by Pastor Art Ferry
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Text: Ephesians 6:1-4
There's an old country song that says; "What a you going to do when the well runs dry?" Do you know what the retort is to in this song? "I'm going to set right down & cry"
There has been a lot of times in the ministry that I've felt like that. I've thought, "Man, my well is dry. What do I do now, where do I reach? And it is sure easy to set right down & cry.
What do you pull on when you come to the end of your rope? Where do you go. Sometimes God just forces us to our knees, & to prayer. It's all we can do when the well runs dry. Some of us reach for the Word of God. I go right to the middle, the book of Psalm.
What do you do when the well runs dry? Where do you reach? I reach for the Word, & prayer and the inner Spirit, but I have one more place that I reach, & that is what I want to talk about today.
There are so many times in my life in the ministry that I have to reach back to legacy, to heritage. You did not have the privilege of knowing my father.
But I want you to know that he is my legacy. He is the gift of heritage to my life. I cannot count the number of times that I have had to reach back & take a chunk of that legacy just to make it thru one more day.
All of us our busy with a multitude of things. Pastors have many things to do. You have many things to do. But let us not forget that although we are investors in many busy things, we are also investors in the next generation. We are building a legacy that someone else might draw upon. Susana Wesley, a lot of different reports about her life. The count on the number of children she had ranges all the way up to 17. Some people say she lost in death several & reared 9, 2 of whom were John & Charles. I can imagine her finally having right up to here with all of that, especially since history records for us that her husband was almost no help at all.
Can't you just see her packing her bags in the bedroom one night, throwing everything & saying, "Lord, I wanted a family not an orphanage, I quit!" Aren't you glad Susana Wesley didn't do that? Of course God had come to her & said, "now stick with it because 2 of these boys are going to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ" NO! All she knew was that God had called her to be a Godly parent. And she built a legacy.
I think of my father as I stand here this Father's Day & think of how valuable that legacy has been to me.
What I would like to talk to you about in the few moments we have is about my being a father who accepts the joyous responsibility of building a legacy.
Would you open your Bibles please to Eph. 6. There is a verse in Eph. 6 that you might have missed. You probably missed it because you have been teaching your children the first 3 verses. You call it brain-washing them at an early age. Eph. 6 vs. 1. How many of you taught your children this early on? Many of us. "Children, children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor thy father & mother, which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Period, selah. Shred the rest of the book. That's all we needed.
Keep reading!! Vs. 4 "And fathers,..." How many fathers are here this morning? "And fathers do not..." & I think the Greek is very colorful here. "And fathers do not bring anger up along side of your children." but rather "bring them up in the discipline & instruction, in the nurture, the tender nurture & admonition of the Lord" Bring them up in the same environment that God would bring them up in.
Produce a Godly atmosphere, greenhouse for these tender children, plants, to be born along to bear fruit. We need to face the fact this morning that we as parents will build a legacy. The commitment I want you & I to come to today is not whether you & I will build a legacy. WE WILL BUILD A LEGACY!!
The issue is WHAT KIND OF LEGACY WILL YOU BUILD? And this command from God to us as fathers shows both sides clearly. You'll either build a legacy where anger is brought up along side your children to destroy them. We either build a legacy of an angry child or we build a legacy of a child who was reared in the atmosphere of God.
That's the choice. Not rather or not you'll build a legacy, but what kind. Grand-parents, grand-fathers, this applies to you & me as well.
I. The Pattern for Building a Godly Legacy
The first thing that I want us to see is that there is a certain pattern to building a godly legacy. You see, chapter 6 vs. 4 looks backwards all the way up thru the text. I don't know about you, but the most spooky thing that I have had in life, is parenting. The thing that I feel most guilty about all the time is, guess what? Parenting.
If I'm setting in a service & a guy gets up & says we are going to talk about family & we are going to talk about being a godly parent. I literally shrink on the spot. Maybe the guy can't preach his way out of a wet paper bag. That doesn't make any difference. Parenting is tough.
There is a very important biblical pattern for building a legacy. In fact, parenthood is the 3rd step in the pattern. I want you to reflect back with me to the previous context. The context begins in Eph. 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, ... but be filled with the Spirit" Be controlled by the Spirit of God which issues immeasurable standards of Spirit control. I just want us to remind ourselves that the first step in the pattern of a legacy is not what kind of a parent I am, it is what kind of a person I am? Parenthood begins with personhood.
I just want you to know that the question that our children are asking, is not, what does my dad do, what kind of business is he in? Or how big it is. I want you to know that our children keep watching & asking WHAT KIND OF PERSON IS THIS? Personhood, personhood, personhood. It is the first step in every endeavor. The issue of life is not credentials! The issue of life is character! And are you & I the kind of parents who have granted the Spirit full run of our lives that He might do all that He would do? If there is no issue we keep covered from Him, that He is in absolute control & we take our signals from one place, & that's from the Spirit of God. Personhood is the first & most vital issue. And what I find most interesting is that you can't skip from personhood to parenthood, because the text doesn't start with parenthood after it says be a Spirit controlled person. The very first application of your personhood is where? Is it that you don't want to admit it? It's partnership. Where is the very first place that it is tested in my personhood? It's the way I treat my spouse. The way I treat my wife.
For those of you fathers who never got passed the text "wives submit", there is a following text that's quite important. "Husbands love your wives" Do you realize that one of the great needs in a child's life, is how dad is treating mom. That their whole security is wrapped up in how tight the partnership is between mom & dad. I want you to notice that the pattern in this text is not insufficient. The first thing in legacy is personhood & we pour that personhood into our partnership by loving our wives. And there are 2 models. This is important. Paul said, "Love your wife as Christ loved the church" Do you know what that means? Let's try some words on for size.
It means with sacrifice, meeting her needs, sacrificing my own dreams, time & agenda. Let's try the word sensitivity. Being sensitive to her needs. Try on the word, unconditionally. That means that even when she rides thru the window on a broom.[pause]
The commitment to your personhood being poured into that partnership is there. You see, my love for my wife is not conditioned on her. It is the outgrowth of the Spirits control of my life. Why do you love your wife. BECAUSE SHE DESIRES IT? What a yoyo experience that is going to be. We love our wives because our personhood demands that we do what God told us to do. And we are controlled by the Spirit of God. And we love our wives like Christ loved the Church.
God must have known how thick we are, He gave us 2 examples. He said if you don't come to grips with that, loving your wife as Christ loved the Church, then do it the way you love yourself, the text says. How do you love yourself? You say, "I don't love myself. I have a terrible self image. In fact, I've been undergoing counciling for months now for my self image." See how much you love yourself! I have never met a person that does not love themselves. You are to love your wife as you love yorself. How do you love yourself. Well, I love myself tenderly and eagerly! When I have a need, I meet it just like that [snap fingers].
A few years ago I was on a plane to Newark, N.J. On that plane, as I was about to set down, I accidently set down on an arm rest. I immediately got up, but not guick enough. The additional pressure on my pants proved to be too much. The seat rest did not give, my pants did. Do you know what my first thought was? It was to get my boss to quit laughing. Do you really want to know what my first thought was, "What can I do to help myself" & I've never felt so helpless in all my life. You know usually in the worse situation you have a couple of options. I said, "what am I going to do" I didn't have needle or thread, no staples [you who have worked in offices I am sure have used them] I made my way back to the rest room. I rode their for an hour & 20 min. Do you know how small they are. I took off my pants & I looked to see what I could do. I didn't say, "Oh, how terrible. I'll just wait till I get to Newark & then I take care of it." No, no. When I had my need, it was right NOW!!! Tender, eager. That's how we run the partnership.
We meet our wives needs tenderly & eagerly the way we love ourselves. And then having be committed to personhood & flowing my personhood to partnership, then the partnership tackles the spooky responsibility called parenthood. Now, we are in Chapter 6, verse 4. And He says fathers, step 3 in the process is to be a godly parent. "provoke not your children to wrath" Do you know how that happens?
That happens because our children just get born into our family with these wide eyed expectations, that I as a father am going to meet their needs. Can you imagine being so arigent & presumsous as to think, that I as their father sent from God to meet their needs. They just land with those kind of expectations. Nobody has to teach it to them.
But then suddenly they reach out for dad--they have their needs--& they find out that dad's not there. That dad is distant, that dad doesn't care. There is the pattern first of all of being disappointed & if it matures they become discouraged. It can bring them to a point of dispondentcy. And soon anger crouches by the threshold of their life. I think the best thing to do is to talk about how not to bring anger up alongside our children's life if we are going to build a godly legacy. I learned something a few years ago. I have been in management in a large company. I have held some very important jobs, done some very important work, met some very important people, a few of which I could call friend, gone to many important places.
But I found out that my children are not impressed with who I am or where I go or the business card I carry in my pocket. You are not going to believe this. My children are not impressed that I am a minister. Do you know what would impress my children, or grand-children. That I would set down & watch the Bulls defeat the Lakers. I woke up to something a little late in life. I woke up to the fact that my children are only impressed with one thing from me. Do you know what that is? My time & attention. PERIOD. That's it!!
You see, that's what they expect. They expect that this big fellow, is God's gift for them. They are terribly selfish. And they ought to be. They ought to be. I'll tell you what discourages my children & grand-children, they get real discouraged when I'm too busy. When I'm too serious. When I'm too big. When I too bitter. When I'm too bothered. That's what sets cancer free in the legacy. TOO BUSY! TOO BUSY! When I worked in the secular world and my children were at home, I worked hard. I would even bring work home with me & do reports & drawings at home. And how many time my children have come to me "Dad, let's go play basketball, let's do this or that, & I would say, 'I'm too busy."
Then we had people we knew who lost their son. And as I drove home that night & I looked down at the work that I had brought home, & then as I drove into the drive way, I looked at the basketball goal. Out in the backyard, next to the old garage, & the grass growing up, where children should be playing.
I hated that work I carried home that night. I hated it. That basketball goal represented my time with my children. My friends had just lost their child & I walked into the house that night and I said, "Scott, lets play some basketball." And he said, "Not now, I'm busy." I can tell you that it has been at times just like that that I have had to reach back for my legacy. You see, my father was a workaholic. He was the shop foreman in a Chevy garage. I use to hate garages. And I remember far more than once when my dad got a chance to get away from working on cars that I said, "Dad, I need some help with my bike, or my car or what ever." And he would put on his work cloths & come out & spend time with me. Helping me, showing me, guiding me, but most of all spending time with me.
How many times have I had to reach back to take a chunk of that legacy & remember a dad who took time with me. And God used it with me to say, "Spend time with your children." Too busy, too busy, oh, we are so busy. What kind of legacy are we building? Too serious. Oh we get so serious. I'll tell I finally learned, you have got to stay light on your toes in this thing called ministry. But that is true of all things. If you don't you are going to end up in an institution. How many times when I have been bottomed out that I have had to reach back for a legacy that my parents built for me. My dad was always funny. He would play jokes on almost anyone. It was fun watching the other people getting caught in one of dad's jokes.
How many times I have reached back & learned to laugh. And to have some fun with life. Pity the poor children that grow up in our houses that are so serious. They want to laugh. And they will laugh. Keep them laughing at the right things. "Fathers prevoke not your children to discouragement", build a legacy that they can reach back for. Too big, too important, too adult. Do you know what my children wanted me to do when they were little. They wanted me to climb into their world. Oh, but I'm too big! Too adult! I'm too important! Riding piggy back in the house. Daddy, let's play piggy back. I wish a thousand times I had that opportunity back. I want you to know one thing, I never sensed in my dad that he was too big to play in my world. Never. How many times I've had to reach back. I remember my first airplane trip & when I came home Louise told me that Scott had been very sad. He had said, "Mom, what happens if daddy's plane crashes." She is trying to settle him down, you know that's all she needs to hear, but she's trying to be a good mom.
Finally in desparation he says, "Mom, you don't understand, if daddy's plane crashes, whose going to wrestle with me" Who's going to wrestle with him? I'm thinking my importance is in paying the bills, putting groceries on the table, shoes on his feet, & he took a lot of shoes. One thing loomed large in that little boys mind, wrestling time on the rug with that boy. And he doesn't care that he can't beat you up. You're never too big for that.
Do you know what I love about my Father in heaven. Some of you are saying, "I don't have much of a lagacy!" You do in heaven. Your Father in heaven provides that legacy. I call my son on the phone & I say, "Hello, Scott, this is your earthly father" & I'm sure he appreciates that. Look, God did not stand up in heaven and say, "Look, I'm the Almighty God. The great Jehovah, Elshadie. Come up to this world or your not going to make it. Do you know what my Father in heaven did, He climbed right down into my world. And He met me right where I am. That's what my Father did for me. What a legacy. And He took me by the hand & He walks me through every season & every stage until He finally & ultimately lifts me to His world, forever. A legacy.
If God the Father is not too big for me, if He climbs into my world & meets me where I am, MUST I NOT DO THAT FOR MY CHILDREN? Take them by the hand & slowly play with them, & walk with them all the way through each season till they go to their own world, & carry the legacy with them. Too bothered.
My dad had lots of reasons to be bothered about me. I remember a friend of mind who parents were bothered almost as much as mine. He had an argument one day as to weather a cherry bomb's fuses would go out under water. They don't! You can't put a fuse out under water. The arguement worsened & down the hall to the bath room they went, dropped it in the toilet and after the explosion the opened the bathroom door to see a thousand pieces of porcelene & only the plumbing hole left in the floor. This friend's parents knew just when and when not to get up tight.
My father was never too bothered, he kept the pressure off. And when my boy got into trouble, well, I just reached back & got hold of that legacy. And you remember how your dad treated you. Never too bothered. I tell you, we really crank our kids down into a vise don't we? And turn it tight, tight, tight. Is it us, is it that our whole reputation rides on how good our children are. Forget it! Worry about how good a dad you are. That's about all you can control anyway. And know how to choose your issues carefully. And know when knot to get uptight. And know when to get up tight. My dad was never too bothered.
You say, your times up & you never got to the good stuff. That is the good stuff. Do you know what I know about my Lord. He's never too busy. That is what the Lord is like. That is what it is like to raise someone like the Lord would. My Lord is never too busy, He is never to serious-------He would have done away with me a long time ago. My Lord is never too big. He comes to my world & meets me here.
And my Lord is never too bothered. Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy. I just want you to know something, I been reaching back a lot lately. Drawing on the legacy. Drawing on the legacy. And I thank God for parents who built a legacy for my life. When my well is dry, I can reach back & find a memory. I thank God for a father who was like God the Father to me.
Folks, busy aren't we. Don't be too busy to build a legacy, and it starts with what kind of person you are, poured into what kind of a partner you are, given as a gift as a parent to our children. Build a legacy.
Lets pray. Father, I pray that by your Spirit You would help us, for we need Your help. We get so caught up, turn up, inside out, priority rearranged, pride standing up & getting in the way & we need Your help. Help us Father to build for the next generation & parent for a productive future & grant our children the greatest gift that we can give them, the legacy of our Father in heaven. Help us in Jesus name. Amen
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