Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

May 15, 2016 Sermon

“Boundaries:Families and Fathers”
Malachi 4:4 – 6, Ephesians 6:4, 10 – 12
Ted Jansen May 15, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        There was a study done years ago on the importance of fences as it related to children and their creativity, freedom and joy filled play.  Children’s behavior was monitored while they were at the playground with a fence in place.  They roamed all around the playground with joy and fun.  They tested the fence from time to time and enjoyed all the ground around it. 
            Another time they took the fence down and assumed that children would roam even further, exploring outside of the area that the fence enclosed.  What they observed was that the children gathered closer to the entrance and in a smaller area toward the center of the playground.  They did not venture out further than the previous boundary and actually played in a smaller area with more anxiety and not as much joy and confidence because of not having a fence.     
            The fence represented a boundary.  When it was in place, a defined boundary, the children had a sense of security, confidence, and joy.  Without the fence, the boundary, it was unknown as to what they could do, and should do as far as their play was concerned. 
 
2.)        Children, youth, and adults all have a need for boundaries in life.  These are the defined limits that can give us joy, fulfillment and security.  The truth is that we all do have boundaries as far as how much time, money, ability, strength, etc. that are a part of our lives.  We face our limits and allow joy to be experienced within those limits.    
            As we explore the topic of family life and boundaries I want us to focus on fathers.  This message will actually combine the importance of fathers, along with the importance of setting and affirming boundaries.    
            This message will have something that each person can gain from as you consider your life, your faith and your role as a man or father, or adult figure. 
 
3.)        Let’s explore the image of a fence.  A fence marks the end of the area.  A fence can mark the end of a playground or it can mark the end of your yard. 
            How many of you have a fence in your yard?   How do you determine what is your yard?  Are you comfortable with the boundary that you have with your neighbor?  Have you ever had tension with someone around a boundary in your life?  It could have been a physical one, but it might have been another type of boundary.    
           
4.)        There was a time when we were camping in Turkey Run State Park. We set up our camper and knew that we had a certain area that was “our” space.  A day later we had a Dad and his kids come and they set up their tent on an area that was in “our space.”  He must not have understood or didn’t care, or just thought it was a level spot.  I remember Sue and I having stress about having them so close to us.  We complained to the ranger because they were on our space. 
            We wanted our space and joy as we camped and we did not experience this. 
              
5.)        Fathers have a role, along with Moms, in establishing the boundaries of life for children of all ages.  So, I want to invite you to think about your experience with boundaries as it relates to your father.  Here are a few questions to consider.  These might bring up some emotions, feelings and experiences.  These are meant to invite us to think about fathers, men, and boundaries.  
            *Did you have an active father in your growing up years?
            *What rules (boundaries) do you remember being enforced? 
            *How did your father (or adult) discipline you?
            *How did your father (or adult) nurture you?
            *Did you see balance and blessing in your father (or adult)? 
 
            As you think about your father, or as your role as a father, or as your desire for a father let us see what scripture gives us some insights about.  
 
6.)        The last book we have in our Old Testament is the book of Malachi.  He was a prophet speaking a word of truth about the current life with the Israelites and the promise of the future life.
The scripture that we are looking at are the last words of the Old Testament.  “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.  See I will send the prophet, Elijah, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers;” (Malachi 4:4 – 6)
            Some translations use the word parents instead of fathers but I think this is important to focus on the fathers and their role. 
 
7.)        Malachi, inspired by God, is saying that it is important to remember the laws.  These are boundaries, the patterns for living God’s path.  We need to realize that boundaries are God given to us for a reason. 
            Then we see that God will use future prophets to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children along with turning the children’s hearts to their fathers.  
            Life works best when we have fathers and children who are facing each other and allowing God’s laws, principles and decrees to guide their lives.  We all look to God.  
           
8.)        As I thought about a father’s heart I realized that if a father’s heart is not turned towards his children what is his heart turned towards?  
            Men can turn their heart towards a lot of things, a lot of good things, but not towards their children.  Fathers can turn their hearts towards their work, the pursuit of money, pleasure, hobbies, sports, music, etc.  We need balance in order to be a man of blessing.     
            You, though, as a father, are the only father your children will have.  You have a unique role in God’s plan.  God wants your heart turned towards your children.  
 
9.)        If you are a dad what was your experience when you first saw or held your child?  My heart was touched with the miracle of life and rearranged my heart in such a way that I was filled with a love that I did not know existed for them.  God turned my heart towards them.  
            A child might be looking for a father in their life and longs for this.  That is where each of us as man can be used by God.  A child might not be turned towards their father because of distance, abuse, hurt, or all sorts of things.  They have a great need to see a father, or a father figure have their heart turned towards them. 
                
10.)      As we look at the New Testament we discover Ephesians 6:4 which says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
            I look at this verse and see three things that can help strengthen families.  Fathers, you should not nag or exert your authority for the sake of power over your children.  This is one way of understanding do not exasperate your children.  Paul says to fathers that you need to train them and instruct them. 
            You train children by giving them a pattern of life and faith.  Children are trained by what they experience.  Fathers, what is your pattern, how have you been trained?  It might be that you need some further training in life and faith.  Children learn what they see and what they hear.   
            What they hear is the instruction that you give them.  What do you believe about the faith, about Jesus Christ, the church, the Bible, current issues?  Give your children, your grandchildren the scriptural roots for your faith.   This is vital.  You are needed to guide them into your understanding of Jesus Christ and faith and what the Bible teaches.     
            Belief is what you instruct them in.  Behavior is what that belief means in a practical way.  One simple example that we believe in is tithing in our family.  We give God 10%.  We taught our children to given 10% of their money.  This was an important aspect to teach. 
What are the values that you believe in and behave in the same way?
 
11.)      Men, fathers, grandfathers, each of you has a child that wants to see and know your heart.  It might be your own child, your own grandchild, it might be a child in this church, in your neighborhood, your school.  You are needed to live out your faith, your belief for children as a way of strengthening families.   
            Men, would you be willing to be a part of our Vacation Bible School.  Children are looking to fathers and men to help them, guide them and find love and faith. Men, let God turn your hearts towards the children in your life.     
 
12.)      Here is a true story about a father’s heart. 
On December 7, 1988 an earthquake devastated a section of Armenia killing an estimated 25,000 people. 
            In one small town, just after the earthquake, a father rushed to his son's school only to find that the school had been flattened. There was no sign of life.
            But he had no thought of turning back. He had often told his son, "No matter what, I'll always be there for you when you need me!"
            Though his prospects appeared hopeless, the father began feverishly removing rubble from where he believed his son's classroom had been. Other forlorn parents only wailed hopelessly…"My son!" or "My daughter!" Some told the father to go home, that there was no chance that any of the children could be alive. Yet, he replied: "I made my son a promise that I'd be there for him anytime he needed me. I must continue to dig."
            Courageously, he worked alone; no one volunteered to help him. He simply had to know for himself: "Is my boy alive or is he dead?" Finding strength and endurance beyond himself, the faithful, loving father continued to dig...for 8 hours...12...24...36 hours. Then in the 38th hour, as he heaved away a heavy piece of rubble, he heard voices. "Armand!" he screamed.
            A child's voice responded: "Dad! It's me...Armand!" Then, "I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if you were alive, you'd save me, and when you saved me, they'd be saved. You promised you would always be there for me! You did it, Dad!"
            Moments later, the dad was helping his son Armand and 13 more frightened, hungry, and thirsty boys and girls climb out of the debris. Free at last! When the building collapsed, these children had been spared in a tent-like pocket.
            When the townspeople praised Armand's dad, his explanation was, "I promised my son, 'No matter what, I'll be there for you!'"