[For the audio version click on the above link]
We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are a noble, self-sacrificing man of God said … AMEN. I was just expecting the guys to amen that
It is not easy to be an adult man in the world today. Even in the church that is becoming more the case. Part of the problem is that while men are called to be the leaders, they are called to be the priests of their family. But, as Rich Murphy writes: “We don’t have a submission problem in our church, we have a leadership problem. In many families, the woman is de facto head of the house, because the man isn’t. Why? Because men haven’t been taught how to be men. Our society has drawn a picture of men as bumbling, incompetent idiots who need a woman to show them how to pour water out of a boot. Don’t believe me, just look at any sitcom on television today.”
Ken Broussard notes: “He takes responsibility for his children’s faith, “training them up in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). In Ephesians 6:4, God puts the responsibility on the man, the father, to make sure his children are raised on the teachings of God and in a Godly environment.” Men, are called to be the leaders, called to set the tone, to take the responsibility. It may seem easy, but Jesus hardly ever just told people, “do this, do that”, but went to such trouble, pain and effort to live the life that we should be living, Jesus shows us that being the father is not “select and direct”, it is to deal with the hard situations, to do our best, not for ourselves, but for our family, to take a tough situation and overcome it. Chuck Swindoll tells the following story: ““The colorful, nineteenth-century showman and gifted violinist Niccolo Paganini was standing before a packed house, playing through a difficult piece of music. A full orchestra surrounded him with magnificent support. Suddenly one string on his violin snapped and hung gloriously down from his instrument. Beads of perspiration popped out on his forehead. He frowned but continued to play improvising beautifully.
To the conductor’s surprise, a second string broke. And shortly thereafter, a third. Now there were three limp strings dangling from Paganini’s violin as the master performer completed the difficult composition on the one remaining string. The audience jumped to its feet and in good Italian fashion filled the hall with shouts and screams. As the applause died down, the violinist asked the people to sit back down. Even though they knew there was no way they could expect an encore, they quietly sank back into their seats. He held the violin high for everyone to see. He nodded at the conductor to begin the encore and then he turned back to the crowd. With a twinkle in his eye, he smiled and shouted, ‘Paganini … and one string!’ After that he placed the single-stringed Stradivarius beneath his chin and played the final piece on one string as the audience (and the conductor) shook their heads in silent amazement. “Paganini … and one string!” And, I might add, an attitude of fortitude.” Paganini could have just given up, caved in, admitted defeat everyone kind of expected him to. Instead he took the setbacks, and created from that, overcame and triumphed in a way people still marvel at. Guys, that’s what we’re called to do for our families and Christ.
God tells Job in our reading today: “Dress for action like a man.” Job could have whined, blamed and accused, just bail out as his wife suggested. But he didn’t he hung in, he stood tough. In our Gospel reading we see the story of Jesus and the disciples caught in a storm. If you look at your order of worship under “sermon”, you will see a picture I took in a museum in Capernaum. It is of a fishing boat that has been determined to date back to the time of the disciples and thought to be much like the boat the disciples and Jesus were in. I see that picture and I’m still amazed that they didn’t just get pitched out of that boat, or it didn’t break up and everyone drowned. The fact that they didn’t is a miracle by itself, the second more dramatic miracle is of course Jesus calming the storm. You have to be in a real rock and roll storm on the water to appreciate this story. We were on a small work boat, about 25 feet. We had been at Boston Light and were taking five electronic technicians back to Boston after spending the day working on the lighthouse. The radio all of a sudden starts squawking, everyone on the water had something to say a massive thunderstorm had descended on Boston Harbor and looking to the east we could see this kind of blue/green evil looking colored group of clouds coming out of where we had to go into. My very long time brother and I were used to bad weather, but the rain got so dense you couldn’t see five feet ahead of the boat and the lightning strikes were so close you could hear the crash on the water and smell the ozone. Our passengers were completely freaked. None of them had any real experience in small boats and certainly not with the crashing and booming that was going on around us. This was a small boat, only meant to carry people and equipment to a workplace. Didn’t have radar, although it wouldn’t have helped, it wasn’t grounded for lightning, no GPS or LORAN, none of the equipment he and I were used to on a standard Search and Rescue/Law Enforcement boat. The other guys were huddled together, but we didn’t have that choice, we had to find a way through the storm and get the people we had to safety, despite the difficulty, to push through the danger.
That is what we expect of men in today’s world and particularly Christian men. Sure most of us are never going to be on a creaky wooden boat in the middle of a large lake or an aluminum one in Boston Harbor. But I’m sure most of the guys here know what I’m talking about, doesn’t take much for a storm to swoop in and you have a bunch of people freaking out around you and you know that you have to stay calm and strong and find a way through the storm. David was a man, a man after God’s own heart and a man who royally messed some things up, but also a man who has been truly admired throughout history as a great general, great statesman, poet we still read 3,000 years later. Not so great father and husband. He could have given up, cut everyone loose, hey he’s the king. But he stood against the storm around him, he writes: “…if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive… then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. Blessed by the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.” (Psalm 124).
I know what David is talking about, I’ll bet most if not all the guys here know what he’s talking about. David had to deal with a lot, he had to overcome a lot, some of it self-inflicted, but he did not give up, God did not give up on him and David trusted that God would forgive, overcome and get David to where he had to be. I bet God told David to “dress for action like a man” and I’ll bet he’s told many guys who are here that same thing.
Guys, dads, we’re not called to be popular. We’re not called to be everyone’s favorite person, often we have to do things that don’t endear us to our wife or children. Often we have to do what is necessary to protect and do it in a way that’s often not gentle, even upsetting. We are called to and have to stand for those things that are important, but maybe not popular. Frankly the way many women and children treat men today is not just disrespectful, but downright rude. A Christian man should never, ever respond in kind, our response is to provide, comfort and sometimes even defend, and that’s what we are expected to do, even when we’re treated rudely. Remind you of anyone? The way Jesus was treated. That’s why men are expected to be the priests in their home, to be the ones who stand up and take the hits and accept the fact that might be treated disrespectfully for the things they had to do because they upset someone else’s gentle sensibilities. You can’t get upset over it or choose to run away, accept it and move on as Jesus did.
So guys, since you are all big, tough, self-sacrificing Christian men, who I sincerely hope God blesses for your strength and courage, I have a challenge for you. I hope all the guys will take up the challenge, will come and meet at the next Men’s Network breakfast to discuss and will sign this pledge. All the guys should have a photo-copy of this, and it doesn’t matter if you’re fifteen or eighty, you’re still a Christian guy, if you accept this resolution, sign and return the photocopy to me, I will make sure you get a handsome original, suitable for framing and you will be the faithful, self-sacrificing priest of your home and a hero to your wife, children, grand-children etc and despite the popular characterization, will stand against the world that works constantly at trying to tear down Christian men. As godly men, trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ, remembering how He lived His life as an example and as a sacrifice to save us all, we too are called to live our life in Christ, trusting in Him and not in the world’s opinions.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.