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Summary: Father’s Day Message 2002 -- Four Characteristics for Fathers

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BEING A VISIONARY FATHER IN A SHORT-SIGHTED WORLD

MATTHEW, CHAPTERS 1 AND 2

INTRODUCTION: According to the New Jersey Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, in 1960 the total number of births to teenagers was 11,636. In 2000, the number of births to teenagers was 8,219. A first glance would say we are doing something right, yet a little more scrutiny reveals a trend that is frightening. In 1960 8.8% or 2,003 of those births were to unmarried teens, with 9,633 births to teens that were married, compared with 89.4% or 7,350 births to unmarried teens in 2000, and only 869 births -- a mere 10.6% to teens married. During this same time period the divorce rate has gone from 115 per thousand marriages in 1960 to 508 per thousand marriages in 2000. A fatherless home today is 3 times more likely to be a home in poverty.

Education is not the answer – according to a recent article in the Burlington County times, New Jersey ranks 2nd in the nation, just behind New York, spending an average of over $ 10,000 per child, per year, yet domestic violence offenses have gone from just under 51,000 in 1990 to just under 78,000 in 2000, and cases of child abuse cases totaled 39,276 in 1999.

In his book "Life Without Father", David Pepenoe, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, says:

"The decline of fatherhood is one of the most unexpected and extraordinary social trends of our time. Nearly 50% of American children go to sleep each evening without being able to say goodnight to their dads."

"There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was more common than it is today, but death was to blame - not divorce, desertion or out of wedlock births. Most of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood. Who would have ever thought so many of them would choose to relinquish those responsibilities?"

"A surprising suggestion emerging from recent social-science research is that it is decidedly worse for a child to lose a father in the modern, voluntary way than through death. The children of divorced and never married mothers are less successful by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers. And there is reason to believe that having an unmarried father is even worse for a child than having a divorced father."

The absence of good fathers is detrimental to society itself. The absence of a good father hobbles the church as well. Father’s in particular, and men in general are the backbone of church leadership.

It is sad to say that our world has become increasingly myopic with regard to the importance of fathers, and it is about high time the church enters the debate, not with words, but with action. And men, today I want to challenge you in this area. So wives, pray for your husband beside you. Women, pray for the men in your lives and the men in this church. Buckle your seatbelt and prepare to embark ….

4 Characteristics Of A Visionary Father:

1. CHARACTERISTIC #1 – A VISIONARY FATHER CONSIDERS THE NEEDS OF HIS WIFE – MATT 1:20

Matthew 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

A. A GOOD FATHER WILL SHOW HIS CHILDREN THAT THEIR MOTHER IS IMPORTANT

Ephes. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

1. What part of “love your wife” do you not understand?

2. Notice the type of love – in the same manner as Christ loved the church!

a. Christ did what is best for the church

b. Christ put the needs of the church beyond his own needs

c. Christ gave up his own rights for the rights of the church

d. Perhaps that is why the church is called “His bride”!

B. IMPORTANCE GOES BEYOND THE MATERIAL PROVISIONS

1. Joseph is a carpenter in occupied territory.

2. The material provision he provided were far less than many others could.

3. Material provisions for our family are important, but not to the extent we make them.

4. More important is the spiritual and emotional needs of our families.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard people speak of the depression, and then tell me they were poor, but did not know it! Their parents never harped on what they do did not have, but rather on what they did have!

C. JOSEPH CARED FOR HIS CHILDREN BY CARING FOR THEIR MOTHER BEFORE THEY WERE EVER BORN

1. It is easy to spend so much energy on your children that your marriage suffers

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