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Jack Graham - How Can I Be a Hero to My Kids?

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    Jack Graham - How Can I Be a Hero to My Kids?
TOPICS: Straight Up, Parenting

Today we come to a very personal and very pertinent question and that is simply: How can I as a Dad, a man, be a "Hero to My Own Kids"? In Proverbs 20 and verses 6 and 7 the Scripture says: "Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love". The suggestion here is that many are willing to say, "I'm doing a great job. I'm a good dad; I'm a good husband. I'm steadfast and faithful in my love and in my devotion". But we don't get to choose whether or not we are heroes are not! We don't get to decide if we are truly faithful men. Ultimately our families decide that for us; our friends decide that for us; our kids will decide that for us. "Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but who can find a faithful man", who can find a faithful man? "The righteous who walks in integrity-blessed are his children after him"!

A man who loves God, who walks in obedience to the Lord, who keeps his promises, the vows he made to his wife and his kids and to himself and his grandchildren. These are the real heroes of our day. We have celebrities and entertainers and athletes, even great soldiers, of course, but in my view the unsung heroes of our times or of any time are the faithful men of God who live and leave a legacy of faith and faithfulness for their families. What will you leave as a spiritual legacy for your family? Because your influence, and that's what your legacy is, that's what your leadership is. Your influence will last beyond your own children if you will make this your spiritual influence, make it the mission of your life. Not your career, not how much money you make, not the applause of the world, but make it your mission in life to be a godly man, leaving a godly legacy for your children. It's like a relay race from one generation to another.

And just as the Scripture here in Proverbs 20, 6 and 7 refers to those "children who rise up and call their dad blessed at the end of their days", so let it be that we men will pass on a legacy of life and love to our children, like we're anchoring a race for eternity. There's a great old hymn which I quoted in my book Man of God, "Rise up, O man of God; have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and voice to serve the King of kings". It's time for men to rise up! Psalm 112, verse 2 says: "His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed". Every dad needs to live and leave behind the solid values of faith and hope and love, spiritual devotion, respect and discipline, a strong work ethic!

Now, of course, we know one of the problems of our country is the breakdown of the family and the key component to the breakdown of the family in our country and in our culture is the absence of a father! Whether it is a divorced father who is gone or a disengaged father who is still at home but not involved, not interested in the spiritual values of his family. So don't be an absent father! Be present; be all the way there! And our children need strong dads, present dads because the bullets are flying everywhere! This is spiritual warfare and our kids and our grandkids are the target of the enemy! And it is our responsibility, men, to be faithful to teach them to stand strong and solid on Christ! Sometimes alone in a hostile world! We wonder how can we protect them; how can we provide for them spiritual weapons so that our own children and future generations of our families will continue to fight the good fight of faith? Who can find a faithful man? How can you be a hero to your kids? Popping out of this brief text at Proverbs 20:6 and 7 are some qualities that I believe identify a faithful man, a hero to the kids.

Number one is character. Notice the word righteous is used there which means right living, and the word integrity is given to us there. And these are descriptive words of a person's character.

Integrity, you see the word integer there, and to be a person of integrity means that you live a well integrated life. The word is wholeness. The Scripture says that you would be sanctified body, soul and spirit; that you would be more and more like Christ physically, mentally and spiritually; that men would be physically pure and mentally strong and spiritually committed. Your character has been described as that which, it's who you are when nobody is looking. Your character is who you are in the dark! Your character is the sum total of the choices that we make, or you make in life.

That's character, that's righteousness. And the first choice, obviously, that must be made if you're going to be a person of character is to choose righteousness and that righteousness is found in Christ and Christ alone. Not in human righteousness or in self-righteousness. Righteousness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to righteousness! And so when we receive Jesus, we receive His righteousness. And we stand in His righteousness alone; and therefore, we, indwelt by the Spirit, live in that same righteousness! So to be a man of character, to be a woman of character means that you are second and Jesus is first! He is Lord! Having received Him as Your Savior and Lord, you now live for Him!

Now I know that you feel the temptations of this particular generation. There's the temptation to yield and to compromise our character at every turn! The hot breath of Satan is on our necks constantly! Therefore, if we're to be men and women of character, we must so devote ourselves to Christ and strengthen ourselves in prayer and the Word of God that the allurements, the attractions of this world will not do us in.

And then there's consistency. He speaks here of being a faithful man in verse 6. Proverbs 28:20 says, "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished". A faithful man will abound with blessings. And one of my life passages given to me by my pastor, 1 Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain". Second Timothy 2:3 "Share in suffering as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ". A few good men! Most likely if you're a good soldier it means that you're not just succeeding, but you're probably doing some suffering for the cause of Christ.

Our children need to be inspired by the greatness and the goodness and the godliness of men. Men who believe boldly and live loudly! Not irresponsible men, not men who choose their own way and selfishly decide how they're going to live. You know, happiness begins where selfishness ends! If you want to be a happy man, a blessed man, and your children after you, away with the selfishness and live in a consistent way, because our kids, you know you can't kid a kid! Our kids can spot a phony a mile off!

Neal Jeffrey who's our associate pastor was telling in the earlier service when he was a student minister, as he was here at our church for a number of years, one of the biggest difficulties he dealt with, and other student ministers have told me the same thing, is the inconsistencies that our kids see at home. It's like the guy in our text. "Many proclaim their steadfast love, but who can find a faithful man" who's not only faithful down at the church but faithful at the house! And many kids walk away from the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ because they don't see consistency. Again not perfect people. Kids don't need perfect but they do need real! And the world needs real! People at your office need real! The world could care less about your relationship with Jesus! What they care about is your resemblance to Jesus!

Another word is conviction! Many say it, but men of God, faithful men, men that are heroes to their kids, they live it. Know what you believe and live it because our children know if we believe what we say we believe or if it's just pious talk! Conviction! To be resolved! And therefore to put resolution, steel into our children's lives! Because you see, our children we want them to go up in life but every child has a tendency to go down because we inherit the sinful nature of our fathers and our mothers. And so if you just do nothing, guess what's going to happen according to the book of Proverbs? You're going to raise a fool! If you just do nothing! Who's raising your kids, Dad? Is it the television? Is it the music world? Is it entertainers? Or the kid's peers? Is it the culture? Somebody's raising your children!

And if you want them to make a difference in the world, if you want them to be the kind of men and women that God wants them to be, you better be the one leading the way. You need to be the one raising your kids! "Oh that's mom's deal"! No, Dad, it's your deal! As you partner with your wife and the mother of your children and put resolve into the lives of your children. The enemy is hard at work. This is not a time to lose focus. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, that "Satan like a roaring lion is prowling about". That's an interesting word, seductively, you know, just prowling, he's prowling. Looking to eat our children alive; not just for dessert but a main course! And he "like a roaring lion is prowling about seeking whom he may devour".

Your adversary, the devil is doing that to you and to your family. Not just to, you know, a missionary or a great spiritual hero somewhere that everybody knows, but your adversary, the devil! And this is not a time to lose focus because as I judge it, Satan is ramping up the attacks in these last days. So it's not time to be a human ostrich and stick our heads in the sand, but to wake up, get up, gear up and stand strong! This is not a time to wimp out, guys! This is the time to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; to take God seriously and to take your mission with your children seriously as well. The idea of resolved, you know, of course, you see the word resolution there. It's not original or new.

Jonathan Edwards who lived between 1703 and 1758 was a brilliant theologian, philosopher and powerful preacher of God's grace. Listen to a few of the resolutions of this man and see if they don't challenge you.
- Resolve that I will do what so ever I think to be the most to the glory of God in my own good profit and pleasure in the whole of my duration without any consideration of the time, whether now or never so many myriads of ages since.
- Resolve to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.
- Resolve never to lose one moment of time but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
- Resolve to live with all my might while I do live.
- Resolve never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
- Resolve never to speak evil of anyone so that it shall tend to his dishonor more or less upon no account except for some real good.
- Resolve to study the Scripture so steadily, constantly and frequently so that I may find and plainly proceed myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. Men, get some steel in your soul!
- Resolve to be God's man, if you're nothing less, be God's man.

And then finally, compassion. A faithful man is compassionate who can love and laugh and cry, who's tough and tender like a velvet-covered brick, who could be so strong as to discipline those children but always with the loving affectionate arms and the kisses and the hugs that go with such discipline. Love is spelled T-I-M-E! It's a myth to say, "Well our kids get my quality time". They don't need your quality time; they need your time! Kids don't care about quality time! They want you! So be affectionate, be available, be affirming, be approving! We all need this! Don't be so tough, guys, that you can't be tender and show your heart by loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; by loving your wife. The best thing you can do for your children is to love their mom! To love your children. And at the end of the day as the Scripture says, Proverbs 20:7 "You will be blessed by your children after you".

We've had a faithful family in this church for many years, since the mid-1980's, the Charles Liu family. Charles and Kathy Liu. Many of you have enjoyed Kathy's walk. What you may not know is that Charles is a very successful businessman from China and he moved here as a young man and his mother told him, who was a strong believer in Christ, though it was in China where there weren't many Christians. He came here as a follower and his mother said, "Whatever you do when you get to America, you get in church and you follow Christ, you get in church". So he did that. And Charles married Kathy and together they made a powerful team. They worked in our children's ministry through the years, both of them.

Charles as I said, did a lot of travel. He opened Texas Instruments to China and did a great job with that and was very successful in that sense as a business person. But Charles has been dying of cancer and the children, along with Kathy, all stood around that bed which became an altar of worship as Charles was dying, as dad was dying. And each one of the children began to speak about their dad, testimonies about him. One said, and all these children, there are four of them. Their just incredible children, doing incredible things! All love the Lord. One of the children said, "he was hero because of the way he loved Mom and us". His commitment as a dad, a husband and a grandfather. He showed me and Victor (his brother) how to be a man. This week he got to watch his grandson pull in a big catfish in the pond in their backyard. He kept an old first baseman's mitt to grab the catfish off the hook. He loved being with his family. He's a hero.

One of the other children said he was a servant, taking responsibility for the kids every Sunday so Kathy could have some time alone on a Sunday nap. Often during the week even though he was a real big shot at T.I. he would take an hour lunch break when the kids were preschoolers and run home to give Kathy a break. Another one of the children said, he was a worshipper. Over the last three days he wanted the family to comfort him with singing hymns of adoration and truth for who God is and what an awesome Savior Jesus is! And after they would sing a song he would clearly say, "Amen"! To the very end one of these children said, "He was blown away by the love and the forgiveness that he found in Jesus. Though born in China, sovereignly graced by salvation in Christ! We know what a man of faith looks like... it's Dad"!

Another one said, "Because of his example serving in first grade Sunday school for years with Kathy, committed to serving his church, teaching us the value of giving," and this was one of the daughters who said this who is a pediatrician. She said, "I am a pediatrician because of Dad's love for children". Another one spoke of his giving and his legacy. Charles really opened up China to T.I. But he also opened it up for the Word of God. He had a sincere passion for the people of China and he worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators, particularly the children there, that they would get the Word of God. And he and Kathy helped start schools in China that taught God's Word. He never forgot his roots or the massive blessings that God allowed for him to experience at life.

So at the end, at 77 years of age when this life is gone, his bed turns into a altar of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his children do exactly what we read in the proverbs, they bless him because he's a man of integrity, a righteous man, faithful to the end. Your children are saying, "It's a difficult path. It looks dangerous up ahead. Dad, choose the right path because I'm following you". The Scripture said, the Apostle Paul boldly said, "Follow me as I follow Christ". Will you say that and live that before your children? "Follow me as we follow Christ together".
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