, who is there.

Say you are there, really there for your youngster. Being there, you solve so many problems in a boy’s life and a girl’s life. Kids are so much more likely to graduate from high school, get married before they make a baby, and latch on to a steady job when their father is there, really there, and there when he is there. But then what? So your youngster gets through school, gets married before becoming a mom or a dad, and is steadily employed. Is that it? Is that all? No, that is not all. As important as you being there happens to be, dad, there is this matter of eternity. There is God. There are sins. Then, of course, there will eventually be death. What happens you die, dad? What happens when mom dies? More tragically for a father, what happens when your child dies? That baby boy, or that precious little girl, who you used to hold in your arms. What happens to that child, dad?

What happens to them will likely be the same thing that happens to you. So, in the time remaining to us this morning, let’s talk about you. From a dad to a dad, what say we get you ready for eternity?

 

First, YOU KNOW YOU DESERVE TO GO TO HELL

 

No one in his right mind imagines that he is good enough to merit a place in heaven with God. You and everyone else you have ever known has committed sins worthy of death. And what Adam did that brought death upon all men was one act of disobedience. He took one bite of fruit.

If you were to compare your sins to Adam’s you would readily admit to being a worse sinner than he was. And so would I. Therefore, if we are going to be honest about the whole thing, you are both damned and doomed because there is no way you can fix the problem you have. You are dead in trespasses and sins. Even if you stopped sinning now and never did another wrong thing the rest of your life, what you have already done deserves God’s punishment.

 

Second, YOU KNOW GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS DEMANDS HE PUNISH SOMEONE

 

When God’s laws are violated someone has to pay, someone has to be punished; the law has to be vindicated. After all, God is not going to be a laughingstock. He is not going to be a weak and ineffective Ruler. When He is wronged, someone has to pay.

The problem, of course, is that if you pay for your sins, you will spend all eternity trying to pay for your spiritual crimes, your sins, and your trespasses, without serving enough time to discharge any of your debts owed to God. That is why sinners who die and go to Hell spend an eternity there.

 

Third, THIS IS WHERE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COMES IN

 

You cannot pay for your sins because you are disqualified. How can a sinner pay for his sins? How can someone who is dirty clean himself up? How can someone who is dead make himself alive? How can someone who is wrong makes himself right? You cannot do any of these things. However, that is precisely why the Lord Jesus Christ left heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary, live a sinless life, die a substitutionary death, and rise from the dead in victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave. Because He is sinless, because He is life, and because He is right, He can do for you what you cannot possibly do for yourself.

This is what is meant by First Peter 3.18:

 

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

 

And Romans 5.6:

 

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

 

And there are many other passages in the Bible that show us that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary in your place so your sins can be forgiven through simple faith.

 

Finally, THIS IS WHERE YOU RESPOND

 

You already know you are a sinner. You already know you are condemned by your sins. You already know there is nothing you can do to remedy your sin problem, and that you need the salvation that only Jesus Christ can provide. What, then, must you do to be saved from your sins? That same question was asked by a Roman soldier two thousand years ago. The men he asked were Silas and the Apostle Paul. Here is what they said in answer to his question:

 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

 

So, what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Listen to Ephesians 1.13:

 

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”

 

What has sin ever done for you, really? How has sin in any way helped you, really? You know you’re on a dead-end road leading to nowhere good. I don’t have to convince you of that. So, what’s the remedy for what ails you? It’s drastic. You need to be born again. You have to have a miracle, and nothing less will do.

My friend, you need to come to Christ. Listen to what the Lord Jesus Christ said:

 

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Whether you realize it or not, what I am talking about is exactly the reason you are here this morning. This is your appointment with destiny. More accurately, this is your appointment with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinful men’s souls.

You may be thinking that you are a Christian who needs to rededicate your life, but that’s almost certainly not the case. If you were already a child of God you would not be in the mess you are presently in. What you need is the miracle of the new birth, to be saved from your sins, to be forgiven and cleansed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

What is holding you back, my friend? Anything worthwhile? Anything appropriate? Anything more important? I urge upon you a single thing and only that thing, that you flee to Jesus Christ as quickly as you possibly can, that you trust Him, that you embrace Him, that you come to Him, and that you take Him as your own personal Savior.

__________

[1] Larry Elder, Black Fathers Matter, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FszQelEQ2KY&list=PLHnZgFqBDGketPTiSPi3LlFiMo1gzph9l&index=12

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/14/guess-which-mass-murderers-came-from-a-fatherless-home/

[4] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament, Vol 6, (Peabody, MA: reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 328.

[5] Hebrews 12.5-10

[6] http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/hu/wellbeing/behaviour/managing-risk-taking-with-teen-boys 6/18/16

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org