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Summary: We need to come back to a biblical theology of fatherhood. God very clearly says that dads are to be difference-makers by leading and loving their wives and kids. Fellow fathers, it’s my prayer that through our study of God’s Word together that we might

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Fathers Who Lead

Happy Father’s Day, dads! While there will be no records set today for long-distance phone calls, few sentimental cards given, and certainly no flowers handed out after the service, it’s still a good day because we have a free book we want to give to every man here ("The Man in the Mirror" by Patrick Morley) ­ you’ll receive a copy as you leave.

I read something this week entitled 50 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be a Man. I won’t read all of them but I did put together my own top-10 list:

10 You know stuff about tanks.

9 You can go to the bathroom without a support group.

8 If someone forgets to invite you to something he can still be your friend.

7 You can drop by to see a friend without bringing a little gift.

6 If another guy shows up at the same party in the same outfit, you might become lifelong buddies.

5 One wallet, one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.

4 There is always a game on somewhere.

3 Your pals can be trusted never to trap you with, “So…notice anything different?”

2 If something mechanical doesn’t work, you can bash it with a hammer and throw it across the room.

1 You can do your nails with a pocketknife.

There are some obvious advantages to being a man, aren’t there? I want to start this morning with some encouraging news about dads. The National Center for Fathering has recently declared, “a fatherhood awakening,” citing evidence that men are rediscovering what it means to be a father. Here are 2 rather surprising facts:

In the past 25 years, the number of dads present at their children’s births has risen from 27% to more than 90 percent today.

More than 75% of men say they would trade rapid career advancement for more time with their families.

And yet, even with this good news, Time magazine, in an issue called, “The Hottest Jobs of the Future,” lists fatherhood as one of the occupations that will disappear in the next century. This is what the article says: “Between in-vitro fertilization and cloning, dads could become dinosaurs.” (5/22/00)

Joe Maxwell, writing on the web site called ibelieve.com, summarizes the state of fatherhood in an article entitled, “Dads: The New Endangered Species.” Here’s what he says: “In other words, guys really want to be good dads more than ever, but they aren’t changing much. When the good news is combined with the bad, it seems that fatherhood in the United States is poised for either a great awakening or a gory collapse.”

I think he’s right. Dads, we’re either headed toward a spiritual stirring or we’re looking at becoming an endangered species. While most Americans have not bought into the ‘daddies are dinosaurs’ rhetoric, I think there is a growing ambivalence about the importance of fathers in our culture.

We need to come back to a biblical theology of fatherhood. God very clearly says that dads are to be difference-makers by leading and loving their wives and kids. Fellow fathers, it’s my prayer that through our study of God’s Word together that we might experience a great awakening ­ in both our person and in our parenting!

Cultural Background

Our primary passage is a short one ­ but it packs a wallop! Please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Before we unpack this verse, I want to begin by giving some background. In the first century, when this passage was written, families were presided over by fathers who could do whatever they pleased in their homes.

Rome had a law called patria potestas, which meant “the father’s power.” Men who were Roman citizens were given absolute property rights over their families. By law, the children and the wife were regarded as the patriarch’s personal chattel, and he could do with them what he wished. A displeased father could disown his children, sell them into slavery, or even kill them if he wished.

When a child was born, the baby was placed between the father’s feet. If the father picked up the baby, the child stayed in the home. If he turned and walked away, the child was either left to die or sold at auction. Seneca, a contemporary of the apostle Paul, described Roman policy with regard to unwanted animals: “We slaughter a fierce ox; we strangle a mad dog; we plunge a knife into a sick cow. Children born weak or deformed we drown.”

Friends, things are not much better today, are they? Millions of unwanted babies are aborted each year. Children have become a disposable commodity in our society, just as they were in ancient Rome.

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