Turning Hearts to the Children
In many ways God has blessed our nation. We are world leaders in many areas including economy, medicine, science and military might. However, there is one area that is a shame that we are world leaders: fatherless-ness. Tonight more than 40% (25 million) of our children will go to bed without a father in the home. In Kansas City more than 160,000 children are growing up in homes without their fathers.
When God gave the children of Israel the Ten Commandments it was clear that the consequences of a father's rebellion would follow the generations just as the blessings would follow a father's obedience (Exod 20:5). In the book of Isaiah God pronounced a judgment on Jerusalem and Judah (Isa 3:1-13). As a result of that judgment, the men in leadership would be removed and calamity and disorder would result.
Today, as we survey the spiritual and social condition of our nation both in the urban core and the suburbs we see the consequences of men who have abandoned their biblical leadership roles as fathers. For their children, the price is high. These children face an increased likelihood of poverty, violence, low educational achievement, teenage pregnancy, crime, substance abuse and suicide. It is time for the hearts of these fathers to be turned back to their children (Mal 4:6), and towards the fatherless children of our nation (Ps 68:5).
The Foundation of Fathering
How important is the role of the father to the scriptures? There are 1,570 individual citations and derivatives for the words father, fathers and fatherless in the scriptures. Although a majority of these citations are used in genealogical sequencing, a significant number give insight into the biblical role a father.
The very foundation of fathering is God. Before the foundations of this earth God the Father begot the Son. God the Father created man. God called man to fatherhood when He commanded him to be fruitful and multiply. Then when the nature of man was corrupted by sin, God charged fathers to keep His law and instruct their children (Duet 6: 6-9, Gal 3:24).
And though God is infinite in power and love, infallible in wisdom and holiness, exalted in honor and majesty, He chose to reveal himself as Abba, Father (Gal 4:6). Abba is an Aramaic term that compares to our word for Daddy, a term used to describe a very personal and loving relationship. This is the foundation of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, who is the model of the Abba Heart of Fathering.
What does the Abba (Daddy) Heart of God look like?
* He is the Father who is faithful and never changes (Heb 13:5, Mal 3:16).
* He is the Father that is the embodiment of love, who loves us at our worse (1 John 4:8, Rom 5:8).
* He values us and carries a picture of us on His hands (Isa 43:16, 49:16).
* He is the Father who will commune with us (Exod 25:22).
* He knew us even before we were born (Jer 1:5).
* He is the Father who is available day and night because He doesn't even sleep (Eph 2:18, Ps 122: 1).
* He is so closely involved in our lives even our hairs are numbered (Matt 10:30).
* He is the Father who provides our needs for provision and security (1 Tim 6:17, Ps. 91:14).
* He also just blesses us with good gifts (Matt 7:11).
* He is the Father who trains us in righteousness.
* He disciplines for our own good because He loves us (Heb 12:7-12).
The Biblical role of a Father
The biblical role of the father is to represent God to our children. This is impossible to fulfill without the grace of God. This grace is the desire to father and the power to do it. As Christians, we must reject any worldview of fathering that does not embrace the blue print for fathering, which is the Word of God.
Biblical fatherhood begins at the cross. Through the work of His Son, God has invited us to Sonship (Gal 4:6). Once reconciled to God we begin the ministry of reconciliation. One key relationship a father must reconcile is his relationship with his own father.
A biblical father must be a stable leader first in his own life and then with his family (I Tim 3:4). As fathers we cannot lead our families somewhere we have never been. Perfection is not a requirement but honesty and effort is necessary. The Abba Heart of Fathering The way for fathers to have an Abba Heart for their children is to do what our Heavenly Father does for them. Following is a list derived from the high standards of the scriptures. All the past and current empirical research supports the effectiveness of these same standards.
Below are the abbreviated version of the High Five of Fathering:
1. Love (1 Cor 13:4-5)
* Verbally and physically express your love to your child.
* Love is spelled T-I-M-E, so make your child a priority.
* Let your face reflect sincere joy when you interact with your child.
2. Communication (James 1:19)
* The goal in listening is to better know and understand your child.
* The goal in speaking is to encourage, teach and help your child to know you.
* Make time to listen with your full attention and take time to talk.
3. Availability (Duet 6:7)
* Engage your child in activities inside and outside your child's world.
* Give your children access to you at work or through your schedule.
* Be involved in the routine daily care of your children.
4. Provision (1 Tim 5:8)
* Protect your children.
* Show them to be peacemakers.
* Provide for your children.
* Show them to put God first in their finances.
* Pamper your children.
* Ask God to help you provide for their emotional needs.
5. Training (Prov 22:6)
* Pray and bless your child.
* Teach them the Word.
* Don't rely on others to fulfill your responsibility at church or school for teaching your children.
At the end of this life we will all be judged by how we represented God to others. Many of us have visited the sick, the captive and have provided for the poor, but God's Abba Heart of Fathering, asks what have you done for the fatherless? Let us work together to reap a harvest of Abba Heart fathers who have turned to their children and the fatherless to re-ignite a new wave of evangelism and discipleship in this city.