Father’s Day is a very special day for us here at Britton Christian Church. I believe that it is vitally important for us to develop a three-fold ministry to the men of our church and this community. First, we must call the men to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. Second, those men who have taken a stand for Jesus must be encouraged to enlist in a strong discipleship program so that they can go out and fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples. Third, we must teach our men how to pray – how to commit their time to drawing near to the holy presence of God on a regular basis. A consistent and dedicated prayer life is the power supply for any Christian man. If we, as the men of Britton Christian Church, will make this commitment then we will see God use us as change agents in our homes, church, and community.
My passion for reaching men for the Kingdom of God is kindled by a real crisis that we are experiencing in our land today. Throughout history God has given men the charge of being the protectors of society-both from a spiritual and physical standpoint. Men, God has set us up as the watchmen on the wall of the city to guard the spiritual and physical well being of those within our realm of influence. A good soldier never leaves his post, but what we are experiencing today is a mass exodus of men from our homes, churches, and communities. While the city wall is being vacated by the watchmen the Enemy continues his march in conquest of the city.
This past week I saw three glaring examples of this crisis. I was at Kids Across America for a few days this past week and while I was there I attended an “open mike” session for all of the adults who took kids to camp. A big, strong man from New Orleans stood up and urged us to never give up on the kids. He said, “I am one of these kids. I was labeled as learning disabled when I was a child. I got into trouble. I was raised by my great aunt and great uncle who loved me very much and knew they had to get me out of my neighborhood. Because of their love for me and God’s grace I graduated from high school, went to college, and God changed my life.”
He began to choke up as he told us about his father. He said, “I’ve only seen my father three times in my life. I know where he lives – he lives in Houston, but he’s never wanted anything to do with me. When I was a teenager he came to see me for the first time, but it was only to let me know that he didn’t want his wife to know that I even existed. He has four daughters from his marriage, but when he got ill and thought he was dying he called me to take care of him.” This big hunk of a man cried before all of us as you could see his broken heart on display.
Where was the man who was given the charge by God to stand watch over the heart of his little boy? Why did his father leave his post and allow the Enemy to invade?
On Monday I left Kids Across America to go to St. Louis to meet with other leaders from our denomination in the Bethany Project. One of the issues we tackled was the graying of the ministers of our denomination and the lack of strong young leaders coming into the ministry. If we do not fervently pray for God to send laborers then this will be a major crisis in the future when we don’t have pastors to lead our churches.
One young man who is part of our group spoke up and said, “I don’t have any good male role models in the ministry who could share their wisdom and mentor me. One of the ministers in my community who has been a leader has recently left the ministry for improper behavior and I really feel angry about it. ” He said, “I got to thinking about how starved I am for older men in the ministry who could share their wisdom with me and I feel alone. I looked at my ordination certificate the other day and every minister who signed my certificate is now out of the ministry except for one.”
Where are the sentries God has set on the wall of the Church to guard the physical and spiritual well being of the members of the Body of Christ? Where are the mighty men of God in the church who refuse to play games with God and take a stand for the Kingdom? Where are God’s men who will willingly serve as spiritual pacesetters for the young people?
On my last day back at camp after having spent four days in St. Louis a young woman who was a sponsor for several kids spoke. She said, “I am not like most of you. I went to private schools. I attended the best college money could buy. I will tell you that all of that didn’t matter. It was only when I discovered my need for Jesus that things began to change in my life.” She told how her father had abandoned the family for two years and left them all alone while he was off doing other things. She is still battling the bitterness and anger that took root in her life during that period.
Men, when the post is vacated heartache, sorrow, and destruction can’t help but make their siege on the city walls of the home, church, and community. What has happened to us? What is happening in our society?
I will tell you what has happened. The bar has been lowered. The high standard that God calls men to as the protectors and providers of the blessing of spiritual vitality and hope have been discarded. We’ve seen men who have gone before us vacate their posts and so the seed was planted in our own hearts. A seed that left unchecked will grow and lead us down the same path. The seed of abandonment must be brought to the altar of Almighty God so that he can remove the seed of abandonment and replace it with the strength to stand.
This morning, for the next few minutes, I want to speak to the men of Britton Christian Church about “Breaking The Ties That Bind.” Studies show that those who were abused as children have a higher tendency to be abusers. The studies show that those who come from broken homes are more likely to see their own homes broken when they become adults. I came to offer some evidence that with Jesus you are not doomed to repeat the sins of your fathers. I came to give you hope that you can break the ties that bind you to the sins of the past.
There was an evil king in Judah who reigned on the throne from 735-714 B.C. His name was Ahaz and during his sixteen-year reign as king he implemented some of the most destructive and demonic practices in the nation of all time. The beginning of 2 Chronicles 28 gives us a synopsis of Ahaz’s life as leader of the people of Judah.
1Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. 2He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. 3He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. (2 Chronicles 28:1-4)
God had put Ahaz into place as the leader of the people. God had provided every tool necessary for Ahaz to bless the people. During Ahaz’s reign as king the prophets Isaiah and Micah were prophets in the land giving him godly counsel. Ahaz chose to go his own way, to make his own mark, and as a result he brought destruction instead of blessings upon the people and upon himself.
Ahaz had a son named Hezekiah who observed his father’s practices while he was growing up in the royal palace. Hezekiah had seen some of his brothers and sisters burned to death as a sacrifice to the god Molech in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He had watched his father exhibit total disregard for the Temple. He had seen his father set up sacred places to unholy deities. Hezekiah observed it all
If Hezekiah were living today then we would say, “Poor child, he doesn’t have a chance of making it. Look at the family he’s from. That boy is destined to live out his father’s wicked ways as sure as the world.” God had other plans for Hezekiah and Hezekiah had learned the way that he should not walk and he set his heart to break the ties that would bind him.
When Ahaz died Hezekiah set a new course for the entire nation. In Chronicles 29:1-11 Hezekiah set the course for his tenure as King.
1Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 3In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. 4He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’S dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” (2 Chronicles 29:1-11)
Hezekiah chose to break the chains that would bind him, enslave him, and sabotage the plans God had to bless him and make of him a blessing to his family, the Temple, and the nation. When Hezekiah grew up and became king he knew that he must break out of his father’s shadow and renounce his father’s ways.
There is a deep and profound lesson here for us. Children tend to repeat what they see. If a child grows up watching his father treat women with disrespect then the child grows to think that is the way a man treats the women in his life. If a child grows up watching his father abuse drugs and alcohol then the child grows up thinking that this is part of what it means to be a man. If a child grows up watching his father put himself, his job, his recreational activities, etc. before the interests of his family then the child grows up thinking this is part of what it means to be a man. If a child grows up never seeing his father humble himself before the Lord in prayer, never reading his Bible, and griping about attending worship then the child thinks that this is way a man is supposed to live his life.
I had lunch with a pastor the week before I left for camp. While we were eating lunch we were sharing our testimonies of how we came to know Christ as our Savior. He said when he was growing up that this father never participated in worship services, he never read the Bible to his children, and he never heard his father pray. His father was not disrespectful to Christians, he was apathetic. One day his father came to him and said, “You know those religious folks who always talk about God and Jesus?” The boy who is now a pastor said, “Yes.” The father said, “Son, I just wanted you to know that you shouldn’t be disrespectful to them, but there is nobody out there. There is nobody out there.”
Needless to say, my pastor friend has broken the chains. He learned that even though his father said, “There is no God” the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart that there is no God.”
For many of us here today you grew up in homes where you did not see your father worshipping God with a passion. You may have grown up in homes where there was abuse, cursing of God’s name, abandonment, unfaithfulness to your mother, and a lack of respect for God. With the legacy you have been left there has been times when you have heard a voice in your head say, “What are you doing? Who do you think you are? You will never be more than your father. You are a chip off of the old block.” You may have heard others say, “He is just like his old man. She’s got her daddies blood flowing through her veins.”
You need to know where that is coming from and how to battle it my friend. There is nothing that Satan would like more than to keep you shackled. He will use your friends, even your family to keep you bound in sin, but Jesus has come to set you free. Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36) You do not have to live the legacy of your father – you can walk in the legacy of faith left to you by your Heavenly Father.
When you hear the voice of God calling you to break the ties that bind you will come under attack from the Enemy. Not everyone will be happy with you and they will seek to put you back in your place. When this happens you need to know that you are not alone, neither are you the first to face such opposition. Hezekiah faced this demonic opposition on more than one occasion. When Hezekiah called all of Israel to come to Jerusalem and observe the Passover for the first time in 215 years in order to draw the people back to God he was met with opposition. In 2 Chronicles 30:1 we read,
1Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 30:1)
Hezekiah was excited about the people coming back to God. He was excited about taking a stand that was different than the stance of his father, but we read in verse 10 of 2 Chronicles 30,
10The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them. (2 Chronicles 30:10)
The people scorned and ridiculed Hezekiah, but Hezekiah was sold out to breaking the ties that would bind him and keep him from God’s best for him.
Not only were the common folks of his country against Hezekiah’s reforms, but the leaders of surrounding nations opposed him as well. In 2 Chronicles 32 there came a king from Assyria named Sennacherib who tried to get Hezekiah to turn back to the ways of his father, but Hezekiah had set his face towards the King of all kings.
Sennacherib sought to bully Hezekiah by threatening him with military force. Sennacherib said, “Haven’t the nations that I have conquered had their little puny gods? What makes you think that your God will have any better of chance of standing against me as their god? The people were afraid, but Hezekiah spoke to them these words,
7″Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2 Chronicles 32:7-8)
Hezekiah’s stand brought strength to the people and God’s favor upon his king. When others seek to keep you shackled by the ties that have kept you bound for too long them you need to say with Hezekiah, “There is a greater power with me than with those who would seek to keep me down! I’m coming out! I’m getting up! I’m going forward with my Father!”
I came by today to encourage you break out, lay aside the ties that bind, and seek the Lord with all of your heart. There are two groups of people here this morning I want to address directly before we dismiss. First, those of you who are fathers of small children. I want to encourage you to allow the Lord to examine your hearts. Ask Him to show you the standard you are setting for your children. Notice that I said ask Him to show you. I am convinced that every time I have sought to examine my ways I come up short of seeing what it is that God is leading me to change. I suffer from distorted vision. It is not easy to embrace our sin. It isn’t easy to rightly judge our shortcomings, our failures, and our blind spots. We need the Lord to examine our hearts as David invited God to do in Psalm 139 when he said,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24)
Allow the Lord to show you the sins of your fathers that you are repeating with your own children. Allow the Lord to direct you to break out of the ties that bind so that you can experience the freedom to leave a legacy to your children and the children that God will place in you path. When He shows you the ties that need to be broken praise Him – lift your voices and shout praise to the King of all kings for loving you enough to direct your paths to the Fountain of blessings! Commit yourself to living in what He has showed you.
The second group of people that I want to address are the young people among us. I have heard many of your stories. My heart breaks for you. Many of you are growing up without the benefit of a father in your home. Some of you are growing up with a father who lives in your house, but who is not seeking to lead you to the throne of grace. I want you to know that God is your Father. He loves you and desires His very best for you. You do not have to repeat the sins of your father. You can break out of the ties that bind you and live in the freedom that can only come from walking with Jesus.
Secondly, you need to know that you are not alone. There are many adults here at Britton Christian Church who love you deeply and want to be a part of your life. We want to teach you how you can break the ties that bind and set a new course for your life. We want to teach you how to be a disciple of Jesus, how to pour your soul out in prayer to God, and how to make a positive impact on others. You are in our prayers and we believe that you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus! The key for you and for each of us is to lay aside everything that would keep us from walking hand in hand with Jesus. The writer of Hebrews said,
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Today could be the day that you break out of the sins that have plagued you for too long and begin to live a new life in Jesus. Won’t you invite Him in?